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Firms said shareholders’ meetings were to proceed as scheduled in March and April despite concerns over the outbreak of the novel coronavirus-caused acute respiratory disease (COVID-19).

A number of firms have announced the dates for their next shareholders’ meetings, including construction firms Vinaconex 9 (March 26) and Dat Phương JSC (March 28).

Other firms, such as Hanoi Electro-mechanical Manufacturing JSC (HEM), Vietnam Water, Sanitation and Environment JSC and Vietbac Mining Industry Holding Corporation said their shareholders’ meetings would take place in April.

Meanwhile, a number of firms are preparing for different scenarios including holding meetings online with shareholders.

“Our shareholders’ meeting is set to take place in April. There is time yet to decide how we will do it. Depends on how the virus outbreak develops, we may consider doing it online,” said Do Huy Hung chairman of the board of La Hien Cement JSC.

Last year, the cement maker’s sales reached 689 billion VND (30 million USD), a slight decrease compared to the previous year. Profit, however, saw an increase of 22 percent or 38 billion VND as a result of reduced cost of financing.

A representative from HEM said while its shareholders’ meeting was likely to proceed as usual, the firm would also consider having it online should the virus outbreak worsen.

HEM's financial report showed 82 billion VND in profit-after-tax for 2019, a 16 percent increase year-on-year, mostly from the firm’s investments in stocks and other financing activities.

Vietnam’s 2014 Law on Enterprises stipulates that in the scenario which numerous shareholders’ meetings are being held in different places, the location of the meeting attended by the chairman of the board will be chosen as its official location, which under the law must take place within Vietnam’s territory.

The 2014 law also allows shareholders to attend meetings online, to cast their votes online or to send in their votes via mail, fax or email. However, there have been instances in which firms failed to count those votes, according to Government watchdogs.

Trade facilitation to promote ASEAN investment

The ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ABAC) proposed initiatives to promote ASEAN investment through trade facilitation at the ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) and ABAC Consultation in Vietnam’s central city of Da Nang on March 10.

The ABAC suggested developing micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) focusing on key categories such as e-commerce, tourism, transportation and logistics, as well as having consistent reform policies.

The council has demonstrated its role of promoting the global economy and contributed to building the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) into a dynamic environment with numerous opportunities via major projects such as human resources development, digital trade connection, and upgrading consulting network for ASEAN businesses.

Earlier on March 8, the Ministry of Industry and Trade chaired a preparatory meeting of ASEAN senior economic officials. Participants discussed 13 priorities proposed by Vietnam based on three main orientations: promoting intra-bloc economic connectivity, intensifying partnerships for peace and sustainable development, and enhancing ASEAN adaptive capacity and operational efficiency.

Founded in 1967, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) groups 10 member countries, namely Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Vietnam to release white book on cooperatives

The 2020 white book on cooperatives of Vietnam, the first of its kind so far, is scheduled to be released this April, aiming to serve the making of policies on developing the most important element of the collective economy.

Nguyen Bich Lam, General Director of the General Statistics Office (GSO) which coordinated the compilation, said the white book on cooperatives will be published annually as from 2020.

This year’s paper is set to provide information about the development levels of cooperatives in the country and its localities in the 2016 – 2018 period. It will also propose solutions for cooperative development, he noted.

The white book was compiled basing on data collected from the Ministry of Planning and Investment, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, and the Vietnam Cooperative Alliance.

Cooperatives form the most important element of the collective economy and also an important component of the Vietnamese economy as defined in resolutions of the Party’s congresses.

Developing the collective economy in general, and cooperatives in particular, is the Party’s consistent policy during the development of a socialist-oriented market economy./.

Masan Group gains 3 trillion VND from bond issuance

Masan Group, a private conglomerate in Vietnam, has successfully issued 30 million bonds, named BondMSN012023, worth 3 trillion VND (128.8 million USD).

The firm said its three-year bonds, worth 100,000 VND each, were offered from February 17 to March 8.

The issuance attracted 1,068 domestic individual investors who purchased over 11.43 million bonds worth 1.143 trillion VND, two foreign individual investors who bought 4.5 billion VND worth of bonds, and six domestic organisation investors with 1.852 trillion VND.

Following this, Masan is offering another 2 trillion VND worth of bonds, named BondMSN022023, from March 9 to 30.

