A national forum on cooperative economy and cooperatives will be held in Hanoi in mid-October.

Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue has asked the Ministry of Planning and Investment and the Vietnam Cooperative Alliance to coordinate in organizing the event.

The Deputy PM, who is also head of the Steering Committee for reforming and developing collective economy and cooperatives, stressed the need to draw lessons and experience in expanding cooperatives, and propose policies in the field.

It is necessary to clarify the nature and role of the new-style cooperative model, as well as shed light into the development of cooperative economy and cooperatives as part of the restructuring of agricultural sector, the new-style rural area building, and the One Commune-One Product programme, he requested.

The Vietnam Cooperative Alliance and the Ministry of Planning and Investment were assigned to design plan to organize the forum annually.

The People’s Committees of centrally-run cities and provinces should engage in all activities of the forum and get prepared to answer questions related to issues related to cooperative economy and cooperatives.

As of June this year, Vietnam had 14,502 agricultural cooperatives, 55 percent of which operated efficiently, much higher than 15 percent in 2015.

Along with reducing production cost for member households, the cooperatives have helped increase their income by 14 percent per year.

Meanwhile, localities have showed strong performance in handling ineffective cooperatives with 3,600 dissolved while 600 others are to be dissolved or reformed in the coming time.

Export of cameras to India surges

Vietnam shipped cameras and video cameras worth 318 million USD to India so far this year to August 15, up 117.4 percent from the same period last year.

According to the General Department of Vietnam Customs, the high increase is remarkable as the total export value of the products during the period went down 3 percent year on year to nearly 2.5 billion USD.

Total exports to the Indian market also recorded an increase of close to 160 million USD in the first seven months of 2019 on a yearly basis, reaching 4.07 billion USD.

Two-way trade between Vietnam and India experienced a year-on-year rise of 40 percent to reach 10.69 billion USD in 2018.

The countries are working towards 15 billion USD in bilateral trade by 2020.

MoIT forecasts difficult export activities at year-end

In the context of the world’s economic slowdown and increasing prices, it is difficult for export activities to surge sharply as they did in the same periods in 2017 and 2018, the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) reported.

The MoIT reported that export turnover was estimated at US$ 24.5 billion in August, representing a year-on-year growth of 6.6% including US$ 7.34 billion of the domestic sector (down 4.9%) and US$ 17.16 billion of the FDI sector (up 12.4%).

Some exports earned higher month-on-month turnovers including coal (up 103.6%) and mobile phones and spare parts (up 37.8%).

In the first eight months, export turnover was estimated at US$ 169.98 billion, up 7.3% against the same period last year.

Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Do Thang Hai said that the 7.3% growth rate was lower than that in 2017 and 2018 (with 19.9% and 16.7%), showing great effort and positive signals amidst complicatedly developments in the global economy.

Mr. Hai said that in the rest of the year, enterprises would boost production especially mobiles and televisions in response to high demands. Export turnover in Q3 was forecast to be higher than that of Q2.

In addition, overseas shipment to the U.S. market was projected to be positive as importers are seeking alternative commodities for Chinese ones.

However, the MoIT forecast that export turnover would not increase unexpectedly due to the impacts of the trade disputes between the U.S.-China and Japan-the RoK, and price decline of yuan to the dollar.

Export turnover of mobile phones and spare parts hit US$ 33 bln

Eight out of 26 exports earned over US$ 1 billion, accounting for 89.5% of total export turnover in the first eight months of 2019, the Ministry of Industry and Trade reported.

In the January-August period, export turnover was estimated at US$ 169.98 billion, representing a year-on-year growth of 7.3%.

In the reviewed period, 26 commodities earned over US$ 1 billion export turnover each, accounting for 89.5% of total export turnover including five with over US$ 10 billion.

Mobile phones and spare parts were the biggest hard currency earner by pocketing US$ 33 billion, accounting for 19.4% of the total, representing a year-on-year growth of 4.3%. Electronic products, computers and spare parts earned US$ 21.9 billion of export turnover, representing a year-on-year growth of 14.3%; followed by garments and textiles with US$ 21.7 billion, up 9.8%; footwear with US$ 12 billion, up 13.1%; machines and equipments with US$ 11.3 billion, up 5.8%; furniture with US$ 6.5 billion, up 15.4%; transport vehicles and spare parts with US$ 5.7 billion, up 7%.

