vietnam economy,Vietnam business news,business news
Bamboo products are sold at a trade fair in Hanoi

Handicrafts are identified as one of the product groups with great export potential and high-profit margin that Vietnam needs to boost in the future.

According to the Vietnam Handicraft Exporters Association (VHEA), demand for handicrafts in the world is huge with a market value of up to 100 billion USD but Vietnam has yet to tap into this opportunity to develop this industry and boost exports.

Data from the Ministry of Industry and Trade revealed export turnover of Vietnam’s handicraft products grew by an average of around 10 percent per year in the past five years, from 1.62 billion USD in 2015 to 2.23 billion USD last year.

Vietnam’s handicraft products include five groups such as bags, purses, suitcases, hats and umbrellas; toys, sports equipment and parts; ceramics; rattan, bamboo, sedge products; and art wood products. In addition, many fashion items and gifts have been on-spot exporting through sales to foreign visitors in Vietnam which currently account for about 15 percent of their spending (15 USD/person).

Many products are highly valued by foreign markets including ceramic, rattan and bamboo products, handmade embroidery and textile products. These are also items with the highest export turnover of several hundred million of US dollar each year.

The handicraft industry has a higher profit margin of between five and 10 times compared to several industries such as mining, creating thousands of jobs and helping restructure rural labour from low-income agricultural jobs to higher-income workers.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Vietnam’s export of handmade products maintained positive growth. Shipments of rattan, bamboo, sedge products rose 25 percent year-on-year to reach 542 million USD in the last 11 months. Export of ceramics also increased by 7 percent to 517 million USD.

The US is still the largest consumption market for Vietnamese handicraft products with sales accounting for 35 percent of annual export turnover. Japan, the European Union, Australia and the Republic of Korea are also among the country’s key exporting markets.

Vietnam’s handicraft export is forecast to grow more than12 percent per year with turnover reaching 5 billion USD by 2025.

Greater opportunities are also opening up from the important free trade deals that the country has joined or signed recently such as CPTPP and EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA). In addition, Vietnam is emerging as a safe destination after the Government has successfully controlled the disease.

However, despite huge potential, the domestic handicraft industry still faces many problems, including fragmented production, a weak link between actors in the value chain, limited technology and poor innovative design idea and new product development.

According to Filip Graovac, deputy chief representative of Asia Fund in Vietnam, Vietnam has great potential to export handicrafts and agricultural products but the key issue is how Vietnamese handicraft manufacturers present their good products and prove they are responsible manufacturers to foreign customers.

Consumers are increasingly concerned about environmental and social issues, especially issues related to the origin and legality of raw materials used, labour practices, clean and green production and fair trade market.

Graovac said Vietnamese enterprises had not applied well the traceability of their goods.

Le Ba Ngoc, Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Handicraft Exporters Association, admitted traceability was one challenge to the growth of the industry. He recommended local businesses learn more about the basic business and market requirements, including traceability.

To reach the world further, Ngoc said the handicraft industry needed to build the export strategy for the next five years.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade said in the future, it would focus on improving the value chain of Vietnam's handicrafts, prioritising the products with high competitive advantages, increasing product value and standards to meet different market segments, especially middle and high-end market segments./.

Ben Tre eyes sustainable development of offshore fishing

The Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Ben Tre will expand its offshore fishing and revamp its fishing fleet to sustainably exploit marine resources under a new plan for until 2030.

Under the 250 billion VND (10.78 million USD) plan, the province will reduce the number of fishing boats by 468 to 3,528 in 2030.

Nguyen Van Buoi, deputy director of the province Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said near-shore fishing and overexploitation of seafood stocks would be reduced.

With the number of fishing boats regulated, redundant fishermen will be helped with switching to other occupations.

Some 2,338 people will thus be taught vocational skills and provided with jobs.

Nguyen Truc Son, deputy chairman of the province’s People’s Committee, promised that to meet the targets the province would have a number of measures to manage the fishing activities and support policies to help fishermen switch to other jobs.

From now until 2030 the province will also implement advocacy programmes and projects to regulate exploitation and ensure protection of fishery resources.

It plans to establish community-based models to make fishing sustainable.

It will arrange its fishing boats into fleets for better management, categorising them into less than 12 metres long, between 12 and 15 metres and more than 15 metres.

