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The import-export value of agro-forestry-fisheries products in the first four months of 2021 stood at about 32.07 billion USD, with exports estimated at 17.15 billion USD, a 24.2 percent increase year-on-year, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) has reported.

With import value of 14.93 billion USD, Vietnam posted a trade surplus of about 2.2 billion USD, down 41.1 percent year-on-year, according to the ministry.

The export value of main agricultural products was estimated at 5.9 billion USD, up 9 percent year-on-year, while the figure for key forestry products was 5.33 billion USD and fisheries products 2.39 billion USD, increases of 50.9 percent and 6.1 percent, respectively, year-on-year.

Upturns were seen in the export of many products, including rubber (nearly 112 percent), tea (nearly 8 percent), rice (1.2 percent), fruit and vegetables (9.5 percent), cassava and cassava products (24 percent), breeding products (37.4 percent), tra fish (nearly 3 percent), shrimp (5.5 percent), and furniture (over 71 percent).

Falls, meanwhile, were recorded in the export value of coffee, at 11.6 percent, and cashew nuts, at 7.8 percent.

Asian markets consumed 46.9 percent of Vietnam’s agro-forestry-fisheries products during the period, while the Americas accounted for 27.6 percent, Europe 10 percent, Oceania 1.4 percent, and Africa 1.4 percent.

The four leading markets were the US, China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea.

Vietnam also spent 5.01 billion USD in the first four months on importing agro-forestry-fisheries products, with 1.38 billion USD outlaid on breeding products, 679 million USD on aquatic products, 997.4 million USD on major forestry products, and 2.31 billion USD on input materials.

The ministry will continue to keep domestic firms informed about new sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) regulations in major export markets, while maintaining its close watch over the production, price, and supply of farm produce in localities around the country./.

Shares decline over worries on rising COVID cases

Vietnamese stocks struggled in volatile markets on Thursday with sentiment hit by increasing COVID-19 cases nationwide with the VN-Index failing to maintain its uptrend.

The market benchmark VN-Index on the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange (HoSE) declined 0.47 per cent, or 5.86 points, to finish the trading day at 1,250.57 points.

The market breadth was negative as 262 stocks declined while 148 rose and 48 stocks ended flat.

The southern market index had risen 1.15 per cent to finish Wednesday at 1,256.43 points.

The market’s liquidity was high with nearly 730.5 million shares traded on the southern market, worth VND20.3 trillion (US$882.2 million).

Market sentiment has been weakened amid worries over the fourth wave of COVID-19 some of Viet Nam’s cities and provinces.

Nationwide, there have been 64 COVID-19 cases in the fourth wave of the disease, in cities of Ha Noi, Da Nang and HCM City and the nine provinces of Hung Yen, Ha Nam, Vinh Phuc, Quang Nam, Dong Nai, Hai Duong, Yen Bai, Thai Binh and Bac Ninh.

“After Wednesday’s strong rally, the VN-Index corrected slightly after approaching the historic peak of 1,260-1,280 points,” said BIDV Securities Co.

“Market liquidity decreased slightly along with the continued net selling trend of foreign investors on both exchanges had caused a market correction to the threshold of 1,250 points.

“Cash flow weakened compared to the previous session. The VN-Index may consolidate in the short term around 1,250 points before retesting the 1,260-1280 level in the mid term.”

The 30 biggest stocks tracker, VN30-Index, lost 0.17 per cent to 1,344.64 points.

Of the VN30 basket, seven stocks increased while 27 decreased.

Among the banking stock group, Vietcombank (VCB) had the most negative impact on the market as it fell 1.88 per cent, closing at VND98,300 per share.

Dairy giant Vinamilk (VNM) dropped more than 2.6 per cent, closing at VND89,600 per share, recording the lowest level since August 4th, 2020. Moreover, this was the session where VNM was net sold for six consecutive sessions by foreign investors and had the largest net selling value since March 5, 2021.

Another notable loser was Sabeco (SAB). This stock has fallen for four consecutive sessions, closing at VND156,000 per share on Thursday, the lowest level since July 1, 2020. Like Vinamilk (VNM), the beer giant's shares have still been net sold by foreign investors, though not as much as the dairy giant.

Meanwhile, on the Ha Noi Stock Exchange (HNX), the HNX-Index rose 0.06 per cent to close Thursday at 281.09 points.

The northern market index had risen 1.16 per cent to close Wednesday at 280.93 points.

During the session, over 115 million shares were traded on HNX, worth VND2 trillion.

Overloaded renewable energy affects power system operation

Excess renewable energy has affected power system operations in Viet Nam, said the leader of the National Power System Dispatch Centre of Vietnam Electricity (EVN).

Nguyen Duc Ninh, director of the centre, said during a dialogue between EVN’s leaders and electricity experts on the operation of the national power system on May 4 in Ha Noi that the increasing solar and wind power was causing many difficulties in the operation of the power system.

According to Ninh, the proportion of renewable energy currently contributed up to 60 per cent of the peak load at noon and was prioritised for use at a maximum level, meaning the centre had to stop buying power from hydroelectricity sources around the time. As the result, the hydropower plants in central and southern Viet Nam, with nearly 8,000MW, had to stop working at noon to prioritise the purchase of renewable energy.

The centre also said from 2019 to the end of 2020, there was a boom in renewable energy from solar and wind power. For example, Ninh Thuan Province has the largest rate of renewable energy in the country with thousands of MW, but has very low demand for electricity itself so it transfers most of the production to other localities.

