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The country’s economic growth in the second quarter of the year is expected to be lower than expected. However, the economy will also continue recovering strongly, with processing and manufacturing, and the service sector serving as key drivers of growth.

At a recent government cabinet meeting, the Ministry of Planning and Investment said that based on positive performance of the economy in the first five months of 2021, it is projected the nation's economic growth rate will be about 5.8%. This will be lower than the target of 7.11% set in Government Resolution No.01/NQ-CP, released on January 1, on the key tasks for the implementation of the socioeconomic development plan and state budget estimates for 2021 (see box).

The driving force of Vietnam's economic growth this year will be the industrial-construction sector and the service sector, especially processing and manufacturing, the MPI said.

According to the General Statistics Office (GSO), in May, the resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic has caused disruptions in supply chains and trade, as well as transport activities in a number of localities who are home to big industrial production like Bac Giang, Bac Ninh, and Ho Chi Minh City.

However, in the first five months, trade and transport activities still increased as compared to the same period last year.

Specifically, the total retail and service consumption revenue of the entire economy expanded 7.6% to more than VND2 quadrillion US$86.96 billion, and total import turnover of goods went up by 33.5%, while passenger transportation rose 4.2%, and goods transportation climbed 10.5%.

Global analysts FocusEconomics (based in Spain) said that Vietnam's economy recorded solid growth in the first quarter of 2021. GDP growth clocked in at 4.5% year-on-year in the first three months of this year, matching the growth rate from the last quarter of 2020.

As such, while the first quarter's readings marked the joint-strongest expansion since the fourth quarter of 2019 and are likely to be well above those of other key ASEAN economies, it nevertheless undershot market analysts' expectations of a near-6% growth rate.

"Looking at subsectors, growth in the industrial sector rose to 6.3% in the first quarter of the year (the fourth quarter of 2020: +5.6% year-on-year), with the manufacturing subsector continuing to play a driving force in overall economic activity," FocusEconomics analysts said. "On the other hand, growth in the services sector slowed to 3.3% year-on-year in the first three months of 2021 (Q4: +4.3% year-on-year) and agricultural production growth ebbed to 3.2% (the last quarter of 2020: +4.7% yoy). Looking ahead, the economic recovery should gather pace later in 2021, with the second quarter's outturn projected to be significantly higher than in the first quarter of the year."

The GSO also said that Vietnam's production activities strongly bounced back in general in the first five months. Specifically, the economy's index for industrial production (IIP) expanded by nearly 10% as compared to 1% in the corresponding period last year.

Notably the manufacturing and processing industry increased 12.6% in comparison with only 2.2% in the corresponding period in 2020.

The IIP in May climbed 11.6% as compared to the corresponding period in 2020, when it decreased 3.1%.

Also according to the GSO, in the first five months of 2021, as many as 55,800 businesses were newly established, with total registered capital of VND778.3 trillion (US$33.84 billion), employing 412,400 new labourers, up 15.4% in the number of enterprises and 39.5% in registered capital.

If another VND975.1 trillion (US$42.4 billion) registered by 19,100 operational enterprises is included, total capital inserted into the economy in the period was VND1.753 quadrillion (US$76.2 billion), up 27.5% year-on-year. Furthermore, 22,600 businesses also resumed operations, up 3.9% year-on-year.

According to FocusEconomics, the economy is forecast to expand rapidly this year, with growth set to outstrip regional peers, strengthening domestic and foreign demand dynamics. However, further outbreaks of the virus and a relatively slow vaccine rollout are causes for concern, while the sti?ed state of the tourism sector poses an additional risk.

"Our panellists expect GDP to expand 7.1% in 2021, and 6.8% in 2022," said FocusEconomics analysts.

The network of the German Chambers of Commerce Abroad (AHKs) said that German businesses are showing optimism about Vietnam's economy in the medium term and look forward to a recovery year heading towards 2022.

Despite the pandemic, Vietnam is becoming a strategic investment destination in the process of restructuring the global and regional supply chain, a potential domestic market to attract international corporations, according to a AHK World Business Outlook Survey conducted in spring 2021 and released two weeks ago.