The U.S. was the largest importer of Viet Nam with US$ 38.6 billion of turnover, posting a year-on-year growth of 25.3%.

Viet Nam’s export turnovers to the EU market hit US$ 27.7 billion, seeing a year-on-year decline of 0.5%; to China with US$ 23.8 billion (down 2.5%); ASEAN with US$ 17.3 billion (up 3.6%); Japan with US$ 13.4 billion (up 9.9%); the Republic of Korea with US$ 12.6 billion, up 5.3%.

VN to host last round of RCEP talks this month

The twenty-eighth round of talks on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership will take place in the central city of Da Nang from September 19-27, according to the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

This is considered the last round of talks for the trade pact initiated in 2012 and involving 10 ASEAN member States and their six dialogue partners, namely China, Japan, India, the Republic of Korea, Australia, and New Zealand.

Negotiations have reached a critical milestone as the deadline for the conclusion of negotiations draws near, according to the Joint Media Statement released following the 7th RCEP ministerial meeting in Bangkok, Thailand on September 8.

The RCEP ministers committed to avail negotiators with the necessary resources and mandate to bring negotiations to a close.

RCEP is considered the world’s largest regional trade agreement as it covers a market of almost half of the world’s population and around one third of global gross domestic product.

Underground trade centre to be built in HCM City

A VND6.86 trillion (USD295.65 million) underground shopping centre project is set to be built in HCM City’s central Ben Thanh area.

The 45,000 square-metre shopping centre will be connected to the city’s metro project which is still under construction.

HCM City authorities have assigned the municipal Management Board of Urban Railway to work out a plan to carry out the shopping centre project.

The centre will be located under Quach Thi Trang Square and along Le Loi Street, the section running from Ben Thanh Market to HCM City's Municipal Theatre. This means that the centre will be located in level B1 of Ben Thanh-Suoi Tien metro project.

The centre construction is scheduled for completion in 2021 when Ben Thanh-Suoi Tien metro project is slated for being put into service.

The municipal Department of Architecture has been instructed to launch a contest for the design concept of Ben Thanh Metro Station area to ensure that the underground shopping centre to be linked to its surroundings.

According to the HCM City Management Board of Urban Railway, six underground accesses from Ben Thanh Market, the One Building and Park 23/9 into the Ben Thanh Metro Station have been designed.

Can Tho to host first int’l travel mart

The Vietnam International Travel Mart Can Tho (VITM Can Tho) 2019 will take place in the Mekong Delta city from November 29 to December 1, according to the event’s organising board.

Nguyen HuuTho, Chairman of the Vietnam Tourism Association, said the event this year will be one of the largest of its kind in the region.

It is expected to draw more than 300 travel, accommodation, aviation and catering enterprises from more than 20 localities nationwide and foreign tourism promotion agencies, with about 250 booths.

The event will featureprogrammes to promote tourism activities, art performances and food festivals highlighting tourism in the Mekong Delta region.

Tran Viet Phuong, Director of the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Can Tho, expressed his hope that the event, to be hosted by Can Tho for the first time, will create an opportunity for travel firms in the Mekong Delta to expand their partnerships with peers across the country and from abroad.

Meanwhile, visitors will be offered domestic and foreign tours, travel tickets and hotel rooms at good prices, provided by famous travel firms such as Vietravel, Saigontourist, and Sagota, he said.

A number of sideline activities will also be held, including a programme to encourage the reduction of plastic waste in tourism activities, a forum on sustainable development in the Mekong Delta region, a conference introducing tourism products in the region, and a ceremony to honour outstanding individuals and tourism firms in the Mekong Delta.

Woori Bank opens five branches in Vietnam

The State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) has given the go-ahead approving the eligibility of the Republic of Korea’s Woori Bank to establish five branches in Vietnam.

They will include Hoan Kiem branch, Vinh Phuc branch, Da Nang branch, Bien Hoa branch and Sai Gon branch.

The SBV requires Woori Bank to carry out the procedures for opening operations, registering and announcement on approved branches.

