A ceremony was held in Hanoi on January 8 to honour 500 largest enterprises in Vietnam (VNR500) and top 10 prestigious companies in 2020.

The event was co-organised by the Vietnam Report JSC and VietNamNet electronic newspaper.

On the VNR500 list are Samsung Electronics Thai Nguyen Co Ltd, Vietnam Electricity (EVN), Vietnam Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam), Viettel Military Industry and Telecoms Group (Viettel), and Vietnam National Petroleum Group (Petrolimex), among others.

Speaking at the event, Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Manh Hung said firms in almost all key sectors set digital transformation as a priority strategy, which is pushed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to him, pharmaceutical companies paid more attention to artificial intelligence while travel agencies used digital technology such as augmented or virtual reality to introduce their products.

A survey of the VNR500 companies by Vietnam Report showed that 64.8 percent of respondents said COVID-19 has pushed quicker digital transformation among businesses, with 19.8 percent using cloud computing, 19.3 percent using big data and 7.3 percent choosing Internet of Things.

Hung added that in the current context, digital transformation plays a significant role, laying a foundation for firms to weather through challenges and grow further./. 

Thai economy battered by new wave of COVID-19

Thailand’s GDP growth could drop below the 3.2 percent baseline projection due to lower foreign arrivals amidst uncertainty regarding COVID-19 vaccine efficiency, and reduced fiscal stimulus, according to the latest minute from the Bank of Thailand’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC).

The country has been grappling with higher infections since the start of 2021, with stringent restrictions imposed in five provinces to curb the contagion.

The MPC is a seven-member panel under the Bank of Thailand that sets the benchmark interest rate. The committee has been maintaining the 0.5 percent policy interest rate, a historic low, following three rate cuts undertaken early last year to lend support for feeble economic conditions.

Uncertainties surrounding the Covid-19 situation in the near term as well as uncertainties regarding vaccine efficacy and vaccination coverage in Thailand could affect the progress in the admission of foreign tourists and tourism recovery, according to the minutes.

The projected number of foreign tourist arrivals has been revised down following the new outbreak. The central bank forecasts inbound arrivals of foreign tourist arrivals in 2021 will tally at 5.5 million, a decline from an earlier projection of 9 million.

Thailand registered 6.7 million foreign tourist arrivals in the first 11 months of 2020, down 81.4 percent year-on-year.

The Tourism and Sports Ministry reported tourism receipts in the first nine months were valued at 655 billion THB (21.87 billion USD), down 70.6 percent from the same period last year.

Public expenditure, one of the main drivers sustaining Thailand's economy last year, is anticipated to be revised down, driven mainly by the lower-than-expected fiscal year 2021 annual budget and the carryover budget as well as a reduction and postponement of state-owned enterprise investment, according to the minutes.

Meanwhile, fiscal stimulus could be lower than assumed in the baseline projection owing to a delay in disbursement under the post-pandemic economic recovery plan, the phase-out of government measures to stimulate private consumption in the first half of 2021 and the earmarking of funds available under the 1-trillion-baht emergency loan decree, approaching the deadline in the second half of 2021./.

Vietcombank’s bad debts lowest ever in 2020

The Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam (Vietcombank) recorded a bad debt ratio of 0.6 percent last year, the lowest so far and in the sector, compared to 0.78 percent in 2019.

Chairman of its Board of Directors Nghiem Xuan Thanh told the media that this is the first time in five years its profit has still stood at around 23 trillion VND (1 billion USD).

Vietcombank has introduced five lending interest rate cuts since early last year, the most among credit organisations, with a total reduction of around 3.7 trillion VND in profit.

The bank also rose provisional funds for bad debts up to 380 percent, or 380 VND for each 100 VND of bad debt; a record to date.

It posted credit growth of 13.95 percent last year, or some 110 trillion VND worth of new loans; much higher than the 8 percent recorded by the sector.

It contributed 9 trillion VND to the State budget. With stock market shares standing at 100,000 VND each on January 6, Vietcombank became the largest listed company, with capitalisation of around 390 trillion VND./. 

Enterprises must be at heart of reform, development: PM

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has asked the industry and trade sector to view enterprises as the centre of reform and development so as to further facilitate production and business activities and enhance competitiveness.

PM Phuc made the request at a conference in Hanoi on January 7 that reviewed the industry and trade sector’s performance in 2020 and launched tasks for this year.

The PM asked the sector to ensure a long-term and consistent policy framework while creating optimal and synchronous conditions to improve productivity, quality, efficiency, and competitiveness.

In industrial development, it must reduce any dependence on unsustainable advantages from natural resources and switch from natural resource-based industries to innovation-based industries, he noted.

Regarding trade relations with the US, the PM underlined that the Vietnamese Government has been taking drastic action to reduce its trade deficit with the country and fighting against origin fraud and illegal trans-shipments.

Vietnam is determined to work with the US to carry out a joint action plan towards a harmonious and sustainable trade balance, he affirmed, adding that its monetary policy is meant to control inflation and maintain macro-economic stability, not create a competitive advantage in trade.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Vietnam still enjoyed a year-on-year increase of 6.5 percent in overseas shipments in 2020, posting among the highest export growth in the world. It also saw a fifth consecutive year of trade surplus, which hit a record 19.1 billion USD, Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh reported.

The country recorded stable growth in both exports and imports, with total trade turnover topping 500 billion USD for the second year in a row.

Anh said that international integration has been not only maintained but also promoted thanks to Vietnam’s initiatives supported by countries in the region and the world. The negotiation, signing, and implementation of free trade agreements (FTAs) have obtained significant outcomes.