The group plans four bond offerings with the total value of 10 trillion VND, it noted, adding that 5 trillion VND of the sum will be used to raise the charter capital of Masan Vision Co. Ltd, 4 trillion VND will be lent to its subsidiaries (Masan Consumer Holdings Co. Ltd and MNS Meat Ha Nam Co. Ltd), and the remaining 1 trillion VND will be spent to pay off internal debt for another subsidiary (Nui Phao Mining Co. Ltd).

Northern power firm reports over 11 percent growth in February

The Northern Power Corporation (EVNNPC), a subsidiary of Vietnam Electricity (EVN), has reported that its commercial power output in February picked up 11.04 percent year-on-year to more than 5.15 billion kWh, despite rampant COVID-19 outbreak.

Power loss in the period was 4.67 percent, or 0.38 percent lower than the same time in 2019.

In addition, EVNNPC began supplying medium-voltage power to 123 new customers. It took the firm an average 5.15 days to handle relevant procedures, down 1.85 days as stipulated.

In the coming time, EVNNPC will continue to implement an electricity network project in rural areas and communications on saving power, among others.

As recent hailstorm and whirlwinds has interrupted power supply in the mountainous provinces of Lao Cai, Yen Bai, Lai Chau, Tuyen Quang, Hoa Binh and Cao Bang, the corporation has mobilised personnel to restore electricity for residents in the localities./.

Businesses refrain from issuing bonds due to COVID-19 epidemic

The volume of corporate bonds issued during February has reduced remarkably compared to the previous month due to the negative impacts of the COVID-19 epidemic on the stock market.

According to a report released by SSI Securities Corporation on March 10, a total of 15 firms issued bonds in February worth a total 5.574 trillion VND (around 240 million USD). Real estate companies accounted for 72 percent of the bond value.

The number is only equal to 41 percent of the value of bonds issued in January.

For the two-month period, a total of 19.4 trillion VND worth of corporate bonds were issued with an average maturity of 4.75 years and interest rate of 10.07 percent per annum.

Real estate firms accounted for 60 percent of the total volume (nearly 11.64 trillion VND).

Only two banks issued bonds during January-February, which are the Asia Commercial Bank (ACB) with 230 billion VND worth of 10-year bonds, and the Tien Phong Commercial Bank (TPBank) with 552 billion VND worth of 7-year bonds.

The stock market had a difficult time in February with the benchmark VN-Index on the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange (HoSE) ending the month plummeting 5.81 percent to 882.19 points. The VN-Allshare and VN30 Indexes also dropped 2.97 percent and 1.96 percent, respectively, from January.

Purchase price for biomass power adjusted up

The Prime Minister has promulgated a decision adjusting up the purchasing price for biomass power.

Under Decision 08/2020/QD-TTg, which amends and supplements several articles of Decision 24/2014/QD-TTg on mechanisms to support the development of biomass power in Vietnam, the purchase price for electricity generated by combined heat and power generation (CHP) projects at the delivery point is 1,634 VND (7.03 US cents) per kWh, higher than the 1,220 VND per kWh in the previous regulation (according to the VND/USD exchange rate announced by the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) on February 21, 2020).

For other projects, the purchase price at the delivery point is 1,968 VND (8.47 US cents) per kWh.

The above-mentioned prices do not include value added tax and are adjusted following the fluctuation of the US dollar based on the reference exchange rate announced by the SBV on the date that the seller issues the invoice.

Biomass power projects that have generated electricity before March 5, 2020 are subject to the above-mentioned electricity purchase price from April 25.

Biomass power projects use biomass energy, such as by-products and waste in agricultural production, to produce electricity.

Lam Dong province sees sharp increase in flower export

Flower export of the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong has risen sharply since the beginning of this year, in contrast to the gloomy picture of coffee, cashew nuts and tea that are being hit by COVID-19.

The provincial Department of Industry and Trade said on March 10 that in February alone, the locality shipped 34 million flower stems to Europe, Japan, Australia, China, Taiwan (China) and some Southeast Asian nations, up 15 percent in volume and 17.5 percent in value year-on-year.

The stronger export is attributable to local businesses’ investment in new flower varieties, farming and preservation technologies, and trade promotion for market expansion.

Lam Dong has 3,450ha of flower plantations for domestic consumption and export, with an output of 1 billion items per year.

In Da Lat city alone, about 5,000 households and more than 30 enterprises are engaged in supplying different species of flowers including rose, mimosa and orchid.