As of April 2021, out of the total power capacity, the country has 7,700MW of rooftop solar power and about 9,200 MW of farm solar power. The current capacity of wind power projects of 612MW was expected to increase up to 4,500-5,400MW between September and October this year.

The centre, which is responsible for ensuring normal operation of the electricity market in Viet Nam, added the phenomenon of redundant renewable energy was now affecting the operation of the power system, such as overloaded local lines and large gap in load between peak and off-peak hours.

Tran Dinh Long, Vice President of the Vietnam Electricity Association, said at the dialogue: “The boom in renewable energy projects is leading to difficulties in state management,” adding: “The current shortcoming is that the PPCs of provinces do not consult the electricity sellers about difficulties in operation and connection when they approved the energy projects so it leads to a lack of control in the development of renewable energy projects over time.”

Sharing the same view, Ha Dang Son, director of the Centre for Energy and Green Growth Research, said that the explosion of solar and wind power projects in recent years mainly comes from the fact that local authorities have approved too many projects.

Nguyen Minh Khoa, head of EVN’s legal department, said in accordance with the Law on Investment, the Provincial People's Committee will approve investors of solar and wind power projects. When the local authorities issue a project license, EVN is not allowed to refuse to buy electricity from those projects but only take part in price negotiations.

At first, EVN strived to operate all the sources with the lowest total production cost. The main reason for the issue was the low demand for electricity, the lack of synchronous investment in grid projects and the slowdown of the economy and the widespread influence of COVID-19. The group will continue to review, update, and adjust the processes to suit the electricity system's operating conditions.

Ngo Son Hai, EVN's Deputy General Director, also said that the reduction of renewable energy sources has been reported to the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

He added that according to the ministry's guidance, as renewable energy sources are overloaded, they will be a priority to be used the most. Once the mobilisation remains redundant, they will be equally cut to fit the situation.

Southern stock market posts high transaction value in April

Liquidity of the southern stock market in April stood at the highest level from the outset of the year, with more than 14.51 billion stocks traded at a value of over 366.94 trillion VND (15.94 billion USD), according to the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange (HOSE).

Average transaction value per session was over 18.34 trillion VND, up 18.68 percent from March, and 47.41 percent from the same time last year.

HOSE also said that trading of covered warrants (CWs) – Vietnam’s third securities product after stocks and futures also heated up in the month, with over 506.38 million items sold at the value of 2.32 trillion VND.

The market also saw the benchmark VN-Index set a 20-year record high of 1,268.28 points on April 20, with total value of market transaction on the day topping 22.46 trillion VND.

The index in April edged up 4.02 percent from the previous month to end at 1,239.39 points, and surged 12.28 percent year-on-year.

Material, finance and real estate stocks performed well in the month, with VNMAT stocks rising 16.2 percent, VNFIN surging 10.55 percent and VNREAL up 10.47 percent.

Meanwhile, energy, utility, and consumer goods stocks suffered the respective declines of 10.03 percent, 5.04 percent, and 2.95 percent.

The net sales of foreign investors fell 93.87 percent from March to 751 billion VND.

HOSE saw no newly-listed stocks in the month, while five codes of LAF, TVB, PAN, BSI and ASG moved to the Hanoi Stock Exchange.

As of April 29, 511 security codes were being trade on HOSE, including 391 stocks, three close fund certificates, seven exchange traded funds (ETF), 79 CWs, and 31 bonds.

The stock market capitalisation on HOSE reached more than 4.46 quadrillion VND, increasing 4.12 percent from March, and accounting for around 73.87 percent of the country’s gross domestic product in 2020./.

EVN to cut 8 billion kWh of coal-fired power output

State-owned corporation Vietnam Electricity (EVN) expects to cut 8 billion kWh of coal-fired power output this year to increase the portion of solar and wind power, Nguyen Duc Ninh, director of the National Load Dispatch Center, said at a meeting on May 4.

EVN has planned to mobilize some 32 billion kWh of solar and wind power this year, twice as much as 2020. As of late April, the total capacity of solar farms was 9,200 MW, while that of rooftop solar power and wind power was some 9,600 MW and 612 MW, respectively. Some new wind farms with a total capacity of 4,500-5,400 MW are expected to be put into operation in the rest of this year.

According to EVN, the large production of renewable energy has also put pressure on the electricity system and transmission lines.

Overloads have been reported in Ninh Thuan, Binh Thuan and some central provinces, especially midday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. when the electricity demand is low and solar power capacity reaches its peak.

Nguyen Duc Cuong, member of the Board of Directors of EVN, said although the output of renewable energy has soared, Vietnam still needs to maintain other sources such as liquefied natural gas-fired, coal-fired and hydro power.

“With advanced technology, coal-fired power plants have been able to solve many problems, including environmental pollution,” he stressed.

According to the National Load Dispatch Center, Vietnam’s capacity of solar and wind power will reach some 20,000 MW this year, accounting for over 30% of the total power capacity. However, renewable energy output contributes only 12% of the total and is expected to rise to 17% in the next five years.

Therefore, the country needs to maintain the portion of traditional energy (liquefied natural gas-fired, coal-fired and hydro power) at 40-80% to ensure power security.

EVN has planned to cut 1.3 billion kWh of renewable energy in 2021. The corporation said in the coming time, it will cut renewable energy capacity by 15-20%. Particularly, solar power and wind power output will be cut by 13.3% and 4.8%, respectively.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade said the development of renewable energy, especially solar power, has seen positive results, attracting large investment and contributing to effectively exploiting the potential renewable energy resources in the country.

