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Total foreign direct investment (FDI) in Ho Chi Minh City in 2019 is estimated to reach 8 billion USD, equivalent to 101 percent of the figure recorded last year, reported the municipal People’s Committee.

Of the total, 1.85 billion USD was poured into 1,200 newly-licensed projects, while 850 million USD was added into 300 underway projects.

At the same time, 5.3 billion USD was invested by 5,500 investors in capital contribution and share purchase deals during the year.

In 2019, the city has held 203 trade and investment promotion programmes in and outside the country, along with various forum and conferences as well as business-to-business connection events.

The southern economic hub has also received 310 domestic and foreign business delegations who came to explore the investment and business environment in the city and exchange experience in trade and investment promotion.

HCM City has effectively maintained the role of the working group for investment in dealing with difficulties and obstacles facing enterprises and investors during the implementation of projects, especially big ones.

According to the municipal People’s Committee, in the future, the city will continue with investment promotion activities to call for both domestic and foreign investors.

Besides, the city will increase direct dialogue with businesses and rolling out measures to remove difficulties for them./.

Pork price pushes up November CPI

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) of November increased by 0.96 percent compared to last month, the highest growth for November’s CPI in the last nine years.

The November CPI rose by 3.52 percent compared to the same month last year.

The General Statistics Office (GSO) attributed it to the rising price of pork and pork products due to declining supply caused by the African swine fever crisis.

The total number of culled pigs was over 5,850,000 with a total weight of 335,700 tonnes by November 15, the GSO said.

However, the average CPI of the 11 months increased by only 2.57 percent compared to the same period last year, the lowest growth rate for the period in the last three years.

Nine of 11 groups of consumer goods and services have seen prices rise over the last month, said Do Thi Ngoc, director of GSO’s CPI department.

These include food and catering services; beverages and tobacco; other commodities and services; housing and construction materials; clothing, hats and footwear; household appliances; medicines and healthcare services; education; and culture, entertainment and tourism.

Two groups of goods witnessing declines included transport and post and telecommunications.

In addition, the petrol and oil prices dropped by 1.7 percent from last month, helping push the general growth of CPI by about 0.07 percentage points.

The domestic gold price this month also declined 0.63 percent compared to last month on the falling global gold price.

At the same time, the value of the US dollar dropped by 0.13 percent on plentiful domestic reserve foreign currency and the influence of the US-China trade war.

The average core inflation of 11 months (CPI growth excluding food, foodstuff and fresh food, energy, health care and education) climbed 1.94 percent compared to the same period last year./.

Industrial production index’s expansion slows down in November

The Index of Industrial Production (IIP) in November saw the lowest rise since the beginning of 2019 at 5.4 percent, mostly due to the slowing-down of mining and processing-manufacturing sectors, according to the General Statistics Office (GSO).

The IIP decreased by an estimated 1.6 percent compared to last month.

The mining sector suffered a fall of 5.3 percent in November due to a 46.4 percent reduction in the production of coke and refined oil. Meanwhile, production of the processing-manufacturing sector rose 6.5 percent thanks to a 2.1 percent rise in electronic products, computers and optical products.

Electricity production and distribution enjoyed an increase of 7.5 percent, while water supply, waste and wastewater treatment sector expanded 6.3 percent.

The GSO attributed the low yearly growth of the IIP in November to the Nghi Son Oil Refinery’s halting of operation for maintenance and low production of Samsung Bac Ninh and Thai Nguyen.

Meanwhile, the IIP for the first 11 months of 2019 expanded 9.3 percent year-on-year, lower than the 10 percent growth in the same period of 2018, with processing-manufacturing sector growing 10.6 percent

According to the office, industrial products that enjoyed high growth in the 11-month period included crude steel and iron (37.5 percent, petrol (23.9 percent), steel bars (20.5 percent), television (14.6 percent), mobile phones (12.3 percent), natural fabric (11.7 percent), chemical paint (11.2 percent), processed aquatic products (10.3 percent), and electricity generation (9.5 percent).

As of November 1, the total number of workers employed by industrial firms had rose 1.5 percent from one month before and 2.7 percent compared to the same time last year./.

Petrol price adjusted up in latest review

The retail prices of petrol were adjusted up as from 3pm on November 30 under a joint decision of the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Industry and Trade.

The two ministries review fuel prices every 15 days to adjust domestic prices in accordance with fluctuations in the global market.

Specifically, the price of E5 RON92 was adjusted up 312 VND to 19,819 VND (0.86 USD) per litre at the highest, and that of RON95-III also increased by 283 VND to 21,079 VND per litre.