"Vietnam is still one of the countries with the fastest economic growth in Southeast Asia. Foreign-invested enterprises, especially German businesses, are also showing optimism about Vietnam's economy in the medium and long term," said the survey. "German business leaders in Vietnam maintain a positive view with the economic expectation as well as with their situation in Vietnam and they look forward to a recovered year of 2021 and 2022."

Under the survey, 55% rate their current business situation in Vietnam as good, and 11% as poor, while in 2020 only 36% had a positive view of their situation in Vietnam. Negative ratings fell from 23 to 11%.

Furthermore, 47% of German companies in Vietnam intend to expand their activities in the country - up from 22.7% in spring last year, and 50% assume an increase in employment in 2021/2022 - up from 27.3% in the spring of 2020. About 65.8 and 73.7% expected the country's economic and business situation will get better this year.

In the same vein, according to new data from the European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam, when asked about the prospects of Vietnam's business environment in the April-June period, 67% of its members predicted either 'excellent' or 'good', up 12% on-quarter.

Meanwhile, business leaders are also more optimistic about their own companies. More than two-thirds (68%) forecast that their orders and revenue will 'maintain or increase' during April-June, up 25% from the fourth quarter of 2020.

In 2020, Vietnam surprised the world with its impressive control of COVID-19 and its inspiring economic growth rate of 2.91% in 2020, an average annual rate of 6.8% in the 2016-2019 period, making the country one of the world's top 10 nations in terms of growth, and also one of the 16 most successful emerging economies in the globe in 2020.

Last year, the economy's GDP was estimated at about US$268.4 billion, up US$11.4 billion against 2019, fourth in Southeast Asia, with total export-import turnover of US$543.9 billion, up 5.2% year-on-year - a record trade surplus of US$19.1 billion, notably in the context of strong decline in global trade.

Vietnam a bright spot for foreign investors: experts

Vietnam has been chosen among leading destinations in Southeast Asia by Japanese investors, Nakajima Takeo, Chief Representative of the Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) in Hanoi, has said.
The country’s population is forecast to hit 106 million by 2050 with the middle class on the rise, which turns the market into a favourable one for retail businesses, according to JETRO.

Vice Chairman of the European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (EuroCham) Torben Minko said that European firms are confident about Vietnam’s efforts in COVID-19 prevention and control, as industrial parks maintain operations, the number of laid-off workers is kept to a minimum and the supply chain is maintained.

A recent survey by EuroCham revealed that the Business Climate Index (BCI) hit 73.9 points in the first quarter of this year, the highest level since the Q3 2019, before the pandemic broke out.

When asked about the prospects of Vietnam’s business environment in the next quarter, 67% predicted either “excellent” or “good” - a 12% increase compared to the previous one.

EuroCham Chairman Alain Cany said that while COVID-19 wreaks havoc in countries around the world, Vietnam can be certain that companies can operate their business without interruptions.

For her part, Michele Wee, Chief Executive Officer at Standard Chartered Bank Vietnam, said that FDI influx to Vietnam will be maintained in the medium term.

The country posted a GDP growth rate of 2.91% in 2020, being among economies with the highest economic expansion in the year.

Foreign investors pumped nearly US$14 billion into the country as of May 20, a year-on-year increase of 0.8 percent, according to the Ministry of Planning and Investment.

Disbursed FDI in Vietnam hit US$7.15 billion in the first five months, an increase of 6.7% compared to the same period last year.

Global credit rating agencies of Moody’s, S&P and Fitch recently revised Vietnam’s outlook to “positive”.

Hanoi’s tourism prepares recovery plan after COVID-19

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has seen continuous complicated developments and caused negative impacts on tourist activities in Hanoi, the capital city’s hospitality sector has prepared a recovery plan for as soon as the pandemic is under control.

Accordingly, in the second half of this year, the city’s Tourism Department has asked tourism businesses, organisations and agencies in the city to strictly observe COVID-19 prevention and control.