After 12 months from the date of signing this document, if Woori Vietnam bank has not opened its branch operations, this document automatically expires.

Currently, in the Vietnamese credit system, there are nine banks with 100 percent foreign capital, namely ANZ, Standard Chartered, Shinhan, HSBC, Hong Leong, Public Bank, CIMB, Woori Bank and UOB.

Over the past three years, two banks from the Republic of Korea, Shinhan and Woori Bank, have been actively expanding their network in Vietnam.

Vietjet launches promotional tickets from zero VND throughout Vietnam

Low-cost carrier Vietjet Air has launched a special offer for customers this September with millions of tickets being available from zero dong to destinations across Vietnam.

To take part in the offer, travellers simply need to log on to the carrier’s website www.vietjetair.com, or the airline’s mobile app from 12:00 to 14:00 each day. Promotional programmes are to apply to all domestic routes from October 10, 2019 to March 28, 2020.

With a wide flight network covering a total of 129 routes and 400 flights per day, Vietjet has been at the forefront of connecting major cities to new domestic destinations such as Can Tho, Phu Quoc, Buon Ma Thuot, Hai Phong, Vinh, and Van Don.

Most notably, during this year’s Mid-Autumn Festival, Vietjet provided passengers with an interesting programme, including riding in hot-air balloons in the northwestern region, enjoying sunflowers of Da Lat, and savouring the scenic views of the planet’s most beautiful beaches which are found in Vietnam.

Vietjet is the first airline in Vietnam to operate as a new-age airline offering flexible, cost-saving ticket fares and diversified services to meet customers’ demands. It provides not only transport services but also uses the latest e-commerce technologies to offer various products and services for consumers. Vietjet is a fully-fledged member of International Air Transport Association (IATA) with the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) certificate.

Currently, Vietjet operates around 400 flights daily, carrying more than 80 million passengers to date, with 129 routes covering destinations across Vietnam and international destinations such as Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, the Republic of Korea, Taiwan, China, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia and Cambodia.

Footwear, handbag exports reel in nearly 14.5 bln USD in eight months

Vietnam’s export turnover from footwear products and handbags reached nearly 14.5 billion USD in the first eight months of 2019, according to the Vietnam Leather, Footwear and Handbag Association (LEFASO).

Of the value, exports of footwear products were close to 12 billion USD, while that of handbags reached 2.475 billion USD, up 13.1 and 10.9 percent year on year, respectively.

Exports to top markets of Vietnamese footwear products saw increases compared to the same period last year, with the US market growing 13.5 percent, the EU, over 10.1 percent; and Japan, 11.8 percent.

LEFASO projected Vietnam to earn 21.5 billion USD from leather products and footwear this year, a year-on-year rise of 10 percent. It also predicted the sector’s production will grow by 10-11 percent.

Corporate bond issuance rises in eight months

A total of 117 trillion VND (5.03 billion USD) worth of corporate bond notes were raised in the first eight months of 2019, according to SSI Securities Corporation’s research unit.

The figure means the successful issuance rate in the first eight months was 90.8 percent and the value of the corporate bond market was equal to 10.2 percent of Vietnam’s total gross domestic product (GDP), SSI Retail Research estimated.

The total value of corporate bond offered in the first eight months was estimated at 129 trillion VND, the SSI unit estimated upon information disclosed on the stock exchanges and companies’ websites.

According to the Ministry of Finance, a total of 224 trillion VND worth of corporate bond notes was raised in 2018, up 94.5 percent year on year. The value of the market last year was 474.5 trillion VND, equalling 8.6 percent of the total GDP and higher than the 6.19 percent in 2017.

Commercial banks were still the biggest issuers, raising total 56 trillion VND – 47.9 percent of the total. Banks were followed by property developers, which raised nearly 37 trillion VND – 31.5 percent of the total, infrastructure constructors (9.2 trillion VND, 7.9 percent), and non-banking financial firms (4.42 trillion VND, 3.8 percent).

Though realty firms ranked second in the list of top issuers, the successful issuance rate of the sector was 77.3 percent – the lowest among those mentioned. Forty-four property firms opened 139 placements to offer 47.8 trillion VND worth of bond notes.