However, the boom of high-capacity renewable energy plants, mainly in the central and southern regions, has overloaded inter-regional transmission lines and caused an oversupply.

CAAV proposes adding airport at Cao Bang to airport master planning

In its evaluation of the master plan to broaden the development of the airport network by 2030 with a vision to 2050, the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam proposed prioritising investment in building and upgrading major international airports in the next 10 years, as well as adding one more airport at Cao Bang by 2025.

Accordingly, the number of airports in the country will remain unchanged by 2030 with 28 airports, including 14 international airports and 14 domestic airports. By 2050, the country will have one additional domestic airport at Cao Bang.

Although the number of airports has not increased, the designed capacity of the airport systems has increased significantly by 2030.

Specifically, the airport system has to meet the transport needs of about 278 million passengers a year, as well as accommodate an average increase of 8.1 per cent a year. Addiitonally, it will also need to handle a cargo throughput to about 4.1 million tonnes a year, increasing at an average of 10.3 per cent per year.

This increase is huge compared to the total designed capacity of about 95 million passengers a year in 2019.

To achieve this goal, the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam proposes focusing on major international airports such as Long Thanh, Tan Son Nhat, Danang, and Noi Bai airports.

Preliminary calculations show that the total capital that needs to be invested in airport infrastructure in the next 10 years is about VND400 trillion ($17.34 billion), most of which is to invest in new construction or upgrading international airports.

Measures sought to capitalise on European market

An online conference was held in Ho Chi Minh City on May 5 to seek measures and strategies to effectively approach and exploit the promising but choosy European market.

Tran Thi Trang, head of the Training Office of the HCM City Center for Trade Promotion and Investment (ITPC) said that Europe is one of the largest trade partners of Vietnam, while Vietnam is the second biggest trade partner of Europe in Southeast Asia.

Despite impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic, trade exchange between the two sides has still been maintained, especially since the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) took effect, import-export activities have been on the rise and forecast to continue to grow in the future, she said.

Meanwhile, Zachaier, director for supply chain at Source of Asia (SOA), said that Europe is a potential market that is the target of many countries. Vietnam is the one of the important trade partners of Europe with outstanding advantages thanks to the EVFTA. By the end of 2020, four months after the deal took effect, Vietnam's exports to the EU saw positive signs despite impacts from COVID-19.

Vietnam's exports to Europe reached 42 billion USD, he noted, adding that the figure has accounted for only 2 percent of the total import value of the EU, showing that there is large room for Vietnamese goods to penetrate into the market.

He said that European consumers are paying greater attention to sustainability, including the origin trace, social responsibility and environmental protection.

In that context, Vietnamese exporters should assess the sustainability of their products and the regulations in the market, thus designing strategies to adjust the supply chain to suit international standards and rules, he suggested.

Huynh Thanh Trung, Director of LeanWares Company, said that Vietnamese enterprises have seen limitations in high added value stages such as designing, development research and marketing.

He said that Vietnamese businesses should focus on building standardised factories, while controlling the supply chain in an effective manner to meet the demands of the European market.

Do Van Huy, Manager of the Shire Oak International project in Vietnam, said that European consumers care a lot about the environment and climate change, and prioritise products produced with green energy.

Dinh Thi Tuyet Nhung, SOA’s international market development team leader, held that the similarity of successful enterprises such as Vinamilk, Viettel and Kova is focusing on their product quality right from the stage of developing the domestic market. Once winning the home market, they started studying and approaching foreign markets, she said./.

Retail sales, service revenue hit 73.5 billion USD in four months

The total retail sales and service revenue surged 10.02 percent year-on-year to 1.695 quadrillion VND (over 73.5 billion USD) in the first four months of 2021, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT).

Retail sales of goods in the January-April period were estimated at over 1,352.7 trillion VND, up 9.8 percent against the same period last year.

Increases were seen in the sales of textiles (up 11.8 percent), food and foodstuff (up 11.5 percent), vehicles (up 11.1 percent), and cultural and education products (up 9.5 percent).

Revenues from accommodation and catering services in the four-month period was estimated at 164.5 trillion VND, up 10.1 percent year-on-year./.

1.14 billion USD raised from G-bonds in April

The State Treasury raised more than 26.3 trillion VND (over 1.14 billion USD) worth of Government bonds (G-bonds) via 16 auctions on the Hanoi Stock Exchange (HNX) in April.

The figure was 215 percent higher than March’s.

Compared to the previous month, interest rates of bonds in successful bids expanded on the maturities of 5 years, 10 years and 15 years, with increase ranging from 0.05 – 0.06 percent each maturity, while those of 20 years and 30 years remained.

On the secondary G-bond market, the average trading value in the month reached nearly 9.79 trillion VND per session, down 5.99 percent month-on-month.

The total outright purchases of G-bonds hit over 1 billion bonds valued at 116.6 trillion VND.

Meanwhile, the total volume traded via repos exceeded 742 million bonds, worth more than 79.1 trillion VND, up 10.17 percent from the previous month.

Foreign investors made purchases of over 2.34 trillion VND, and outright sales of close to 1.63 trillion VND./.

Vietnamese meat exports to RoK market enjoy surge

Vietnam’s exports of meat and meat products to the Republic of Korea (RoK) in February witnessed robust growth due to increasing demand, according to statistics released by the Ministry of Industry and Trade..