Meanwhile, the price of diesel 0.05S was adjusted up 25 VND per litre and that of kerosene down 6 VND per litre, capped at 15,988 VND and 14,962 VND per litre, respectively. Mazut 180CST 3.5S is sold at no more than 11,188 VND per kilogramme, down 754 VND per kg./.

PetroVietnam becomes new secretariat of ASEAN petroleum council

Vietnam Oil & Gas Group (PetroVietnam) will head the ASEAN Council on Petroleum (ASCOPE) secretariat for the first time.

The group will be the secretariat of the council from now until 2024 after the position was handed over from Thai oil and gas company PTT at a council meeting on November 29 in Hanoi.

“It is a milestone for Vietnam since it joined the council in 1996," Tran Hong Nam, member of the board of Directors, PetroVietnam Exploration Production Corporation (PVEP), told Viet Nam News, the English language daily of the Vietnam News Agency.

“It is a good opportunity for Vietnam to benefit from the council thanks to its network of experienced oil and gas enterprises in the region," said Nam, who will serve as the council's secretary-in-charge.

Nam said Vietnam could learn the experience from both the well developed countries with oil and gas industry and the newcomers in the field.

“There are both challenges and opportunities for the industry in ASEAN, which consumes and produces a large amount of oil and gas products, in the context of growing complicated climate change and the technology era," he added.

Hosted by PetroVietnam in the capital, the 45th Council Meeting is taking place in Hanoi from November 27 to December 1 with the theme 'Regional Cooperation for Sustainable Development'.

At the meeting, participants discussed the plan of the subcommittee in promoting the use of liquefied natural gas (LNG), updated each other on oil and gas projects in recent years, and shared experience on developing LNG markets, among others.

Established in 1975, ASCOPE aims to promote collaboration in the development of the petroleum resources in the region through joint endeavours.

It consists of national petroleum companies/national entities responsible for oil and gas in the 10 ASEAN member countries./.

Work begins on first mercury-free zinc-manganese battery factory

Construction of Vietnam's first factory producing mercury-free zinc-manganese battery began on November 29 in the southern province of Binh Phuoc.

Covering more than 30ha in Becamex-Binh Phuoc Industrial Park, the factory has total investment capital of 15 million USD.

Financed by Singapore-invested GPPD Limited Company, the factory is designed to provide 936 million products annually with 336 million in the first phase and 600 million in the second phase.

The first stage of the factory is slated for completion in June, 2020.

The province has to date this year lured 38 foreign-invested projects, capitalised at 350 million USD, 70 percent higher than the yearly target.

The latest addition brings the number of foreign-invested projects in the province total up to 230, valued at 2.4 billion USD. Of the total, 24 projects were invested in Becamex - Binh Phuoc Industrial Park with total registered capital of more than 410 million USD./.

Vietnamese, Lao, Cambodian farmers cultivate ties in clean agriculture

An exchange programme of farmers from Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia took place in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong on November 30, aiming to foster the friendship and cooperation among the three countries in agricultural product production and selling.

The exchange was held in Da Lat city along with a safe farm produce fair with 255 booths, including 25 manned by Lao and Cambodian firms.

Addressing the event, Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Farmers’ Union Dinh Khac Dinh said that the union has directed its chapters in bordering provinces to support farmers in Lao and Cambodian localities bordering with Vietnam in farming technique, varieties and technology.

During the exchange, farmers of the three countries are scheduled to share experience in agricultural and rural development, visit a number of production models and economic, cultural facilities, and explore the local farmers’ practice.

Meas Pyseth, Deputy Secretary of State of Cambodia’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said that the Cambodian delegation wishes to exchange experience with farmers from 63 localities of Vietnam as well as those from Laos.

Meanwhile, Nhiakerya Nochochongtoua, Vice President of the Lao Front for National Construction said that the exchange programme is a chance for farmers of the three countries to foster cooperation among farmers and businesses.

He said 21 Lao firms in agricultural product processing, spare part production and handicraft are participating in the fair.

The exchange programme and the fair will run until December 12./.

Japanese entrepreneurs seek investment chances in Can Tho city

Representatives of authorities of the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho on November 29 welcomed more than 200 Japanese entrepreneurs who came to the locality to seek investment chances.

The Japanese guests, arriving in a charter flight from Tokyo, are also to attend the fifth Vietnam – Japan cultural and trade exchange programme from November 29 – December 4.

Director of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Can Tho chapter Nguyen Phuong Lam said more and more Japanese entrepreneurs are eager to visit Vietnam to look for investment chances in the fields of food and farm produce processing, IT, transport infrastructure and financial consultation.