International economic integration has turned Vietnam into one of the world’s most open economies. It now has trade relations with more than 230 economies, 60 of which it has FTAs with, according to the minister.

However, he acknowledged, despite the surge in exports, imports remain substantial and market and production diversity is still modest, while goods’ competitiveness still relies on price rather than value.

The minister also pointed to latent pollution risks in some industries and a lack of many large-scale national brands as obstacles./.

Binh Son Refining and Petrochemical eyes 37.45 million USD in after-tax profits

Vietnam’s largest refining and petrochemical firm, Binh Son Refining and Petrochemical JSC (BSR), has set a target to earn about 864 billion VND (37.45 million USD) in after-tax profit this year.

The firm also aims to turn out close to 6.5 million tonnes of products, raking in 70.66 trillion VND and contributed nearly 7.7 trillion VND to the State budget.

BSR’s shares bottomed out in March 2020 but rebounded sharply later and reached the year’s peak at year-end, enjoying an expansion of 20.7 percent compared to the beginning of the year.

Its liquidity also surged to an average of 3.64 million of shares per session from 1.73 million recorded in 2019, coming third among the oil and gas sector.

The figures reflect the significant efforts BSR has made amid many difficulties caused by COVID-19 and a steep decline in global oil prices.

The firm has built scenarios and plans to take the initiative in coping with uncertainties of the market and pandemic; as well as to improve management and bolster digitalisation.

BSR posted growth starting from the third quarter and fulfilled most of its set targets in 2020.

Its Dung Quat refinery enjoyed stable operation at an average capacity of 105 percent in 2020 as a whole, raking in 58.28 trillion VND in revenue and contributing 5.8 trillion VND to the State budget.

BSR also saved up to 1.84 trillion VND in production costs excluding crude oil costs, equivalent to 19.2 percent of a target assigned by its parent company - the Vietnam Oil and Gas Group./.

Thailand’s exports to rebound to 3 – 4 percent this year: TNSC

The Thai National Shippers Council (TNSC) remains optimistic about Thailand’s export recovery this year despite the new wave of COVID-19 infections is expected to further affect the export sector.

TNSC president Ghanyapad Tantipipatpong on January 5 said the council expects Thai exports will rebound to 3 – 4 percent in 2021, driven by the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) pact, COVID-19 vaccine progress and a fast economic recovery in China. The TNSC estimated Thai exports plunged more than 7 percent last year.

She forecast a positive outlook for exports of food, medical supplies, rubber gloves, apparel, machinery, auto parts, oil, rice and work-from-home products

The COVID-19 resurgence will have a slight impact on the country’s export this year, she said, adding that there is likely a shortage of labourers in agriculture due to lockdowns in the provinces of Samut Sakhon, Chon Buri, Rayong Chanthaburi and Trat where fisheries and food processing industries largely reply on foreign workers.

She pinpointed main points that will negatively affect Thailand’s export sector this year, namely a shortage of containers and rise in freight rate; appreciation of the baht and a new wave of a more severe COVID-19 outbreak in its key trade partners.

In order to deal with these problems, she said the government should launch urgent measures to mitigate the outbreak’s impact on businesses, such as cutting fees and extending the period of soft loans for local producers.

According to the Ministry of Commerce, the country’s November export exceeded 18.9 billion USD, down 3.65 percent year on year, while import was close to 18.9 billion USD, down 0.99 percent year on year.

Exports for the first 11 months of last year shrank 6.92 percent year-on-year to 211.38 billion USD, while import declined 13.7 percent to nearly 188 billion USD, resulting in a 23.51 billion USD trade surplus./.

HCM City's retail market grows by 11.9 percent despite pandemic

The retail market of the southern largest economic hub of Ho Chi Minh City grew by 11.9 percent to 759.7 trillion VND (32.84 billion USD).

Considering the impacts of the pandemic, the growth was surprising, said Huynh Van Hung, head of the municipal Statistics Office.

Data from a number of large retailers showed that the market began to bustle again in the second half of 2020 after an initial slump.

It was partly due to trade promotion activities undertaken toward the end of the year and a recovery in consumer demand due to the Government’s efficient containment of the disease.

Mobile World JSC, for instance, reported double-digit growth in both revenues and profits in the first 11 months.

Phu Nhuan Jewelry Joint Stock Company reported 21.7 percent growth in sales.

The food and beverages sector reported a 15.9 percent rise in earnings before interest and tax.

The pandemic caused a boom in e-commerce as shopping behaviours changed.

According to several market research companies, retail chains have to restructure since brick-and-mortar stores face shrinking profit margins because of fewer customers and soaring costs.

This year the market grew by 6.8 percent last year to 172.8 billion USD despite the debilitating economic effect of the COVID-19 outbreak, according to the General Statistics Office. Until 2019, Vietnam's retail market always grew in double digits./.

Online promotion a trade gateway for SMEs

Online trade promotion offers businesses, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), direct access to international customers, boosts their sales, speeds up the marketing process, and saves costs, experts have said.

The Việt Nam Trade Promotion Agency has encouraged localities, businesses and trade promotion organisations to develop online marketing measures during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It wants businesses to adopt trade promotion activities on digital platforms, develop e-commerce activities and increase the use of information technology in their operations.

It will strengthen trade promotion programmes for exports and foster online trade links between Vietnamese businesses and import partners.

Nguyễn Hữu Tín, director of the HCM City Investment and Trade Promotion Centre (ITPC), said supply chains are disrupted and e-commerce showed it could help SMEs maintain their operations.

Digital transformation could help firms penetrate and expand export markets, and set up a more flexible and efficient export model, he said.