In March last year the province started the installation of black boxes in offshore fishing boats with a length of at least 15 metres to locate their location.

Some 97.8 percent of the 1,962 offshore fishing boats have installed it already, including all of those with a length of more than 24 metres.

The province has set up 160 offshore fishing groups comprising 2,043 boats. This has enabled them to stay longer at sea and increase their catches.

The province, which has a coastline of 65 kilometres, has advantages in aquaculture, fishing and seafood processing, and has well exploited its marine economy in recent years./.

Banking industry accompanies the national public service portal

The National Public Service Portal with a payment platform connected to four banks and six payment intermediaries will save about VND8 trillion (US$347 million) a year after launching, said the Government Office.

Minister and chairman of the Government Office Mai Tien Dung said: "The portal is one of the key solutions for e-Government development in the 2019-2020 period, with a vision to 2025."

Reviewing one-year of operating the portal, the office said they will add more services, bringing the total number of administrative procedures there to 2,700, adding: “The new services can help save another VND1.37 trillion per year, pushing the total savings from the portal to VND8 trillion per year."

According to the office, the portal is now connected to Vietcombank, VietinBank, Agribank, BIDV and six payment intermediaries including National Payment Corporation of Vietnam (NAPAS), the National E-commerce Payment System (Keypay), MoMo, VNPT Pay, Ngan Luong and Payoo.

With the connection to banks and payment intermediaries, the portal allows individuals and organisations to make non-cash payments from their accounts at 43 out of 46 banks, except for some foreign banks, for five types of payments, including traffic fines, administrative charges and fees, tax, social insurance, health insurance and electricity bills.

Currently, payments via the portal can be made for services at 12 ministries and departments, and in 51 out of 63 cities and provinces.

As a provider of retail payment infrastructure for the economy, NAPAS, under the State Bank of Viet Nam, has connected more than 100 million cardholders at more than 40 banks to public services level 4 through the portal.

Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, NAPAS has accompanied commercial banks and strictly implemented the Prime Minister's instructions on urgent tasks and solutions to remove difficulties for business production, ensuring social security through fee waiver programmes for direct payments to people and businesses for online payment transactions.

After reducing fees twice, 63 per cent of interbank payment transactions have been exempted or reduced with the total reduction of up to more than VND1 trillion in 2020

With such contributions, NAPAS was one of the units in the banking industry honoured by the Office of the Government for efforts in connecting and providing payment services on the portal.

According to statistics, non-cash payment transactions via NAPAS’ system in 2020 increased 75 per cent in volume and 121 per cent in value compared to 2019. At the same time, cash transactions decreased significantly. The number of cash transactions through ATM withdrawals recorded through the NAPAS system decreased from 42 per cent in 2019 to 26 per cent in 2020.

Also mentioned, MoMo e-wallet, as the first e-wallet selected as an official payment channel of the portal calculated that more than 40 per cent of the total 45,700 transactions and 20 per cent of online public service payment revenue via the portal were from MoMo users with QR codes on the e-wallet.

A representative of the e-wallet told Viet Nam News: "During the pandemic, the number of transactions and revenue paid by MoMo increased dramatically, up three times, which shows the Government's determination to promote online public administrative services, including payments via electronic channels, is correct and in line with the general trends."

Co-founder and Vice President of MoMo Nguyen Ba Diep said his firm was determined to continue to accompany the Government and State agencies across provinces to optimise online payments, and make Viet Nam "a cashless society."

Reviewing the results of the portal after a year, Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam said more than 30 per cent of the public administrative procedures went online last year and asked if the rate should be 100 per cent in 2021.

Responding to the Deputy PM, NAPAS, banks and other payment intermediaries have signed commitments to accompany, build and develop the national public service portal and reduce or exempt more payment transactions for public services by the end of 2021.

The portal will continue to focus on the payment for school fees, hospital fees, public services of the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Construction followed the roadmap of the Government. 

Vietnam's rice export prices reach record high amid pandemic

The export prices of Vietnamese rice have hit a record high over the past nine years amid the on-going Covid-19 pandemic.

On Sunday, the export price of the Vietnamese broken rice reached USD505 per tonne, up USD7 per tonne against the average level in the world market. This was also Vietnam's highest rice export price level since late 2011.   

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, due to Covid-19, many countries in the world have increased their rice reserves, reducing their rice export. Meanwhile, the Philippines have continued boosting rice imports.