VNPT to build intelligent operation centre in Kon Tum

VNPT will build an intelligent operation centre (IOC) in the Central Highlands province of Kon Tum and expects to put it into operation in October.

The IOC was built with the goal of providing comprehensive data on activities in the province.

In particular, the technology which VNPT applies to build the centre will allow it to conduct data analysis to issue warnings, support decision-making in many different areas, ensure accuracy and transparency.

The provincial people’s committee chair Nguyen Van Hoa said that the smart operating system and modern technology provided by VNPT would help the provincial leaders save time and effort in work supervision and management, at the same time, could make correct and accurate decisions in a short time.

Pham Duc Long, VNPT general director, said that the centre would be a creative and transparent project, which supports the provincial government in serving its people and businesses and showing an image of a province which was constantly modernising for its people.

Apart from Kon Tum, the group will continue to accelerate co-operation with other provinces and cities to deploy IOC within this year.

German TUI Group to debut resort in Hoi An

Although many hotels have had to downsize or suspend their businesses due to Covid-19, Germany-based tourism group TUI will launch a luxury resort in the central city of Hoi An later this month, with a slow start anticipated that will later pick up once the disease is brought under control.

The TUI Blue Nam Hoi An resort, which is slated to open on March 24, was jointly funded by the TUI Group and local partner Thien Minh Group.

The 318-room resort is located on Tam Tien Beach, which is some 76 kilometers away from Danang International Airport. This is the first TUI Blue property in Vietnam.

Although Covid-19 has hurt the country’s tourism revenue, the Group was determined to launch the property as scheduled and has been prepared for possible obstacles that it could face, Camellia Dinh, sales director at TUI Blue Nam Hoi An, told the Saigon Times.

The resort may not attract many guests at first, but this will give the staff time to practice offering great service when the tourism market returns to regular operations.

As originally planned by the Group, some 40% of guests will come from European countries, while the remainder will be Asian and Australian travelers.

However, the plan was later adjusted due to the epidemic, according to Dinh.

The resort will focus on the domestic segment by introducing promotional programs and some new combo programs, including exercise and relaxation.

“People are paying more attention to their wellbeing, so we expect the new combos will retain and attract more guests,” the sales director said.

Thaco enters local motorcycle market

Truong Hai Auto Corporation, or Thaco, has established a firm to manufacture motorcycles, marking its first foray into the market, VietnamPlus reported.

The Vietnamese carmaker has yet to make any official statement on the new business. However, its business registration certificate, recently granted by the provincial Department of Planning and Investment in Quang Nam, shows that Thaco has officially entered the local motorbike market.

With charter capital of VND10 billion, Thaco Motorcycle Co., Ltd, is headquartered in Chu Lai Economic Zone in the central province of Quang Nam. Its legal representative is Tran Ba Duong, who is the board chairman of Thaco.

According to experts in the industry, Thaco’s entry into the motorcycle market, currently dominated by Honda Vietnam, is expected to make the market more active and competitive, so consumers will have more options when purchasing motorbikes.

Thaco regularly offers special deals and monthly discounts to attract car buyers. Thus, its motorcycle products will likely create price pressure on its competitors.

Further, after becoming a new dealer of BMW in Vietnam, Thaco imported the first batch of BMW Motorrad motorcycles for distribution in the local market and offered the vehicles for sale at some VND129 million-VND199 million less than those sold by the previous distributor. It also applied the same price strategy to BMW cars.

Meanwhile, some pointed out that this was a bold move by Thaco to step into the local motorcycle market, which has entered a saturation period.

HCMC’s imports of manufacturing materials plunge

Imports of materials such as textiles, steel and pharmaceutical materials by manufacturers in HCMC last month fell by 18%-50% versus the same period in 2019, according to the municipal Customs Department. The fall has been attributed to the coronavirus outbreak.

As the city’s import turnover dropped sharply in the first two months of the year, the department’s tax collection fell by over VND1.6 trillion compared with the figure seen last year, reaching some VND15.6 trillion, reported Tuoi Tre newspaper.

Among 12 groups of products seeing import revenue declines, imports of input materials totaled slightly over US$1.9 billion, down 18% against the year-ago figure.

Specifically, the textile and garment industry imported US$245 million worth of fabric, down 24% year-on-year. Besides this, the city spent over US$208 million buying plastic materials, down 33%.