The Department will continue to advance the application of information technology in managing tourist activities and the supervision of travel agencies and tour operators who meet COVID-19 safety standards based on the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism’s set of evaluation indicators.

In addition, the department will take action to improve the quality of tourist products, increase the attractiveness of destinations, develop tours promoting the value of heritages, relic sites and craft villages in the city.

The department will also coordinate with the city’s authorities in planning festivals and cultural events when the COVID-19 pandemic is brought under control.

In the first five months of this year, the city received 2.89 million domestic visitors, down 6.7% over the same period in 2020, and earned VND 8.1 trillion in tourism revenue, down 50.7% due to the impact of COVID-19. In May alone, domestic holiday-makers coming to the capital numbered 115,000, a steep decrease of 55.3% year-on-year.

Vietnam’s protective equipment production rises six-fold

Vietnam’s production of personal protective equipment (PPE) rose six-fold last year, according to the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC).

The IFC said on June 9 that it is helping developing countries, including Vietnam, with PPE production, with an aim to provide front-line medical staff with quality and trustworthy products and curb COVID-19 spread.

Vietnam is emerging as one of the new PPE suppliers in the global market as a number of garment companies have shifted to producing PPE to cope with medical emergency status and mitigate losses caused by their cancelled orders, it said.

The corporation added that the global demand for PPE such as medical masks, gloves, glasses, protective shoes, protective suits and respirators soared 3-4 fold during 2019-2020, which is expected to keep rising by 6-9 percent annually till at least 2025./.

Conference links Vietnamese, Japanese firms in supporting industries

Twenty-one Vietnamese enterprises in supporting industries and 48 Japanese businesses took part in an online conference on June 10, where they exchanged information and sought partners.

Vu Ba Phu, Director of the Vietnam Trade Promotion Agency (Vietrade) at the Ministry of Industry and Trade, briefed the conference on Vietnam’s foreign trade activities, with export revenue in the first five months of this year estimated at 130.94 billion USD, up 30.7 percent year-on-year.

The export value of phones and spare parts increased 19.6 percent; computers, electronics and components 26 percent; and machinery, equipment, tools, and spare parts 74.8 percent, he continued.

Vietnamese enterprises in supporting industries are growing in terms of both number and quality, and integrating intensively into global production chains, Phu said.

They account for nearly 4.5 percent of enterprises operating in the processing and manufacturing sector, generate jobs for more than 600,000 workers, or nearly 8 percent of the workforce in the processing and manufacturing sector, and contribute 11 percent of total revenue in the sector.

In his remarks, Masataka Fujita, Secretary General of the ASEAN-Japan Centre (AJC), pledged that it will make greater efforts in promoting trade between Vietnam and Japan in the future.

Akutsu Michio, an expert from the Association of International Business Advisors, meanwhile, pointed out the challenges to Vietnamese supporting enterprises such as low productivity and a shortage of trained workers.

He suggested enterprises improve their production capacity and product quality and take measures to attract high-quality workers, saying that apart from providing products for Japanese enterprises in Vietnam, domestic businesses should also seek partners abroad.

To facilitate the supporting industries, the Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade launched a database in June 2020 that provides information on more than 3,600 domestic firms operating in mechanics, auto, electronics, and garment-textiles./.

Binh Dinh proposes withdrawing two local ports from planning

The People’s Committee of the south central province of Binh Dinh has proposed the Ministry of Transport and the Vietnam Maritime Administration withdraw two local ports from master planning for seaport development in 2021-2030.

De Gi and Tam Quan ports were proposed to be removed from the planning and instead developed into fishing ports while the lagoon areas would be developed into storm shelters for fishing vessels.

The provincial People’s Committee said for many years, De Gi and Tam Quang estuaries have had low levels of water and narrow channels only suitable for fishing vessels. Currently, no cargo is transported via these ports.

Removing these two ports out of the planning would not cause any problems as no investment projects were being carried out at the ports, the People’s Committee said.

Dang Dinh Dao, former Director of the Institute for Economics and Development Studies, said the proposal had set an example for other localities in making planning in the context that every coastal locality wanted seaports without paying adequate attention to the natural, social, economic or environmental conditions.