February saw the country rake in US$1.34 million from shipping meat and meat products to the RoK market, representing an increase of 197.9% over January, as well as marking an annual rise of 256.5%.

As a result, the RoK made up 19.3% of Vietnam’s total meat export value in February, the highest export rate for Vietnamese livestock products to this market.

Major export items throughout February include frozen chicken and duck feet which account for 77.3% of the country’s total export value of livestock products to the RoK.

During the two-month period, the RoK increased its imports of poultry products to compensate the domestic supply source which has been negatively impacted by avian flu since the end of last year.

Veitnam also exported other products such as frog meat and processed meat to the RoK market. 

Travel companies face tough times as tours face mass cancellations

Many travel companies in Vietnam are seeing an increasing number of cancellations for summer holiday tours amid fears of a new Covid-19 outbreak.

A woman in Hanoi, Hoai Thu said she wanted to take her children to Danang but news about Covid-19 cases found in several provinces, including Danang on May 3, worried her. Thu then cancelled the tour despite having paid VND10m (USD434).

In HCM City, many tours for the Reunification Holiday have ended, some longer tours will end in one or two more days. Most of the customers called to cancel tours for the summer holiday from May to July.

Pham Quy Huy, director of Kiwi Travel, said 80% of their tours had been cancelled and some other tours were postponed. This would pose difficulties because of many pre-arranged services and contracts. The company would lose about VND1bn (USD43,300).

Nguyen Minh Man, PR director of TST Tourist, also shared the same difficulties.

"We actually got used to not rolling out new tours when there was an outbreak but the current situation worries us. We have to carefully prepare amid the pandemic and have plans for different scenarios to boost business in third and final quarters," he said.

Tran Doan The Duy, director of Vietravel, said they immediately removed tours to Ha Nam when an outbreak was detected there. They haven't received any directives from the authorities about suspending tours so they still issue a surcharge for customers when they cancel tours in accordance to the contract.

"We have replaced different destinations in tours to Ha Nam, Hanoi or Yen Bai to ensure a safe trip for tourists. The tourists have to fill in the medical declaration forms and our vehicles are disinfected frequently," he said.

Tran Thi Bao Thu from Fiditour-Vietluxtour said they were following the situation to have suitable plans. Each customer was given a face mask and hand wash. Their guides were asked to not lead tourists to crowded places.

"We surveyed the sites carefully and collaborated with accommodation facilities to make sure that all preventive measures are followed," she said.

Lack of legal corridor results in stagnant renovation of old apartments

Time has taken its toll on old buildings in Ho Chi Minh City and most of them have fallen into disrepair.

Residents living in fear in such dilapidated old apartments. Despite governments’ efforts to renovate these old buildings, lack of legal corridors resulted in a stagnant renovation of old apartments.

Vinh Hoi apartment building in District 4 is classified at level D, the dangerous level. The outer walls of the 4-story high building are covered with thick moss. More dangerous, over time, the ceilings of the apartments have been damaged, revealing concrete and steel.

According to the owner of apartment A18, from the end of 2018 till the middle of 2019, the district administration has called for investors to participate in the construction project and planned for resettlement; however, the coronavirus pandemic 19 stopped the plan.

Truc Giang apartment building, which is ranked level D, suffers the same fate. The apartment building is empty because residents have moved to new places; yet, three families still refused to move to other places because they said their new residence is too far from the workplace.

The city is now home to 474 apartment buildings, which were built before 1975 and only 10 of them have been rebuilt. The others, such as Nguyen Thien Thuat in District 3, Vien Dong in District 5, Ngo Gia Tu and An Quang in District 10, and Thanh Da in Binh Thanh District, have seriously deteriorated, threatening the safety of residents and damaging the city’s landscapes.

According to the People’s Committee in District 4, three apartment buildings in the district ranked level D were built before 1975. Most of the residents in apartment Nguyen Tat Thanh agreed to move to new residences; however, the local administrators have not failed to choose investors.

Three families in Truc Giang refused to relocate in Phu Tho apartment in District 11. Governments have repaired Tan My apartment in District 7 as a temporary residency for residents in Vinh Hoi apartment which is being under construction.

The renovation of the old apartment building has bumped into barriers although it is prescribed by law. For instance, the five-story Truc Giang Apartment has a land area of 843 square meters with 123 apartments each from 10-30 square meters.

District 4 People's Committee has repeatedly invited investors to participate in renovation and reconstruction projects, but because of the small land area, investors will not make a profit.

According to the Department of Construction, there exist many inadequate regulations on renovating and building old apartment buildings.

For example, the current regulations on compensation, assistance, temporary resettlement and resettlement are no longer appropriate.

Moreover, there has been no consensus on the exemption or reduction of land use fees and financial obligations arising from the adjustment of increasing planning and architectural indicators.

The People's Committee of Ho Chi Minh City has authorized people's committees in districts to renovate the old apartment building, but during the process, district administrations have encountered many problems related to the current legal system; therefore, they had no choice but report to the People's Committee for further guidelines.

In addition, in early 2021, the People's Committee of Ho Chi Minh City has submitted amendments and supplements to the Decree 101/2015 on renovating and rebuilding old condominiums to the Ministry of Construction but the city is still waiting for approval.

National strategy built for digital economy, society development

The Prime Minister has ordered the building of a national strategy on developing a digital economy and digital society to be completed in August.

The Ministry of Information and Communications has been tasked with the mission.