The Mekong Delta region boasts advantages in agriculture while industry and trade are new to it, and that is why the organizing board of the exchange programme hopes to introduce potential of the region to the Japanese side, he said, adding localities are striving to improve the traffic infrastructure and the quality of the human resources here so as to attract foreign investors.

The Vietnam – Japan programmes comes within the framework of Can Tho’s investment promotion activities with Japan./.

Can Tho hosts Vietnam-Japan culture, trade exchange

The 5th Vietnam-Japan culture and trade exchange programme to mark the 45th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries kicked off in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho on November 29.

In his opening speech, Vice Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Dao Anh Dung highlighted the strong and comprehensive development of Vietnam-Japan cooperation and friendship, stating that Japan is a reliable and important partner of Vietnam.

Municipal authorities are striving to actively promote cooperation with partners and localities of Japan in many fields, he said.

Through the programme, Can Tho hopes the close relations between the two countries will be further strengthened, and it will serve as a bridge to connect Can Tho with more Japanese investors and tourists.

Japanese Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City Kwaue Junichi said the event offers a good chance for people and enterprises of Can Tho to understand more about Japan’s culture, thus forming Vietnam-Japan trade projects in the future.

The four-day event sees 136 booths from over 200 Japanese firms, featuring farm produce, tourism, accommodation service, consumer goods, souvenir and education.

It contributes to promoting Can Tho’s culture and people, and tourism potential, as well as helping local enterprises set up partnership with Japanese enterprises.

In the framework of the programme, a forum on business cooperation, a job festival and a tourism promotion workshop will be organised./.

Trung Nam wind power plant’s second stage starts generation

The second phase of Trung Nam wind power in Thuan Bac district, the central province of Ninh Thuan, started its operation and connected to the national grid on November 29.

The plant’s second stage includes 16 wind turbines with a capacity of 4MW each, installed by Trung Nam Construction and Engineering JSC under the direction by Enercon GmbH - a German supplier of wind turbines and components.

The project is hoped to generate 182 million kWh of electricity per year.

Nguyen Tam Thinh, Chairman of the board of directors of the Trung Nam Construction Investment Corporation, said the project is expected to be put into full operation in the first quarter of 2020.

The construction of the Trung Nam wind power plant began in August 2016 with a total investment of 3.96 trillion VND (over 170.8 million USD).

The plant was designed with a capacity of 90 – 100 MW. Its first phase was completed in 2018./.

Vietjet named as Best Ultra Low Cost Airline for 2020

AirlineRatings has named VietJet Air as the Best Ultra Low Cost Airline for 2020, thanks in large part to its amazing cabin crew and spectacular prices.

This is the third successive year the airline has been honored within the framework of awards of the AirlineRating “Airline Excellence Awards”.

This recognition honoured Vietjet’s efforts to quickly grow its fleet and number of destinations, opening up travel to all, including those that perhaps could not afford air travel before.

Vietjet has been very clever in its marketing but behind that fun is also a very smart and serious business plan that brings affordable travel to millions, said Geoffrey Thomas, Editor-in-Chief of Airlineratings.com, one of the world's best one-stop airline safety and product rating review websites./.

HCM City’s CPI up 0.52 percent in November

Ho Chi Minh City posted a month-on-month rise of 0.52 percent in the consumer price index (CPI) in November, the municipal Statistics Office reported.

The office said the city’s CPI grew 3.8 percent in the January-November period as compared with the corresponding time last year.

Seven out of the 11 commodity groups recorded price hikes , namely food and catering services (up 1.31 percent), beverage and cigarette (0.93 percent), apparel, headgear and footwear (up 0.02 percent), housing, electricity and water (0.53 percent), equipment and household utensils (up 0.13 percent), medicine and healthcare services (0.01 percent), and other goods and services (0.36 percent).

According to the office, the price of gold in November was down 0.5 percent month-on-month, but up 14.39 percent against December 2018 and 14.07 percent year-on-year.

The price of US dollars in the month remained unchanged from October and decreased 0.52 percent as compared with the same month last year./.

First Vietnam-Australia economic partnership meeting held

The first Vietnam-Australia Economic Partnership Meeting (EPM) was held in Adelaide city of Australia on November 29 under the co-chair of Vietnamese Minister of Industry and Trade Nguyen Chi Dung and Australian Minister of Trade, Tourism and Investment Simon Birmingham.

The event, to be held annually in rotation, aims to promote the trade, investment and development partnership between the two countries.

It is an important event that specifies the Joint Statement of the two countries issued on August 23 during the Vietnam visit by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, targeting the building of an economic cooperation strategy for the goal of becoming each other’s top 10 trade partners and doubling two-way trade.

