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The State Treasury has mobilised more than 182.4 trillion VND (7.88 billion USD) through Government bond auctions on the Hanoi Stock Exchange (HNX) so far this year, fulfilling 73 percent of the yearly plan.

The latest auction held November 20 brought in 3.9 trillion VND.

In the auction, the annual interest rates in successful bids declined for 5- and 15- and 30-year bonds compared to the previous auction, standing at 2.37 percent, 3.74 percent and 4.64 percent, respectively.

The rate remained unchanged for 10-year bonds, standing at 3.62 percent.

According to the HNX, compared to early this year, the annual interest rates in successful bids tended to decrease, down by 1.45 percentage points for 5-year bonds, 1.48 percentage points for 10-year bonds, 1.56 percentage points for 15-year bonds and 1.16 percentage points for 30-year bonds./.

Retail businesses need to develop their own brands

Local retail businesses should focus on developing their own brands, improving the product quality and diversifying products in order to enhance their competitiveness in the domestic market.

The scale of the nation’s retail market has grown rapidly in recent years, from US$88 billion in 2010 to US$130 billion in 2019, and is set to grow to an estimated US$179 billion by 2020, according to the General Statistics Office under the Ministry of Planning and Investment.

With a large and young population of over 90 million people, the rural market remains open for retail businesses as the modern retail channels currently account for approximately 20 per cent of the country’s market shares.

Therefore, there is great potential for the domestic retail market to become a magnet for investment from both domestic and international sources.

Despite these positives, the openness of the economy has resulted in a number of major retail distributors, including domestic and foreign enterprises, creating fiercer competition within the local market.

Major foreign corporations such as Auchan, Family Mart, Lotte, Central Group, Aeon, Circle K, and K Mart have all been attempting to expand their share in the local retail market.

In spite of great potential, a race has emerged among domestic enterprises and foreign direct investment (FDI) firms who are attempting to gain a greater market share, with convenience and grocery stores facing increasingly tough competition.

The rapid expansion of foreign distributors has exerted an enormous pressure on local retailers with the domestic retail system being at risk of manipulation from foreign enterprises. This is because large foreign enterprises have been constantly increasing their market share and are poised to continue this policy of expansion in the future.

According to Vu Vinh Phu, a retail industry expert, FDI retail businesses have enjoyed strong development in recent years and have many advantages in comparison to local enterprises.

Foreign businesses enjoy strengths in terms of capital, business technology, corporate governance, in addition to global purchasing and distribution chains, whilst systematic investment plans have seen them rapidly grow to hold 53 per cent of the market share.

In contrast, domestic firms suffer from a number of inadequacies such as a lack of connectivity when joining the retail market, a shortage of capital sources, small scale, and a lack of professional management capability, all of which leads to weaker levels of competitiveness.

As a means of providing sustainable and rapid development within the retail market, Phu emphasised the need to support trade promotion activities whilst expanding markets and developing retail brands aimed at enhancing the competitiveness of local goods within the domestic market.

According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT), increasing numbers of foreign retailers are keen to enter the Vietnamese market in recent time.

As a result, it is projected that the impact of the FDI sector on the country’s retail market will increase whilst directly affecting the development of domestic production and distribution in the near future.

Therefore, in the short to medium term, the MoIT is poised to finalise relevant legal regulations and put policies in place.

Recently, the MoIT has reported to the government that legal regulations must be revamped in order to enhance the state’s management of the retail distribution activities of FDI enterprises. This includes the activities of setting up retail establishments and developing retail chains.

Along with support from the MoIT, domestic retail businesses need to continue to improve the overall quality of their customer service, product quality and diversification in order to make breakthroughs and compete with FDI enterprises over the long term.

US retailer Ace Hardware enters Vietnam

The 2,500-meter Ace Home Center, located in Saigon, will have 10,000 products in several categories including household, furniture, tools and outdoors.

The company aims to be the largest hardware retail chain in Vietnam with 20-40 outlets within the next 10 years, a representative of the company said.

The company enters Vietnam as rising urban incomes see increasing demand for furniture and household items, the representative added.

Before Vietnam, Ace Hardware entered several other Asian markets like Indonesia, the Philippines and South Korea.

The Illinois-based company, established in 1931, has over 5,200 outlets in almost 70 markets.