The steel industry’s import turnover, valued at roughly US$189 million, dropped by over 13%, while that of the pharmaceutical industry tumbled a whopping 43%.

The city imported US$257 million worth of consumer goods, dipping 27%. Imports of other commodities also edged down 2.4% to US$537 million.

Many manufacturers in the country continue to struggle to find an adequate volume of input materials amid the coronavirus outbreak. Most of them have had to operate at 70% below capacity, while other businesses that ran out of materials operate at 50%. As a result, associations and sectors cooperated with enterprises to seek out new suppliers.

Nguyen Phuong Nam, vice general director of Saigon Newport Corporation, stated that the volume of commodities transported through Cat Lai Port in March and April could experience a steep fall due to Covid-19, which is linked to the new coronavirus.

Many Chinese ports have shut down, affecting imports of input materials, he added.

EVFTA adds fresh impetus to exports amid COVID-19 epidemic

The European Union-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) will serve as a new driving force to spur on export growth in the context of the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic which has caused plenty of challenges for export businesses.

According to Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Dang Hoang An, the nation’s import-export activities enjoyed strong growth during the first two months of the year despite facing various hurdles.

Specifically overall import and export turnover reached US$74 billion, an annual rise of 2.4 per cent, as a result of Samsung boosting exports of their latest S20 products and therefore maintaining growth momentum over a two-month period.

The outbreak of the COVID-19 in China at the end of January caused the country’s trading activities to be negatively affected. It is widely expected that the import and export of goods will have to face a host of difficulties in the short term, with unfavourable factors being caused by the epidemic spreading widely outside of China.

This can best be seen in the damage it has caused in some of the nation’s leading trading partners such as Japan and the Republic of Korea. If the epidemic persists it may result in a negative impact on the export growth target that has been set for the entire year.

These challenges have given fresh impetus to the country’s export growth to come from new generation FTAs, namely the EVFTA . The trade deal is poised to come into effect in July whereby close to 100 per cent of import taxes on the nation’s export turnover to the EU will be eliminated.

Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh stated this trade pact represents the highest level of commitment given by a partner to the country in an FTA agreement. The EVFTA will therefore provide significant benefits, with the EU expected to grow into one of Vietnam’s main export markets in the near future.

The European Parliament originally voted to approve the EVFTA and the EU-Vietnam Investment Protection Agreement (EVIPA) on February 12. The EVFTA is viewed as extra leverage for growth and will open up an array of good opportunities for local enterprises to make inroads into the highly lucrative EU market that has a GDP of US$18,000 billion, the trade official added.

As the world largest economy with 28 members, the EU’s total trade value is estimated to be at US$4,000 billion, with service exports taking the top spot in the global market.

SCIC to sell off shareholding in Cienco 5

State Capital Investment Corporation is putting its shares in Civil Engineering Construction Corporation No. 5 (Cienco 5) on auction on March 20, with little information available and a price many feel flies way over its worth.

The auction of 17.56 million Cienco 5 shares owned by State Capital Investment Corporation (SCIC) will take place at the Hanoi Stock Exchange, with the starting price set at VND19,300 (84 US cents) a share.

 

Investors (if any) who replace SCIC in Cienco 5 need to spend at least VND339 billion ($14.74 million). Although SCIC is the shareholder with the highest ownership rate, Hai Phat Group has more than 51 per cent ownership in the company, divided in two subsidiaries (Hai Phat Invest and Hai Phat Tu Do Investment JSC) and has hence dominated decision-making in the firm.

This came to the fore in early 2019, when consulting shareholders about a potential co-operation between Cienco 5 and Hai Phat Real Estate JSC (55:45) to jointly implement the second phase of a build-transfer (BT) project and Phu My Hung Urban Area. SCIC did not approve, but the decision still made it through with Hai Phat Group's subsidiaries acting in concert.

SCIC's announcement of the auction contained absolutely no financial information of Cienco 5 in 2019, citing the fact that the 2019 audited consolidated financial statements have yet to be issued.

In addition, investors interested in Cienco 5 also have to put up with a high starting price, nearly double the starting price set by the MoT several years ago. In the 2018 fiscal year, Cienco 5 earned only VND307 million. Compared to the scale of its charter capital, earnings per share (EPS) has not reached VND7, which makes the VND19,000 ($0.84) starting price rather unrealistic.