The event also aims to reinforce the joint commitments of both sides in trade facilitation and economic connection, helping the two countries optimize opportunities from newly-emerging markets.

At the meeting, the two sides focused on measures to bolster bilateral trade, investment and development cooperation, as well as innovation partnership.

They discussed matters related to global and regional as well as multilateral issues related to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the World Trade Organisation, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnersip, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, and the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement.

Through the event, Vietnam affirms the determination to work with Australia in enhancing trade, investment and development cooperation between the two countries, meeting the demand and interest of each country and contributing to peace, stability, cooperation and development in the region.

Concluding the event, Dung and Birmingham signed a joint statement of the meeting.

Vietnam will host the meeting in 2020./.

RoK tops list of investors in garment-textile industry

Foreign direct investment inflows into Vietnam’s textile and garment industry mounted to 19.5 billion USD over the last three decades with the Republic of Korea (RoK) being the top investor.

Korean investors have injected roughly 4.8 billion USD to 464 projects in the sector. It is followed by Taiwan with nearly 3 billion and 132 projects, Hong Kong (2.4 billion USD, 147 projects), China (2.1 billion USD, 197 projects), and British Virgin Islands (1.6 billion USD, 70 projects).

Major garment-textile producers from the RoK, Taiwan, Japan and other countries and territories have helped the domestic industry join in global supply chains and expand foreign markets, particularly the US and the EU, said Vu Duc Giang, Chairman of the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (VITAS).

FDI firms have played an important part in boosting the sector’s production capacity and exports. Last year, Vietnam’s garment-textile exports grew by 16.1 percent from a year earlier to over 36 billion USD, 65 percent of which came from FDI companies.

The signing of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and Vietnam’s free trade agreements with the EU and Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), which promise to cut taxes and further open market access to members, is exptected to pave the way for more FDI to land in the industry.

FDI should be prioritised in material producing projects to make Vietnam less dependent on imports./.

Two furniture fairs open in HCM City

A wide range of outdoor and indoor furniture, handicrafts and household appliances are on display at the 2019 Vietnam Furniture and Home Furnishing Fair that opened in Ho Chi Minh City on November 28.

The 2019 VIFA Home, which targets to promote locally made wooden furniture, home decor and handicrafts in the Vietnamese market, has 600 booths set up by 120 brands.

This year, it has also attracted prestigious export brands, Dinh Thi Huong Nga, a member of Handicraft and Wood Industry Association of HCM City (HAWA)’s executive board, said.

With the message ‘Furniture banquet’, VIFA HOME this year would underline its status as the biggest furniture fair in the country, enabling consumers to find complete packages for their living spaces, she said, adding that on the occasion of Black Friday, exhibitors at the fair would offer very attractive promotions.

Over the last decade, the annual expo has acted as a bridge connecting wooden furniture producers, traders, distributors and retailers, she added.

Organised by HAWA and HAWA Corporation at the Phu Tho Sports Stadium in District 11, the event will go on until December 1.

Another furniture exhibition, the first Vietnam International Furniture Fair (VIFF 2019), is being held at the Saigon Exhibition and Convention Centre in District 7 from November 27 to 30 by the Binh Duong Furniture Association and the Taiwan Furniture Manufacturers Association.

 

VIFF features 500 booths set up by over 100 local and foreign exhibitors including from Taiwan, Malaysia, China and Thailand, showcasing bedroom furniture, dining sets, kitchen cabinets, flooring, office furniture, outdoor furniture, interior furnishing, decorative accessories and materials, fittings, and machinery used in the woodworking industry.

Many seminars and conferences will be held, including on promoting foreign investment in Vietnam’s wood processing and forestry industries and on PEFC/VFCS certification: Demand, supply and benefit.

Dien Quang Hiep, Chairman of the Binh Duong Furniture Association, said Vietnam’s exports of wood and forestry products in the first nine month of the year were worth 7.93 billion USD, a year-on-year increase of 18 percent, and are expected to top 11 billion USD for the full year and meet the export target.

Its timber and forest products are exported to more than 120 countries and territories.

The country is the fifth largest wood products exporter and second largest in Asia./.

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Agricultural sector gains trade surplus of 8.8 bln USD in 11 months

The agriculture sector enjoyed a trade surplus of 8.8 billion USD in the first 11 months of this year, 1.5 billion USD higher than the same period last year, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The sector earned 37.3 billion USD from the export of farm produce and forestry and aquatic products in the reviewed period, a year-on-year increase of 3.6 percent. Meanwhile, 28.5 billion USD was spent on agro-forestry-fishery imports, down 0.7 percent.