A lot of planning had proven to be unrealistic, Dao said, adding that it would be a big problem if every locality had an international seaport and did not pay attention to regional links or master planning.

He said Vietnam had more than 20 international seaports but none of them had received the investment to reach international standards.

He pointed out that there were a number of lessons. The planning of the wholesale market was an example. Many wholesale markets within planning were built but had not been put into operation due to problems attracting sellers and buyers.

Planning must be innovated, not only for seaports but also for other infrastructure developments, he said.

“It’s time localities closely work with central agencies to develop realistic planning which ensures consistency with other socio-economic planning," he said.

Vietnam is developing new master planning for seaports in 2021-2030 with a vision to 2050 to promote economic development.

There are 286 ports across the country with a total wharf length of 96km, more than 4.5 times longer than in 2000. The seaport system handled a total cargo volume of more than 692 million tonnes in 2020, 8.4 times higher than 2000./.

Can Tho shrugs off COVID, achieves impressive growth

In the first five months of the year, the Mekong city of Can Tho achieved impressive growth in industrial production, retail sales and tourism despite the effects of COVID-19.

Industrial production grew by more than 9 percent year-on-year, and total retail sales and services grew by nearly 15 percent to around 63.1 trillion VND (2.7 billion USD).

The tourism sector is recovering, with its revenues rising by 18 percent to 1.25 trillion VND. The number of visitors grew by nearly 58 percent.

Investment in the city tripled during the period to 1.3 billion USD as it ranked third in the country’s FDI list.

However, only a fraction of the proposed public spending has been disbursed, one of the city’s biggest problems for many years now.

Its exports too fell.

Tran Viet Truong, chairman of the municipal People’s Committee, said that the city has been focusing on both reviving its economy and staying safe from the pandemic.

He instructed official agencies to focus on disbursing public spending funds, acquiring and clearing lands for investment projects and approving project carefully to stop unnecessary changes later.

Can Tho aims to become a major industrial hub and the Mekong Delta’s leading one by 2025, and targets economic growth of 7.5-8 percent a year until 2025.

It is focusing on restructuring its four key sectors, foodstuff and beverage processing, chemicals; machinery and electronics, and electricity generation.

It is also seeking to create a favourable environment for investment through support policies and administrative reforms, and facilitating industrial start-ups./. 

Auto sales down 15 pct. in May: VAMA

The Vietnam Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (VAMA) has reported that its members posted a 15 percent month-on-month decline in automobile sales in May to 15,585 units, due to the impact of COVID-19 and a shortage of semi-conductor chips for the industry.

Its members sold 17,581 passenger cars in May, 7,482 commercial vehicles, and 522 special-use vehicles, falls of 14 percent, 16 percent, and 33 percent, respectively, against April.

Sales of domestically-assembled vehicles were down 20 percent month-on-month to 13,825 units, while those of completely-built-up (CBU) vehicles fell 7 percent to 11,760.

In the January-May period, VAMA members sold 126,894 vehicles, up 53 percent against the same period last year, with a 51 percent rise seen in the sales of passenger cars, 56 percent in commercial vehicles, and 59 percent in special-use vehicles.

These figures do not fully reflect the situation in Vietnam’s automobile market, however, as they do not include sales of brands such as Audi, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, Subaru, Volkswagen, and Volvo.

A representative from TC Motor said the company sold 6,053 vehicles in May and 28,477 in the first five months of the year. It led all brands in May sales, followed by Toyota with 5.139, Kia 3,336, Mazda 2,426, Ford 1,666, and Honda 1,423.

Toyota Vios was the best-seller during the month, with sales of 1,789, followed by the Hyundai Accent with 1,620.

Industry analysts said that along with COVID-19, a shortage of semi-conductor chips in both the global and domestic market will continue to slow down production at automobile manufacturers over the remainder of 2021 and even into 2022./. 

Vietnamese overseas investment triples

Vietnamese firms poured 546.7 million USD into overseas projects in the first five months of 2021, more than triple the figure of the same period last year.

