The largest fruit and vegetable processing centre of the Central Highlands was inaugurated in Gia Lai province on September 9.

The factory complex of the Dong Giao Foodstuff Export JSC covers 6ha and is designed to manufacture 52,000 tonnes of products annually.

It comprises of three modern automated production lines, including one for manufacturing fruit juice with a capacity of 20,000 tonnes per year, another for freezing vegetable and fruit with an annual capacity of 22,000 tonnes, and the rest for canning vegetable and fruit with a capacity of 10,000 tonnes per year.

Dinh Cao Khue, Chairman of the firm’s board of directors, said the processing centre will help ensure stable consumption of agricultural products of Gia Lai and the whole Central Highlands region.

It is set to generate an export turnover of about 100 million USD and revenue of 2 trillion VND (86.3 million USD) every year while providing jobs for tens of thousands of labourers in agriculture, industry, service, sale and transportation.

Particularly, as the complex will process 500 tonnes of raw materials each day, it will form 10,000 – 15,000ha of large-scale concentrated farming areas applying high technology under value chains in the region. It will help local fruit specialties like passion fruit, avocado, banana and durian gain a firm foothold in the global market, Khue stressed.

At the opening ceremony, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Le Quoc Doanh said with the inauguration of this processing centre, Gia Lai province will have a favourable condition to keep the 10,000ha of its fruit farming area stable and connect farmers with businesses, thus helping promote the stature of the Central Highlands’ agricultural products.-

Workshop focuses on Vietnam’s agricultural ties with Middle East, Africa

The potential for agricultural and aquaculture cooperation between Vietnam and countries in the Middle East and Africa was discussed at a workshop in Hanoi on September 10.

The event was part of a two-day conference gathering Middle Eastern and African ambassadors to Vietnam.

Addressing the workshop, Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Le Quoc Doanh said with the support of some developed countries and international organisations, Vietnam has successfully carried out many bilateral and multilateral cooperation models in agriculture. It has sent more than 400 experts to help develop agriculture in many African nations like Mozambique, Benin, Guinea and Senegal.

Thanks to the assistance of the Vietnamese experts, the rice, crop and aquaculture output of the pilot projects there has increased, gradually helping the African countries ensure their food security, he noted.

Doanh also appreciated the considerable technical assistance and preferential loans from the Arab and Kuwait funds for Vietnamese localities to implement irrigation and rural development projects.

Introducing Vietnam’s agriculture and its contributions to agricultural development in other countries, Deputy Director of the Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences Dao The Anh said Vietnam’s agriculture has attained outstanding achievements in cooperation projects on food plant study and development in many nations like Sudan, Nigeria and Mozambique in Africa, Cuba and Venezuela in Central and South America, or Laos and Uzbekistan in Asia.

At the event, Mozambican Ambassador Leonardo Rosario Manuel Pene said thanks to the production methods transferred by Vietnam, agricultural output in his country has reached 7 tonnes per ha, compared to only 2 tonnes per ha in 2010 when the two countries began their cooperation.

Likewise, the annual fish farming output in Mozambique was only 600 tonnes in 2009, but the figure has increased to 3,000 tonnes at present thanks to Vietnam’s technical support since then, he noted.

He expressed his hope that Vietnam will transfer technologies, irrigation systems and processing services to and invest in agricultural infrastructure in Mozambique in the coming time.

On this occasion, the Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences, the Institute of Organic Agricultural Economics, the Lavifood JSC and the Vietnam Green Startup Fund signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in the study and application of agricultural sciences for the sustainable development of agricultural value chains in the Middle East and Africa.

Supply Chain Asia Forum 2019 opens in Singapore

The Supply Chain Asia Forum 2019, themed "Digitalisation of the Supply Chain World” kicked off in Singapore on September 10.

The three-day forum draws the participation of more than 1,500 experts, scholars and delegates over the world.

The supply chain tech expo brought together more than 40 Singaporean and global organisations to showcase some of the industry's most exciting and innovative technologies.

Paul Lim, president of Supply Chain Asia, said the industrial landscape is set to change with more businesses making greater use of cutting-edge technology to drive new ways of production and delivery via automated and robotic devices and mobile solutions to reach customers faster, cheaper and more efficiently than ever before.