According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, on average, 1-3 retail stores are needed per 1,000 people. However, only 7,012 stores are considered modern retail stores in Vietnam.

The country’s revenue from selling goods last year rose by 11.7 percent from 2017 to $142 billion, up 12.4 percent from 2017.

Vietnamese farmers: Opportunities and challenges in global integration

In recent years, Vietnam has signed several important trade agreements with major economic partners, notably the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA).

The agreements have created bot great opportunities and challenges for Vietnam’s agriculture and farmers.

Statistics show that Vietnam earned more than 26 billion USD from agricultural exports between January and August this year, 1.6% higher than last year. Some export items have reached 1 billion USD in revenue making Vietnam one of the top 15 global exporters of farm produce.

The import of agricultural products has also increased significantly over time, an inevitable consequence of global integration.

According to Belgapom, the association for Belgian potato trade and processing industry, Vietnam's consumption of Belgian potatoes has increased from more than 380 tons in 2010 to more than 2,800 tons last year. In the first half of this year alone Vietnam imported more than 3,500 tons.

Vietnam’s import of agricultural products from the US has increased by 70%, reaching 116 million USD in the first half of this year.

At the recent 4th National Farmers’ Forum, participants agreed that on top of "golden opportunities", trade agreements have also brought Vietnamese farmers major challenges, requiring Vietnamese farmers to update farming practices, strengthen technological application, promote large commodity production, and improve product quality to meet the requirements of consumers and export markets.

According to agriculture experts, farm produce is likely to suffer adverse effects most when new-generation FTAs take effect because of Vietnam’s small scale agricultural production and outdated technology.

Figures show that a majority of Vietnamese farmers have between 0.3 hectares and 0.5 hectares of farming land. More policies are needed to promote connectivity in agricultural production and bring millions of farming households into a large-scale production chain.

Experts want ACV as Long Thanh airport builder

Some local experts have backed the government's decision to award the construction of Long Thanh airport to the Airports Corporation of Vietnam despite lawmakers' concerns.

At the ongoing National Assembly session many lawmakers have expressed concern about awarding the deal to the state-owned ACV saying its $4.8 billion cost for the first phase is well beyond the airport operator’s means.

But Dang Huy Dong, head of the Planning and Development Institute and former Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment, said the cost estimate is based on the pre-feasibility report, which includes many hypothetical values and has a margin for error of 10-15 percent.

After the feasibility study report is approved, the main developer would have to do geological surveys to accurately determine elements like the nature of the foundation, materials required and construction method following which a new estimate has to be made, he said.

Dong therefore suggested that lawmakers should not focus on numbers yet and instead hire an independent consultancy to assess the project as their concerns about "unverified" costs could delay the work and slow down infrastructural development.

Pham Van Toi, vice chairman of the Vietnam Association of Aviation Science and Technology, agreed with Dong saying by awarding the contract to ACV, Vietnam could avoid dependence on foreign technology.

The company has cash reserves of VND25 trillion ($1.07 billion) and could borrow the rest from banks without needing government guarantees, he said.

Legislators want the airport to be operational by 2025, and assigning ACV as the investor is the only option for meeting this deadline, Toi added.

Dong pointed out that ACV is the most capable of all local firms in airport infrastructure.

If the contract is to be awarded through a tender, applicants must have experience operating airports with at least 80 percent of Long Thanh Airport's designed capacity, and only ACV meets this requirement in Vietnam, he said.

No other firm could compete with ACV in terms of airport management either since it is the operator of the country’s major airports in Hanoi and HCMC, Dong argued.

"I support creating a fair competitive environment and developing the private sector, but the above points are the reality."

Assoc Prof Dr Nguyen Thien Tong, former head of the HCMC University of Technology's department of aviation engineering, said the total cost of the three-phase Long Thanh Airport project would be $16 billion, which is far beyond ACV's means, and it would have to borrow in the international market at an interest rate of around 6 percent.

This could pose a huge risk to ACV should the airport fail to perform as expected, he said.

"What happens if we build the first phase and then the cost of the subsequent phases doubles or triples? If we don't have the money for the subsequent phases, what then?" he added.

Tong was also critical of the total area of the airport in relation to its capacity, saying there are many airports with the same capacity as Long Thanh’s but are much smaller than its proposed 5,000 hectares.