A number of Vietnamese firms are now adopting business-to-business and business-to-consumer e-commerce business models, he added.

Globally, cross-border e-commerce is developing rapidly and becoming a major trend in trade.

Under the national e-commerce development master plan for 2021-25 and the national digital transformation programme, Việt Nam has identified digital transformation as vital to speeding up modernisation of its distribution system, increase enterprises’ competitiveness, develop the domestic market, and increase exports.

Online trade promotion is considered crucial to helping SMEs enhance trade activities and expand export markets amid the pandemic.

Tô Hoài Nam, standing vice-chairman and general secretary of the Việt Nam Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (VINASME), said, however, that Vietnamese SMEs have limited resources so have great difficulty adopting digitisation in trade promotion and exports.

So VINASME has called on the Ministry of Industry and Trade to help SMEs export by setting up a B2B e-commerce channel under the National Trade Promotion Programme this year.

The programme aims to help traders and producers advertise their goods in the global marketplace.

The association will build a B2B e-commerce site based with Global Sources, a US e-commerce corporation.

The programme is meant for manufacturers and traders in labour-intensive industries such as textiles, footwear, handicrafts, furniture, and plastic goods. 

The association has also undertaken online trade promotion activities instead of sending to Vietnamese delegations to participate in international trade fairs and exhibitions.

It has implemented a number of programmes to assist SMEs with increasing exports through the internet and doing business on B2B e-commerce sites.

According to the Multilateral Trade Policy Department, trade promotion activities are now moving online, especially due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which also helps businesses save significant amounts of money.

According to the Việt Nam E-Commerce Association, the country's e-commerce market will grow by more than 30 per cent this year to $15 billion and to $52 billion by 2025. 

Livestock industry targets production growth of 6 per cent

Viet Nam’s livestock industry hopes to increase its average production growth rate in 2021 by 5-6 per cent, according to the Department of Livestock Production under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The production of meat is expected to reach about 5.7 million tonnes, including 3.67 million tonnes of pork (up 6.1 per cent), 1.5 million tonnes of poultry meat (up 5.8 per cent) and 395,000 tonnes of beef (up 6 per cent).

Meanwhile, eggs are expected to surge by 7.5 per cent year-on-year to about 15.6 billion and milk production to hit 1.21 million tonnes, up 11.5 per cent.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Phung Duc Tien said another important task in 2021 for the livestock sector is to complete five strategic projects for the livestock industry in Viet Nam under the Livestock Development Strategy Project in 2021-2030.

In addition, the industry needs to make full use of investment from the State budget, official development assistance and the private sector to carry out scientific research and development programmes for animal varieties.

Besides continuing to build safe livestock facilities, Tien said the livestock industry should attract investment to build high-tech livestock production models to optimise production and create competitive and high-quality livestock products for export.

According to the Department of Livestock Production, the total number of pigs last year was 26.17 million, up 5 per cent year-on-year and the total number of cows was 5.87 million, up 4.2 per cent. The industry produced about 14.5 billion eggs, up 9.5 per cent.

The total output of animal feed was estimated at 20 million tonnes, up 5.6 per cent year-on-year.

The General Department of Customs reported Viet Nam imported 41,500 pig varieties worth US$24.7 million, 301,000 pigs worth $84.6 million, 3.4 million poultry worth $17.9 million and 518,000 live buffalos for slaughtering, worth $556 million.

In 2020, the livestock industry gained a total export value of about $1.2 billion, including $28.5 million from fresh, chilled or frozen pork exports, $1.4 million from eggs, $71.3 million from natural honey, $25.1 million from fresh poultry meat and $28.1 million from processed meat products. It also exported animal feed and raw materials for animal food production worth $789 million.

Tien said last year, Viet Nam successfully controlled African swine fever helping the pig production industry recover to about 3 million sows and 26 million pigs, reaching 85 per cent of total volume before the African swine fever outbreak. In addition, the country boosted pork imports to make the pork price fall from the end of the third quarter.

Poultry production in 2020 grew by 10 per cent to a record high of 500 million.

Large investment

Meanwhile, the Department of Livestock Production’s Deputy Director Nguyen Van Trong said there was a wave of large enterprises and corporations investing in livestock in 2020.

Many large poultry production companies like Minh Du, Cao Khanh and Dabaco expanded and upgraded breeding plants with an output of hundreds of millions of poultry each year.

Foreign-invested enterprises and other companies also made large-scale investments in the livestock sector, including Cargill, Japfa, Hoa Phat, Thaco, Mavin, Hung Nhon and Tan Long.

Most of the investment projects have a large production scale and use high technology and production chains, aiding the modernisation and sustainable development of the livestock industry, according to the department.

They included CP Viet Nam Joint Stock Company’s $250-million poultry slaughter plant in Binh Phuoc Province. The plant has a slaughtering output of 50 million chickens in the first phase and 100 million chickens in the second phase, making it the largest chicken production, slaughtering and processing plant in Southeast Asia.

Masan Group’s Masan MEATLife Joint Stock Company put the MEATDeli Saigon Meat Processing Complex into operation in Long An Province with a total capital of VND1.8 trillion. The complex has a designed capacity of 1.4 million pigs per year to produce 155,000 tonnes of chilled meat products and products made from chilled meat. 

Online promotion a trade gateway for SMEs

Online trade promotion offers businesses, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), direct access to international customers, boosts their sales, speeds up the marketing process, and saves costs, experts have said.

The Viet Nam Trade Promotion Agency has encouraged localities, businesses and trade promotion organisations to develop online marketing measures during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It wants businesses to adopt trade promotion activities on digital platforms, develop e-commerce activities and increase the use of information technology in their operations.