Of the sum, 144 million USD was from 21 newly-licensed projects, down 11.3 percent year-on-year, according to the Ministry of Planning and Investment.

Meanwhile, 403.2 million USD was pumped into nine existing projects, surging 22-fold year-on-year, the ministry said.

A major part of the capital outflow - 271 million USD - was poured into the science-technology sector, accounting for 49.5 percent of the total. The wholesale and retail sector came next with $148.4 million or 27 percent, following by the agro-forestry-fisheries sector and auxiliary services.

 

Fifteen countries received investment from Vietnam from January to May with the US the top receiver with 303 million USD, holding the lion’s share of 55.4 percent. It was followed by Cambodia with 89.1 million USD or 16.3 percent. Next were Canada and France with 32.1 million USD and 32 million USD, respectively.

Vietnamese firms have increased their overseas investments in recent years to expand their global reach.

As of May 20, Vietnam had 1,420 valid overseas projects worth a total of nearly $22 billion, mainly in the sectors of mining, with 36.4 percent of total capital, while agro-forestry-fisheries had 15.3 percent.

Laos was the largest receiver for Vietnam’s overseas investment, making up 24 percent of the total capital, followed by Cambodia (13.1 percent) and Russia (13 percent)./.

China remains key market for Vietnamese garments and textiles

China is anticipated to become a major market for Vietnamese garments and textiles moving forward due to the country facing numerous challenges when exporting items to the United States, the EU, and Japan this year.

This information was unveiled in a document unveiled at the recent annual general meeting of shareholders by the Vietnam National Textile and Garment Group (Vinatex).

Moving forward, China will not focus on producing apparel and textiles in line with its five-year strategy, thereby turning the northern neighbour into a major consumer of Vietnamese textiles and garments.

During  the first quarter of the year, local garment and textile exports to China witnessed robust growth among the five major markets, achieving the same export turnover as that of EU in the process.

Furthermore, the US remains the largest Vietnamese export market with a growth rate of 5.9% in the first quarter. During the remainder of the year, the US market is expected to bounce back thanks to the implementation of a stimulus package of US$1.9 trillion coupled with the mass rollout COVID-19 vaccination scheme.

The country’s garments and textiles to the EU and Japan will continue to face difficulties in the near future due to the EU facing the risk of a third wave of COVID-19, while the Japanese economy has not shown any signs of recovery, according to Vinatex.

McKinsey's projection anticipate that the global apparel and textile industry will rebound by the third quarter of next year, or perhaps later in the fourth quarter of 2023.

Currently, Vietnamese garment enterprises have sufficient orders until the end of the second quarter, although prices remain low.

Vinatex predicts that the garment and textile sector will recover one year ahead of scheduled compared to the global forecast.

The industry is striving to achieve a revenue of VND17,365 billion this year, up 17% compared to 2020.

Belgium startup interested in Vietnam’s automation industry

Zorabots, a company specialized in robot and automation in Eastern Belgium, is looking towards Vietnam as a potential market. 

Fabrice Goffin, co-founder and CEO of Zorabots said their robots can speak 53 languages including Vietnamese.

Explaining why he chose Vietnam for expansion, Goffin said he has read reports on the vibrant and potential Vietnamese automation market. Besides, before the global pandemic, Vietnam hosted multiple automation exhibitions and fairs with the participation of many prestigious technology and industrial automation companies.

“For a potential country like Vietnam, we will have many opportunities to expand,” the Zorabots CEO said.

Zorabots is currently working with its Vietnamese partners to quickly make its appearance in this market.

“We want to focus on education and health, which are two sectors requiring the support of robots and technology, especially education. Vietnam should prepare its younger generations well since they will master technology in all aspects of life", Goffin emphasized.

Zorabots was founded by two tech enthusiasts, Fabrice Goffin and Tommy Deblieck, in 2011. The company now has branches in the US, Canada, Australia, Africa and serves customers all over the world. Zorabots computer engineers create software for robots according to customer needs.

Zarobots is installing robots at airports in the Netherlands and France to guide passengers in complying with COVID-19 prevention regulations. The company is pursuing the development of different robot models to serve more people in the coming time./.