He pointed to Singapore's Changi Airport with a capacity of 85 million passengers a year and an area of 1,300 ha and Spain's Barcelona Airport which has a capacity of 85 million and an area of 1,533 ha.

With its planned capacity of 80-100 million passengers, Long Thanh would only need 1,300-2,300 ha, and a large amount of money could be saved by reducing its size, he said.

But Tong was also opposed to an international tender, saying very few developers would apply and most would be Chinese.

Dong agreed saying awarding it to a foreign developer could be a security risk and Vietnamese companies could hire foreign firms to meet international standards.

Based in southern Dong Nai Province, Long Thanh International Airport is expected to begin running at a capacity of 25 million passengers as soon as the first phase, and by 2030 its capacity could reach 85 million, according to the Ministry of Transport.

The airport was approved by the National Assembly four years ago, but funding has remained a big question though construction of the first phase is set to start next year.

It will be built in three phases over three decades. The first phase is scheduled for completion in 2025, and the next two in 2030-35 and 2040-50.

It will take over the overflow from Tan Son Nhat International Airport, 40 kilometers away in Ho Chi Minh City which is operating far above its designed capacity.

Vietnam Railways to upgrade infrastructure

Vietnam Railways (VNR) plans to upgrade rail infrastructure to satisfy passenger demand by building 300 new carriages and purchasing more locomotives by 2023 to provide better services.

Vu Anh Minh, Chairman of VNR’s Member Council, said that outdated locomotives and carriages led to higher fuel consumption and maintenance costs.

In accordance with the 2017 Railway Law, the lifespan of locomotives and carriages should not stretch beyond 40 years for passenger trains and 45 years for cargo trains. This necessitated the purchase of new equipment, he said.

Of the 257 locomotives in operation, 115 locomotives had been in use for less than 20 years; 18 for 20-30 years; 89 for 30-40 years; and 45 for more than 40 years.

About 667 carriages of the 1,008 in use were less than 30 years old, while 103 had been in operation for 35-40 years and 163 for 40 years or more.

According to Minh, the VNR had been working with foreign partners on an investment solution for the plan.

“The partner will build the trains and offer them to the VNR on a lease-purchase agreement."

In the meantime, the cost of building carriages would be cut by 10 percent, Minh said.

For example, it costs about 300 billion VND (12.9 million USD) to build a carriage and 40 billion VND for lifetime maintenance. The VNR would have to spend 300 billion VND instead of 340 billion VND without taking out loans.

“We expect 50 new trains to go into operation in the next 3-5 years,” he said.

Minh also said the VNR would ask its partner to form a joint venture with Gia Lam Train Company or Di An Train Company to lower the cost of building trains, while ensuring domestic workers, machines and materials were utilised.

Along with the new carriages, the VNR would upgrade old ones to save money./.

Sustainable infrastructure investment speeds up growth in Vietnam

Sustainable infrastructure investments are becoming the norm and enabling stable economic and social growth in Vietnam, Nirukt Sapru, CEO, Vietnam and ASEAN & South Asia Cluster Markets at Standard Chartered Bank, said at a recent conference in Ho Chi Minh City.

Water, energy, transport and digital infrastructure are key sectors that are immediate priorities, he said.

Sustained availability of clean water, for example, is a concern in the Mekong Basin, he said, adding that financing opportunities exist in water management infrastructure.

The Vietnamese government targets all residents in urban areas to have access to 120 litres of clean water per person per day by 2025, according to Sapru.

“Nearly 3.3 billion USD for infrastructure improvement and 6.9 billion USD for urban waste water treatment plants will be required,” he said. “Financing for water resource management is insufficient. High levels of government subsidies are required, which increases the cost of such projects and reduces financing opportunities."

In the transport sector, 29 rail projects are in the pipeline. Roads are the dominant means for freight transport, but there is limited capacity in the country, as well as a lack of sustainable financing for such projects, according to the CEO.

Ports are mainly owned and operated by the Government, with port expansions in the north and south being promoted.

He said the Government could encourage private financing of ports by providing support infrastructure.

“We need to think beyond traditional financing for such sustainable infrastructure investment. Clear and consistent policy and regulations are critical to enabling investment infrastructure,” he added.