It will strengthen trade promotion programmes for exports and foster online trade links between Vietnamese businesses and import partners.

Nguyen Huu Tin, director of the HCM City Investment and Trade Promotion Centre (ITPC), said supply chains are disrupted and e-commerce showed it could help SMEs maintain their operations.

Digital transformation could help firms penetrate and expand export markets, and set up a more flexible and efficient export model, he said.

A number of Vietnamese firms are now adopting business-to-business and business-to-consumer e-commerce business models, he added.

Globally, cross-border e-commerce is developing rapidly and becoming a major trend in trade.

Under the national e-commerce development master plan for 2021-25 and the national digital transformation programme, Viet Nam has identified digital transformation as vital to speeding up modernisation of its distribution system, increase enterprises’ competitiveness, develop the domestic market, and increase exports.

Online trade promotion is considered crucial to helping SMEs enhance trade activities and expand export markets amid the pandemic.

To Hoai Nam, standing vice-chairman and general secretary of the Viet Nam Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (VINASME), said, however, that Vietnamese SMEs have limited resources so have great difficulty adopting digitisation in trade promotion and exports.

So VINASME has called on the Ministry of Industry and Trade to help SMEs export by setting up a B2B e-commerce channel under the National Trade Promotion Programme this year.

The programme aims to help traders and producers advertise their goods in the global marketplace.

The association will build a B2B e-commerce site based with Global Sources, a US e-commerce corporation.

The programme is meant for manufacturers and traders in labour-intensive industries such as textiles, footwear, handicrafts, furniture, and plastic goods.

The association has also undertaken online trade promotion activities instead of sending to Vietnamese delegations to participate in international trade fairs and exhibitions.

It has implemented a number of programmes to assist SMEs with increasing exports through the internet and doing business on B2B e-commerce sites.

According to the Multilateral Trade Policy Department, trade promotion activities are now moving online, especially due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which also helps businesses save significant amounts of money.

According to the Viet Nam E-Commerce Association, the country's e-commerce market will grow by more than 30 per cent this year to $15 billion and to $52 billion by 2025.

Indonesia’s 2020 budget deficit rises to 6.09 percent of GDP

Indonesia’s budget deficit in 2020 reached 956.3 trillion IDR (68.6 billion USD), equivalent to 6.09 percent of the national gross domestic product (GDP), Minister of Finance Sri Mulyani Indrawati has said.

The 2020 budget deficit was 82.9 trillion IDR lower than the 1.039 quadrillion IDR, or 6.34 percent of the GDP, set by Presidential Regulation No. 72/2020.

The country’s overall state revenue in 2020 reached 1.633 quadrillion IDR, or 96.1 percent of the target set for the revised state budget.

The state spending stood at nearly 2.59 quadrillion IDR in the year, which hit 94.6 percent of the target.

Mulyani said state revenue recorded a year-on-year contraction of 16.7 percent as tax revenue plunged by 19.7 percent to 1.07 quadrillion IDR, or 89.3 percent of the target.

Meanwhile, state revenue from customs and excise duties reached 212.8 trillion IDR, or 103.5 percent of the target. However, the figure showed a decline of 0.3 percent compared the same period of 2019.

Indonesia’s non-tax state revenue stood at 338.5 trillion IDR, or 115.1 percent of the target. On the other hand, state revenue from grants surged by 945.8 percent to 12.3 trillion IDR./.

Vietravel Airlines officially launches first charter flights

The Vietnam Travel Aviation Co. Ltd (Vietravel Airlines) officially launched its first charter flight with a route from Hanoi to Phu Quoc on January 7.

In line with the start of the local airline’s itinerary, from January 7, visitors will have the opportunity to experience Vietravel Airlines’ first charter flights at preferential prices reaching up to 40%, with flights departing from Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Quy Nhon, and Phu Quoc.

In collaboration with tour operator Vietravel, the airline will offer discounted tour packages in an effort to meet the diversified needs of travelers, including flight and hotel combo tickets for those who wish to travel and stay at high-end resorts or three to five star hotels.

Following the launch of the direct flight, a representative from Vietravel said that charter flights have become the latest trend of the tourism industry as it has proved popular among local customers due to preferential prices, a flexible departure schedule, along with time and cost-saving for travelers. As such, the company has been offering a wide range of unique tour charter packages for tourists in recent years.

Between 2017 and 2019, the company also utilised charter flights in an effective manner, with roughly 80 charter flights being sold, including direct flights to Phuket and Chiang Mai in Thailand, Jeju in the Republic of Korea, Fukushima in Japan, Bodh Gaya in India, and Bhutan in Myanmar.

Vietravel has also been pioneering in launching domestic charter flights, such as Can Tho to Da Lat and Can Tho to Nha Trang, along with return flights.

Russia increases imports of Vietnamese peppers

Russia moved to ramp up pepper imports from major markets, including Vietnam, along with India and Indonesia, during the past 10 months of last year, with imports from the country reaching 6,100 tonnes worth US$15.54 million, according to the Russian Federal Customs Service.

This figure represents a rise of 7.9% in volume and 9.7% in value compared to the same period from 2019. The market share of Vietnamese peppers in terms of total Russian imports makes up 74.7% during the reviewed period, far higher than regional rivals India who account for only 12.17% of the market share.

According to the Import and Export Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the nation’s pepper exports in 2020 stood at an estimated 288,000 tonnes, worth US$665 million, representing an increase of 1.2% in volume but down 6.8% in value against the same period from 2019.