Seven items with export value exceeding 2 billion USD included coffee, rubber, rice, cashew nut, fruit, shrimp, wood and timber products.

China remained the largest buyer of Vietnamese agricultural products, accounting for 26.9 percent of the total exports. It was followed by the US (21.9 percent), the EU (11.7 percent), ASEAN (10 percent) and Japan (8.8 percent).

Strong growth was seen in shipments of rubber which totalled 2 billion USD, up 9.3 percent year on year; tea, 216 million USD, 16 percent; wood and wood products, 9.6 billion USD, 19.5 percent; and cinnamon, 163 million USD, 31 percent.

Some key commodities, however, suffered a drop in export value such as cashew nut (down 1.8 percent to 3 billion USD), fruits (down 5.5 percent to 2.6 billion USD), rice (9.4 percent to 2.6 billion USD), coffee (23 percent to 2.5 billion USD) and pepper (5.8 percent).

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development forecast that total agricultural export revenue for the entire year will be likely to hit 41.3 billion USD with a trade surplus of about 9.5 – 10 billion USD.

Last year, Vietnam’s export of agricultural products hit a record high of 40.2 billion USD, making it the second largest agricultural exporter in Southeast Asia./.

Seminar discusses opportunities, challenges from CPTPP

A seminar titled “Opportunities and Challenges arising from CPTPP agreement for Vietnam’s seafood – fruits, vegetables – animal husbandry, meat processing industries” has been held in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho.

Nguyen Thi Thu Trang, Director of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI)’s WTO and Integration Centre, said Vietnamese firms have managed to grasp the opportunities brought by the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

The trade deal has been ratified by six members – Canada, Mexico, Japan, Singapore, New Zealand and Australia – and took effect in December last year.

Vietnam became the seventh member, acceding to it in January this year.

Trang said Vietnam’s exports, especially to Canada, have risen significantly since the CPTPP came into effect.

She said relevant agencies such as the Ministry of Planning and Investment would have plans to deal with the impacts of the agreement.

Nguyen Quoc Toan, Director of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Department of Farm Produce Processing and Development, said the agreement has already impacted certain segments like vegetables and fruits, with their exports being worth 3.5 billion USD this year.

Nguyen Thi Hong Thu, Director of the Chanh Thu Fruit Import & Export Co. Ltd., said local firms have to standardise their production and processing facilities to take advantage of the lower tariffs./.

More than 6 million foreign tourists visit Hanoi in 11 months

The capital city of Hanoi welcomed more than 6 million foreign visitors in the period from January to November this year, a 12 percent increase from the same period last year.

Domestic travellers included, a total 26.34 million tourists chose the city to visit in the period, up 9.9 percent on a yearly basis, generating over 92.4 trillion VND (3.99 billion USD), up 31.6 percent.

In November alone, the number of visitors was estimated at 2.51 million, including 699,000 foreign arrivals, showing yearly increases of 12.2 percent and 19 percent respectively. The majority of international tourists came from the Republic of Korea, China and Japan.

Local hotels reported an average occupancy rate of 67.7 percent, while the rate was higher at five-star facilities at 82 percent./.

Vietnam, Czech Republic look to bolster trade partnership

A Vietnam-Czech Republic trade promotion seminar was held in Prague, the Czech Republic on November 28 to help enterprises from both sides seek investment and cooperation opportunities, contributing to promoting their bilateral economic and trade partnership.

Attending the event were Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Hoang Quoc Vuong, Ambassador to the Czech Republic Ho Minh Tuan and Vice President of the Czech Chamber of Commerce Borivoj Minar, who lauded the growth of traditional friendship between the two countries thanks to regular visits of leaders from both sides.

They agreed that the sound bilateral political-diplomatic relationship provides a firm foundation for the partnership between the two countries, especially in economy and trade.

In recent year, the two sides have enjoyed double-digit expansion in two-way trade, which reached nearly 1.2 billion USD in 2018 and 900 million USD in the first nine months of 2019.

However, they said they are yet to reach their potential.

Ambassador Tuan said that along with the signing of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement, the organization of activities to connect businesses will help promote trade and investment cooperation between the two countries.

Deputy Minister Vuong said that the two governments have approved an inter-governmental committee to facilitate collaboration between Vietnamese and Czech businesses. He stressed the need to hold more activities to connect the two business communities.

He said that Vietnam, with an economic scale of over 300 billion USD and growth of about 7 percent annually, has abundant potential for cooperation with foreign investors, adding that the country can become a gateway for the Czech Republic to access the 600-million-strong ASEAN market. Currently, Vietnam has signed 13 free trade agreements.

