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Vietnam exported 5.56 million tonnes of rice and brought home 2.43 billion USD in the first 10 months of 2019, up 6.1 percent in volume but down 9.1 percent in value over the same period last year, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).

The Philippines was the largest market of Vietnamese rice with 35 percent of the market share. The country spent 733.8 million USD to purchase 1.89 million tonnes of rice from Vietnam in the first nine months of this year, 2.9 times higher in volume and 2.6 times in value over the same period last year.

According to the ministry, downward rice prices, which sometimes hit the bottom in 12 years, were the major reason behind the fall in rice export revenue in the period.

On the average, rice price in the first nine months of this year was 435.6 USD per tonne, a drop of 13.4 percent year on year.

According to Tran Cong Thang, head of the Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development, Vietnam has faced difficulties in exporting rice to China as the neighbouring country has seen high rice stockpile and looked to diversify its suppliers.

In many years, Vietnam’s rice export to China remained stable at 2 million tonnes per year with value of about 900 million USD. But since 2018, the figures dropped considerably.

Due to stricter regulations on Vietnamese farm produce, only 20 Vietnamese firms have been qualified to export rice to China.

Meanwhile, Vietnamese exporters have faced fiercer competition in the market where requests for rice export permission from 40 Cambodian firms are being considered.

Thang also noted that a lack of new contracts and decreasing demand of the Philippines have posed pressure on Vietnamese rice prices.

At the same time, Indonesia has announced that it will prioritise Indian products, including basmati rice.

Amidst the situation, Nguyen Quoc Toan, head of the Agro Processing and Market Development Authority (Agrotrade) asserted that it is necessary to remove obstacles in export to China, while promoting other markets such as the Philippines and African countries.

The Import-Export Agency under the Ministry of Industry and Trade revealed that it has invited Chinese importers to Vietnam to seek partnership with their Vietnamese peers as part of rice trading promotion activities.

MARD Minister Nguyen Xuan Cuong stressed the need to explore new markets, especially Africa and the ASEAN, and produce products to suit these markets.

He said that 500,000 hectares of rice fields will be converted into aquatic and fruit farms.

He also underlined the need to develop processing and enhance rice value chain./.

Vietnamese goods fair in Melbourne to be held this month

A Vietnamese goods fair will be held by the HCM City People’s Committee in Melbourne, Australia from November 26 – 28, featuring 34 exhibitors from both countries.

The 50-booth fair will take place at Pullman Hotel Melbourne Albert Park to showcase HCM City’s 11 groups of key products.

The fair aims to introduce HCM City’s best products and services to consumers in Melbourne and to create a platform for business networking between companies of both sides, he said. “In return, we are also welcoming products from Melbourne and Victoria State to HCM City,” he added.

Currently, Australia is Vietnam’s eighth largest trade partner and HCM City’s 18th biggest investor with 197 FDI projects in the southern hub.

Trade between HCM City and Australia has been on the rise since the ASEAN – Australia – New Zealand Free Trade Area (AANZFTA) took effect in 2010. Last year, two-way trade totalled nearly 979 million USD with exports from HCM City growing 2.72 percent from 2017 to 578.5 million USD.

HCM City mainly exports computers, electronics and parts, textile and garment, footwear and machinery to Australia.

The city plans to organise a variety of activities and events on the sidelines of the fair to beef up friendship and cooperation between the two sides. A highlight will be a seminar on potential of the Australian market and opportunities for Vietnamese products, expected to gather about 100 – 120 firms from both sides.

The city’s leaders will also review the progress of the opening of a HCM City trade and investment promotion centre in Melbourne and meet Vietnamese and Australian business leaders./.

10-month tea export revenue up more than 14 percent

Vietnam exported 107,000 tonnes of tea valued at 187 million USD during January-October, up 3.2 percent in volume and 14.3 percent in value year-on-year.

In October alone, the country shipped abroad 13,000 tonnes of tea worth 22 million USD, the Agro Processing and Market Development Authority (Agrotrade) reported.

Pakistan, Taiwan, China and Russia remained Vietnam’s major markets in the 10 months, making up 72.5 percent of total tea export revenue, said the agency.

Pakistan contributed significantly to the increase as with a 30.6 percent increase in the volume of tea it imported from Vietnam.