So, despite the lower import volume against 2019, Vietnam’s rice export value was higher thanks to the sharp rise in export prices.

Nguyen Trung Kien, vice chairman of the Vietnam Food Association (VFA), the country’s rice export in the first quarter of this year would remain good as many countries such as the Philippines and African markets have continued signing contracts for Vietnamese rice imports.

Vietnam tourism towards domestic market in 2021

The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) organised a conference in Hanoi on December 29 to summarize its work in 2020 and the implementation of its tasks in 2021.

In the coming year, the VNAT will still focus on the target of developing domestic tourism with the guideline "Connection, action and development".

The VNAT’s General Director Nguyen Trung Khanh said that, due to the influence of the Covid-19 pandemic, the world tourism industry in general and Vietnam’s in particular suffered heavy losses. In 2020, international visitors to Vietnam only reached about 3.7 million, a decrease of 79.5% compared to 2019; domestic visitors reached 56 million, down 34.1%. Total tourism revenue reached VND312 trillion, down 58.7% - a decrease equivalent to US$19 billion.

Facing into the situation, the VNAT issued and advised the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MoCST) to issue documents to promptly respond to the Covid-19 pandemic, ensuring safety for tourists, as well as proposing mechanisms and policies to support the tourism industry.

After the pandemic was controlled, the VNAT actively advised the MoCST to launch the domestic tourism stimulation programmes 'Vietnamese people travel Vietnam’ and ‘Safe and attractive Vietnamese tourism’. The programmes received a positive response from localities and businesses, attracting tourists and helping minimize damage to the tourism industry.

Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Nguyen Van Hung affirmed that in 2021, the Vietnam tourism industry implements the guideline "Connection, action and development", continuing to focus on restoring and developing domestic tourism.

Some specific tasks for the coming year are strengthening linkages within the industry to develop tourism products; building institutions, reviewing proposals to amend legal documents on tourism to suit the reality and development requirements in the new situation.

In addition, the tourism industry will aim to reposition itself in international tourism markets, improve the quality of tourists, and develop suitable products for the market; continue to effectively implement the tourism stimulation programmes; accelerate digital transformation and develop a high-quality tourism workforce in order to prepare for the recovery and development processes in the near future.

Almost no property bubbles in six years: minister

There were almost no real estate bubbles over the past six years, noted Minister of Construction Pham Hong Ha at an online conference between the Government and localities on December 29.

At the conference, the minister reported the sector’s performance in 2020 and plans for next year. The sector grew 6.6% this year, the highest among the economic sectors. The urbanization rate surpassed the target, Nguoi Lao Dong newspaper reported.

Seven new urban areas were established over the past five years. At present, the country has 862 urban areas, which have emerged as an incentive for the country’s socioeconomic development.

In addition, the sector attracted US$17 billion in foreign direct investment over the past six years. The country has had many urban areas, hotels and resorts meeting international standards.

As for building material production, the minister said many projects had reached a localization rate of 90%-100% and many materials could compete fairly with those in other countries.

The minister also pointed out the shortcomings of the sector in urban planning and development and urban order management.

Next year, the sector will try to eliminate the shortcomings in urban planning, resolve issues in infrastructure investment and pay more attention to infrastructure projects connecting regions.

Moreover, the Ministry of Construction will allocate land for social housing projects. It will also accept the proposals of localities and work out solutions to problems at the earliest.

Output of aquatic products reaches over 8.4 million tonnes in 2020

Vietnam is estimated to have produced over 8.4 million tonnes of aquatic products in 2020, up 1.9% over 2019, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).

Of the total, 3.84 million tonnes came from fishing, up 2.5% over the same period last year and 4.56 million tonnes came from farming, an increase of 1.4% over the same period in 2019.

The production of aquatic products has recovered after Vietnam brought the COVID-19 pandemic under control, according to the MARD.

Regarding fishing, localities across the country have promoted sustainable offshore exploitation, restructured fishing activities and used means appropriate to the reserves of aquatic resources; as well as restructuring and modernising fishing fleets, offshore fishing logistic vessels and technologies of exploitation, preservation and processing...

In terms of aquaculture, provinces and cities focused on the planning of aquaculture areas with key species; proceeding to develop farming at sea; adjusted farming structures in an appropriate manner, and developed concentrated shrimp and fish farming areas that apply high and environmentally friendly technologies.