Agency banking model develops in rural, remote locations

The State Bank of Viet Nam (SBV) is amending regulations related to the operation of agency banking to improve access to the banking system.

Agency banking is a type of branchless banking that allows traditional banks to extend their network of branches and services through authorised agents.

The model arrived in the country in recent years, especially since the Government issued the national comprehensive financial strategy in early 2020.

According to the SBV’s research, Brazil, Kenya, Mexico and India have all seen agency banking become an important tool to expand access to basic financial services and promote financial inclusion. Five years since Brazil launched the agents, the network has served 12.4 million new bank accounts.

The state bank said in Southeast Asia, Malaysia's agency banking model uses the nationwide telecommunications network to expand the network of traditional banking services to customers in rural and remote areas at a low cost. The model also helps Malaysian banks save more than 80 per cent of costs for setting up service points and 60 per cent of transaction costs compared to the traditional bank branch network.

According to the latest Comprehensive Financial Report of World Bank released in 2018, 69 per cent of adults in Viet Nam were unbanked and relied on cash while the rate in the world was 31.5 per cent at the same time.

Meanwhile, the national strategy of financial services sets the goal to have at least 50 per cent of communes accessing financial service points and 80 per cent of adults having transaction accounts at banks or other institutions by 2025.

Experts reckon the low rate of bank accessing in Viet Nam is a big chance to develop banking agents across the country.

By the end of 2017, the SBV piloted agency banking in rural areas with three models.

MB Bank work with Viettel services, PGBank with Petrolimex sales points and Vietcombank with M_service Company, reaching 32,185 sales points.

More than 11 million transactions with a value of more than VND81 trillion (US$3.49 billion) were recorded among some 6 million customers.

Outside of the SBV pilot, LienVietPostBank took advantage of post office locations to develop savings services, while Jens Lottner, CEO of Techcombank, shared the bank’s plan to work with Masan Group to take advantage of convenience stores to bring the bank’s financial products and services to a wider population.

Between 2020 and 2025, Agribank plans to set up a network of banking agencies and work with postal organisations, public administrations and microfinance projects to deploy low-cost, convenient, safe products for individual payment transactions.

Seeing the potential of the model, a SBV representative said there must be a legal corridor.

The SBV said completing the legal framework on agents was proposed in the national comprehensive financial strategy) to improve the level of access to financial services for people.

The central bank said it was amending other regulations related to the operation of the model, especially those on anti-money laundering/terrorist financing, regulations on electronic money and know-your-customer (KYC) processes.

CEO of TPBank Nguyen Hung said such regulations would need to go into detail to guide the establishment of agencies to provide banking services, such as regulations on approved and prohibited services, criteria to become authorised agencies and the form of operation.

Hung mentioned two main forms of authorisation used in Brazil known as full authorisation and credit authorisation, adding a fully authorised agent will provide a full range of services from receiving and forwarding application documents for opening a payment account, savings account, deposit/withdrawal transaction, transfer, payment as well as loan applications and opening credit cards. Meanwhile, a credit agency will only provide services on payment, borrowing and credit.

Taking another example of Bangladesh, Hung said authorised dealers can provide cash withdrawal/deposit services, support for small loan disbursement and debt collection/instalment, bill payment assistance, fund transfer assistance, balance queries, collect and forward applications for opening accounts, opening savings, loans and credit cards. However, they are not allowed to approve the decision to open card/loan accounts, conduct financial appraisals and conduct foreign currency transactions.

According to another financial expert, it is necessary to clarify the quality and capacity of organisations authorised to act as banking agents.

The agents must ensure that they meet all the standards of financial capacity, reputation, ability to meet commitments under adverse conditions, ability to provide financial services based on technology and capacity of internal control, security assurance and anti-money laundering.

Binh Dinh proposes withdrawing two local ports from planning

The People’s Committee of the southern province of Binh Dinh has proposed the Ministry of Transport and the Viet Nam Maritime Administration withdraw two local ports from master planning for seaport development in 2021-30.