Banks’ bond yield rates were the lowest, fixed and annually-paid. Average per-annum bank bond yield rate was 6.75 percent and average maturity was 3.3 years.
On the contrary, realty bond yield rates were the highest at a per-annum average of 10 percent, which was followed by infrastructure (9.79 percent) and financials (8.64 percent).

According to SSI Retail Research, Decree 163/2018/NĐ-CP dated December 4, 2018 opened the corporate bond market for the business community by reducing the ratio of short-term capital spent on medium- and long-term lending.

The increase of the risk ratio in bank loans for real estate projects motivated companies to raise capital via bond issuance from making bank loans.

In addition, the transparency of information disclosure and more active participation of middle stakeholders like banks and brokerages made corporate bonds more attractive.

However, there are still risks with the local corporate bond market despite good growth in recent years, according to Nguyen Viet Cuong, vice director of analysis centre at Vietinbank Securities Co.

“The biggest risk now is information transparency. In other markets, the role of credit rating firms is quite clear and important because they have various rankings for various types of corporate bond and investor appetite,” he said.

“Therefore, Vietnam will soon have to make space for business credit rating institutions to make the corporate bond market more transparent” and make it a good source of capital for companies beside bank loans, Cuong said.

Though the Vietnamese corporate bond market has made big improvements, it should be noted that commercial banks are still the biggest bond buyers, especially in the real estate sector, while the identity of buyers should be public, Nguyen Duc Hung Linh, director of individual customer analysis and consultancy at SSI Securities Corp, said.

If the role of credit rating firms remained vague, bond buyers, especially individuals, would not be able to find the appropriate yield rates, he said, adding investor protection policies must be improved in the future.

According to economic specialist Bui Quang Tin, CEO of Bizlight Business School, bondholders may face higher risks when they purchase corporate bonds because they have no collateral from the companies.

"The higher the yield rates are, the higher the risks," he said, adding "the major risk lies in true information of firms, which cannot be found publicly and is sometimes hidden from individual investors".

Purchasing corporate bonds may sometimes mean all-in for investors, according to Tin. If the company declares bankruptcy, investors may lose everything so there must be a policy to protect bond buyers from such risk.

Binh Phuoc endorses Japanese investment

Authorities in the southern province of Binh Phuoc on September 9 had a working session with Japanese-based multi-sectoral Mitani Sangyo group, which is running in seven companies in Vietnam.

Secretary of the provincial Party Committee Nguyen Van Loi said Binh Phuoc welcomes Japanese investors, including Mitani Sangyo.

He stressed the province encourages the development of support and high-tech industry and is committed to creating the best possible conditions for investors in terms of policy, taxation, and land leasing prices.

The official unveiled Binh Phuoc’s intention to work with the Industrial Investment and Development Corporation (Becamex IDC Corp) of Vietnam to send workers to Japan for training.

Mitani Mitsuru, chairman of the board at Mitani Sangyo, said the group is willing to invest in production areas of the province’s strength to boost export, bringing about economic value for both sides.

He stressed the group wants to collaborate with the authorities in training Binh Phuoc workers in Japan.

Binh Phuoc is home to 13 industrial parks spanning 4,686 hectares in total.

Ca Mau develops eco-tourism, community-based tourism

Seeing tourism as a spearhead economy in the near future, the southern province of Ca Mau is working to promote renowned tourist attractions and local typical products, including eco-tourism, community-based tourism, among both domestic and foreign visitors.

Tours to the Ca Mau Cape National Park is among key tourism products of the province, giving tourists an opportunity to experience the diversity of the tropical mangrove forest in the UNESCO-recognised Ramsar Biosphere Reserve.

The local authorities have paid due attention to building cooperative brands for local typical products like Rach Goc dried shrimp, Nam Can crab, Hang Vinh shrimp crackers and Thoi Binh fish sauce.

Besides, the provincial People’s Committee has directed competent authorities to enhance investment promotion so as to attract capital for tourism resort complexes and eco-tourism sites, while improving human resources quality to create high-quality tourism services.

The province will organise a tourism week and inaugurate several works at the Dat Mui tourism site in later this year.

In the first eight months of 2019, the province welcomed more than 1 million visitors, up 15.1 percent year on year, accounting for 62.6 percent of the yearly plan. Tourism revenue reached over 1.67 trillion VND (72.1 million USD), increasing 10.7 percent from the same time last year, and making up 69.1 percent of the set target for the whole year.