Vietnam last year began its national digital transformation programme focused on a “digital government, digital economy and digital society”.

Under the programme by 2030, the country will adopt new technologies and models, completely overhaul the way the Government operates, updates business operations, changes the work style of citizens, and creates a safe, secure and humane digital environment.

The digital economy is projected to produce 20 percent of the country’s GDP in the near future, with at least 10 percent of each economic sector part of the digital economy, while annual labour productivity will likely increase at least 7 percent.

 

Experts said the country is set to be among the top 50 countries in the information and communication technology development index within the next five years./.

Vietnam should continue support for vulnerable groups: IMF official

Vietnam will record positive economic growth in 2021, at around 6-7 percent, if the country continue support for vulnerable groups in the economy, as well as the freshly-rolled out vaccination campaign, said Jonathan Ostry, Deputy Director of the Asia and Pacific Department of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The Southeast Asian country needs to lay a foundation for strong growth in the mid-term, including ensuring sufficient revenue resources for infrastructure development and implementation of public investment, he stressed.

It is necessary for the nation to ensure a resilient financial system, and continue efforts to better the investment climate, Ostry added.

Regarding a plan that is being drafted by the Vietnamese Government to assist enterprises during the pandemic, the IMF official held that the country’s fiscal policy should be loosened to support economic activities, and limit negative impacts from the pandemic.

Policy adjustments depend largely on the speed of economic recovery at the global level, which is undergoing a lot of uncertainties, he said.

Pointing out weak uptake of tax deferrals in Vietnam, particularly in the hardest-hit sectors of the economy, the IMF recommended introduction of temporary corporate income tax (CIT) loss-carry backwards to improve firms’ cash flows, better targeting of temporary CIT reductions to benefit distressed but viable small-and medium-sized enterprises, and introduction of temporary provisions for accelerated depreciation or investment tax credits to lower to user cost of capital and encourage investment.

He moved to underscore that Vietnam’s economic growth story in the past three decades is notable since it is sustainable and inclusive growth that helps improve local livelihoods.

Thanks to market-oriented reforms which enable improvements in the business climate, and attraction of huge amount of FDI flows, Vietnam has risen from being in the group of the world’s poorest country to gaining the “middle-income” status.

The country should work more to better the business environment and ensure an equal playground, he said, adding this includes reforms geared towards simplifying and reducing the regulatory burden for domestic firms, easing entry costs for enterprises, continued reform of state-owned firms, and enhancing good governance.

Additionally, he suggested Vietnam enhance human capital and technology access to boost labour productivity, which facilitate investments in more complicated products that can gain better competitive edge in the international market./.

Textile & garment exports maintain growth momentum

The domestic textile and apparel industry has maintained its growth momentum with four-month export turnover increasing by 13.33% to US$11.747 billion compared to the same period from last year, according to data released by the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (VITAS).

Of the overall figure, garments accounted for the largest proportion with US$8,766 billion, followed by fiber with US$1,638 billion, and fabric with US$740 million.

The United States, Europe, and Japan continue to be the major consumption markets for Vietnamese garments and textiles, and several local firms have secured orders until the end of the year.

By sustaining steady growth, Vu Duc Giang, chairman of the VITAS, expresses his optimism that the set export target of US$39 billion can be achieved this year.

According to industry experts, the country’s garments and textiles enjoy a competitive advantage in several major markets, including the EU and the US, whilst the export prices of cotton T-shirts remain higher than the same types of items made in other regional countries such as Bangladesh.

However, several businesses point out that although production has bounced back following a hit caused by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), their export revenues have yet to reach previous highs.

The decline in export turnover can largely be attributed to the fact that some companies like Garment 10 have received a number of orders at lower prices of outsourcing compared to 2019.

Meanwhile, a representative of Hue Textile and Garment Joint Stock Company expresses his worry that the second quarter of this year would be a difficult period for the garment sector as it coincides with the transition period between seasons. This period often sees sharp price fluctuations, changes in the structure of orders, product types, and declining percentage of free-on-board (FOB) orders.

Amid the complex nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, the garment sector is anticipated to be impacted by global trends, including market volatility and fluctuations.

The VITAS has therefore advised local businesses to closely monitor market changes, adjust production strategies, and seek new orders, while simultaneously making efforts to utilise green solutions in production towards sustainable development.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Industry and Trade will continue promoting exports by optimising opportunities brought by free trade agreements (FTAs), diversifying export and import markets, along with improving the competitiveness of export products and developing trademarks.

Kien Giang rolls out measures to attract visitors

The Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang has called on local travel companies to actively implement promotional programmes and plans to lure tourists now that COVID-19 has been largely brought under control.

The province’s major orientations are to connect tourism development with the facilitation of the trade and service sectors, thus increasing sales of domestic products.

It will promote itself as a safe, friendly, and attractive destination for sea and island tourism.

According to Director of the provincial Department of Tourism Bui Quoc Thai, Kien Giang will focus on markets where COVID-19 has been controlled when detailing its roadmap for re-opening to foreign tourists.

As Kien Giang and the province’s Phu Quoc Island have remained safe, without any community infections being recorded, the locality has seen a quick recovery in the number of visitors after each COVID-19 outbreak, he said.

In the first quarter of 2021, Kien Giang welcomed nearly 1.2 million visitors, down 32.9 percent year-on-year and representing 16.8 percent of its annual target, with total revenue standing at about 1.56 trillion VND (67.6 million USD).