Cienco 5 is not required to be listed like other equitised SOEs because it does not satisfy public company conditions. Because of this reason, information on its business activities is hard to access. The business situation of this corporation was only revealed by SCIC's disclosure until 2018. The published information paints a picture of difficulties in recent years, particularly a major hardship stemming from the equitisation process itself.

“Prior to implementing equitisation at the parent company, Cienco 5 equitised its subsidiaries with the ownership rate falling below the majority level. All resources of equipment, labour, technology are in the associated companies. The corporation has only an executive management apparatus at the office, a number of fixed assets for management, and a minor portion of contributed capital in associated companies,” read the SCIC statement.

This means that about half of Cienco 5's VND151 billion ($6.56 million) capital has been invested in associated companies, many of which are rolling massive amounts of debts with little prospects of repayment.

According to the representative of Unistars International Auditing Company, the unit responsible for auditing Cienco 5, some of the companies Cienco 5 holds a share in did not send financial statements or confirm their debts. Stagnant equity is also the reason why Cienco 5 needs to borrow more as it is preparing for new projects, leading to increased financial costs and reduced corporate profits.

Tan Hiep Phat gets million-US dollar profit after investment in YEG

The investment of Tan Hiep Phat Group founder's daughter Tran Uyen Phuong in Yeah1 (HSX: YEG) proved wise, as news of the investment produced a turnaround, raising the stock by almost 70 per cent.

At the time Tran Uyen Phuong, deputy general director of domestic beverage manufacturer Tan Hiep Phat, bought 6.05 million YEG stocks, the price was VND50,000 ($2.17). However, as soon as news of the deal went public, YEG went on a nine-session rally (February 25-March 6) to reach VND83,000 ($3.60), a 69.3 per cent rise against February 25. With the new stock price, the value of Phuong's investment is more than VND502 billion ($21.83 million), about VND203 billion ($8.83 million) higher than the VND299 billion ($13 million) she paid for the shares.

Phuong made the purchase on February 17-19, raising her ownership rate from 2.26 to 21.61 per cent. After the deal, Phuong became the second-largest shareholder of the firm, behind Yeah1 chairman Nguyen Anh Nhuong Tong’s 25.52 per cent.

In the middle of March, YouTube accused Yeah1’s multi-channel network SpringMe that some of its channels violated its policies. This led to the global video platform stopping work with all Yeah1 subsidiaries running YouTube AdSense like Yeah1 Pte., Ltd. and ScaleLab LLC. YouTube’s cancellation cost Yeah1 Group more than VND1 trillion ($43.48 million) in market value within two days.

After the disruption, Yeah1 has been on the way to recover by developing the new business forms like launching games on the mobile platform 100D, forming Appnews specialised in technology and information, and pouring capital into Appfast – a platform specialised in helping distributors using many applications at the same time. Most recently, Yeah1 has just approved the plan of developing branding/marketing platforms for celebrities.

Banks take action to bolster business

With the COVID-19 epidemic showing no sign of slowing down, and continuing to inflict hardship on businesses, global central banks and local commercial lenders have joined the race to help lift economies up from a downward spiral.

Last week, the US Federal Reserve executed an emergency half-percentage-point rate cut, a move reflecting growing fears that the COVID-19 outbreak is increasing the risk of recession for global economies.

The Fed reduced the federal funds rate to 1-1.25 per cent in the first rate change between scheduled Fed policy meetings since the 2008 financial crisis.

Across the ocean, Malaysia’s central bank cut its benchmark interest rate by a quarter of a percentage point to 2.50 per cent, while the Reserve Bank of Australia reduced interest rates by 0.25 per cent to a record-low 0.50 per cent on March 4 after the outbreak began to choke key exports, including foreign education and tourism.

Short-term rates in Japan are also in negative territory, with the Bank of Japan offering to lend $4.6 billion of two-week funds to financial firms a few days earlier.

Previously, the Bank of Thailand trimmed the policy rate by 25 basis points at the February 5 meeting to improve financial liquidity and restructure the debt of firms ravaged by the sagging economy.

The Fed’s emergency rate cut would also put pressure on the Bank of Thailand to follow in its footsteps in its upcoming meeting on March 15.

In Vietnam, relief measures are unlikely to be effective without broader confidence-building efforts by the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) and commercial lenders to demonstrate that these credit unions have put in place measures to limit the financial snags resulting from the epidemic.