Dr Ngo Viet Nam Son, President of NgoViet Architects & Planners, said the Government should call on private investment in the development of smart cities.

Speaking about the construction sector, Philippe Richart, general director of INSEE Vietnam, said: “The industry along the entire value chain has vast potential for improving productivity and efficiency thanks to digitalisation and new construction techniques.”

Construction is a key industry around the world and a growing and dynamic sector, especially in Asia. Around 10 trillion USD a year is spent on buildings or infrastructure which are the backbone of the global economy.

However, while other sectors have undergone tremendous changes over the last few decades, through improved process and product innovations, productivity in construction has barely increased at all. This not only represents a lost opportunity for the industry but also a cost for the world economy, according to a press release from organiser INSEE Vietnam.

The Large Infrastructure Project Conference 2019 “Rethinking Construction” was organised by INSEE Vietnam, an affiliate of Jardines, in partnership with SIKA, DOKA and LILAMA, and in association with the Vietnam Institute of Building Materials, Vietnam Green Building Council, the British Business Association and the Hong Kong Business Association.

At the conference, government authorities, representatives of construction industries, developers, designers, contractors and suppliers shared new ideas about how to build better cities./.

Binh Thuan grows more dragon fruit under GAP standards

The south-central province of Binh Thuan, the country’s largest dragon fruit producer, is expanding cultivation of dragon fruit under Vietnamese and global Good Agricultural Practices (VietGAP and GlobalGAP) standards.

Such standards help farmers save on fertiliser and pesticide costs, and promote sustainable production.

Phan Van Tan, deputy director of the province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that more advanced farming techniques were being used such as efficient irrigation systems and compact lamps that stimulate off-season growth as well as trellises on which dragon fruit vines grow.

These techniques improve quality and reduce production costs.

Dragon fruit from the province is exported to many countries, including China, the US and Australia.

The Thuan Tien Dragon Fruit Co-operative in Ham Thuan Bac’s Ham Liem commune grows dragon fruit to VietGAP and GlobalGAP standards and exports fruit to the US, Australia and the EU.

Tran Dinh Trung, chairman of the co-operative, said its 52 members cultivate a total of 70ha of dragon fruit and have a profit margin of 35 – 40 percent.

Vo Hong Chien, one of the members, grows 4ha to GlobalGAP standards and harvests about 120 tonnes a year, earning a profit of about 1 billion VND (43,200 USD) a year.

Besides purchasing dragon fruit for its members, the Thuan Tien cooperative signs contracts with other farmers and co-operatives that buy their dragon fruit.

The province has 30 co-operatives that grow dragon fruit to VietGAP and Global GAP standards. In addition to selling fresh dragon fruit, many co-operatives produce dragon fruit wine and syrup, and dried dragon fruit.

As of the end of last month, the province had 10,200ha of dragon fruit grown under VietGAP standards, up 200ha against last year, according to the department. Ham Thuan Nam, Ham Thuan Bac and Bac Binh districts top the province in having the largest area of VietGAP quality dragon fruit.

The province also has more than 260ha of dragon fruit planted to GlobalGAP standards. The department and other agencies have helped farmers improve the quality of dragon fruit, including researching new dragon fruit varieties.

Nguyen Phu Hoang, chairman of the province’s Farmers Association, said that farmers had received help to access soft loans and quality seeds. The association has also encouraged farmers to switch from dragon fruit grown under traditional methods to advanced farming techniques.

The province has nearly 30,000ha of dragon fruit with an annual output of 600,000 tonnes, according to the department.

Dragon fruit is a key product of the province./.

Work commences on Quang Tri 1 thermal power plant

A ground-breaking ceremony has been held to kick off construction of the 1,320-megawatt Quang Tri 1 thermal power plant, located in the central province of Quang Tri.

The project is undertaken by Thailand’s EGAT International Company Limited under a build-operate-transfer contract.

 

The coal-fired plant using supercritical technology will have two turbines, with a capacity of 660 megawatts each.

It is expected to generate 7,200 billion kWh of electricity and pre-tax revenue of 12.5 trillion VND (over 538 million USD) per year.

With a total investment of 55.093 trillion VND (2.37 billion USD), the Quang Tri 1 power plant is the largest project ever invested in Quang Tri province.