Number of new securities trading accounts reaches record high

The number of new securities trading accounts of Vietnamese individual investors surpassed 63,600 in December – the highest-ever figure, according to the Vietnam Securities Depository (VSD).

The figure raised the total number of trading accounts in Vietnam to nearly 2.73 million.

Along with individual investors, domestic organisations opened 168 new brokerage accounts last month, the highest in the past four years, raising the total to 11,251 accounts.

Meanwhile, foreign individual investors and organisations opened 371 and 15 new accounts in the last month of 2020, bringing the total numbers to 31,134 and 3,927, respectively.

The appearance of new investors helps keep market liquidity at a high level. At the opening ceremony of the first trading session of 2021 that took place on January 4, Minister of Finance Dinh Tien Dung highlighted a breakthrough growth in liquidity on the stock market, reaching an average of nearly 7.4 trillion VND (320.2 million USD) per session. Of great note, November and December saw an average liquidity of 10 trillion VND and 14.8 trillion VND per session, doubling from the average of 2019. Market capitalization of the stock market reached 84.3 percent of GDP last year./.

vietnam economy,Vietnam business news,business news

2020 tax revenue surpasses annual target

Nearly 1.279 quadrillion VND (55.3 billion USD) in taxes was collected for the State budget in 2020, almost 24.35 trillion VND, or 1.9 percent, higher than the annual target and 175.85 trillion VND more than the estimate reported to the National Assembly (NA).

Revenue included more than 562 trillion VND collected for the central budget, equivalent to 94.7 percent of the figure targeted, General Director of the General Department of Taxation Cao Anh Tuan told a conference in Hanoi on January 5.

Meanwhile, tax revenue from crude oil was some 34.58 trillion VND and from domestic sources 1.24 quadrillion VND, equal to 98.2 percent and 102 percent of the targets, respectively.

Tuan said that, in 2020, 55 of Vietnam’s 63 cities and provinces reached or exceeded tax collection targets, with the provinces of Ninh Binh, Yen Bai, Phu Tho, Ha Tinh, Thua Thien-Hue, and Lao Cai among those posting revenue increases of more than 10 percent.

Forty-one localities recorded growth in tax revenue.

He noted that in facing the COVID-19 pandemic, the general department took proactive measures to assess the impact of the pandemic and natural disasters on budget revenue and suggest to the Government and the Finance Ministry ways to balance the State budget.

All-level tax agencies carried out synchronous measures to manage budget collections, prevent tax losses, step up administrative reform, and create favourable conditions for taxpayers, the official added.

For 2021, the NA has assigned the taxation sector to collect nearly 1.117 quadrillion VND for the State budget, including 23.2 trillion VND from crude oil and over 1.09 quadrillion VND from domestic sources./.

First batch of shrimp exports for 2021 leave port

A batch of 160 tonnes of frozen shrimp products from the Minh Phu Seafood Corporation left port for the US, Europe, and Japan after a ceremony in the Mekong Delta province of Hau Giang on January 5.

The company processed 22,400 tonnes of shrimps last year and posted export turnover of 240 million USD. 

Speaking at the ceremony, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Phung Duc Tien asked companies to boost cooperation to expand shrimp export markets.

He suggested a series of measures to develop the sector, including frequent assessments of market developments for prompt information updates; enhancing cooperation between firms in approaching, expanding, and diversifying markets; and increasing links between units involved in production supply chains to ensure traceable origin and to raise the proportion of high value-added exports. 

Dong Van Thanh, Chairman of the Hau Giang Provincial People’s Committee, said the fishery sector has major opportunities ahead, especially now the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement has taken effect and significantly removed tariff lines.  

Despite the difficulties from COVID-19, drought, and saline intrusion, the sector’s production value grew 3.05 percent last year compared to 2019, with total output reaching 8.4 million tonnes, up 1.8 percent year-on-year. 

The sector earned the country 8.4 billion USD from exports last year./.

HCM City to have up to 300,000 job vacancies in 2021

Enterprises in HCM City will seek between 270,000 and 300,000 employees this year, according to the municipal Center of Forecasting Manpower Needs and Labour Market Information (FALMI).

Demand comes from business-trade, which accounts for 20.16 percent of the total, electronics-IT with 10.96 percent, services with 7.25 percent, mechanics-automation with 5.6 percent, and logistics-warehouse-port services with 5.41 percent.