According to him, many enterprises are moving their production bases away from China to Vietnam, but Vietnam is facing challenges in sea ports and skilled workers.

Mobile banking project launched for low income people and women

Viet Nam Bank for Social Policies (VBSP) on Friday officially launched the project “Mobile Banking – Financial Inclusion and Economic Empowerment for Low Income People and Women in Viet Nam” - Phase 2 (Mobile Banking 2).

The project is funded by the Australian Foreign Affairs and Trade Department (DFAT) under the framework of the Business Partnerships Platform. It aims at enhancing and improving access to financial services for poor and low-income households, especially women-run micro-enterprises.

Mobile Banking 2 will continue for 2019-22 in 10 provinces including Ninh Binh, Hoa Binh, Ha Giang, Lao Cai, Nghe An, Quang Tri, Binh Dinh, Dak Lak, HCM City and Can Tho.

Since the beginning of 2017, VBSP has been collaborating with the Asia Foundation (TAF) and Mastercard to implement the Mobile Banking 1 project to provide diversified and convenient digital payment services to customers, including poor people, and students in difficult circumstances, people with disabilities, ethnic minority people and overseas workers across the country, especially in rural, remote and mountainous areas.

The project also aims at implementing the plan for IT Development in VBSP to 2025 with the objective of developing the IT system towards technology renovation, product diversification, modern and safe banking services with high levels of knowledge and technology to enhance customers’ access to banking services, and enhance and modernise governance of VBSP.

Mobile Banking 1 (2017-18) produced positive results. VBSP has sent SMS messages to customers nationwide to provide information about their account balance, savings and payment due dates and information.

By the end of 2018, VBSP had sent SMS messages on a regular basis to 5.1 million customers across 63 cities and provinces, who have registered their mobile phone numbers with the bank. The successful implementation of regular SMS services for customers is highly significant in enhancing the transparency and efficiency of operations, providing timely information to customers.

Mobile Banking 2 will continue to improve SMS services to VBSP’s customers to ensure that 100 per cent of customers register their mobile phone number, receive and understand the content of SMS and can provide feedback to the bank. Phase 2 will focus on supporting VBSP to develop the digital financial platform with the development of technology solutions for mobile banking services.

The project will continue to implement the results of gender-based assessment among customers of VBSP in terms of access to technology and digital banking services so that the bank can mainstream gender issues in the planning and implementation of their programmes.

Vietnamese enterprises urged to tap domestic market

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Vietnamese enterprises should focus on exploiting the large domestic market to reduce risks amid the US-China trade war, Truong Dinh Tuyen, the former Minister of Commerce and Industry (now the Ministry of Industry and Trade), said.

“Viet Nam has a large domestic market which many Vietnamese enterprises have ignored. This is a mistake,” he told a conference held on Friday in HCM City to discuss opportunities and challenges posed by the trade war.

Viet Nam has entered a demographic golden period in which the group of working-age people is nearly double that of dependent age, he said, adding that Viet Nam has seen a rapid rise of the middle class.

This has contributed to a shift in the economy from dependence on exports to domestic consumption, he said.

To do this, Vietnamese enterprises should expand their business throughout the domestic market, he added.

If local enterprises want to continue to expand their business to foreign markets, they should target European markets once the free trade agreement between Viet Nam and the EU takes effect, he said.

“These markets have a lot of potential,” Tuyen said, adding that Vietnamese enterprises’ exports to Eastern European countries remain very low.

Businesses should also target countries with which Viet Nam has signed free trade agreements, and update their production technologies and restructure business methods to tap those markets.

To increase labour productivity and competitive capacity, they should also carry out digital transformation, which would improve business efficiency, Tuyen added.

Dr Pham Sy Thanh, director of the Chinese Economic Studies Program at Viet Nam Institute for Economic and Policy Research, said that Viet Nam should adjust its financial, monetary and foreign exchange policies to ensure that they react well to changes in the global economy.

Stable interest rates and the flexible adjustment of exchange rates are both important, Thanh said.

Many Vietnamese enterprises lack sufficient information about the US-China trade war, he said.

“Associations play an important role in providing them with specific information and solutions for their problems. The associations also links them with the State organisations and research institutes that have deep understanding about the country’s macroeconomic policies,” Thanh said.

These associations also can help them understand the legal implications of free trade agreements that Viet Nam has signed, he added.