The outbreak and subsequent sharp decline in business activity have, in fact, been factored into the SBV’s recent decisions.

In particular, the SBV has asked banks to provide extra support, such as extending loans with the intention of cushioning cash-squeezed businesses.

Soon after the Vietnamese government pushed up lenders’ support for businesses hit hard by the COVID-19, a handful of local banks have actively responded to the appeal with concessionary credit packages.

Privately-held Asia Commercial Joint Stock Bank (ACB) has just launched a major credit package with scale reaching VND25 trillion ($1.1 billion) which will be offering a helping hand to both corporate and retail customers until June 30, while Sacombank has offered a credit package worth VND10 trillion ($434.8 million) with lending rates slashed by 2 per cent per year to customers serving production and business.

Other lenders like Vietcombank, Nam A Bank, and Eximbank are also rolling out a preferential loan package with lower rates than regulated in the banks’ current policy.

However, “The banking sector should do even better,” said Dao Minh Tu, Deputy Governor of the SBV. “We have to be more impactful in helping untie businesses out of difficulties.”

A few days earlier, in line with this synchronised action, the SBV allocated a credit support programme worth VND250 trillion ($10.87 billion) to be developed by more than 10 banks, including the four state-owned commercial giants Vietcombank, BIDV, Agribank, and VietinBank.

Nguyen Quoc Hung, director of the SBV’s Department of Credit, talked about the programme. “Some banks are supporting a VND100-trillion ($434.8 million) credit package, whereas others are building packages worth VND5-20 trillion ($217-870 million). There’s no fixed lending rate but lenders will cut their rates by 0.5-1 per cent, depending on the specific situation for customers affected by the COVID-19.”

Hung also noted that resources used for this credit support programme do not come from the state budget, but from the banks.

Moreover, he stated that many lenders have registered for a complete cutdown of payment fees, remittance fees, and reduce lending rates by 0.5 to 1 per cent on existing debts and new loans.

BIDV has stepped up the supportive package worth VND120 trillion ($5.2 billion). In the meantime, Agribank, MBBank, and ACB have also unveiled their kits of relief measures, which respectively value at VND100 billion ($4.4 million), VND35 trillion ($1.5 billion), and VND15 trillion ($652 million).

On the other hand, other lenders like Vietcombank, HDBank, and VietinBank, have also come up with support measures, and are delivering specific packages.

SBV Governor Le Minh Hung supported the new measures. “With economies and financial markets interconnected, expectations of lower rates or rescheduling debt payments could dampen the fears of companies that are teetering on the edge of trouble,” he said.

More than 23 million SHB stocks exchange hands

Foreign investors sold 23.59 million SHB stocks worth millions of US dollars in the session of March 5.

The March 5 session showed great liquidity on the Hanoi Stock Exchange as 112 million stocks changed hands. More than half of these, equivalent to 65.5 million stocks, belonged to Saigon Hanoi Commercial Joint Stock Bank (HNX: SHB).

Moreover, contrary to the huge load of 23.59 million shares sold for a total of VND303 billion ($13.17 million), less than 5,000 SHB stocks were purchased for VND600 million ($26,090).

SHB closed the session on March 6 with a drop of 3.8 per cent, at VND12,400 (54 US cents). Besides, more than 10 million SHB stocks were registered for sale or purchase in the following sessions.

As of the end of the session on March 9, SHB stood at VND11,200 (49 US cent), down 9.68 per cent against March 6.

Indeed, SHB’s performance in recent years has been gloomy with the stock tending to fly low. As of the end of the session on December 9, SHB was at VND6,100 (26 US cents), lower than the VND6,800 (30 US cents) in late June. The sudden rise recently has been thanks to the purchase of VAMC’s bad debts ahead of schedule. That means the bank was fully qualified to issue 250 million stocks to pay dividends at the rate of 20.9 per cent. The stocks are forecast to be on trade in March.

Seven manufacturing goods post US$1 billion-plus exports in two months

Vietnam has seven manufacturing goods with export revenues reaching over US$1 billion each in the first two months of 2020, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT).

Phone and phone parts recorded the largest revenues at US$6.9 billion, followed by computers and electronics at US$5.363 billion and garments at US$4.52 billion.

Other major earners included machinery and equipment (US$2.985 billion), footwear (US$2.7 billion), timber products (US$1.5 billion) and transport vehicles (US$1.4 billion).