Kien Giang has attracted 325 tourism projects to date worth nearly 356 trillion VND, covering a total area of 10,120 ha, primarily on Phu Quoc.

President of the Kien Giang Tourism Association Tran Quoc Khanh said that during the upcoming Liberation Day (April 30) and May Day (May 1) holiday, Kien Giang and Phu Quoc in particular are set to welcome a large number of visitors.

Provincial authorities have asked localities and local travel companies to strictly implement pandemic preventive measures in line with guidance from the Ministry of Health.

Kien Giang is working with relevant agencies on the provision of “closed tourism packages” - in which guests generally stay at one destination with little travelling - for Russian visitors arriving on charter flights.

Thai said the locality will continue to also appeal to Vietnamese holidaymakers as well as foreigners living in the country.

The province aims to welcome 7 million visitors and earn 11.5 trillion VND from tourism this year.

Along with fostering links with northwestern, northern, and Central Highlands localities, Kien Giang will also focus on preparing infrastructure for tourism, while offering promotional programmes to attract more visitors, Thai said./.

FTA providing impetus for Vietnam - Chile trade

Despite there being no commitments on services and investment in the Vietnam - Chile Free Trade Agreement (FTA), the pact has nonetheless been a boost to trade and economic ties between the two countries.

The view was shared at the fourth meeting of the Vietnam - Chile free trade council, which was held online and chaired by Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Do Thang Hai and Vice Minister of Trade at Chile’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Rodrigo Yanez.

According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s European - American Market Department, the two countries have enjoyed robust relations over the years.

Despite the difficulties posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, two-way trade in 2020 topped 1.28 billion USD, up 4.43 percent year-on-year and 2.5-fold higher than the figure recorded in 2013, prior to the FTA coming into effect.

Chile is now one of Vietnam’s four largest trade partners in Latin America, while Vietnam is the largest trade partner of Chile in ASEAN.

Trade in goods in the first four months of this year rose 15.3 percent year-on-year to 401.1 million USD, with Vietnam’s exports standing at 321.3 million USD, up 11.8 percent.

Both sides recognised the efforts made to implement the FTA.

The subcommittee for trade in goods discussed matters regarding tariffs and origin of goods and considered the application of electronic certificates of origin to simplify procedures for exporters in both countries.

Meanwhile, the subcommittee for hygiene and phyto-sanitation worked on import procedures for several agricultural products.

Vietnam has begun risk analysis on Chilean kiwi fruit while the South American country said it will begin analyses of Vietnamese rambutan in July.

Both agreed to step up measures to help Vietnamese and Chilean businesses capitalise on the Vietnam - Chile FTA as well as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), after it is ratified by Chile. The latter agreement will make a significant contribution to bolstering bilateral cooperation in the fields of economy, trade, and investment./.

PV Power rated “Positive” by Fitch Ratings

Credit ratings agency Fitch Ratings has for the first time assigned the PetroVietnam Power Corporation (PV Power) a Long-Term Foreign-Currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) of “BB” with a positive outlook.

The rating is on par with that of Vietnam and major groups such as the Vietnam National Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam) and Vietnam Electricity (EVN).

PV Power is the first Vietnamese power producer and the first unit of PetroVietnam to be assigned an international credit rating.

Despite the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic last year and in the opening months of 2021, PV Power still stably, safely, and effectively operated its power plants and fulfilled its targets.

Total output of commercial electricity reached 19.166 billion kWh last year, or 103 percent of the plan. The company earned over 30.2 trillion VND (1.31 billion USD) in revenue and posted more than 2.87 trillion VND in pre-tax profit, or 107 percent and 120 percent of the targets, respectively. Its contribution to the State budget exceeded 1.68 trillion VND, or 118 percent of the plan. 

Its pre-tax profit stood at 720 billion VND in the first quarter of this year, or 106 percent of the plan.

With this rating from Fitch, it is expected that PV Power will have greater capacity to raise capital in the international market./.

2021 Top Thai Brands expo kicks off in HCM City

The 2021 Top Thai Brands expo opened at the Sai Gon Exhibition and Convention Centre in Ho Chi Minh City on May 6.

The annual event is among the largest trade expos showcasing Thai products in Vietnam.

Director of the Thai Department of International Trade Promotion’s HCM City Office Suparporn Sookmark said preventive measures are in place as the expo is held amid complexities of the COVID-19 pandemic.

She voiced a hope that firms, manufacturers and distributors can make use of the opportunities brought by the event to bolster trade between Thailand and Vietnam in the coming time.

Top Thai Brands expo is being held as an in-person and online event which features products of more than 50 businesses, including food and beverages, health and beauty products, household products, textiles and garments, among others.

It will run until May 9.

Exhibitors are also seeking partners for trade and network expansion.

According to Thai Consul General in HCM City Apirat Sugondhabhirom, over 200 Thai companies are operating in Vietnam./.

Vietnam, Cambodia lift trade ties

Minister of Industry and Trade Nguyen Hong Dien held a working session with Cambodian Ambassador to Vietnam Chay Navuth in Hanoi on May 6 to discuss measures to strengthen bilateral ties across trade, industry and energy.

Dien expressed his belief that under the leadership of the Cambodian Government and with prevention and control measures, Cambodia will soon wipe out COVID-19 pandemic and restore its economy.

On the occasion, he presented 10,000 anti-bacteria clothing masks to the Cambodian Embassy in Vietnam, and 10,000 others to each of the Cambodian Ministry of Commerce; Ministry of Industry, Science, Technology and Innovation; and the Ministry of Mines and Energy.