Meanwhile, Vice President of the Czech Chamber of Commerce Borivoj Minar underlined the need for more activities to connect businesses and explore more cooperation opportunities in industry and services.

The Czech side is ready to send business delegations to Vietnam to seek partnerships, said Minar.

Hoang Dinh Thang, President of the Vietnamese Association in Europe said that the Vietnamese community and businesses in the Czech Republic are willing to help link businesses of the two countries and increase exports of Vietnam to the Czech Republic.

Speaking to Vietnam News Agency correspondents in the Czech Republic, Vuong and Minar highlighted the significance of the EVFTA in promoting the Vietnam-Czech partnership in the future. Once become effective, the deal will bring about more opportunities for EU businesses to invest in Vietnam, while erasing taxes for 85 percent of the Czech Republic’s goods exported to Vietnam./.

Better legal framework needed for SMEs

A consistent legal framework related to tax deductions, land allocations and credit programmes is needed to support small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), experts have urged.

After the Law on Support of SMEs took effect in early 2018, a decree on the fund to promote SMEs and several circulars on human resources and counsellors to help SMEs were issued.

However, after nearly two years of implementation, the law has had little positive impact, according to Bui Thu Thuy, Deputy Director of the Enterprise Development Department under the Ministry of Planning and Investment.

She spoke at a meeting on SME support organised by the Ministry of Planning and Investment on November 26 in HCM City.

Under the law, more than 50 cities and provinces across the country have organised activities to support SMEs and start-ups, but many localities are confused about implementing the law as they have failed to identify the key product value chains in their areas, according to Thuy.

SMEs account for the majority of the country’s total number of businesses, but have not joined product value chains, according to Thuy.

Exports of many key commodities have had very strong growth, but 70 percent of exports are from foreign-invested enterprises (FDI), she said.

Nguyen Dinh Tue, Director of the Centre for Support and Development of SMEs in HCM City, said: “A lot of content in the law is not consistent, and even in conflict with other relevant laws such as the Enterprise Law and Tax Law.”

“This has made SMEs ineligible for support,” he added.

He recommended that the law clearly identify the difficulties facing SMEs and the “appropriate support” that is available.

Nguyen Duy Tan, Director of Tien Giang province’s Enterprise Promotion and Investment Promotion Centre, said that SMEs lacked not only capital and land for production, but also information about policies, technologies and markets.

They also lack sufficient human resources and necessary skills, he added.

The Law on Support for SMEs, with four chapters and 35 articles, focuses on principles, content and resources to support SMEs, and defines the responsibilities of agencies, organisations and individuals related to support for SMEs.

Under the law, SMEs are defined as micro-enterprises and small- and medium-sized enterprises with fewer than 200 employees (who receive social insurance) per year.

The enterprises must meet one of the following two criteria: total investment capital does not exceed 100 billion VND (4.3 million USD) and total revenue from the previous year is not more than 300 billion VND; or they are officially classified in certain fields such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries, industry and construction, or trade and services.

The law requires that support for SMEs must respect market rules and fall in line with international treaties of which Vietnam is a member.

The support given to SMEs must be done transparently in terms of beneficiaries, procedures and processes, as well as resources, support level and support results, according to the law.

SMEs, which account for 95 percent of Vietnam’s business community, play a major role in the country’s economy and account for 98 percent of all enterprises with about 40 percent of GDP.

In the first quarter of the year, as many as 15,000 enterprises closed (an increase of 20.8 percent compared to the same period last year), and more than 15,300 enterprises completed filings for dissolution, according to the General Statistics Office.

The Government aims to have at least one million “healthy” enterprises by the end of 2020, which means that each year, at least a total of 150,000 new enterprises must be set up.

While the government has made a number of reforms, SMEs continue to face challenges related to credit, human resources, market access, and competition with foreign firms./.

Seminar enhances labour safety management

Representatives from nearly 100 construction businesses, including design and construction companies, contractors and investors in the north of Viet Nam, discussed labour safety management at a seminar on Friday in Ha Noi.

The event, entitled “Increasing Competitiveness through Safety Culture”, was organised by NS BlueScope Vietnam with an aim to boost labour safety standards in Viet Nam, thereby enhancing business competition and reducing occupational accidents.

After Dong Nai and Ba Ria – Vung Tau provinces, Ha Noi is the third destination where NS BlueScope Vietnam expanded its labour safety awareness and experience sharing programme in Viet Nam.

“We expect the programme will inspire construction enterprises to implement safety culture, thereby improving their competitive edges and reaching the ultimate goal of a non-occupational accident project,” said Truong Anh Hai, Health, Safety, Environment and Community Deputy President, NS BlueScope Vietnam.