According to FALMI, 85.8 percent of vacancies are for trained workers.

In the first quarter, enterprises with stable post-pandemic operations and demand for expansion will have 70,000 to 75,000 vacancies, mostly in business-trade, services, garment-textile-footwear, food processing, chemistry-rubber, customer services, logistics-warehouse-port services, IT, and tourism-hotel-restaurant.

The following two quarters each will see demand for 68,600 to 74,400 workers, especially those skilled in IT-electronics, mechanics, chemistry-rubber, architecture, logistics-warehouse-port services, finance-banking, real estate, and tourism-hotel-restaurant.


Up to 77,100 jobs will be on offer in the last quarter, during which companies intensify production and business to meet demand related to the Lunar New Year (Tet) holiday. More staff will be needed in temporary and part-time positions.

The city’s workforce structure, meanwhile, will see a higher percentage of workers in the industry, construction, and services sectors and fewer in the agro-forestry-fishery sector.

Some 65.81 percent of the workforce of more than 4.8 million will be in the services sector, 32.45 percent in industry and construction, and 1.74 percent in agro-forestry-fishery./.

Vietnam’s 2020 retail sales see lowest growth in nine years

Vietnam’s total revenue from retail trade and services reached over 5 quadrillion VND (219.5 billion USD) in 2020, representing a modest yearly rise of 2.6 percent, according to the General Statistics Office (GSO).

This year’s retail sales growth was much lower than 9.5 percent seen in 2019 and was also the lowest rate in the 2011-2020 period due to the significant impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Revenue from retail sales of consumer goods exceeded 3.9 quadrillion VND, up 7 percent year-on-year or accounting for 79 percent of the total. Especially, revenue increased by 10.7 percent for food and foodstuff; 7.5 percent for the group of household appliances, tools and equipment; 3 percent for garments and 1 percent for cultural and educational services.

Meanwhile, revenue from accommodation and catering services dropped by 13 percent year-on-year to 510.4 trillion VND, making up 10 percent of the total. Last year, the revenue from these services saw a yearly increase of 9.8 percent.

Other services also experienced a slight revenue decline of 4 percent to 535 trillion VND in 2020.

However, VNDirect Securities forecast that the nation's retail sales growth would bounce back to pre-COVID-19 levels next year, reaching 8.5-9 percent year-on-year.

The projection was made on the back of the country’s successful containment of COVID-19, which was a major contributor to the economic rebound in the third quarter that saw unemployment fall 0.23 percent against the previous quarter to 2.5 percent.

VNDirect also predicted that consumer confidence would likely recover soon, against a backdrop of COVID-19 vaccines expected to be available in 2021.

With the rapid growth of the middle class and rising per capita income, domestic consumption remained the main growth driver of the retail industry, even during COVID-19.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade expected the domestic trade sector’s added value to contribute 13.5 percent to GDP by 2025 and total retail sales of goods and services to grow around 9-9.5 percent annually over the next five years.

The ministry forecast that total retail sales would reach nearly 350 billion USD by 2025.

The market’s recovery offers huge opportunities for retailers to expand their distribution networks.

Saigon Co.op is targeting to add at least 2,000 stores to its chain over the next five years, with revenue rising 8-10 percent annually.

Major Japanese retailer Muji, which sells a wide variety of household and consumer goods, has opened its first store in Vietnam, in HCM City, and is planning to open another in Hanoi, it added./.

Anti-dumping measures on steel, BOPP film to be exempted

The Trade Remedies Authorities of Vietnam has proposed the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) exempt the application of anti-dumping measures on steel and biaxial oriented polypropylene (BOPP) film and the total volume eligible for the exemption for 2020 and 2021.

According to the authority, on March 30, 2017, the Minister of Industry and Trade issued a decision on the application of official anti-dumping measures on imported galvanized steel.

On October 21, 2019, the minister issued another decision on the final reviews of anti-dumping measures on some cold-rolled stainless steel products from China, Malaysia, Indonesia and Taiwan (China).

On October 24, 2019, anti-dumping measures were imposed on a number of rolled, painted or varnished alloy and non-alloy steel products imported into Vietnam originating from China and the Republic of Korea.