Tra Vinh launches community-based tourism site

 

The Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism of the Mekong Delta province of Tra Vinh opened the Con Chim community-based tourism site in Chau Thanh district on September 9.

With natural and farming areas spanning 60 and 34 ha respectively, Con Chim, a large dune on Co Chien river, has a population of 220. The site has clean air and green landscapes, while local livelihoods revolve around rice cultivation and aquatic farming.

Since May this year, 15 tours to Con Chim have been sold on a trial basis to test local tourism capacity, receiving praise for service quality from travel agencies and tourists.

Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Nguyen Trung Hoang said authorities have been helping families, organisations and individuals develop tourism.

Accordingly, households investing in homestay services with between two and five rooms are supported with 30 million VND (1,295 USD) per room and have 50 percent of their lending interest subsidised under specific conditions.

The investment in restaurants with areas spanning 200m2 and above to serve more than 100 guests at a time receives 500,000 VND per square metre; and the maximum fund is 200 million VND.

Meanwhile, the purchase of transport vessels able to carry more than 20 passengers each will see 10 percent of costs financed, with maximum funding of 50 million VND. 

Hai Duong - new destination for property developers

The Red River Delta province of Hai Duong has emerged as a new destination for real estate businesses, with numerous projects to be put up for sale in the time ahead.

The province boasts more than 2,207 historical and cultural relic sites, including 144 sites and four complexes winning national status.

The number of tourists staying overnight in the locality is expected to increase 8 percent this year to reach over 1.6 million by 2020, and the tourism sector will contribute from 2-2.5 percent of the provincial gross domestic product (GDP).

Besides holiday makers, Hai Duong has set sight on another source of visitors - local industrial parks which are home to many foreign-invested companies. Foreign direct investment (FDI) in Hai Duong reached 365.8 million USD in the first half of 2018, representing a year-on-year rise of 36.9 percent, the provincial Department of Planning and Investment reported.

The inflow of FDI also brings in both foreign and domestic labourers and experts.

This would stimulate demands for real estate, especially short-term accommodations for foreign experts and labourers.

It is noteworthy that Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc issued a decision last May, recognising Hai Duong city as the first-tier city, which has also contributed to spurring the development of the local property market.

These above-mentioned factors have created a firm foundation for the development of the provincial real estate market, making it more attractive in the eyes of investors.

Given the shortage of luxurious property projects in Hai Duong, investors have poured capital into the segment.

The most outstanding project is Apec Mandala Wyndham Hai Duong of Apec Group that has invested in a series of luxurious projects in Mui Ne, Bac Ninh, Phu Yen, Hue and Lang Son.

Apec Mandala Wyndham Hai Duong is a complex of condotels, officetels and a five-star commercial centre, meeting demands for shopping, cuisines, entertainment and leisure of locals and holiday-makers.

Managed and operated by Wyndham Hotel Group – the world’s largest hotel company - the project has been seen as an attractive investment opportunity in Hai Duong in 2019.

Other projects with schools, bars, clubs, commercial centres and shop-houses, and guaranteed security and safety will promises high-quality living standards for residents.

Statistics from the Ministry of Planning and Investment’s Foreign Investment Agency show that the province lured 450 million USD in foreign direct investment (FDI) in the first half of this year, ranking 10th among the 46 localities that received FDI in the period.

Of the total, 326 million USD came from 38 newly licensed projects while the remainder was added to 14 projects already in operation.

As of June this year, Hai Duong was home to 438 foreign-invested projects with capital totalling more than 8.15 billion USD, retaining its position as one of the top ten localities in the country in terms of attracting foreign capital.

In order to lure more investment capital, the province should continue working on administrative reforms, especially in the fields of taxes, fees, land and social insurance, as well as reducing the burden on enterprises during inspections, analysts have said.

They also highlighted the need to improve business consultations and promote the role of provincial business associations to consolidate the trust of the business community, adding provincial leaders and localities need to hold more dialogues with business communities to solve pressing problems quickly.