On the occasion, the Quang Tri Economic Zone Management inaugurated a 23.5-kilometre road connecting the Quang Tri Southeastern Industrial Park with Cua Viet Port, which was built at a cost of 700 billion VND (30.2 million USD)./.

Creating favourable business environment for logistics activities

It is necessary to improve the legal framework and create a healthy and open business environment for logistics activities to boost the sustainable development of Vietnam’s logistics sector, Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue has said.

The Deputy PM made the statement at the Vietnam Logistics Forum 2019 themed “Logistics Adds More Value to Agricultural Products” opened in Da Nang on November 23.

He asked relevant agencies to assess the implementation of policies on managing and developing the logistics sector in a comprehensive manner as well as ministries, sectors and localities to closely coordinate in managing logistic activities, especially in training and developing the logistic sector’s high-quality human resources.

Minister Tran Tuan Anh said that Vietnam’s logistics sector has maintained a growth rate of 13-15 percent per year thanks to the growth of the domestic economy and import-export activities.

Thus, the forum would suggest several contents for authorised agencies, sectors and logistics enterprises to take advantage of the benefits from the international integration process, Anh noted.

Two discussion sessions themed “Logistics connects the East-West economic corridor” and “Sharing economy in logistics” will be also included as part of the forum.

The Vietnam Logistics Report 2019 will also be announced at the forum.

According to the World Bank report on Logistics Performance Index (LPI) released on July 24, 2018, Vietnam ranked 39th out of 160 surveyed countries, up 25 places compared to 2016 and ranked third among ASEAN countries.

The development of the transportation and logistics sectors will create conditions for Vietnam to become a new production centre in the region with high labour productivity and competitiveness.

The forum, jointly held by the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the People’s Committee of Da Nang, the World Bank and the Vietnam Economic Times, drew representatives of logistics firms from Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, China, Thailand, Singapore, and others./.

Firms advised to focus on brand building via online channels

Vietnamese businesses need to focus on brand building and usage of online channels rather than cheap prices, experts said at a conference in Ho Chi Minh City on November 22.

Pham Thiet Hoa, Director of the HCM City Investment and Trade Promotion Centre (ITPC), said that medium to large-sized businesses had become more aware of the need to improve brand building and protection in recent years.

However, since most businesses in Vietnam are small, brand building as a whole remains limited, especially compared to global competitors. Many Vietnamese businesses lack human resources and funds for brand building, Hoa said.

Branding is one of the most important factors for customers since one product can have many producers.

While Vietnam has many high-quality products with a high number of exports, lacklustre brand building means their value is still low compared to established foreign brands.

Hung Vo, deputy general director of marketing for Vietnamese footwear company Biti's, said that criteria for product quality changed over time, so businesses would need to keep up with trends and adapt their promotional strategies to maintain customers' attention.

He gave an example of how the durability of Biti's footwear had once been a good selling point, but now it was no longer a top priority for buyers, especially young people, and their products had to keep up with fashion trends and offer more convenience.

For successful brand building, businesses should not focus solely on cheap prices and instead pay more attention to product values and after-sales services, as well as invest more in product research and development, and keep up with, or even create, new trends.

Nguyen Huy Hoang, commercial director of Kantar Worldpanel, said the number of e-commerce platforms was on the rise and more consumers were shopping online, so businesses should use online channels for brand building.

According to a report from the Ministry of Industry and Trade, in 2020 Vietnam's e-commerce market has the potential to reach 13 billion USD.

The conference was held by ITPC and advertising company Dentsu Aegis Network Vietnam./.

Vietnam, India enhance closer cooperation in textile sector

The garment industry has called for investment in the underdeveloped textile, dyeing and fabric segments to meet the global supply chain demand, according to the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (VITAS).

Speaking at a business interaction event titled India-Vietnam Textile Cooperation event held in Ho Chi Minh City on November 21, VITAS Chairman Vu Duc Giang invited Indian companies to invest in the yarn, weaving, dyeing, and printing segments to take advantage of the market access provided by free trade agreements that Vietnam has signed.

He expressed hope that cooperation between India and Vietnam would benefit both countries.

K Srikar Reddy, Indian Consul General in HCM City, said bilateral trade in textiles between India and Vietnam has registered impressive growth during the last two years. Indian textile and clothing exports to Vietnam grew 48 percent during the last two years from 390 million USD in the 2016-2017 fiscal year to 578 million USD in the 2018-2019 fiscal year.