The conference was organised by Sai Gon Times in co-operation with Yuanta Securities Viet Nam Joint Stock Company.

Conference in Ha Noi offers opportunities to network

An international conference titled ‘Meet Ambassadors from the Middle East and Africa 2019’ will open today in Ha Noi.

Being held for the first time by the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the two-day event represents a space for networking and exchange on the ways and means for economic cooperation and development between Viet Nam and Middle East and African countries.

The Middle East – Africa region is a large market with more than 1.6 billion people and strong financial resources, especially in the Middle East, which offers lots of trade and investment potential.

Viet Nam has always attached great importance to maintaining and developing the traditional friendship and cooperation with other countries in the region. That good relationship is constantly being strengthened and developed which is shown in positive economic data.

To date, Viet Nam has established diplomatic relations with 69 of 70 countries in the Middle East – Africa region and has economic ties with all countries with two-way trade turnover of more than US$17.5 billion in 2018. This number represented a 300 per cent growth compared to 2008.

Vietnamese businesses have invested about $2.6 billion in this region and received more than $7 billion capital in form of foreign direct investment from these countries.

The two sides have also successfully set up many effective cooperation models including bilateral, tripartite and four-sided collaboration with support of a number of developed countries and international organisations.

Bright spots in economic cooperation between the two sides include agriculture, labour, telecommunication, healthcare and education.

Further deepening the cooperation with the Middle East – Africa region has always been one of the priorities in Viet Nam’s foreign policy. Viet Nam highly appreciates the important role and contribution of the diplomats and diplomatic missions of the Middle East – African countries in Viet Nam, as well as other international organisations to the achievements.

In that spirit, the event will be attended by the heads of the permanent resident and non-resident diplomat missions, honorary consulates of the Middle East - African countries in Viet Nam; representatives of some major development partners and international organisations such as the United Nations (UN), World Bank, European Union, Francophone International Organisation, JICA; Vietnamese officials from many ministries, sectors and localities; and businesses of the two sides.

The conference will hear the update on Viet Nam’s socio-economic development and major orientations in its foreign policy, especially Viet Nam’s highest priorities during its term as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for 2020-21.

Delegates will also focus on discussing key issues such as the situation of cooperation between Viet Nam and the Middle East - Africa region, including the collaboration between the Vietnamese ministries and sectors with diplomatic missions of the regional countries; ways and means to increase imports and exports between the two sides.

Especially, the possibility of opening a new model of cooperation in the agriculture sector and boosting cooperation in the telecommunication sector between Viet Nam and the region will be given special attention. These are two important fields of mutual interest.

Delegates will also have tours to the Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences – the leading research unit in the agricultural and fishery sciences of Viet Nam and Viettel Group – a Vietnamese telecom company with extensive experience in doing business in Africa.

The event is meaningful with trade tensions rising and Vietnamese exports to traditional markets are gradually approaching the saturation point. Boosting trade cooperation with new markets such as Middle East - Africa is a necessary and achievable way for Vietnamese businesses to grow.

Experts suggest VietGAP is the best way to prevent livestock diseases

The animal husbandry sector must improve the quality and safety of the environment in which livestock is raised to achieve sustainable development, experts told a conference in Ben Tre Province on Friday.

The adoption of VietGAP techniques and standards is one of the optimal solutions for the development of the sector, they said.

Diseases have been a major threat to livestock in recent times.

Pham Van Dong, director of the Department of Animal Health, said there had been epidemics of foot-and-mouth disease, African swine fever (ASF), blue ear disease in pigs, and bird flu.

Since February ASF had broken out in more than 7,000 communes in 63 provinces and cities requiring the culling of more than 4.7 million pigs weighing 270,000 tonnes, or 7 per cent of all pork produced in the country, he said.

Poultry farming had been in similar trouble. So far this year there had been 16 outbreaks of bird flu in 13 provinces and cities, requiring 29,000 birds to be destroyed, he said.

Diseases have a great socio-economic impact since when an epidemic occurs, farmers face difficulties, according to Dong.

Many experts said embracing VietGAP was the best way to ensure the sustainability of the pork and poultry industries.

Dong said it was the number one weapon for disease prevention and control.

"In localities where training in VietGAP livestock techniques and standards is provided, diseases are prevented," he said.