 

The average pepper export price in December, 2020, is estimated to be at US$2,696 per tonne, an increase of 2.2% from the previous month and a rise of 11.9% compared to December, 2019. Indeed, the average export price of peppers last year was estimated to be at US$2,313 per tonne, a decline of 7.9% compared to 2019.

Statistics released by the General Department of Vietnam Customs reveal that black pepper exports during the past 11 months of last year reached 218,800 tonnes worth US$460.38 million, an annual rise of 3.3% in volume and a fall of 7.4% in value.

The strong export growth of black peppers was recorded in several major markets, including China, the United States, the UK, and Egypt, while exports of the item to India, Germany, Iran, Nepal, and Turkey, experienced a downward trajectory.

Vietnam maintains good economic development rate in 2020

Vietnam has been able to maintain a stable import-export activities and economic development rate in 2020, according to Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh.  

Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh speaks at a review meeting for 2020 and new tasks for 2021 held on January 7. 

In 2020, Vietnam exported USD281.5bn worth of goods, an increase of 6.5% compared to 2019. It was among the countries with highest export activities in the world during Covid-19. The export surplus was USD19.1bn.

Import-export revenue reached over USD500bn for the second consecutive year.

"In 2019, the government set an export revenue goal at USD300bn. We were worried because the 2019 revenue was USD264bn. Then we had to face Covid-19 in 2020. Despite the difficulties, export revenue in 2020 reached USD281bn," Anh said.

Firms continued to struggle as supply chains were severed. The value added by industries increased by 3.36%, higher than the global average rate. Negotiations continued for many free trade agreements such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, European Union-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement, UK-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

"Promotional programmes were rolled out in time to cope with Covid-19 era which greatly helped the farmers and firms," he said. "Everyone worked hard to keep prices stable amid the pandemic and natural disasters."

The ministry will continue monitoring the market to develop timely solutions and work more closely with firms in order to meet the goals for 2021.

"Related agencies must follow regulations, major guidelines and orientations of the party," he said.

Hanoi boasts economic achievements despite pandemic

Hanoi achieved positive economic development in 2020 despite being hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Hanoi’s 2020 gross regional domestic product (GRDP) growth was estimated to reach 3.98% year-on-year, up around 1.5 times against the country’s average level. This has been attributed to the strong economic recovery of the city in the fourth quarter of last year following the sharp fall in the three first quarters.    

Hanoi’s 2020 gross regional domestic product (GRDP) growth was estimated to reach 3.98% year-on-year. 

Among sectors, construction posted an on-year rise of 8.66%, followed by industrial production with 5.64%; agricultural production with 4.2%, services with 3.1%.

In 2020, Hanoi around USD3.72 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI) was poured into Hanoi, making the city to be the second largest destination of FDI in Vietnam in the year.

Nguyen Manh Quyen, vice chairman of the municipal People’s Committee, said that over the past three years, Hanoi has seen great strides in the ranking of the Provincial Competitiveness Index (PCI), maintaining its position among the top ten localities in the index.

The capital city ranked ninth among 63 localities in the latest PCI rankings (for 2019) announced by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry in May 2020.

Among 10 criteria used for the PCI assessment in 2019, Hanoi saw an improvement in eight factors such as land use and vocational training.

Last year, Hanoi set aside 49% of the State budget for capital expenditure against the national average rate of 27%.

In the year, the city generated 18,600 new jobs, up 16% compared to the year plan and cut the unemployment rate to 2.3%.

Hanoi has targeted 23 socio-economic development criteria this year, including the GRDP growth target of 7.5%.

Vietnam’s average rice price for export rises over 13% y-o-y

Vietnam’s rice export price in 2020 expanded 13.3% against the 2019 figure to reach an average US$499 per ton, the highest level in recent years.

Last year, the country exported 6.15 million tons of rice, worth some US$3.07 billion. Even though the rice export volume dropped some 3.5% versus the 2019 figure, the rice export value increased 9.3%, according to data of the ministries of Industry and Trade and Agriculture and Rural Development.

The country is switching to exporting more aromatic, high-quality rice with higher prices and added value. Besides this, local rice farmers and traders have paid much heed to improving the quality of rice, origin traceability as well as have adopted measures to meet the requirements of demanding markets such as the European Union, South Korea and the United States.

In 2020, the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s proposal to order a sudden suspension on rice exports starting March 24 sparked public concern for over a month and left a major impact on the country’s rice production and trading activities.

The proposal was then approved by the prime minister as the global demand for food rose sharply given the complicated developments of the Covid-19 pandemic. Also, at that time, there was a growing demand among many countries to increase their rice reserves, leading to the active trading of rice in early March and a sharp surge in the volume of local exported rice. The global rice price inched up continuously, although India and Vietnam, two major rice exporters in the world, had harvested big crops.

The ministry’s controversial decision to temporarily stop rice exports prompted the Government to inspect rice export activities that caused obstacles for the local rice market. The inspection results from a team comprising the ministries of Industry and Trade, Finance, Agriculture and Rural Development revealed that the country had 6.5-6.7 million tons of rice available for export.

Accordingly, the Ministry of Industry and Trade suggested the Government allow the resumption of rice exports starting from April 30, 2020. As a result, the country’s exported rice volume and value started rising significantly, hitting the target of 6.15 million tons worth over US$3 billion.

Spending on essential consumer goods in HCMC up 5-10%

Since late last year, the spending on essential consumer goods in HCMC has increased by 5-10% over the previous periods.

The hike in the spending on essential consumer goods was attributed to the higher demand for goods for the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday and retailers’ effective programs to stimulate consumption, news site Vietnamplus reported.