Both sides spoke highly of bilateral trade ties over the past years, with an annual growth of around 18 percent during 2010-2019.

Last year, two-way trade tripled from 2010. In 2019, it reached 5.2 billion USD, surpassing the target of 5 billion USD. They expressed their belief that the figure will grow more strongly in the near future.

The two sides agreed to maintain and renovate customs clearance model at border gates on roads and waterways, ensuring that the supply chain will not be disrupted, especially for necessities such as medical and food supplies, amid the pandemic.

At the same time, they will review, revise and sign legal frameworks related to trade, especially an agreement between the two Governments to step up bilateral trade for the 2022-2023 period.

They vowed to accelerate the implementation of a master plan to carry out the Memorandum of Understanding on connectivity and development of border trade infrastructure between the two governments.

Further support will be offered to firms to promote trade, build trademarks and distribution channels, enhance information sharing, fight against smuggling across the border, enhance power purchase partnership, and ensure the stability and safety of each nation’s electricity system.

Concluding the event, Dien affirmed that the Ministry of Industry and Trade is ready to work with the Cambodian Embassy and other units to lift Vietnam – Cambodia relations in the near future.

The ministry’s Department of Asian-African Markets reported that two-way trade reached 2.69 billion USD in the first quarter of this year, up 103.68 percent annually. Of the figure, Vietnam’s exports to Cambodia rose by 15.83 percent year-on-year to 1.22 billion USD, mostly iron and steel up 20.8 percent, apparel 15.5 percent, oil and gas 18.4 percent, apparel and footwear materials 10.6 percent.

Meanwhile, imports from Cambodia soared by 443 percent annually to 1.47 billion USD, including cashew nuts 711 million USD, up 497 percent; rubber 318.3 million USD, up 999 percent; vegetables 13.3 million USD, up 48.2 percent, iron and steel scraps 10.7 million USD, up 216.7 percent./.

Transport minister supports construction of Ring Road No.4

Minister of Transport Nguyen Van The has expressed support for the construction of Ring Road No.4 because it is of the utmost importance, linking Hanoi with nearby provinces.

During a conference held in Hanoi on May 6, The asked Hanoi and related provinces namely Vinh Phuc, Hung Yen, Bac Ninh and Bac Giang to speed up the implementation of the project to ease traffic pressure on Ring Road No.3.

The project is expected to not only ease traffic overload, expand development resources, connectivity and trade in goods among localities in the Hanoi Capital Region and the northern key economic region, but also help Hanoi and the provinces gradually perfect transportation systems as planned, making it easier for them to step up socio-economic development in both urban and rural areas, said Secretary of the Hanoi Party Committee Dinh Tien Dung.

Vice Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Duong Duc Tuan highlighted the development of the Hanoi Capital Region’s framework transportation network to carry passengers and goods over the past years, including seven expressways namely Hanoi – Lao Cai, Hoa Lac – Hoa Binh, Hanoi – Thai Nguyen, Hanoi – Hai Phong, Cau Gie - Ninh Binh, Thang Long Boulevard and Noi Bai – Bac Ninh, as well as the renovation and expansion of Noi Bai International Airport.

Tuan stressed that the Master Plan on Hanoi Capital Region set Ring Roads No.4 and No.5 as two important routes for regional connectivity.

In order to build Ring Road No.4, which will pass through 14 districts of the localities with a total length of around 98km, he asked the Transport Ministry and the provinces of Hung Yen, Bac Ninh, Vinh Phuc and Bac Giang to offer feedback on the project to report to the Prime Minister.

About capital structure, he suggested allocating around 25 trillion VND (1.08 billion USD) from the State budget to Hanoi, Hung Yen and Bac Ninh. The localities must earmark 50 trillion VND each from their budgets, and the remaining will be from build-operate-transfer (BOT) investors./.

Binh Duong works hard on infrastructure development, administrative reform

The southern province of Binh Duong will concentrate on promoting infrastructure development and administrative reform, which are considered as two key pillars in creating breakthroughs in socio-economic development.

Addressing a meeting of the provincial 11th Party Committee, Secretary of the provincial Party Committee Tran Van Nam said Binh Duong has basically completed the dual goals of COVID-19 prevention and socio-economic recovery and development.

The province’s industrial production index in the first quarter of 2021 was estimated to have increased 6.9 percent year-on-year. Some 255 new businesses were also established.

Its export turnover stood at 7.7 billion USD, while its import value was 5.6 billion, up 30.4 percent and 20 percent compared to the same period last year, respectively, resulting in a trade surplus of nearly 2.1 billion USD.

As of March 31, Binh Duong had attracted nearly 30.8 trillion VND (1.34 billion USD) in domestic investment and 468 million USD in foreign direct investment, increases of 50 percent and 59 percent year-on-year, respectively.

Nam said the province will continue to accelerate site clearance and compensation and roll out specific measures to remove difficulties facing the locality in compiling planning for land use and urban and smart city development.

It will also work on speeding up the construction of roads and overpasses and tightening the management of the real estate sector, he added./.

Hai Duong prepares to introduce Thieu litchi on e-commerce platforms

Authorities of the northern province of Hai Duong are carrying out necessary procedures to offer from 5-10 products meeting standards in the “One Commune - One Product” (OCOP) programme, including Thieu litchi, for sales on e-commerce platforms before May 18.