“However, there is significant untapped potential for trade in the area of textiles between our countries,” he said.

Vietnam is dependent on other countries for raw materials for garments such as cotton, yarn, made-ups, and fabrics and it is looking to diversify its sources.

According to Kalavathi Rao, executive of the Synthetic and Rayon Textiles Export Promotion Council of India, India is the sixth largest producer of man-made fibre textile (MMFT) and exported more than 6 billion USD worth of MMFT products to more than 150 countries in 2018-2019.

Its exports to Vietnam were worth 103.7 million USD, she said, adding that India’s share of Vietnam’s MMFT imports was 3.34 percent.

Dr Siddhartha Rajagopal, executive director of the Cotton Textiles Export Promotion Council of India, said in 2018, while Vietnam’s total textile imports were worth 27.90 billion USD, its imports from India were valued at 640 million USD, or only 2.29 percent.

India’s imports were worth 7.31 billion USD and imports from Vietnam were worth 300 million USD, he said.

Reddy said under the India-ASEAN FTA most types of yarns, woven and knit fabrics could be imported duty-free from India.

“India can become a reliable partner of Vietnam in supplying yarn, fabrics, and machinery at competitive prices.”

Rajagopal invited Vietnamese companies to participate in the IND-TEXPO (Reverse Buyer Seller meet) to be organised by TEXPROCIL from March 17 to 29 next year in Coimbatore.

Visitors from 40 countries were expected to participate in the event for sourcing varieties of yarns, fabrics, made-ups, home textiles, and technical textiles from India, he said.

Approved buyers from Vietnam would be eligible for full hospitality, including complementary return airfare, accommodation and local transport, he added.

Organised by the Indian Consulate General, VITAS, the Vietnam Cotton and Spinning Association, and HCM City Textile and Garment -Embroidery Association, the event attracted 60 Indian companies who also participated in the 19th Vietnam International Textile and Garment Industry Exhibition in HCM City from November 20 to 23 besides local firms./.

Vietnam, Cambodia hold untapped economic cooperation potential

There is still much untapped potential for cooperation in agriculture, aquaculture and food processing between Vietnam and Cambodia, Oknha Leng Rithy, a senior advisor to the Cambodian Government, told a seminar in Ho Chi Minh City on November 22.

As neighbours, Vietnam and Cambodia have huge potential and advantages in trade and investment, he said.

According to Tran Trung Nam, an economist, the two countries have many similarities in terms of culture, market demand and consumer habits, which means Vietnamese goods and services are well-regarded in the Cambodian market.

Besides bilateral agreements, ASEAN trade deals also connect the two economies, and they should work together in sectors like consumer products, energy, mining, aquaculture, and forestry.

Border infrastructure has been improved as well, creating favourable conditions for the two countries’ businesses and people living along the border to foster trade and investment, he said.

Government agencies and local authorities in the two countries should regularly organise meetings and exchange delegations to strengthen understanding and resolve economic and trade difficulties, he added.

To better tap the bilateral economic potential, he said the two sides should maintain a more open business and investment environment and complete their legal framework for collaborative activities particularly by their small- and medium-sized enterprises, and simplify administrative and investment procedures.

According to the Ministry of Planning and Investment, Vietnam had invested nearly 2.8 billion USD in Cambodia as of September, the third highest out of 76 countries and territories.

Cambodia has invested 63.7 million USD in Vietnam, mostly in agro-forestry-fisheries, trade, transportation, manufacturing, and processing.

Bilateral trade between the two countries is forecast to reach 5 billion USD by 2020./.

Vietnam – Hanoi Goods Week 2019 held in RoK

The Vietnam – Hanoi Goods Week 2019 opened in Seoul on November 22, drawing a large number of visitors.

Co-hosted by the Hanoi Investment, Trade and Tourism Promotion Centre and Lotte Mart company, the event, which will run until November 28, is expected to bring Vietnamese products to the Lotte distribution system, contributing to popularising Vietnam’s cuisine, culture and tourism to the people of the Republic of Korea (RoK).

Vietnamese firms are showcasing processed food; fresh, dried and canned fruits; gifts, apparels, spices, tea and coffee to visitors.