On July 20, 2020, antidumping measures were imposed on some plastic products and products made from polymers and propylene (also known as biaxial oriented polypropylene – BOPP) imported into Vietnam originating from China, Thailand and Malaysia.

On September 9, 2020, the authority said that it received applications for the exemption of the anti-dumping measures.

It had sent decisions on the exemption to the eligible companies through postal services./.

Financial sector’s State budget collection expected to hit 58.4 bln USD

The financial sector expects to collect over 1.343 quadrillion VND (58.4 billion USD) for the State budget in 2021, equivalent to 15.5 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), said the Ministry of Finance.

The proportion of domestic revenues and revenues from crude oil and import-export activities are expected to account for 84.4 percent, 1.7 percent and 13.3 percent of the total, respectively.

Meanwhile, the year’s budget spending is forecast to reach 1.687 quadrillion VND, 60.1 trillion lower than the estimate in 2020.

In the 2021-2023 period, the sector aims to collect 4.33 quadrillion VND (187.6 billion USD) for the State budget, equivalent to 15.5 percent of the GDP.

Domestic revenue is hoped to account for 85-86 percent of the State budget’s revenue by 2023.

Budget spending is expected to stand at 5.4 quadrillion VND, while State budget overspending is equivalent to 3.8 percent of the GDP. Public debt will be equivalent to 48.1 percent of the GDP by 2023.

The ministry said serious impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic has caused challenges to the midterm State budget plan in 2021-2023 in ensuring the roadmap of implementation of wage reform and adjustments of social allowances and poverty standards.

In order to fulfill the State budget-finance tasks in 2021, the financial sector will continue to fine-tune the system of collection policies and institutions, create a favourable, transparent and fair investment and business climate, and consider implementing tax and fee exemptions and reductions and extension policies to support enterprises amid difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Due attention will also be given to strengthening the management of revenues, combating revenue losses, and promptly detecting and strictly handling acts of smuggling, trade frauds, production of and trading in counterfeit goods, transfer pricing, tax invasion and tax fraud, and abuse of tax refund policies.

The MoF will also focus on speeding up the disbursement of public investment, especially for key projects of the country and those serving interregional socio-economic development./.

Vietnam to be among top growth performers again in 2021: HSBC

Vietnam posted the fastest growth in Asia in 2020 and will once again be among the most outstanding performers in the region this year, according to the Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC).

In its latest “Asia Economics Quarterly” report, HSBC said despite unprecedented challenges, Vietnam has strongly overcome the pandemic crisis. With a population of over 95 million, the country has managed to flatten the COVID-19 curve much sooner and keep the infection tally at around 1,400 thanks to swift and effective prevention efforts by State agencies.

Though the 2020 GDP growth of 2.91 percent was the lowest in the recent decade, it was still assessed as a big success and among the world’s highest considering the complicated development of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Inflation decelerated from 3.9 percent in the first three quarters to 1.5 percent in November compared to the same period of 2019 thanks to normalised good prices and declined oil prices.

HSBC researchers expressed their belief that Vietnam will benefit from tech-led recovery, sustained FDI inflow, and many free trade agreements signed.

However, they still slightly revised the country’s 2021 growth forecast down to 7.6 percent, from the previous estimate of 8.1 percent, due to a prolonged recovery in the tourism industry.

They held that although the country is now ready to outpace other countries in the region in 2021, there remain risks to its economic recovery.

Many obstacles still exist in the tourism sector, HSBC said, noting though the worst may have passed after the second quarter, tourism-related services like accommodation and transportation are still in a bleak situation as a result of cross-border travel restrictions.

The second wave of COVID-19 infections in late July was swiftly brought under control, but it could make the Government more prudent in reopening borders and attracting international visitors. A meaningful tourism recovery is unlikely in the time ahead until effective vaccines are available and there is a global integrated approach to international tourism, according to HSBC./.

Vinacomin to cut 2021 coal imports to 1.4 million tonnes

The Vietnam National Coal - Mineral Industries Holding Corporation (Vinacomin) plans to reduce its coal imports in 2021 to 1.4 million tonnes, heard a conference on January 5.

It also targets posting 123.88 trillion VND (5.35 billion USD) in turnover and 3 trillion VND in profit, while maintaining wages and coal sales and exploitation at 2020 levels.

To that end, it has mapped out 12 specific solutions, focusing on developing mines with large output, market forecasting, and coal and mineral exploration.