Hai Duong, formerly called “Thanh Dong” – meaning the city to the east of Thang Long royal citadel -, has been well-known for its rich culture, both tangible and intangible, which is typical of the Red River Delta. The province was a cradle of cheo (traditional opera), ca tru (ceremonial singing), chau van (spiritual singing) and water puppetry. 

Japanese firm interested in investing in Thai Binh

President of Japanese company Toray International Inc. Kenichiro Miki said the company wants to expand operation in Vietnam during a working session with a visiting delegation from Thai Binh province in Tokyo on September 10.

He revealed that the firm has decided to invest in Thai Binh after conducting careful surveys, adding that Toray International will send a team to Vietnam for further discussion with the province’s leaders soon.

Ngo Dong Hai, Vice Secretary of the Thai Binh Party Committee welcomed the firm’s decision to invest in the Red River Delta province, pledging optimal conditions for Japanese investors, especially those owning advanced technology like Toray International.

Hai introduced the Japanese company to the advantages and development plans of Thai Binh, including the construction of the Thai Binh Economic Zone. He expressed his hope that Toray International will invest in the zone.

Formed in 1986 under the Toray Industries Inc., Toray International Inc. specializes in the trading of products and services in garment and textile, electronics, water treatment, commodity, fishing tools, plastics and industrial material. Toray International Inc. has 10 factories and partners in Vietnam.

Earlier on September 9, the Thai Binh delegation had a meeting with the Vietnamese Embassy in Japan, during which they reported the outcomes of the visit and efforts of Thai Binh in trade and investment promotion. Hai asked for support from the embassy in the work as well as attracting Japanese investors.

Can Tho, Wakayama discuss multi-faceted cooperation prospects

Authorities of Vietnam’s Mekong Delta city of Can Tho and Japan’s Wakayama prefecture discussed multi-faceted cooperation prospects during their working session in Can Tho on September 10.

Director of the Business Promotion Department Seizo Tsuji said Wakayama wants to transfer high technology to Can Tho through official development assistance (ODA) projects to help the city improve the quality of farm produce to export to choosy markets, including Japan.

The Japanese prefecture also wants to open training courses for local agricultural officials, farmers and farming households to develop human resources in the field and promote farm produce trading in Can Tho, he added.

The Wakayama administration will encourage and create all possible conditions for Japanese businesses in general and Wakayama enterprises in particular to increase investment in Can Tho and neighbouring localities to improve cultivation techniques for locals, as well as expand the application of high-tech agricultural models and post-harvest technology to create more high-quality products, he said.

The prefecture hopes Can Tho authorities will support the introduction and distribution of products made from Wakayama’s special seedless persimmon varieties to customers in the southwestern region. Vice versa, the Japanese locality will import local fruit specialties such as Nam Roi grapefruit, Lo Ren star apple, and Can Tho orange.

Regarding urban management and environmental protection, Tsuji said Wakayama is willing to support Can Tho to create software for urban planning calculation, check-up and maintenance of water drainage facilities, and database management to promptly detect and settle possible incidents in the field.

The prefecture will also help Can Tho connect with Japanese investors and experts specialised in designing solar energy usage systems for public lighting to study urban infrastructure management, he added.

Vice Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Duong Tan Hien agreed on the aforesaid proposals and cooperation plans of Wakayama, and affirmed that Can Tho will create the best conditions for Japanese organisations and enterprises to cooperate and invest in the city.

South African company to export fresh grape to Vietnam

South Africa’s In2Fruit company has signed a contract with Vietnam’s Fruit One counterpart to export fresh grape to Vietnam, according to South Africa’s Department of Trade and Industry.

The agreement was reached at the Fruit Logistica Asia Trade Show in China’s Hong Kong on September 4-6.

Accordingly, the Vietnamese company allows the South African counterpart to ship the first batch of 10-12 containers worth about 35,000 USD out of the total contract value of 420,000 USD.

CEO of In2Fruit Sarel Joubert described the signing of the deal as an initial step for the South African company to make inroads into the Vietnamese market.

After this deal, In2Fruit will ensure the supply of high-quality fresh grape, he added.

He highlighted the two Governments’ efforts in promoting bilateral trade, saying the South African Table Grape Industry (SATI) has actively worked to meet Vietnam’s phytosanitary requirements.