The construction industry reported the highest rate of labour accidents, accounting for 31 per cent of overall occupational accidents. The northern market, including Ha Noi, is considered an active market of the industry with a variety of civil and industrial construction projects. Therefore, ensuring safety in construction work is important to investors, contractors and residents in adjacent localities, according to the Department of Work Safety under the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs.

The event is an opportunity for participants to discuss and exchange lessons learned from practical experiences of leading construction businesses in terms of labour safety management.

The seminar also introduced latest labour safety software and solutions including G.R.E.A.T – software to check onsite labour safety by NS BlueScope and Project Management System (PMS) integrated with functions to manage project progress.

Geotec Ha Noi to find a solution for foundation construction Viet Nam

About 1,000 local and foreign scientists, constructors, engineers and managers in the field of foundation infrastructure from over 40 countries and territories gathered at a geo-technic conference in Ha Noi yesterday.

Deputy Minister of Construction Le Quang Hung told the international geo-technic and infrastructure conference Geotec Ha Noi 2019: “In the government's development strategy by 2030, Viet Nam has a very high demand for infrastructure development. Of which, foundation engineering and underground construction plays an important role.”

Pham Viet Khoa Khoa, chairman of Fecon Corporation and head of the conference told Viet Nam News: “Located in a geographical area with a lot of climate change and complicated conditions, sustainable foundation solutions are key for safe construction in the country.

"The conference creates a place for local and international scientists to connect and share knowledge and advanced research in the field of engineering geo-technical in order to find solutions and technology applications for sustainable development.”

Khoa also said Geotec Hanoi 2019 accepted 187 full papers of authors from Japan, South Korea, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Australia, Singapore and others.

According to the organisation, 160 of these papers, of which Japan contributed 63, have been selected to be presented during the conference. The papers will concentrate in the fields of deep foundation, tunneling and underground spaces, ground improvement, landslide and erosion, geotechnical modelling and monitoring, coastal foundation engineering.

The conference also attracted about 50 domestic and international exhibitors in manufacturing and executing foundation projects; underground construction; transport, irrigational and industrial infrastructure from Japan, India and Germany.

Seminar discusses ways to piggyback on trade deal into new markets

A conference titled “Opportunities and Challenges arising from CPTPP agreement for Viet Nam’s seafood – fruits, vegetables – animal husbandry, meat processing industries” was held in the Mekong City of Can Tho on 27 November.

Nguyen Thi Thu Trang, head of the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI)’s WTO and Integration Centre, said Vietnamese firms have managed to grasp the opportunities brought by the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) agreement.

The trade deal has been ratified by six members – Canada, Mexico, Japan, Singapore, New Zealand and Australia – and took effect in December last year.

Viet Nam became the seventh member, acceding to it in January this year.

Trang said Viet Nam’s exports, especially to Canada, have risen significantly since the CPTPP came into effect.

She said relevant agencies such as the Ministry of Planning and Investment would have plans to deal with the impacts of the agreement.

“There have been good signs, especially in new markets.”

Nguyen Quoc Toan, head of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Department of Farm Produce Processing and Development, said the agreement has already impacted certain segments like vegetables and fruits, with their exports being worth US$3.5 billion this year.

Nguyen Thi Hong Thu, head of the Chanh Thu Fruit Import & Export Co. Ltd., said local firms have to standardise their production and processing facilities to take advantage of the lower tariffs.

Phung Thi Lan Phuong, head of the centre’s FTA division, said the CPTPP is viewed as a good option for Viet Nam and the 10 other member countries.

At another seminar in Can Tho to help enterprises in the Mekong Delta seize opportunities from the CPTPP, Phuong had said the trade deal could help increase Viet Nam’s GDP by 1.1 percentage points a year.

“Though this number is less than a sixth of the benefits expected from the TPP, the CPTPP could help boost the country’s institutional and economic reform.”

She was referring to the Trans-Pacific Partnership that collapsed after the US pulled out of it.

Food safety and sustainability play key role in food and beverage sector: experts

Actions for sustainability and better food safety management were highlighted at the Vietnam food and beverage forum 2019 in Ha Noi on Monday.

The forum concentrated on opportunities and challenges facing the F&B industry in Viet Nam from many different perspectives, as well as sharing international practices towards sustainable goals in business and food safety management in Viet Nam.

The forum covered understandings on the circular economy, where Viet Nam is and how the industry and country moves forward with policy, business strategy, technology, and PPP to promote plastics recycling and sustainable packaging.

Participants also shared international good practices on waste management and recycling, holistic whole value-chain solutions for packaging circularity, initiatives from fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) industries implementing sustainable “life cycle” for packaging in the food and beverage sector.