Enterprises and retailers in the city have increased the supply of goods to meet the demand from locals.

Specifically, Co.op Food, an arm of the Saigon Union of Trading Cooperatives (Saigon Co.op), has opened eight stores in HCMC, Long An, Danang and An Giang, which are offering a 20-50% discount for food products, vegetables, fruits, essential consumer goods and household appliances.

Ho Thi Hong Dao, deputy director of marketing at Saigon Co.op, said its model which matches modern consumption habits has helped Saigon Co.op develop quickly and powerfully in the past few years.

To promptly distribute essential goods and stabilize prices during the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday, Saigon Co.op is offering big discounts on more than 1,200 products.

Similarly, Central Retail Vietnam also launched a program to sell fresh pork without earning profits early this month.

Nguyen Thi Bich Van, director of communications at the group, said it had worked with suppliers to conduct the program to help stabilize the prices of pork.

With a motto to prioritize locally-made products, Central Retail has signed agreements to help consume the products of the “One Commune One Product” program with seven suppliers in Dong Nai Province.

Food processing firm VISSAN has planned to launch more than 7,500 tons of goods, including 2,300 tons of fresh pork and beef and 5,200 tons of processed products, up 5% and 10%, respectively, year-on-year.

VISSAN has committed to keeping the prices of products stable before and after the Tet holiday. In addition, it has reduced the prices of products by 5-10% at its outlets.

Vietnam’s trade surplus hits new high

Vietnam posted a record high trade surplus of over US$19 billion in 2020, Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh told a review conference on January 7.

Vietnam exported goods worth US$281.5 billion last year, up 6.5% year-on-year, becoming one of the world’s economies with the highest export growth rates amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Vietnam maintained a stable growth momentum in terms of import and export, with total import-export revenue reaching over US$500 billion for the second consecutive year, the local media reported.

The country recorded 31 groups of goods, which obtained an export value of over US$1 billion each, with six groups reporting export revenue of over US$10 billion, accounting for 92% of the total export turnover.

In 2020, Vietnam tapped more import and export markets while effectively making the most of free trade agreements. Many Vietnamese goods gained a foothold in foreign markets, including the EU, Japan, the United States and Australia.

This year, the Ministry of Industry and Trade plans to speed up the restructuring of industries, mainly the processing sector, associated with digitalization, to make breakthroughs and bring about new motivation for the country’s economic growth in the years to come.

HCMC calls for investment in eastern innovative urban area

The Department of Planning and Investment of HCMC has continued to propose a list of projects calling for investment in the highly interactive and innovative urban area in the east of the city. 

On January 6, Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Nguyen Thanh Phong, Head of the steering board on building the highly interactive and innovative urban area in the east of the city has assigned the Department of Home Affairs and the Department of Planning and Architecture of the city to complete the organizational arrangement of the steering board for the approval of the HCMC People’s Committee before January 10.

Vice chairman of the People’s Committee of HCMC, Le Hoa Binh and director of the Department of Planning and Architecture will work with the Ministry of Construction to discuss about the implementation of the city planning works.

Relevant agencies, including the Department of Finance, the Department of Planning and Investment, the Department of Natural Resources and Environment, Department of Planning and Architecture, the Department of Construction have been asked to make a research for the use of capital, launch the list of projects calling for investment and land use planning, manage the land fund in Thu Duc City, and build temporary land use regulations while completing the planning of the newly-established city.

The Department of Planning and Architecture will gather reports on the highly interactive and innovative urban area in the east of the city, including a project of 300-hectare pharmaceutical industrial zone, to submit to the secretary of HCMC Party Committee and the steering board for approval and implementation.

Vietnam tax revenue in 2020 exceeds year’s target despite Covid-19

Hanoi remains a spotlight with tax revenue of VND265.89 trillion (US$11.52 billion) in 2020, up 5.9% year-on-year.

Despite the severe Covid-19 crisis, Vietnam’s tax revenue in 2020 reached VND1,278 trillion (US$55.37 billion), 2% higher than the yearly estimate or an increase of VND24.34 trillion (US$1.05 billion).

Director of the General Department of Taxation Cao Anh Tuan revealed the figure at the year-end conference of Vietnam’s tax authorities on January 5.

“The result showed the strong efforts from the government in pursuing the dual target of both containing the pandemic and boosting economic recovery,” stated Mr. Tuan.

So far, 55 out of 63 provinces/cities have realized or even exceeded their respective tax revenue targets this year, in which Hanoi remained a highlight with tax revenue of VND265.89 trillion (US$11.52 billion), up 5.9% year-on-year.

In 2021, the National Assembly set tax revenue target of VND1,116 trillion (US$48.36 billion),   which Mr. Tuan said is a challenging task given the complicated Covid-19 situation globally and the dim outlook for the world’s economy.

“Tax authorities would continue to provide support for the people and businesses affected by the Covid-19 pandemic in 2021,” stated Mr. Tuan, while striving to keep the ratio of tax arrears to total tax revenue below 5% by the end of 2021.

Priority to keep healthy tax organization

Deputy Prime Minister Truong Hoa Binh urged tax department to soon complete the tax reform strategy for the 2021-30 period, at the same time proposing fiscal support in terms of waiving and freezing tax payment for those severely hit by the pandemic.

“Tax payers should be at the center of any tax policies,” Mr. Binh stressed.

The Deputy PM urged tax authorities to ensure greater discipline  in operation to prevent possible corruption, requesting more efforts to keep a strong and healthy tax organization that put people and businesses at the heart of its services.

In order to realize this goal, Mr. Binh expected the tax departments to continue pushing for administrative reform and greater IT application in tax procedures.