Nguyen Van Trong, deputy head of the Department of Livestock Production, said through the application of VietGAP standards, farmers had improved their animal husbandry and farm management and know how to prevent diseases and ensure food safety.

He said his department would carry out the plans for sustainable development of the pork and poultry industries.

It would clearly define the characteristics and competitive advantages each region has in pig farming to adjust resources for production, gradually build a production value chain and increase value addition in pork products.

Viet Nam and Middle East, Africa have more rooms to expand co-operation

Viet Nam and Middle Eastern and African countries have a lot of room to tap their co-operation potential, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh told Middle Eastern and African ambassadors at an event in Ha Noi on Monday.

The ‘Meet Ambassadors from the Middle East and Africa 2019’ event, being hosted by Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday and Tuesday, aims to open a platform for the region’s ambassadors and Vietnamese authorities and businesses to foster co-operation.

“Sharing aspirations for peace and achieving Sustainable Development Goals 2030 Agenda, and also being at the same pace of development, having highly supplementary economies, Viet Nam and the Middle Eastern and African region have advantages to strengthen collaboration in potential fields such as trade, investment, energy, environment, information technology, communication, agriculture, labour and tourism,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.

He said diplomatic relations between Viet Nam and the Middle East and Africa have expanded. Bilateral trade has grown positively, while partnerships in telecommunications, labour, education and healthcare have made progress, and Vietnamese soldiers have contributed to UN peacekeeping efforts in Africa.

However, the two sides’ co-operation has faced challenges including a lack of information and understanding about each other’s markets, business practices and legal systems. Geographical distance is one of the main reasons making bilateral business efficiency poor.

“Despite being an open economy having 16 free trade agreements with other countries, Viet Nam has not signed a free trade agreement with a Middle Eastern or African country,” the politician said.

Deputy Prime Minister Minh proposed the two sides strengthen collaboration in economics, which serves as leverage for political co-operation.

He expected ambassadors and diplomats representing agencies at the conference would speak with Vietnamese partners to identify potential areas of co-operation.

“Viet Nam has strength in agricultural and fishery production, electronics, mechanics, construction materials, wood processing and farm produce production. Viet Nam is ready to offer training and connect with the Middle East and Africa to seek solutions for agricultural development and provide a young and skillful labour force in information and technology,” Minh told the conference.

Viet Nam also wants to step up co-operation in sectors the Middle East and Africa are strong in. These include investment, energy, labour, fuel for agricultural and industrial processing sectors.

Besides bilateral co-operation, Viet Nam and the Middle East and Africa need to collaborate at multilateral forums such as UN, Non-Alignment Movement and strengthen co-operative mechanisms between Viet Nam and the African Union, and between Middle Eastern and African countries with regional organisations.

At the event, Israel’s Ambassador to Viet Nam Nadav Eshcar said:

“We have high technology which can be very relevant in Viet Nam in a variety of fields including agriculture, education, science, defence, tourism, medical field, innovation and start-ups.

“Viet Nam has very strong ambition to develop start-ups. Sectors are doing very well and we are also participating in this effort.

“We are exceeding billion-dollar trade and we are about to sign free trade agreement very soon. We will make the numbers even much bigger. We almost concluded negotiations so I hope early next year we will have an agreement,” he told Viet Nam News.

“We hope to see for the next year two prime ministers visiting each other. Vietnamese PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc is very eager about the fourth industrial revolution. I think we can offer so many things on this issue such as Artificial Intelligence, big data. I also know that Israel’s PM is very eager to visit Viet Nam. These two top visits will be on our top agenda and hopefully we will materialise as soon as possible,” he said.

Elia Kaiyamo, non-resident ambassador of the Republic of Namibia to Viet Nam, said the two countries have co-operated for many years.

“We have co-operation in production of rice. Viet Nam has helped us produce rice in Namibia.

“Viet Nam and Namibia need to improve bilateral trade as the conference is important for us to start this co-operation. The focus on the co-operation is to produce more rice from Namibia into Viet Nam and co-operation in agriculture needs to be improved,” he said.

More two-way communication required to boost business partnerships

Viet Nam and African countries should use more group exchanges to help both sides’ enterprises improve their understanding of each other, officials said yesterday.

 

Economic relations between Viet Nam and African countries have been growing in recent years. However, Vietnamese firms have been struggling with the conflicting payment systems.