The corporation will also push ahead with scientific-technological application, increase productivity, raise product quality, and seek new investment projects while not investing in external sectors.

Chairman Le Minh Chuan told the conference that 2020 turnover stood at 123.42 trillion VND, exceeding the adjusted target by 1 percent and equivalent to 89 percent of the result recorded in 2019.

Profit was 2.6 trillion VND, reaching the target set and equivalent to half of 2019’s figure.

Vinacomin contributed 19.3 trillion VND to the State budget during the year, surpassing the target by 2 percent.

It produced 38.47 million tonnes of raw coal, imported 9.65 million tonnes, and sold 42 million tonnes, he said, adding that about 15 million tonnes are in stockpile./.

Indonesia records lowest inflation in history

Indonesia's inflation rate in December 2020 was clocked at 0.45 percent and 1.68 percent all through 2020, according to the Central Statistics Agency (BPS).

The figure is the lowest full year number in history and below Bank Indonesia’s (BI) target range of 2 to 4 percent last year.

Annual core inflation, which excludes volatile food and government administered prices, fell for nine consecutive months last year up to December to 1.6 percent, a level unseen since the BPS began recording the indicator in 2004, signaling weakening demand and purchasing power.

Weak demand is feared to slow business and manufacturing activity while posing a risk to the entire economy.

Economists expect inflation to hike to near 3 percent and within the central bank’s target range in 2021 as economic activity and consumer demand recover.

However, inflation was likely to remain low in the first quarter of the year amid limited social mobility, Bank Danamon economist Wisnu Wardana said, projecting that prices would start to pick up in the second half of 2021 driven by domestic and global economic recovery as well as increased money supply from the stimulus rolled out by the government and the central bank.

According to the latest economic outlook from Oxford Economics commissioned by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), Indonesia’s economic growth is expected to rebound this year after it fell in 2020 into its first recession since the 1998 Asian financial crisis, but the coronavirus pandemic will continue to dampen economic activities.

The country’s gross domestic product (GDP) is forecast to shrink 2.2 percent in 2020 and rebound to 6.0 percent growth in 2021, driven by increases in consumer and infrastructure spending./.

Inflation control needs due attention

Although many forecasts said that inflation would be controlled at less than 4 percent this year, economists recommended it was still important to pay attention to inflationary pressures.

A representative of the Price Management Department under the Ministry of Finance said that in addition to the impact of developments in the world market, the pressure to increase domestic prices also came from the continued price adjustments of some public services according to the market roadmap.

In the context of many uncertainties related to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was difficult for the aggregate demand of the economy to recover, said the representative.

In particular, the business situation in some areas such as accommodation, tourism, entertainment and aviation was forecasted to face many difficulties, therefore, l the price of essential goods was not expected to change.

Nguyen Anh Tuan, director of the Price Management Department, said that the department had built and set up a price management scenario for this year, closely following the target of controlling inflation below four per cent of the National Assembly.

It was difficult to predict prices of commodities this year, so the Price Management Department would continue to work closely with ministries, agencies and localities to drastically and effectively implement the public management, administration and price stabilisation under market mechanisms to control inflation according to set targets, said Tuan.

At the same time, it would continue to implement the market price roadmap for public services and essential goods.

The leader of the Price Management Department also said they would proactively forecast, calculate and build scenarios to control prices of essential commodities this year according to the market roadmap to ensure inflation control; increase inspections; promote communication and publicity of price information, to control inflation; limit false information, causing confusion for consumers and market instability.

Economist Can Van Luc said this year had a number of factors that could significantly push up inflationary pressures.

The first was the strong recovery of the global economy in general and of Vietnam in particular on this year's low growth. When the economy recovered, the demand for goods and services would increase, thereby pushing up the price.

In addition, the amount of money that countries and central banks pumped out to prevent the pandemic, support major economic recovery, or continue to loosen monetary policies, and reduce interest rates would have a stronger impact next year, making global inflation increase.

In addition, forecasts all showed that prices of basic commodities, including oil prices, continue to increase again, although the increase was not large, it still created additional pressure.

Meanwhile, the domestic roadmap to increase the prices of some goods and services managed by the State would also affect the consumer price index.

“Inflationary pressure will be significantly higher this year. However, we forecast inflation will remain under control at less than four per cent, specifically in the range of 3.7-3.9 percent, which means we also do not worry that inflation will emerge again," Luc told online newspaper.