The MOIT said the manufacturing sector’s total revenue hit US$31.39 billion in the first two months of 2020, up 4.1% over the same period last year and accounting for 85.01% of Vietnam’s total exports.

In February, the sector’s exports reached US$16 billion, with phone and phone parts making up US$4.2 billion, up 55.8% against January, thanks to the shipment of Samsung’s new Galaxy S20 smartphone and its variants.

But, due to the coronavirus outbreak, farming exports in the January-February period shrank by 14%, to US$3.03 billion, with only rice and cassava exports posting rises in the two months.

The MOIT has projected that Vietnam’s export and import activities will face numerous difficulties in the short run as the coronavirus continues its spread outside China, especially in Japan and the Republic of Korea, which are Vietnam’s major trading partners.

Vietnam has chances for exporting rice to Africa

Pursuant to a report of the Vietnam Trade Office in Algeria, the Ministry of Trade and Industry said that this year’s import demand for rice in Senegal in particular and Africa in general would remain high as in February, locust plagues in East Africa along with the Covid-19 epidemic led to holding foods, notably rice.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, Africa's import demand for rice in 2020 is estimated at 15.7 million tons, of which Senegal may have to import 1.3 million tons.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, last year, Senegal imported about 1.5 million tons of rice, an increase of 15 percent compared to 2018 due to poor rice production in the Senegal River valley, down about 100,000 tons.

In 2019, Vietnam's rice exports to Senegal increased sharply, but the price of rice dropped.

In this market, Vietnamese rice has to compete with Indian, Pakistan, Thailand, China, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, United States, Malaysia and Cambodia.

HCMC publicizes legal information of housing projects

Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee has directed relevant departments to publicize legal information of land investment and land use right of housing projects as well as projects are eligible for transfer of land ownership right or for property business.

In an effort to prevent land ownership right transfer in illegal housing projects in the city, the departments of Agriculture and Rural Development, Construction, Planning and Investment will announce legality of land investment and land use right of housing projects.

Moreover, these departments will reveal eligible projects for transfer of land ownership right or for property business, approved projects which violated law of land use, document on illegal acts in the field of land use and investment.

All information will be posted in the departments’ headquarters and in the departments’ portals so that city dwellers can easily get access to it.

Additionally, the city also asked the Department of Planning – Architecture and people’s committees in districts to disclose land planning with details of approved housing projects.

Besides, district administrations must post planning of land use rights, names of approved housing projects and illegal projects for land use right transfer or property business in the front of its headquarters and its portals.

The municipal People’s Committee also urged state competent to solve barriers for real estate businesses. For obstacles relating to conflicts in housing investment regulations, the Committee will petition the central government to remove it.

For problems relating to unfinished documents, the Department of Construction and state competent agencies will work together to solve. For major construction sites or projects of 2020, the municipal People’s Committee will solve one by one.

HCM City pledges to facilitate operation of Sri Lankan firms

Ho Chi Minh City will facilitate the operation of foreign businesses, including those from Sri Lanka, Secretary of the municipal Party Committee Nguyen Thien Nhan has pledged.

At a reception on March 10 for the new Sri Lankan Ambassador, Sampath Prasanna Walpita Gamage, Nhan expressed his belief that the ambassador will work as a bridge helping enterprises from Sri Lanka invest in Vietnam and HCM City in particular.

He also urged the ambassador to work to further cement the relationship between Vietnam and Sri Lanka in the time ahead, especially in 2020 when the two countries mark the 50th anniversary of the bilateral diplomatic ties.

Nhan stressed that Vietnam and Sri Lanka have substantial potential to boost their economic ties.

For his part, Sampath Prasanna Walpita Gamage thanked HCM City for creating the best possible conditions for Sri Lankan firms to operate in the locality.

The ambassador expressed his hope that trade between the two countries will expand from 200 million USD in 2019 to 1 billion USD in the years to come.

He committed to making all-out efforts to promote the traditional friendship and equal, mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries./.

EVN works to ensure enough electricity during dry months

The Vietnam Electricity (EVN) has said it is working to ensure electricity supply in the near future and for the entire year as hot spell is likely to come early.

According to the National Centre for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting, water resources in lakes and rivers in the north, central and Central Highlands regions will be down 20-60 percent from the average in the past years.