Not only small firms, even big players like the the Viettel Military Industry and Telecoms Group (Viettel) and the the Ha Noi Trade Corporation (Hapro) have struggled in selling products and services in Africa.

According to Phan Thi Thanh Nhan, Direct of Trade Finance Centre at the Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV), international trade payment depends on firms’ routines, understanding and prestige.

There are three major means of payment: telegraphic transfer, collection and letter of credit. The first two can be too risky for sellers because buyers can can easily disappear and sellers are weighed down by losses and risks. With the first two methods, banks can only be a middleman.

With a letter of credit, the bank must pay the price of the goods to the seller. But before that, the buyer must obtain a letter of credit (L/C) from the bank and the seller gets his money once all invoices are delivered to the bank.

In the Middle East, banks and companies are highly transparent in trading with overseas partners, Nhan said.

“Their quality standards are also strict, especially when they have a Halal certificate for imported food products. Vietnamese companies must meet all requirements from Middle East firms and submit the accurate papers provided by a third-party company.”

Nhan said in Africa, local firms are often financially weak and are unwilling to accept a L/C deal. Instead, they prefer cash-on-deliver payment and sometime pay late, posing risks for Vietnamese exporters.

“But even a L/C payment would not be accepted easily,” she said, adding Vietnamese firms often seek partners on the internet, whose information is not publicly known.

“Those companies may not really exist. Even if they exist, it is very difficult to contact them.”

In addition, the African banking system is slow with low ratings, while travel distance between Viet Nam and Africa often makes it hard for firms to get to know their partners, she added.

According to Akua Sekyiwa Ahenkora, High Commissioner of Ghana to Vietnam resident in Malaysia, the African banking system is not different from the world as each country has its own central bank to manage the financial and monetary systems.

African countries do a lot of business with the world, so the Vietnamese side cannot use excuses of travel distance and transparency when doing business in Africa, she said.

The world is connected by the internet, so travel distance should not be the main problem, she said, adding the main issue is trust. She asked Vietnamese firms to send reports to African central banks so all cases are handled properly.

According to deputy governor of the State Bank of Vietnam Dao Minh Tu and vice chairman of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry Hoang Quang Phong, there are differences between Viet Nam and African countries in culture, habit and policies.

The lack of communication between the two sides’ officials is another cause for the problems, even when Vietnamese banks and companies are willing to set up branches in Africa, the two officials said.

Deputy minister of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Quoc Cuong urged two sides to increase exchanges and communications so government agencies and companies can understand each other better.

The role of ambassadors and representative offices is essential to help Vietnamese firm expand business to Africa and vice versa, he said.

Festival day of Vietnamese longan opens in Australia

A festival day of Vietnamese longan was held in Australia on Monday, introducing the fresh fruit to wholesale markets and stores in the country.

The day, included a Viet Nam Longan Roadshow, focuses on customers of Australia and building the Vietnamese longan brand name, which will be attached with the trademarks of Vietnamese businesses and longan growing areas.

The day was organised after the first batch of the fruit was exported to Australia last week.

Nguyen Do Anh Tuan, head of International Co-operation Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the Australian market has been opened, however, there are still many challenges that needed to be overcome.

Tuan said Viet Nam has two irradiation centres, but Australia has only recognised one in the south. Meanwhile, the centre in the north has conditions and equipment meeting the international standards.

“We propose Australia consider and recognise the centre in the north to be qualified for irradiation for exports,” Tuan said.

Longan is the fourth type of fruit of Viet Nam to be licensed for import by Australia after lychee, mango and dragon fruit.

Local made equipment exported to UAE

A shipment of the waste heat recovery equipment has been exported to United Arab Emirates (UAE) for installation at the Ruwais Refinery in Abu Dhabi, the Korean manufacturing Doosan Heavy Industries Viet Nam (Doosan Vina) said in a statement.

The locally manufactured equipment, which was loaded at the Dung Quat Port in the central Quang Ngai Province’s Dung Quat Economic Zone on Monday, will provide 12 modules of the waste heat recovery project to save fuel and improving operational efficiency at the Ruwais Refinery.

These giant modules – locally fabricated and assembled by Doosan Vina and other 10 subcontractors – were part of a 10-year cooperation framework agreement signed by Doosan Vina and the Samsung Engineering Company in 2018.