To avoid tax losses, Binh said this is essential to improve the efficiency of private sector tax management, including the use of electronic tax payment for business households.

Some 7,400 Hanoi enterprises make e-tax payment

Hanoi's tax authorities have been promoting IT application in the tax payment process, in turn creating convenience and helping enterprises save costs.

Nearly 7,400 enterprises in Hanoi used e-tax payment with the total amount of VND63 billion (US$2.7 million) as of the end of 2020, according to the municipal Tax Department.

Director of the Hanoi Tax Department Mai Son said that his department has piloted the mandate of tax collection via post to improve the efficiency of tax collection management for individuals and businesses.

The department has currently authorized the municipal Post Office to collect tax in seven districts, including Thanh Tri, Dong Anh, Chuong My, Thanh Oai, Phuc Tho, Son Tay and Phu Xuyen.

The move has created favorable conditions for taxpayers to fulfill their tax obligations at the best convenience, and contribute to the transparency of tax collection and payment.

“We have taken advantage of available technology and locations of units authorized to collect tax to modernize the tax administration. Thus, tax officers have time to focus on guiding people on tax policies and declaration," Mr. Mai Son said.

Besides, the Hanoi Tax Department has coordinated with commercial banks to conduct tax payment via a bank, including Internet Banking or mobile banking, among other methods.

The tax officer added that e-tax payment helps companies meet their tax obligations quickly and accurately, save time and costs. In addition, they can pay taxes at any time (24 hours a day, 7 days a week, even on holidays) and anywhere with an Internet connection.

“When a business make e-tax payment, the commercial bank will immediately confirm the whether the payment is successful or not. Tax payment information is guaranteed to be safe and confidential,” said Mr. Son.

Over the past years, tax authorities of Hanoi in particular and Vietnam in general have been promoting IT application in the tax payment process, in turn creating convenience and helping enterprises save costs.

In 2020, the General Department of Taxation targeted to integrate 93 administrative procedures at online advanced stages of 3 and 4 out of the four-scale level into the national public services portal. As many as 120 procedures have been integrated so far, or 130% of the target.

The General Department of Taxation attributed a lower State budget revenue against the same period of last year to the Covid-19 economic impacts and the Government’s supporting programs in the form of deferrals of tax payment.

Private sector contributes nearly 43% of Vietnam GDP in 2020

Vietnam is currently home to nearly 800,000 operational enterprises, 98% of which are small and medium ones.

During the 2017-20 period, the contribution of the private sector to the GDP has been on the steady rise from 41.75% (2017) to 42.68% (2020), making up the largest proportion among economic sectors.

Deputy Prime Minister Truong Hoa Binh made the statement at a meeting with the Vietnam Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (VinaSME) on January 7.

Vietnam is currently home to nearly 800,000 operational enterprises, 98% of which are small and medium ones. The ratio of business establishments per 1,000 population rose to 7.9 from 5.4 in 2016.

“There have been significant improvements in the private sector, especially in productivity, technological application, innovation and capabilities to participate in regional and global supply chains,” noted Mr. Binh.

Nevertheless, Mr. Binh pointed out certain shortcomings of the business community, including the majority still possess obsolete technologies and lack vision for innovation, research and development.

“The linkage among members in the VinaSME remains fragmented, while many are unable to access capital for development,” he added.

“Local companies should be aware of environmental issues and refrain from trade frauds, violation of intellectual property rights, and tax evasion,” Mr. Binh suggested.

As the Covid-19 situation continues to be complicated globally, not to mention climate change, natural disasters and non-traditional security issues, the Vietnamese business community should enhance resilience to better adapt to a new normal situation, stated the Deputy PM.

In the coming time, Mr. Binh expected the VinaSMe to continue staying active in addressing concern of businesses.

“Vietnamese companies should start taking technologies and machines to replace basic works for greater competitiveness,” he said.

Vietnam SMEs are an essential part of the economy, contributing 40% of the GDP, 33% of industrial production value, 30% of exports and creating jobs for 50% of the labor force.

Indonesia’s state budget not enough to boost recovery: Finance Minister

Indonesia’s economic recovery should not only depend on government spending as it will not be sufficient to compensate for the slowing economic activity caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati has said.

The minister highlighted the extraordinary level of money that had been poured into the economy last year to anchor business activity and combat the pandemic, warning that the state budget had a limitation and could not act alone in rescuing the economy.

Indonesia needs reform to attract investment and mass vaccination to build confidence of speeding up domestic consumption recovery, she said, adding the economic recovery should not only depend on the state budget as it will not be enough to compensate for falls in consumption, investment and export activity.

The country’s budget deficit soared to a record 956.3 trillion IDR (68.6 billion USD) last year as the COVID-19 pandemic fueled enormous government spending while tax revenue plunged as households and businesses struggled with the pandemic-induced economic downturn. The deficit, which is equal to 6.09 percent of the country’s GDP, and is also nearly three times as large as the 348.7 trillion IDR deficit in the 2019 fiscal year.

As much as 2.58 quadrillion IDR was spent to fund development projects, combat the pandemic, and provide relief for households and businesses in 2020, up 12.2 percent year-on-year and accounting for 94 percent of the Government’s target.

On the other hand, the government collected 1.63 quadrillion IDR in state income last year, a sharp drop of 16.7 percent year-on-year and around 96 percent of the government’s target, as income from taxes plunged due to slowing economic activity and the rollout of several tax stimuli.

The government issued 1.17 quadrillion IDR worth of sovereign debt papers last year, up 163.8 percent compared to the previous year, causing the government debt to soar to 38 percent of GDP from 30 percent in 2019.