Mary Tarnowka, Executive Director of AmCham Vietnam-HCMC said as Viet Nam’s population continues to surge, with rising incomes, purchasing power, and demand for new food and beverage markets, the issues of sustainability and food safety management standards are critically important.

"It is our hope that today’s discussion and knowledge-sharing will promote improved regulations based on sound science in line with international standards that ensure safe food and beverage products for Vietnamese consumers and sustainability of economic growth. Such standards also help facilitate Viet Nam’s rapidly increasing food and beverage exports,” Tarnowka said.

Nguyen Hoang Linh, Deputy Director General, Directorate for Standards, Metrology and Quality, Ministry of Science and Technology appreciated the initiative to have an annual forum of the food and beverage industry. That will be a link between state management agencies, businesses and researchers to discuss policies, regulations, standards, business environment, production and sustainable development of this important industry.

Becoming a partner of AmCham, Linh emphasised the importance to improve State regulations on standards and quality to create favourable conditions for production and business activities, promoting Viet Nam’s economic development and integration into the international economy.

Southeast Asian furniture industry seeks to achieve prosperity together

Furniture companies and industries in Southeast Asia should pool their strengths and enhance co-operation to achieve prosperity and sustainability, a forum heard in HCM City on Wednesday.

Delegates at the "ASEAN Market Attraction" forum organised by Handicraft and Wood Industry Association of HCM City (HAWA) and the ASEAN Furniture Industry Council (AFIC) agreed that the region boasts many great advantages in terms of materials, production, design, distribution and market size in wood and furniture processing.

Last year, the countries in the region exported US$12.1 billion worth of wooden furniture out of the global total of $150 billion, with the US, Europe, Japan, Korea, and Canada being their main markets.

Nguyen Quoc Khanh, HAWA chairman, said Viet Nam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines are fast growing furniture suppliers with two-thirds of their production prioritised for export.

Their export to production ratio is more than double the global average of around 30 per cent with Southeast Asia's wood and furniture exports meeting 5 per cent of demand in the US and 2 per cent in Western Europe, he said.

Nguyen Xuan Thuy, deputy director of the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Industry Development Centre, said with a population of over 600 million, rapid economic growth and increasing income, Southeast Asia is a huge market with high demand and purchasing power.

“But intra-regional trade is still low compared to the potential. A lot of things are needed to improve [this].”

Khanh said: “While the ASEAN market is obviously large, the question is how to enable Vietnamese and regional enterprises to exploit that potential? The most convincing answer is creating a ‘Cooperation - Link – Alliance’ model between Vietnamese enterprises and between businesses and associations in the region.

“Viet Nam's wood industry is leading the region in terms of potential, but most businesses only focus on their own interests, brands and products without seeing the great benefits of building an industry brand.

“ASEAN countries compete with each other. Therefore, a larger common goal is needed to create cohesion, consensus and co-operation for mutual prosperity.

“A combination of everyone’s strengths and alliances with regional partners will create a value chain in the wood industry.”

Co-operation in the regional wood industry should be based on the potential of countries and the strategy of enterprises, he said.

There should be vertical links between strong producers like Viet Nam, Indonesia, Laos, and Myanmar and those strong in trade, design and services like Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines, he said.

The horizontal links should be between AFIC member associations in strategic orientations and alliances for sustainable development of the industry, he said.

With the impact of the US-China trade war, many buyers have shifted their orders from China to Southeast Asia.

In the first seven months of this year, Chinese wooden furniture and furniture exports to the US fell by 18.3 per cent year-on-year to $14.3 billion.

Khanh said: “Most US and European customers want to source goods from outside China, and this is a great opportunity for AFIC to have a common vision and undertake activities to seize this valuable opportunity and enhance the position of the region.

“We should link to supplement each other and become stronger to counterbalance and compete in other production markets such as China and Europe.”

Emmanuel Padiernos, president of AFIC, said in addition to gathering twice a year, “We have started organising trade missions to each other countries. I think trade missions play a very important role in developing intra-ASEAN trade across different segments.”

Delegates also suggested that Vietnamese and ASEAN businesses should embrace digital transformation to better meet customers’ demands and promote consumption of their products since customer buying behaviours and expectations have changed dramatically.

Tran Viet Tien of HAWA said the ASEAN wood industry has been responding positively to changes in global markets by introducing national mechanisms and policies and changes in business and production activities at the enterprise level.

“The highest and consistent goal of the ASEAN Market Attraction forum is to promote and support links between Vietnamese enterprises and between regional enterprises and alliances between member associations for a prosperous and sustainable ASEAN wood industry.”