He recommended coordination between fiscal and monetary policy, including price control. Besides, it is necessary to consider delaying the roadmap for increasing prices of some goods managed by the State if the inflationary pressure is greater.

In the short term, in order to keep the market price from strong fluctuations in the first month of the year, the peak month before the Lunar New Year, it was necessary to strongly engage ministries, branches and localities in management and price stabilisation, especially for essential goods, he said./.

Philippines posts highest inflation since March 2019

The Philippines saw a year-on-year inflation rate of 3.5 percent in December 2020, up from 3.3 percent in the previous month, driven by price hikes in food and non-alcoholic beverages, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said.

PSA leader Dennis Mapa told the press in a virtual conference that this is the highest inflation recorded since March 2019.

The inflation uptrend was primarily fueled by a 4.8-percent increase in the inflation of heavily-weighted food and non-alcoholic beverages during the month, compared to the rise of 4.3 percent in November.

The Philippines' annual average inflation for 2020 was 2.6 percent, still within the government’s targeted range of 2 - 4 percent, so the country has yet to consider immediate monetary easing measures to aid the pandemic-hit economy, according to the PSA./.

Da Nang: Infrastructure development important to attract investment

Completing its infrastructure network has been billed as an important measure for the central coastal city of Da Nang to lure more investment in 2021.

According to Report No 362/BC-UBND issued recently by the municipal People’s Committee, the city sees investment attraction as a key mission to recover the local economy during the year.

Specific measures are outlined in the report, including the effective use of land funds, improvements to infrastructure quality at the expanded Hoa Khanh Industrial Park and the Hoa Cam and Lien Chieu Industrial Parks, as well as the implementation of a project to attract businesses at the Da Nang Industrial Park.

Relevant departments and sectors are responsible for removing bottlenecks to ensure the Da Nang hi-tech zone project is carried out in a timely manner.

Da Nang city will strive to complete procedures this year to select investors for the second phase of the Hoa Cam, Hoa Nhon, and Hoa Ninh Industrial Parks. It will also work to complete site clearance and compensation at the Hoa Khanh Nam, Hoa Hiep Bac, and Hoa Nhon industrial clusters, and complete detailed planning for a hi-tech agricultural zone in Hoa Phu and Hoa Khuong communes.

The city will also ramp up efforts to put a second software park into operation soon to attract investments and create 6,000 IT and digital jobs.

Vice Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Ho Ky Minh said the city prioritises investments in the fields of IT, support industries, and high-quality services, particularly in trade, tourism, logistics, healthcare and education, and hi-tech agriculture.

According to figures, Da Nang city attracted over 16.8 trillion VND (726.24 million USD) in domestic investment last year and 273.27 million USD in FDI./.

Ben Tre eyes sustainable development of offshore fishing

The Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Ben Tre will expand its offshore fishing and revamp its fishing fleet to sustainably exploit marine resources under a new plan for until 2030.

Under the 250 billion VND (10.78 million USD) plan, the province will reduce the number of fishing boats by 468 to 3,528 in 2030.

Nguyen Van Buoi, deputy director of the province Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said near-shore fishing and overexploitation of seafood stocks would be reduced.

With the number of fishing boats regulated, redundant fishermen will be helped with switching to other occupations.

Some 2,338 people will thus be taught vocational skills and provided with jobs.

Nguyen Truc Son, deputy chairman of the province’s People’s Committee, promised that to meet the targets the province would have a number of measures to manage the fishing activities and support policies to help fishermen switch to other jobs.

From now until 2030 the province will also implement advocacy programmes and projects to regulate exploitation and ensure protection of fishery resources.

It plans to establish community-based models to make fishing sustainable.

It will arrange its fishing boats into fleets for better management, categorising them into less than 12 metres long, between 12 and 15 metres and more than 15 metres.

In March last year the province started the installation of black boxes in offshore fishing boats with a length of at least 15 metres to locate their location.

Some 97.8 percent of the 1,962 offshore fishing boats have installed it already, including all of those with a length of more than 24 metres.

The province has set up 160 offshore fishing groups comprising 2,043 boats. This has enabled them to stay longer at sea and increase their catches.

The province, which has a coastline of 65 kilometres, has advantages in aquaculture, fishing and seafood processing, and has well exploited its marine economy in recent years./.