De Gi and Tam Quan ports were proposed to be removed from the planning and instead developed into fishing ports while the lagoon areas would be developed into storm shelters for fishing vessels.

The provincial People’s Committee said for many years, De Gi and Tam Quang estuaries have had low levels of water and narrow channels only suitable for fishing vessels. Currently, no cargo is transported via these ports.

Removing these two ports out of the planning would not cause any problems as no investment projects were being carried out at the ports, the province said.

Dang Dinh Dao, former Director of the Institute for Economics and Development Studies, said the proposal had set an example for other localities in making planning in the context that every coastal locality wanted seaports without paying adequate attention to the natural, social, economic or environmental conditions.

A lot of planning had proven to be unrealistic, Dao said, adding that it would be a big problem if every locality had an international seaport and did not pay attention to regional links or master planning.

He said Viet Nam had more than 20 international seaports but none of them had received the investment to reach international standards.

He pointed out that there were a number of lessons. The planning of the wholesale market was an example. Many wholesale markets within planning were built but had not been put into operation due to problems attracting sellers and buyers.

Planning must be innovated, not only for seaports but also for other infrastructure developments, he said.

“It’s time localities closely work with central agencies to develop realistic planning which ensures consistency with other socio-economic planning," he said.

Viet Nam is developing new master planning for seaports in 2021-30 with a vision to 2050 to promote economic development.

There are 286 ports across the country with a total wharf length of 96km, more than 4.5 times longer than in 2000. The seaport system handled a total cargo volume of more than 692 million tonnes in 2020, 8.4 times higher than 2000.

Ben Tre’s shrimp sector targets production value of $1 billion by 2025

The production value of the shrimp industry in the Mekong Delta province of Ben Tre aims to increase by an average of 41.1 per cent each year to 2025 and reach US$1 billion.

According to a plan to develop the sector, issued recently by the provincial People’s Committee, the locality will develop 4,000 ha of brackish water shrimp aquaculture areas applying high technology by 2025, to promote the sustainable development of the fisheries economy and the coastal province’s socio-economic development.

Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Tran Ngoc Tam said Ben Tre aims to modernise its industrialisation-oriented marine shrimp farming sector and turn it into a large commodity production sector with high levels of competitiveness, productivity, and quality, creating breakthroughs in the stable and sustainable development of the fisheries economy and, most importantly, contributing to the province’s GDP growth.

Local authorities have implemented solutions such as re-organising production, improving the quality of young marine shrimp, prompting the research and application of science and technology in production, developing infrastructure, managing the environment, and developing shrimp processing activities.

Attention will be paid to developing concentrated and large raw material production areas and expanding effective aquaculture models to help local farmers improve their earnings.

According to the Deputy Director of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Van Buoi, Ben Tre currently has nearly 1,700 ha of brackish water aquaculture areas applying high technology, with an annual average yield of 36 tonnes per ha and profit of VND2.1-VND2.4 billion ($91,400-$104,560) per ha per year.

Brackish water shrimp farming has been developing strongly in Ben Tre, especially intensive and semi-intensive shrimp cultivation.

According to the department, as of 2020, the locality had exploited 45,747 ha of aquaculture area out of 50,000 ha of potential aquaculture area, including 36,000 ha of intensive and semi-intensive marine shrimp farming areas, with total production reaching some 70,000 tonnes.

Infrastructure in the province’s aquaculture areas has been gradually improved, especially road and irrigation networks, basically meeting current demand. 

Vegetable and fruit exports hit $1.77 billion during Jan-May

Viet Nam’s export turnover of fruits and vegetables hit US$1.77 billion in the first five months of this year, a year-on-year increase of 18 per cent, reported the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

In May alone, fruit and vegetable exports raked in $400 million, a surge of 48.3 per cent compared to the same period last year.

China remained the top importer of fruits and vegetables from Viet Nam. These products are also witnessing positive signs in other major markets such as the US, Japan, Russia, and Australia.

Notably, the fourth outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic amid the lychee harvest season has made export activities face many difficulties. However, with flexible solutions, ministries, localities and businesses are making efforts to export the fruit during the pandemic.