Many local made mega infrastructure products including boilers, desalination plants, cranes, structural steel, buildings and infrastructure developments have been exported to 35 countries.

The Quang Ngai-based company has manufactured and shipped 71 giant cargo container cranes to customers around the world since 2009.

Doosan Vina has been a reliable supplier of power plant boilers for projects such as Mong Duong 2, Vinh Tan 4, Song Hau 1, Vinh Tan 4 Extension and has played an important role in localising the mechanical industry in Viet Nam.

The company employs 2,500 workers at its plants in the Dung Quat Economic Zone, and has earned an export turn-over of US$2.4 billion.

Vietnamese handicraft-makers display goods at UK’s leading international design-led event

As many as 20 leading Vietnamese manufacturers of handicrafts and fashion accessories for the first time are showcasing their products at one of UK’s leading international design-led events held in London from September 8-10.

Vietnamese goods displayed at the Top Drawer fair include a wide range of indoor furniture, handicrafts and interior furnishing and accessories, among other products.

Also on display are decorative products made of bamboo, wooden boats, porcelain bowls, leather products, bamboo cups, embroidery bags, silk towels and lacquered furniture.

Speaking at the opening day of the fair, Tran Ngoc An, Vietnamese Ambassador to the UK, said the exhibition provided great opportunities for firms to introduce their products and promote their brands in the UK and beyond.

London is one of the most important and influential centres for retail and contract markets in the world, according to An.

“The event also helps Vietnamese enterprises learn about the latest market trends and customer demand in Europe, especially in the UK, so they can improve their product quality and designs,” he said. “The UK fair is an important trade promotion channel for Vietnamese handicraft firms to reach buyers from across the UK and beyond.”


A Vietnamese booth displays miniatures made of bamboo of major tourist attractions in London at the Top Drawer fair held in London from September 8-10.
Visitors at a Vietnamese booth at the Top Drawer fair held in London from September 8-10.

Nguyen Cong Ai Huyen, CEO and founder of Neyuh Leather, an exhibitor at the fair, said that many of the handcrafted leather goods displayed at the fair were skillfully made by Vietnamese artisans.

“I’ve noticed that some handicraft products are often overlooked by local Vietnamese consumers but are very popular with high-end customers in the UK,” she told Viet Nam News.

The potential buyers are from department stores, buying groups, independent retailers, online retailers, interior designers and contract buyers from across the UK and beyond, she said.

Vietnamese enterprises, most of which are members of the Handicraft and Wood Industry Association of HCM City, were sponsored by the HCM City Investment and Trade Promotion Centre under the HCM City People’s Committee.

Top Drawer is a curated platform for the UK and international lifestyle brands to present new ranges and best sellers across 11-curated sectors.

The event has attracted more than 1,500 leading brands, new names and designers to do business with creative retailer buyers from the UK and beyond.

The three-day event is organised by Clarion Events Ltd, which organises buying events and e-commerce events for multichannel retailers and professionals. Its subsidiary Global Sources is its liaison office for the Asian region.

Businesses must learn to handle trade defence measures

As Viet Nam joins more international trade agreements, dealing with and overcoming trade defence measures has become a top priority for Vietnamese businesses, especially for those working with markets known for their numerous and robust defence instruments such as the US and the EU.

Vietnamese shrimp exporters received good news as the US’ Department of Commerce (DOC) announced their conclusion regarding anti-dumping tariffs on products from Viet Nam with some 31 exporters exempt from the tariff, according to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP).

Shrimp exports from Viet Nam to the US reached US$334 million in July, a 13.4 per cent increase from the same period last year. The DOC’s decision has resulted in a boost of morale for Vietnamese exporters as well as investors’ confidence. It showed a well-coordinated effort among VASEP and exporters to meet all the DOC’s requirements on transparency and credibility.

Looking elsewhere, however, there have been signs of trouble as measures are being tightened in major markets for Vietnamese products such as steel and fish.

For example, since the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) took effect in December last year, steel exports to Canada, a member of the trade pact, climbed to $78 million during the first six months of the year, almost three times the total value for the whole of 2018.