A business-to-business matching session, tourism promotion and folk art performance events are also being held.

Speaking at the event, Vietnamese Deputy Ambassador to the RoK Tran Truong Thuy said the event affords a chance to help consumer goods of Vietnam and Hanoi in particular to better access the RoK, thus promoting exchange between the two countries.

Earlier, the Hanoi People’s Committee and Lotte Group signed a Memorandum of Understanding to enhance investment in trade infrastructure and goods purchase./.

Vietnam-Cambodia trade-investment promotion forum held

Representatives from nearly 100 firms attended the Vietnam – Cambodia Trade and Investment Promotion Forum 2019 held in Phnom Penh on November 22.

The event took place at a time when Cambodia’s economy has enjoyed steady growth, reaching 7 percent annually over the past two decades while its people’s lives have improved.

About 50 Vietnamese firms and research units explored business opportunities and discussed with representatives from the Cambodian Ministry of Commerce and the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) about regulations on licensing foreign projects in specific areas.

CDC Deputy Secretary General Chea Vuthy answered questions about regulations on land lease in Cambodia for agricultural development, adding that Cambodia wants to develop herbal plant zones to not only serve domestic demand but also exports to regional countries.

Vietnamese Ambassador to Cambodia Vu Quang Minh suggested several Vietnamese models, including linkage between the State, farmers, scientists and businesses to facilitate effective and sustainable farm produce production and consumption.

Vice President of the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce Oknha Lim Heng proposed that the Vietnamese government should open more border gates to facilitate Cambodian people’s traveling, especially development of medical tourism services.

Two-way trade between Vietnam and Cambodia hit 4.7 billion USD last year, up 23.8 percent from 2017. The figure reached 4.4 billion USD in ten months of 2019, up 13.8 percent year on year, and is estimated at 5.2 billion USD this year, surpassing the target of 5 billion USD set by the two prime ministers one year ahead of schedule.

The two nations have signed a number of agreements such as a framework agreement on Vietnam – Cambodia economic connectivity by 2030, an action plan for Cambodia – Laos – Vietnam economic connectivity, an agreement on double taxation avoidance, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on transport cooperation till 2025 with a vision towards 2030.

The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism and the Cambodian Ministry of Tourism signed a MoU on tourism connectivity. On October 27, Cambodia’s airline Angkor Air opened a direct route connecting Phnom Penh and Vietnam’s Da Nang city./.

Ireland’s renewable energy developer pledges support for Vietnam

Vice President Dang Thi Ngoc Thinh hosted a reception for Andy Kinsella, Chief Executive Officer of Ireland-based Mainstream Renewable Power, in Hanoi on November 20.

The official spoke highly of the Irish company’s investment in Vietnam in the renewable energy industry, which the country has huge demand for and many Irish businesses boast strength in.

She highlighted that electricity is among vital demands in Vietnam’s sustainable development orientations, highly valuing the feasibility of Mainstream Renewable Power’s current wind energy project.

The Vice President voiced her hope that the company’s project will promptly go into operation.

Vietnam’s Phu Cuong Group and the Irish company recently signed a cooperation deal worth 2 billion USD to build and operate a wind farm with a capacity of 800 MW in the southern province of Soc Trang.

Irish Ambassador to Vietnam John McCullagh, who also joined the reception, said both Vietnam and Ireland are facing challenges in diversifying energy sources and coping with climate change impact.

For his part, Kinsella said the project has completed its survey and socio-economic impact study as well as worked with Vietnam’s relevant agencies.

He spoke highly of Vietnam’s potential in developing wind energy, adding that the company is willing to support the country in this field./.

Japanese firms explore Ha Nam’s investment climate

Businesses of Japan’s Chiba prefecture joined a working session with the People’s Committee of the northern province of Ha Nam on November 20 to explore the province’s investment climate.

At the event, Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Truong Quoc Huy informed his guests that Japan is now the second largest foreign investor of Ha Nam, with nearly 100 projects in various fields, contributing to the local socio-economic development.

As Ha Nam regards Japanese firms as its main investment partner, the province has zoned off the Dong Van 3 supporting industrial park to attract more businesses from the country, he added.

Notably, the province has set up an office to support Japanese investors in administrative procedures.