Joubert said he was glad to know that Vietnamese agencies are implementing a unified licensing system for his company’s fresh export grape.

Vietnam and South Africa are striving to boost two-way trade to 2 billion USD in the next five years from 1.2 billion USD in 2018.

South Africa is exerting efforts to increase exports of wine, fresh fruits, processed fruits, and beef to the Vietnamese market.

Workshop discusses HCM City’s key medical tourism products

Traditional medicine and acupuncture, dental care, cosmetic surgery, pathological screening, and artificial insemination will be improved to make them Ho Chi Minh City’s main medical tourism products in the coming years, a recent workshop heard.

Nguyen Thi Anh Hoa, deputy director of the city Department of Tourism, said medical tourism had great potential along with agri-tourism, eco-tourism and inland waterway tourism.

According to the Vietnam National Administration Tourism, the number of foreign tourists coming to Vietnam for tourism combined with healthcare has been increasing in recent years and revenues are now worth around 2 billion USD a year.

Last year some 300,000 foreign visitors visited hospitals in the country for health checks and treatment, including 57,000 inpatients. Hospitals in the city accounted for 40 percent of the number.

The World Tourism Organisation has forecast the top six global trends of the future are health tourism, responsible tourism, eco-tourism, community tourism, smart travel, and creative tourism.

Developing medical tourism products is not only in line with the global development trend, but will also contribute to diversifying the city’s tourism products and tourism sector development, Hoa said.

Her department is working with the health department to develop medical tourism by 2025, with a focus on traditional medicine and acupuncture and dental care.

Phan Yen Ly of Saigontourist’s inbound division said it was necessary to develop unique products to foster medical tourism in the city.

Promoting marketing and having well-defined target customers are very important, she said, adding there was also a need to reduce the patient overload at hospitals and improve the quality of their medical services.

Nguyen Thi Huynh Mai, chief of the health department office, said the city had many quality hospitals that could help develop medical tourism, adding the cost of healthcare is low compared to other countries in the region while the quality of doctors and equipment are not inferior.

The health department has launched a mobile app called Medical Tourism Assistant which helps patients seeking basic information on healthcare services and hospitals in the city. It plans to develop the app in English to meet the demand from foreign tourists next year.

Last year it also released a medical tourism guidebook in Vietnamese and English with basic information about travel and healthcare in the city.

The workshop offered an opportunity to hospitals to introduce their medical services and packages for tourists. It was organised on the sidelines of the 15th annual International Travel Expo HCM City being held from September 5-7 at the Saigon Exhibition & Convention Centre in District 7. 

HCM City to facilitate investors in Thu Thiem

The Ho Chi Minh City authorities have asked for permission from the Prime Minister to create favourable conditions for investors in the city’s Thu Thiem new urban area in District 2 to ensure continued construction progress.

According to a recent Government Inspectorate report, assistance to investors was needed to ensure that they follow the adjustments suggested by the Inspectorate.

The projects in the area are behind schedule and incomplete due to land clearance problems, according to the city's People’s Committee.

In addition, adjustment of the project scale and total investment occurred during implementation, which has contributed to delays.

The Committee has asked the PM, the State Audit agency and the Government Inspectorate to allow investors to make necessary adjustments.

The Government Inspectorate in June inspected land planning and management as well as the construction of Thu Thiem new urban area project.

It said that the People’s Committee and agencies committed violations in land planning and land use management in the area.

The People’s Committee has been told to work with agencies and the Government Inspectorate to review any changes in the detailed plans of projects.

The Inspectorate has also asked the Prime Minister to require local authorities to take strong measures against those that are responsible for violations.

Nguyen Thanh Phong, chairman of the People’s Committee, said the city would quickly deal with the violations as pointed out by the Government Inspectorate. 

Aquatic exports fetch over 5.5 billion USD in eight months

Export revenue of aquatic products in August was estimated at 833 million USD, bringing the result for the first eight months of this year to 5.52 billion USD, a drop of 1.2 percent over the same period last year.

According to the Agro Processing and Market Development Authority (AgroTrade), top four markets of Vietnamese aquatic products in the first seven months of this year were Japan, the US, China and the Republic of Korea, with their combined consumption accounting for 56.5 percent of Vietnam’s total earnings from the products.