While the Vietnam Steel Association attributed the increase in exports to the CPTPP, which effectively reduces tariffs on Vietnamese products to zero, and claimed Vietnamese steel exporters do not participate in tax evasion and dumping practices, Canada has started a process to make changes to trade defence measures.

Notably, Canada and the US have reached an agreement in which Canada is committed to preventing the import of unfairly subsidised or dumped steel, as well as transhipment – foreign steel that moves through either country to the other.

Against the backdrop of stricter defence measures, the Trade Remedies Authority of Viet Nam under the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) advised Vietnamese exporters to review and revise their production and export output to avoid potential anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigations.

It also issued a warning to Vietnamese steel exporters to steer clear of and not support violations of product origin rules and trade fraud to avoid hurting the country’s trade and potential lawsuits.

A source from the MoIT said the ministry is handling seven trade defence-related cases since the beginning of the year with another seven from last year.

Pham Thanh Nga from the Viet Nam Society of International Law said for the next three years after the CPTPP takes effect, Vietnamese businesses and products are to face increasingly rigorous trade defence measures.

“Countries may impose numerous defence instruments based on suggestions from their domestic producers,” Nga said

Commenting on the topic, minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh said businesses must take the initiative to conduct a comprehensive study of trade defence and safeguard measures, intellectual property right protection and technical barriers for their markets.

Regional investors and entrepreneurs gather for 500 Start-ups Demo Day

About 230 investors, entrepreneurs, corporate leaders, and other start-up ecosystem supporters and stakeholders attended the 500 Start-ups Demo Day event in HCM City on Thursday.

Hosted by 500 Start-ups, one of the world’s most active venture capital investors and the American Chamber of Commerce in Viet Nam (AmCham Vietnam), the event provided discussions and presentations to highlight the dynamic technology landscape in Viet Nam and broader Southeast Asia.

Presenting in the event were 11 “rising star” start-ups in Southeast Asia in logistics, e-commerce, fintech, blockchain, agritech, and other industries. They include six start-ups which graduated in the first batch of the “Silicon Valley-inspired, Saigon-based” Saola Accelerator and five others from beyond the accelerator, including investments by 500 Start-ups Vietnam’s sister funds, 500 TukTuks – focused on Thailand – and 500 Durians – focused on Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore.

Collectively they are doing business in more than 15 markets across Asia Pacific, North America, and Europe, and have raised more than US$30 million of venture financing.

Eddie Thai, a General Partner of 500 Start-ups Vietnam, said: “These start-ups show that innovation from Viet Nam and broader Southeast Asia can transform lives not only in the region but potentially around the world.”

Also at the event, AmCham Vietnam’s Executive Director Mary Tarnowka announced the launch of an Entrepreneurship and Innovation Committee, saying that it will focus on sharing and supporting emerging technologies, disruptive business models, and approaches to innovation.

Binh Tran, a serial entrepreneur turned General Partner of 500 Start-ups Vietnam, reiterated the sharing of many of the guest speakers.

“There’s more hype about Viet Nam’s tech scene now than ever before. To maintain the momentum, it’s important for entrepreneurs and investors alike to separate the signal from the noise, with the help of strong partners.”

Since 2017, 500 Start-ups Vietnam has invested in more than 40 companies in fintech, edtech, logistics, and more. The portfolio companies have collectively raised more than $170 million of additional capital. Batch 2 of the Saola Accelerator is open for applications. Each selected start-up will receive $100,000 cash investment, training and hands-on support from world-class experts.

Forum considers ways to foster tourism start-ups, create new products

Appropriate investment in tourism start-ups will help create breakthrough products and improve the supply chain, experts have said.

Speaking at the Tourism Start-up Forum in HCM City on Wednesday Ly Dinh Quan, director of the Song Han Incubator, Industrial Technology Park, said Viet Nam’s tourism start-up eco-system, which is still in the early stage of development, has seen very little co-operation between various stake holders.

A national master plan is needed to develop the tourism start-up eco-system, he said.

Investment in start-ups should receive preferential treatment, he said.

Students at tourism and hospitality schools should be encouraged to be innovative and provided access to training in starting up businesses, he added.

Smart tourism start-ups are an effective tool to create a new generation of tourism entrepreneurs with creativity and technology, thus creating a breakthrough for economic development, experts said.