The finance minister added that as the recovery continued, the fiscal picture would improve as people began spending more money and companies started to expand operations.

The state budget deficit is expected to reach 1 quadrillion IDR in 2021, or 5.7 percent of GDP, as the government prepares 2.75 quadrillion IDR in spending to fuel the virus-battered economy./.

Online networking event boosts Vietnam-Thailand trade ties

A Vietnam-Thailand Online Business Matching event was held in Hanoi on January 7 to connect Vietnamese and Thai companies in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The event was co-organised by the Department of International Trade Promotion (DITP), the Ministry of Commerce of Thailand - Office of Commercial Affairs, the Royal Thai Embassy in Hanoi and the Vietnam National Trade Fair & Advertising JSC (Vinexad).

The event aimed to link companies from the two countries, helping them exchange experience and technologies for better quality, said Pannakarn Jiamsuchon, Minister Counselor, Office of Commercial Affairs, Royal Thai Embassy in Hanoi.

Exhibitors showcased processed food, healthcare products, baby care products, supplements and beauty care products, she said.

These kinds of Thai products were familiar to and favoured by Vietnamese consumers. Vietnamese people care much about health and Thai businesses were taking advantage of this Vietnamese potential market to introduce high quality and suitable products that fit Vietnamese consumers' tastes, Pannakarn told Vietnam News.

The official expressed her hope that a similar event with a larger scale will be held later this year and more Thai products will be introduced to Vietnamese consumers.

According to her, 11 Thai firms and 45 Vietnamese firms attended the event online, ensuring safe trade connection between enterprises during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This helped both local and foreign exhibitors expand their networks beyond borders, she said./.

Thousands of apartments to enter Hanoi market this year

Hanoi’s condominium supply volume and sales are expected to improve in 2021, with between 24,000 and 26,000 units to be put on the market, CBRE Vietnam said at a January 7 event to announced its Q4 2020 quarterly report.

CBRE experts projected the capital condo market will be expanded with the participation of new residential areas, while mid-end and affordable projects are forecast to move farther outside Ring Road No. 3.

Average selling price in the primary market is projected to increase by 4 – 6 percent year-on-year in 2021.

According to Nguyen Hoai An, director of CBRE Hanoi Branch, over the past year, the real estate market was disrupted by COVID-19 social distancing measures, however, the technology factor proved effective in assisting sales and helping investors in market assessment and decision making.

The local office market, meanwhile, is expected to welcome around 22,000 sqm NLA (net leasable area) of new office space.

Driving force behind the growth of the market is attributable to demand from the banking-finance, insurance, production, and IT sectors, said CBRE experts.

Industrial real estate market remains a highlight, attracting both domestic and foreign investors. Last year, despite the pandemic, international conglomerates like GLP, LOGOS and JD.com invested heavily in the northern and southern regions. Domestic property developer Vingroup also take part, with its two new industrial parks expected to debut in 2021./.

Investments in HCM City industrial parks surge

HCM City’s industrial parks and export processing zones attracted US$747.6 million worth of investment last year, a 15.7 per cent increase from 2019.

Announcing this, the HCM City Export Processing and Industrial Zones Authority said the impact of the COVID-19 meant FDI inflows were down 8.3 per cent to $363 million.

There were 16 new foreign-invested projects worth $180.8 million, up 10.5 per cent.

The services sector attracted more than $158 million of this followed by mechanical engineering, footwear and electronics.

Thirty existing foreign-invested projects added $182.2 million to their capital, a 21.5 per cent decline.

Domestic investment was worth more than $384.6 million, a rise of 53.9 per cent, including more than $311.8 million in 65 new projects.  

Supporting industries attracted $167.2 million, or a third of all new investment, from both foreign and domestic investors.  

Large foreign investments included $80 million by SG Logistics JSC, and $73.98 million by Logos Việt Nam Co Ltd.

Large domestic investments included VNĐ950 billion ($40.9 million) by VNG Data Center and VNĐ640 billion ($27.6 million) by Savi Pharmaceutical JSC and VNĐ600 billion ($25.6 million) by the Hiệp Phước Thành Company in existing projects. 

Viettel announces rebranding

Viettel Group on Thursday unveiled its new branding, including a new logo and slogan, marking the firm's second rebrand after the first in 2004.

“The reason for the rebranding of the Viettel brand is a major change in our development strategy. This led to a change in the logo and slogan, as well as an addition to the core values of the brand,” said Lê Đăng Dũng, acting Chairman and General Director of Viettel Group.

Viettel’s new logo with the main red colour aims to evoke youthfulness, desire, passion and dynamism.

The new slogan "Your way” helps Viettel convey a message that encourages each person to be more creative and express themselves, together creating better value for life.

After implementing universalisation of telecommunications services in Việt Nam, Viettel announced a new mission of pioneering in creating a digital society and transition from a telecom service provider to a digital service provider. By the end of 2020, Viettel had formed six key platforms of a digital society, including digital infrastructure, digital solution, digital content, digital finance, cybersecurity and high-tech industrial production research.

“The relocation helps the Viettel brand fit with the new strategy and vision that have been declared and implemented in practice as well as affirming that it is no longer a mere telecommunications service provider,” Dũng added.

“Along with the mission statement of pioneering in the creation of digital society, with the rebranding and launching of a new brand identity, Viettel wants to show a profound change in mind, in action and future direction to truly be a leading and pioneering digital service provider, in the digital age of an extremely rapidly changing digital society,” he added. 

Source: VNA/VNN/VNS/SGGP/VOV/NDO/Dtinews/SGT/VIR