Between 2014 and 2018, tea import value of Pakistan and Taiwan expanded 14.9 percent and 6.5 percent, respectively, each year.

Pakistan has been seen as a promising market as Vietnamese tea made up only 2.2 percent of the country’s market share in 2018. Meanwhile, the South Asian country consumes 172,900 tonnes of black tea each year, and the number is forecast to reach 250,750 tonnes in 2027, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

Currently, Vietnam ranks seventh in tea production and fifth in tea exports globally, with its tea products present in more than 60 markets.

Last year, the country earned 219 million USD from exporting 128,000 tonnes of tea.

Notably the country houses 18,000 ha of shan tuyet tea, which is grown only in mountainous areas without chemical fertilisers or pesticides.

Each tonne of Vietnamese tea is exported for 1,757 USD, up 6.3 percent as compared with 2018. The price of shan tuyet tea, which is known for its pleasant flavour and fragrance, is much higher, ranging from 50,000 USD to 100,000 USD per tonne.

Organic shan tuyet tea of Ban Lien commune, Bac Ha district, the northern mountainous province of Ha Giang, is regarded as a promising export item.

Up to 474 of more than 500 ha of shan tuyet tea in Ban Lien has been recognised as organic. In 2017, Bac Ha’s shan tuyet tea received a licence for brand name registration.

Last year, Ban Lien Cooperative exported 80 tonnes of organic shan tuyet tea to picky markets like Europe, the US, Canada and Japan for 100 USD per kg. In the first 10 months, the volume stood at 75 tonnes.

Over the years, Ha Giang has issued policies to promote shan tuyet tea production and consumption.

In August 2018, the Intellectual Property Office of Vietnam issued a decision to licence geographical indication registration in 44 communes of Ha Giang’s six districts.

Hoang Su Phi district is home to 4,600 ha of tea with an annual output of 12,880 tonnes. The area of ancient shan tuyet tea stands at 2,000 ha, yielding more than 6,000 tonnes annually.

A total of 1,470 ha of tea in Hoang Su Phi have been recognised as organic, of which 161 ha have satisfied standards set by the European Union.

Dang Thi Phuong, Vice Chairwoman of the People’s Committee of Vi Xuyen district said Cao Bo De commune has delivered about 200 tonnes of tea each year to six countries, including China, Belgium, Russia and Turkey.

Nguyen Thi Anh Hong, Vice President of the Vietnam Tea Association, said with the support of the French Development Agency, the association has held various activities to promote shan tuyet tea globally.

A delegation of Vietnamese businesses attended the Tea Village fair in Paris from September 27-29, she said, stressing that with efforts of the association, local authorities and enterprises, exports of shan tuyet tea are expected to grow robustly./.

Toyoda Gosei to build another airbag factory in Vietnam

Toyoda Gosei Co. Ltd. of Japan has announced that it will increase its production of airbag in Vietnam by 1.5 times to meet the increasing demand in the world.

As planned, Toyoda Gosei will build a new plant in the northern province of Thai Binh with a total investment of 1.8 billion JPY (16.8 million USD).

Construction of the plant is expected to start in May 2020. Once put into operation in October 2021, the new factory will help increase the company’s total airbag production output in Vietnam to 25 million units, 1.5 times higher than the figure in 2018.

The plant will employ 2,000 workers by the end of 2023.

In the time to come, Toyoda Gosei will increase the capacity at its factory in Hai Phong to meet increasing orders. Airbags produced in Vietnam will be exported mainly to Japan and partly to other markets such as ASEAN or North America.

Currently, Japanese automakers are increasing orders for airbags, causing Toyoda Gosei to quickly decide to increase its capacity to meet the demand.

According to the company’s medium-term business plan to 2025, Toyoda Gosei will focus on producing safety devices for cars, in which the airbag production output will reach 100 million units by 2023, 1.6 times higher than in 2018.

Established in 1949, Toyoda Gosei is a leading manufacturer of car components and accessories in Japan. The firm owns 67 factories in 17 countries around the world./.

Matsumotokiyoshi to set up joint venture in Vietnam

Japanese drugstore operator Matsumotokiyoshi Holdings Co. has announced its plan to set up a joint venture in Vietnam to operate and develop the MatsuKiyo drug and cosmetics shop chain in the Southeast Asian country.