The province will sell the products on Alibaba.com, Voso.vn, Sendo.vn, and Lazada.vn.

As part of activities to implement the plan, the provincial Department of Agriculture in conjunction with the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Trade Promotion Agency (Vietrade) held a training programme on traceability of origin and trade promotion on e-commercial floors in both the online and face-to-face forms on May 6.

The course, which was joined by around 120 participants from local agricultural service cooperatives and producers of OCOP products, aims to help further promote Thieu litchi and OCOP products of the province.

Nguyen Thi Minh Thuy, Director of Vietrade’s centre for IT application said her agency is committed to supporting businesses to implement successfully the plan.

Deputy Director of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development said through the programme, the agriculture sector hopes to help individuals and organisations to understand more about the processes of origin traceability and transaction when joining e-commerce platforms, thus expanding markets for local agricultural products.

Hai Duong’s Thieu litchi has conquered many fastidious markets such as the US, Australia, the European Union (EU), Japan and Singapore.

Last year, the province’s litchi production yield reached an estimated 43,000 tonnes worth 1.16 trillion VND (nearly 50.4 million USD), including 20,000 tonnes of Thieu litchi. 50 percent of the total output was exported.

In 2021, Hai Duong plans to harvest 55,000 tonnes of litchi, with 50 percent of the total to be exported to China, and about 5-7 percent to fastidious markets./.

Coastal province aims to be centre for shrimp seed production

The south – central province of Ninh Thuận targets becoming Việt Nam's centre for high-quality shrimp seed production by 2030.

The coastal province has already attracted many large companies and groups that have invested in concentrated aquatic seed production areas.

Nguyễn Khắc Lâm, deputy director of the province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that three concentrated areas produce aquatic seeds with a combined area of 265ha.

The 125-ha An Hải in Ninh Phước District is the province’s largest concentrated aquatic seed production area, followed by the 100-ha Nhơn Hải area in Ninh Hải District.  

The Nhơn Hải area has the largest production scale and aquatic seed output in the province.

The 40-ha Sơn Hải area is zoned for producing disease – free parent shrimp that produce shrimp seeds for breeding. It is the country’s only concentrated area that produces parent shrimp.

Shrimp seed is one of the province’s 12 specifically identified agricultural products. It has received high marks for quality from other provinces and cities.

The production of shrimp seeds has increased year by year and has exceeded the target each year, according to the department. The province produced 42.6 billion shrimp seeds last year, up 4.1 times against 2010. 

The province supplies about 35 per cent of the country’s shrimp seed demand. “The province sells the remaining shrimp seed output to provinces and cities nationwide,” he said.

The province accounts for only 5 – 10 per cent of its shrimp seed output. The black-tiger shrimp seeds are sold mostly to the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta, while its white - legged shrimp seeds are sold mostly to coastal provinces and cities.

The shrimp seeds are strictly inspected for disease before they are sold to other provinces and cities. 

Seed production plan

Under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s plan to develop the shrimp industry to 2030, the country will have to produce 250 – 300 billion shrimp seeds a year by 2030, according to the ministry’s Directorate of Fisheries.

Under the plan, Ninh Thuận alone will have to produce 50 – 60 billion shrimp seeds.

With its investment in shrimp breeding infrastructure and the use of advanced techniques by shrimp-seed producing companies, the province plans to gradually restructure production and increase the quality and output of shrimp seeds.

The province aims to have 10 per cent of each of its shrimp seed production establishments producing 500 million seeds a year by 2025.

It targets producing a total of 50 billion high-quality shrimp seeds by 2025 and 60 billion high-quality shrimp seeds by 2030.

The goal is to have all seed production establishments inspected for disease safety by 2030.

It also targets having enough parent shrimp to produce seeds for black tiger shrimp and white - legged shrimp, two major shrimp varieties bred in the country.

Võ Văn Nha, deputy head of the ministry’s Aquaculture Research Institute No 3, said the targets of 50 – 60 billion shrimp seeds a year in the 2025 – 30 period is feasible.

“The important thing is that the province should give priority to investing in infrastructure and restructuring shrimp seed production establishments, and use advanced techniques and protect the environment,” he said.

Ninh Thuận has 450 shrimp seed production establishments, accounting for more than 22 per cent of such establishments in the country, according to the Directorate of Fisheries.

However, the number of small and medium – size establishments accounts for up to 80 per cent of the province’s total shrimp seed production establishments.

The use of advanced techniques is still low, while high-quality parent shrimp must be imported.

To meet the targets, the provincial People’s Committee has told the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to invest in infrastructure for the three concentrated aquatic seed production areas.

It also told the department to invest in infrastructure in the 125-ha An Hải concentrated aquatic seed production area and to expand the area to more than 200ha.

The plan, which will invest VNĐ189 billion (US$8.2 million) in An Hải, is expected to attract companies with sufficient financial and technological capacity to invest in areas producing high-quality aquatic seeds.

The department is also planning to upgrade the Nhơn Hải concentrated aquatic seed production area. The plan, which will cost about VNĐ155 billion ($6.7 million), will invest in infrastructure for transport, electricity and water supply, and waste water treatment.

The province also aims to improve the State's management of the quality of aquatic seeds and services related to aquatic seed production, and will strengthen co-operation among stakeholders in aquatic seed production and promote markets for aquatic seeds.

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

VIETNAM BUSINESS NEWS MAY 6

VIETNAM BUSINESS NEWS MAY 6

Vietnam’s production rises at fastest pace since Nov 2018