In addition, the province boasts a huge workforce with cheap labour cost. It has carried out a project to train skilled human resources for Japanese firms.

Ha Nam is prioritising investment in high and eco-friendly technology, processing, manufacturing and supporting industry, health care services and education, Huy said.

In reply, General Director of Chiba’s Commerce, Industry and Labour Department Katsuaki Ishii said the delegation’s visit aims to explore investment climate in Vietnam and Ha Nam province in particular, adding that many businesses of Chiba prefecture hope to invest in the province in the coming time./. 

VN’s aviation industry asked to focus on infrastructure, innovation

Innovation and investment in infrastructure are required for Vietnam's aviation industry to develop, experts have told conferences at the Vietnam International Aviation Expo that opened on November 20 in Ho Chi Minh City.

Darren Hulst, senior managing director, market analysis & sales support, commercial airplanes, at Boeing, said the country’s aviation industry quadrupled in size in the last 10 years.

As the middle class expands, the growth potential for the industry also increases, he said.

"I think in some cases the challenges for aviation here are really because the market wants to grow so quickly. Investment in infrastructure is needed to continue to facilitate the growth."

Understanding the long-term view of Vietnam's aviation market and the potential for the next five or 10 years, and then investing systematically in areas such as airports and technician and pilot training is important for facilitating growth, he said.

Aviation growth brings economic growth, more spending and imports and exports, and so investment yields good returns, he added.

Vietnam is becoming one of the top tourism destinations in Southeast Asia, Nguyen Van Hiep, former deputy director of the Government Office's Department 1, said.

The country has 23 airports and six domestic airlines, and it needs to ensure its airports and infrastructure are ready for the tourism boom, he said.

Patee Sarasin, founder and former CEO of Thai airline Nok Air, said while seeking innovation within the airline industry could be challenging, it is a good way to increase efficiency.

Carriers need to keep out of price wars and focus on innovation, good marketing and creating a feeling of excitement rather than just offer cheap prices.

"The minute it becomes a commodity, then there is no way to innovate, it will be just buy seats for cheap prices, and customers' behaviour will be built that way."

Airlines could seek partners to do creative thinking to create excitement, while they just focus on their projects, he added.

The Vietnam International Aviation Expo, which will end on November 22, is showcasing the latest equipment, products and technologies in the aviation industry.

The first such exhibition in Vietnam has attracted more than 50 exhibitors from 20 countries and territories./.

Viettel Telecom honoured as best mobile data service provider in 2019

Viettel Telecom Corporation has been named Vietnam’s Mobile Data Service Provider of the Year at the 2019 Frost & Sullivan Asia-Pacific Best Practices Awards recently held in Singapore.

The company was honoured thanks to its strong growth of data subscribers, service diversity, large scope of service supply, and heavy investment in infrastructure and telecommunication eco-system.

In the first nine months of 2019, the number of 4G subscribers reached 21 million, doubling the amount in 2018 and accounting for 65 percent of total Viettel subscribers. The corporation will expand 5G services with various data packages to facilitate internet access for everyone.

Furthermore, several free entertainment applications like Mocha and Keeng have been provided for the customers.

Viettel Telecom General Director Cao Anh Son said: “The award affirms Viettel has been on the right track in its digital transformation. We will channel more efforts to bring the best services to our customers”.

Meanwhile, Nidhi Jalali, an analyst at the Frost & Sullivan, said that Viettel has an impressive growth of data subscribers thanks to its rational data packages for both urban and rural customers.

With its heavy ICT investment, Viettel has become an excellent data service provider, and improved its prestige in the telecommunication sector, she added.

Frost & Sullivan, founded in 1961, has more than 40 global offices with more than 1,800 industry consultants, market research analysts, technology analysts and economists, monitoring close to 250,000 companies in 300 industries.

The Frost & Sullivan Excellence Awards recognise companies in a variety of regional and global markets for demonstrating outstanding achievements and superior performance in areas such as leadership, technological innovation, customer services, and strategic product development. Industry analysts compare market participants and measure performance through in-depth interviews, analysis, and extensive secondary research in order to identify best practices in the industry.

Frost & Sullivan's intent is to help drive innovation, excellence and a positive change in the global economy by recognizing best-in-class products, companies and individuals./.