Particularly, Viet Nam's lychee crop will have more advantages when exporting to the Japanese market this year.

When lychee was first exported to the Japanese market last year, many customers appreciated the quality of the shipments. Therefore, the Viet Nam Trade Office in Japan is continuing to co-ordinate with relevant domestic authorities as well as supermarket and distribution systems in Japan to promote the fruit in Japan.

The Viet Nam Trade Office in Australia will also make proposals to Australian agencies to promote favourable customs clearance when lychees arrive in Australia. It is expected that about 100 tonnes of Vietnamese lychee will be exported to South and Western Australia within this year.

To boost the export of fruits and vegetables, the ministry assigned the Director of the Plant Protection Department to negotiate to open 19 markets for 20 types of products, assist in handling, negotiating and removing technical difficulties arising in the export process, co-ordinate with localities to build codes for growing areas and export establishments to ensure traceability and meet requirements of major importers. 

Vietnam Railway revenue slumps due to a drop in passengers

Vietnam Railway Corporation (VNR) reported its five-month revenue decreased by 51.4 per cent year-on-year due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The railway served about 1.147 million passengers, a reduction of 35.4 per cent compared to the same period last year, bringing in over VND400 billion (US$17.4 million) in revenue.

In May, which saw the peak of COVID-19 outbreaks in the latest wave, the number of passengers was only by 132,300, equal to 48.4 per cent of the corresponding figure last year. As a result, revenue from passenger transport stood at VND44.7 billion, equivalent to 55.4 per cent of the figure of the same period last year.

According to VNR, a decline in revenue and demand for transportation and travel is attributable to travel restrictions prompted by outbreaks of COVID-19 in many localities across the country.

The VNR curtailed most of its operations in May. It is currently operating only one train on the Ha Noi-HCM City route.

Also due to the COVID-19 resurgency, more than 11,300 tickets were returned on the occasion of the Reunification Day (April 30) and May Day (May 1) holidays, worth about VND4 billion.

Disease-free zones key to exporting animal products

Forming more disease-free farming zones is seen as critical to exporting livestock products as few such zones in Viet Nam meet the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) standards.

The country exported 2,150 tonnes of meat and related products worth US$6.95 million in April, up 27.1 per cent in volume and 3.7 per cent in value compared to March, with Hong Kong (China), mainland China, and Thailand among the main destinations, data from the General Department of Viet Nam Customs showed.

The Cong Thuong (Industry & Trade) newspaper cited Nguyen Van Long, Deputy Director of the Department of Animal Health at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, as saying Viet Nam must comply with international regulations to export animal products, including those set by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the OIE.

Exports of animals and related products can only come from countries and territories that have farming establishments and zones free of disease and ensure biological safety.

As of May, Viet Nam had 2,288 closed farming establishments and zones but these only satisfy Vietnamese standards, with none meeting OIE requirements, Long pointed out.

He added that as outbreaks of dangerous disease are spreading, many countries have set up strict requirements on imported fresh products. Meanwhile, Viet Nam faces difficulties in organising safe animal farming, especially in terms of disease control, monitoring of farming zones, and grassroots safety chains.

Recently, authorities have stepped up negotiations on animal product exports with some countries, Long said, noting that to secure smooth exports the most important issue is that such products hail from disease-free zones meeting OIE rules.

To do this, it is first necessary to exert sound control over disease outbreaks and minimise the risk from animal diseases nationwide. A national programme for monitoring and certifying animal products should also be carried out to pave the way for exporting qualified products, he said.

There are 15 disease-free zones around the country at present, and co-ordination with localities is needed to help such zones under Vietnamese standards meet OIE requirements.

Long recommended cities and provinces devise plans to form and maintain disease-free animal farming zones while paying attention to animal husbandry. 

Source: VNA/VNS/VOV/VIR/SGT/Nhan Dan/Hanoitimes

VIETNAM BUSINESS NEWS JUNE 11

VIETNAM BUSINESS NEWS JUNE 11

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