The firm signed a joint venture agreement with Vietnam’s Lotus Food Group Joint Stock Co. in July to form Matsumoto Kiyoshi Vietnam Joint Stock Co. in Ho Chi Minh City, which will be officially established in February 2020.

Capitalised with 31.5 billion VND (1.36 million USD), the local unit is 51 percent owned by Matsumotokiyoshi, 48.87 percent by Lotus Food Group, and 0.13 percent by Le Van May, president and CEO of the local partner.

With the formation of the joint venture, the Japanese firm aims to expand its network to newly-emerged markets in Asia, including Vietnam where the cosmetics market was valued at about 2.3 billion USD at the end of 2018.

As of September 2019, Matsumotokiyoshi had run 34 stores in Thailand, five in Taiwan. It plans to set up more shops in Asia.

Set up in 1932, Matsumotokiyoshi Holdings Co., formerly known as Matsumotokiyoshi Ltd. based in Chiba, has currently managed and operated many drug and cosmetics retail and wholesale companies in Japan./.

Food industry holds great potential for investment attraction

Amidst the expanding agro-forestry-fisheries sector, the food processing industry is expected to grow strongly with great potential for luring more investment, according to experts.

Speaking at a conference on investment promotion conference in the food processing industry in Hanoi on November 14, Hoang Minh Chien, Deputy Director of the Vietnam Trade Promotion Agency, noted that the agro-forestry and aquatic products processing industry has enjoyed an annual growth rate of 5-7 percent in 2013-2018.

As a result, its exports grew by 8-10 percent a year to a record of 40.02 billion USD last year, making Vietnam one of the biggest exporters of agricultural, forestry and aquatic products in the world.

These products are exported to over 180 countries and territories, including demanding markets such as the EU, the US and Japan, he said.
But the sector still has bottlenecks in the production value chain, including low processing technologies and erratic supply of raw materials, he said.

Chien said Vietnam has set an export target of 65-70 billion USD for agricultural, forestry and aquatic products by 2030, but processing technologies should reach at least reasonably advanced levels.

“Therefore, enhancing co-operation with partners who have modern technologies is among the important solutions,” he said.

Dr. Frauke Schmitz-Bauerdick, country manager of the German Trade and Invest in Vietnam (GTAI Vietnam), said that food processing, and by processing adding further value, is an important trend that Vietnamese industry faces right now. Entering food processing is getting even more important in view of the new opportunities that are opening up because of Vietnam’s membership in modern free trade agreements, he said.

Trade will be getting easier, cheaper and possibly faster, but to be competitive in highly developed markets, Vietnam's food industry has to comply with strict food security and quality requirements, she said.

“One crucial aspect of being able to provide high-quality food products is right equipment. Modem machinery, especially in food processing, helps keep food products fresh, healthy and enjoyable.

“Competitive equipment is ultimately a prerequisite for creating internationally competitive food products.”

Le Hong Minh, Director of Vietrade’ s Investment Promotion Centre for Industry and Trade, said foreign investment in the food processing sector is estimated at 11.2 billion USD in 717 projects.

Nguyen Noi, Deputy Director of the Foreign Investment Agency, said foreign investment in the food processing industry remains modest compared to other industries at about 3 percent of total investment.

The country would continue to solicit foreign investment, especially from the US and EU, in the food processing industry, he said.

The Government is also offering incentives to investors, with priority given to projects with advanced and environment-friendly technologies and creating high-added value products, he added./.

Vinalines to sell 24.9 percent stake at Inlaco-HP

The Vietnam National Shipping Lines (Vinalines) is divesting entirely from the International Labour and Services Stock Company (Inlaco-HP), according to the State-run corporation.

Vinalines said it will sell approximately 1.52 million shares, equivalent to 24.9 percent of Inlaco-HP’s total stake, which has face value of 10,000 VND per share. The shares will be auctioned at a starting price of 2,700 VND per share.

Inlaco-HP is among three member companies Vinalines plans to fully divest from by the end of this year. The other two are Tin Nghia Industrial Park Development JSC and Seagull Shipping Company, in which Vinalines holds a 1.15 percent and a 26.46 percent stake, respectively.