The National Load Dispatch Centre said the total output of hydropower plants will be reduced by 4.2 billion kWh from the target during the six dry months of this year.

In order to ensure enough electricity, the EVN plans to increase the output of coal-fired and oil-fired power by 2.96 billion kWh and 1.52 billion kWh, respectively.

Chairman of the EVN’s Board of Directors Duong Quang Thanh said EVN will improve operating efficiency and ensure safety of power plants and transmission network.

The National Power Transmission Corporation, power corporations and units concerned will step up the progress of construction projects, he said.

He also proposed the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment allow keeping the minimum water levels in several reservoirs lower the level stipulated by regulations.

Banks cut savings rates to ensure lower-interest loans

A number of commercial banks have lowered their interest rates on savings accounts by 0.1-0.4 percentage points in order to offer loans at a lower interest rate to businesses and individuals affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

As of March 6, ABBank had lowered its interest rate on savings accounts from 7.9 percent to 7.7 percent a year for 18-36 month terms. For 12-month term deposits, the interest rate dropped by 0.2 percent to 7.6 percent per year.

For one- to three-month term deposits, the ceiling interest rates were adjusted from 5 percent to 4.8 percent.

For 12-month term, the interest rate on deposits made at the counter decreased from 6.3-7 percent to 6.1-6.8 percent, depending on the amount.

In addition, as of March 3, the deposit interest rate at VPBank dropped by 0.05-0.15 percent for terms of six months or longer.

The 12-month term deposit interest rate has dropped to 6.9-7.1 percent (deposits made at the counter) and 7-7.1 percent per year (deposits made online).

VBBank’s highest deposit interest rate of 7.7 percent has dropped to 7.55 percent per year, for 18 months or longer term, with amounts over 5 billion VND.

Eximbank on February 28 also reduced deposit interest rates by 0.1-0.4 percentage points.

The 36-month term deposit interest rates for customers depositing at the counter fell from 8.4 percent to 8 percent. For 12- and 15-month terms, the rate dropped by 0.2 percentage points to 7.4 percent and 7.8 percent, respectively.

Experts said the drop in deposit interest rates would continue as many countries’ central banks have also done so, including the US Federal Reserve, which cut deposit rates by 0.5 percentage points.

According to a recent report from Bao Viet Securities Joint Stock Company (BVSC), deposit interest rates have decreased slightly due to the impact of COVID-19.

According to BVSC, because of the epidemic, demand for loans is expected to decline. Credit in the first two months of the year increased by only 0.77 percent compared to 1.07 percent in the same period last year. The deposit interest rates may continue to drop in the coming time, but not significantly.

“If the epidemic continues to affect production and service activities, deposit interest rates will continue to fall so that lending interest rates can drop,” BVSC said.

Recently in response to the State Bank of Vietnam’s appeal, a number of credit institutions have announced plans to support businesses affected by the novel coronavirus epidemic.

For example, BIDV reduced the lending interest rate by at least 1 percent per year for loans in Vietnamese dong and 0.5 percent per year for US dollar.

At Saigon - Hanoi Commercial Joint Stock Bank, customers are entitled to a reduction of lending interest rates of up to 1.5 percent per year for loans in Vietnamese dong and 0.5 percent per year for US dollar loans.

Kienlongbank has cut its loan interest rate by 3 percentage points for farmers growing dragon fruit, watermelon, durian, jackfruit, mango, rambutan and banana between February 1 and April 30 this year. It will also waive penalties on overdue loans of borrowers affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

HDBank is offering low-interest loans and has waived fees on international payments for businesses that supply drugs and medical equipment.

In addition, ABBank has launched a loan support package totalling 4 trillion VND at low interest rates for affected businesses. It has also conducted a review of its credit portfolio, especially accounts of enterprises with trade relations with China, and will offer them timely advice via phone or email.

The Government plans to provide a 250 trillion VND (10.78 billion USD) low-interest credit support package and a fiscal support package of nearly 30 trillion VND to support individuals and businesses affected by the epidemic.

The State Bank of Vietnam has urged credit institutions to maintain enough funds to meet credit demand and support customers affected by the outbreak.

Speaking at a recent meeting, Le Minh Hung, the central bank governor, urged banks to keep a watch on the business situation of customers who could be affected by the epidemic and evaluate the possible impact.

The central bank has also instructed credit institutions nationwide to work with local authorities to resolve problems faced by affected businesses and borrowers.