In the reviewed period, Vietnam shipped to the US 802.56 million USD worth of aquatic products, up 1.1 percent year on year, while earning 811.07 million USD in the Japanese market.

Strong growth was seen in many markets, including Taiwan (China) (16.3 percent), Mexico (14.6 percent), Malaysia (12.3 percent), and Japan (10.4 percent).

Shrimp and tra fish remained the major export product of the sector. Exports of white-leg shrimps accounted for 25.7 percent of the total export revenue, while that of tra fish made up 24.05 percent of the total.

According to Truong Dinh Hue, General Secretary of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), after the 13th period of review (POR 13) of anti-dumping tariff on Vietnamese warm-water shrimp exported to the US, 31 Vietnamese firms will enjoy zero percent tax rate in the market.

He held that this is a good chance for businesses to increase export to the US as with the tax rate, Vietnamese shrimp can compete with same product from other suppliers.

Commenting on the shrimp export situation in the future, Hoe said that the demand for shrimp will increase towards the end of the year, thus raising export volume. However, the rise will depend on domestic material supply, he added.

In 2020, bright prospects are forecast for shrimp export, he asserted, adding that the question is whether domestic supply can meet demand.

Meanwhile, Vietnam imported 133 million USD of aquatic products in August, pushing the total for the first eight months of 2019 to 1.19 billion USD, up 3.8 percent year on year.

HCM City sees high demand for skilled workers in September

Of the total 25,000 vacant jobs Ho Chi Minh City needs to fill in September, 81.36 percent require skilled workers, according to Vice Director of the city’s Human Sources Forecast and Labour Market Information Centre Tran Le Thanh Truc.

She said that most of the job vacancies are in the fields of transport-warehouse- import & export, property business, IT, mechanics-automation, marketing-public relations, architecture-construction, and electronics-mechatronics, adding jobs requiring workers with university degrees or above make up 19.2 percent of the recruitment demand, and those with training at colleges, and vocational schools 62.12 percent.

Truc attributed the increasing need for skilled workers to the fact that local enterprises are accelerating investments in upgrading equipment and applying advanced technologies in their production and business. Besides, many firms prefer experienced employees to expand their production in preparation for export orders and the peak consumption season in the last months of 2019.

Director of the city’s Youth Employment Services Centre Nguyen Quang Cuong said local enterprises should offer promotion opportunities and good welfare policies to keep competent employees.

As for workers, he suggested they should improve their professional skills to enhance adaptation capacity to the labour market.

The centre has organised free training courses on sales, information technology, English and Korean languages for workers without jobs who are receiving unemployment benefits.

It plans to arrange four job fairs from now to the end of the year, with thousands of jobs available in finance-securities-real estate, business and management, mechanics, telecommunications, hotels, tourism, IT, among others.

Vietnamese footwear maker Biti’s opens first store in Cambodia

The Binh Tien Imex Corp., Pte., Ltd (Biti’s) on September 7 launched its first official store in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, marking its official presence on the market.

As one of the Vietnamese high quality brands, Biti’s has introduced its products in Cambodia since the 2000s through a local distributor and won local customers’ trust.

Together with the opening of the store, the firm also launched its subsidiary Biti’s Cambodia.

Addressing the opening ceremony, which was attended by Vietnamese Ambassador to Cambodia Vu Quang Minh, Cambodian Under-Secretary of State of the Ministry of Commerce Sam Sereirath, thanked Biti’s for expanding its business in the Cambodian market.

With an average economic growth of 7 percent annually, Cambodia is a developing country with increasing demands for all kinds of goods, he stated.

Vice Director of Biti’s Cambodia Tran Kim Hanh said that from October 2019, Biti’s products will be available in Aeon Mall supermarkets in Cambodia, while more retail shops of the company will be opened in Phnom Penh.

Hanh pointed out that competition from Thai and Chinese goods is one of the major challenges for Biti’s in the market, but showing her confidence that with its high quality products, Biti’s has high competitiveness.

Currently, Biti’s has more than 8,200 workers at its four factories and seven subsidiaries along with 173 showrooms and more than 1,000 distributors over 63 localities across Vietnam.

Each year, it provides more than 20 million products to the market.