The forum, which sought to encourage tourism start-ups in Viet Nam and other Mekong sub-region countries to create new tourism products, was an opportunity to discuss experiences, visions, potential, and challenges and seek investment opportunities in tourism start-ups.

It featured a pitching session with investors and an exhibition with the participation of leading tourism start-ups, experts and potential investors.

Diplomats, firms discuss trade among Vietnam, Africa, Middle East

Economic ties between African and Middle Eastern countries and Southeast Asia in general, Vietnam in particular is still constrained, said Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh at the two-day conference ‘Meet Ambassadors from the Middle East and Africa 2019’ held by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from September 9 to 10 in Hanoi.

Addressing the panel discussions for boosting trade cooperation within the framework of the conference, Foreign Minister Minh said that despite 16 free trade agreements already being inked, Vietnam has had none with any countries within Africa and the Middle East.

Potentials leaving untapped

Africa and the Middle East together make up a vast area of 36 million sq.km, with a population of 1.8 billion. Many international experts held that Africa could be the growth momentum for the global economy.

Vietnam has established diplomatic relations with 69/70 African and Middle Eastern countries with bilateral trade of over 17.5 billion USD, an increase of over 300 percent from 2008 to 2018.

According to insiders, African and Middle Eastern countries have high demand for farm produces, especially tropical ones, due to their harsh natural conditions.

However, according to Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Quoc Cuong, the bilateral trade value of 18 billion USD in 2018 show its humble contribution to Vietnam’s total trade value of 480 billion USD.

Therefore, during the panel discussions, participants discussed concrete to overcome obstacles hindering two-way trade in order to unlock potentials in bilateral cooperation.

Obstacles hindering two-way trade

Speaking about difficulties facing two-way trade between Vietnam and Africa, Middle East regions, Foreign Minister Minh said that a lack of insights into each other’s market, business practices and legal system is among major obstacles hindering the cooperation between Vietnam and the regions.

Besides, he also stressed the far distance between Vietnam and the two regions also result in an improper attention of relevant ministries, agencies and enterprises of the two sides.

Deputy Foreign Minister Minh also pointed out that ineffective bilateral cooperation mechanisms have yet to fully exploit potentials in trade cooperation between the parties.

From their own experiences in doing business with countries from the Middle East, Deputy General Manager of Lavifood Joint Stock Company Duong Thi Bich Diep voiced her concern over the Middle Eastern enterprises' long habit of not using Letter of Credit for making payment, which results in a huge risk for Vietnamese enterprises.

Timely conference with practical discussions

According to Tarzania Ambassador to Vietnam Mblewa Brighton Kairuki, the conference was organised at the right time as Africa is ratifying the Africa continental free trade area and the continent is welcoming Vietnamese enterprises to do business to take advantage of the free trade area.

Mr. Maher Al Arayssi, Chief of Representative Office and Purchasing Manager of Lebanon-based C-food International said that through meetings with ambassadors, international development organisations and business partners during the event, businesses like his have identified several problems they are facing to come up with effective measures.

Suggesting the way to boost bilateral trade cooperation, both sides needs “more aggressiveness”, which means more delegations, both from the government and businesses should be regularly exchanged, according to Adib Kouteili, Co-founder & Director of PEB Steel Buildings Co., Ltd, a business participating in the event.

Diplomats from both sides also discussed measures to enhance cooperation in such fields of mutual strength and demand, including agriculture and telecommunications.

Deputy Minister Minh suggested that the both sides enhance cooperation and assistance in not only bilateral forums but also multilateral ones, such as the United Nations and cooperation mechanisms between Vietnam and the African Union and between Middle Eastern, African countries and Vietnam.

Participants also voiced their expectation that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would continue hosting similar events in the future, which offer opportunities for enterprises from both sides to meet up and meet with policy makers, in order to boost bilateral trade.

They also asked the diplomats and policy makers to accelerate negotiations in order to facilitate trade and investment between Vietnam and Africa, the Middle East.

An initiative of establishing a portal for trade and investment between Vietnam and Africa, the Middle East was voiced during the trade panel. The portal is expected to provide market insights as well as information of potential partners for enterprises from both sides.

According to Deputy General Manager of Lavifood Joint Stock Company Duong Thi Bich Diep, the portal will save enterprises’ time and effort in market research while performing as a secured platform for enterprises to expand their business to the both sides’ markets as it is government guaranteed.