Vinalines also aims to reduce its ownership at the Vietnam Ocean Shipping JSC (Vosco) and Vinaship JSC in which Vinalines is the largest shareholder, holding a 51 percent stake. Its ownership will be slashed to 49 percent in the former and 36 percent in the latter.

Vinalines is a State-owned enterprise engaging in shipping, port management, maritime services and logistics in Vietnam and abroad.

Its revenue in the second quarter of 2019 dropped 9 percent year on year to 5.56 trillion VND (239 million USD).

At the end of the quarter, the company posted a loss of 496 billion VND, up 325 percent from the previous year. It attributed the loss to the fact that the company earned less from its dividend payouts and also failed to sell its assets and ships./.

Seminar discusses Vietnam-US trade ties in new context

Trade relations between Vietnam and the US will continue expanding but will also be affected by challenges in the future, heard a seminar in Hanoi last week.

Opening the event, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Cu Chi Loi, Director of the Institute of American Studies under the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences, said since Vietnam-US relations were normalised in 1995, bilateral trade ties have been growing.

The US is a major trade partner of Vietnam, he noted, adding that Vietnam’s shipments to the American market are rising, with the US becoming Vietnam’s biggest importer at present.

Talking about the US foreign policy and its impact on Vietnam, Dr. Nguyen Thi Hai Yen from the Institute of American Studies said the US highly values Vietnam’s role in its Indo-Pacific Strategy as Vietnam has an important geographical and strategic location in the connection of the two oceans.

The administration of US President Donald Trump attaches great importance to enhancing cooperation in politics, diplomacy, economy, defence and security with Vietnam, Yen said.

She added that the Indo-Pacific Strategy will generate many opportunities as well as challenges for Vietnam since competition in the region is entering a new phase that is more complicated, and risks of friction among big countries increases.

Regarding the prospects of Vietnam-US trade relations, Dr. Le Thi Van Nga, another expert from the institute, said bilateral trade ties will keep developing with both exports and imports rising. However, they will be affected by the US’s trade policy that aims to protect domestic producers, as well as by other challenges in the future.

At the seminar, participants stressed the new context is posing considerable challenges to Vietnam during its integration into the world and promotion of economic ties with the US.

Therefore, Vietnam should perfect legal regulations on foreign trade, improve human resources’ capacity, reform production process by importing advanced technologies, and seek new export destinations to reduce dependence on certain large markets, they said./.

Vietnam, Indonesia bolster cooperation in trade, investment

A seminar was held recently in Jakarta, Indonesia, to connect Vietnamese and Indonesian firms, as well as promote bilateral cooperation in the fields of trade, industry and investment.

The event, attracting over 100 businesses from both countries, was jointly organised by the Embassy of Vietnam in Indonesia and the Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade, and the Indonesian Food and Beverage Association (GAPMMI).

Addressing the event, Vietnamese Ambassador to Indonesia Pham Vinh Quang underlined that Vietnam and Indonesia have nurtured a long-standing relationship and reaped outstanding results in economic and trade cooperation in recent years.

However, he pointed out that the results have yet to match potential of both sides.

The diplomat emphasised the role of the business communities of Vietnam and Indonesia in lifting bilateral trade revenue to 10 billion USD in 2020.

Echoing Quang’s view, Ari Satria, Director of Export Product Development under Indonesia’s Directorate General of National Export Development, noted that firms should work to enhance trade and expand market, thereby creating a solid foundation for the development of the countries’ business community and the Indonesia-Vietnam economic and trade cooperation in general.

GAPMMI Chairman Adhi S. Lukman said the seminar offers a chance for businesses of Indonesia and Vietnam to meet and discuss cooperation opportunities.

He voiced his hope that similar events will be arranged in the coming time in a bid to facilitate firms to cooperate and expand markets.

Within the framework of the seminar, businesses were updated on demand and policies of the two countries. Vietnamese products were also introduced at the event to bolster exports to the Indonesian market./.

Vietnam, Netherlands boost cooperation in agriculture

Vietnam and the Netherlands are natural partners in agriculture, especially hi-tech agriculture, since they have complementary strengths, experts told a conference in Ho Chi Minh City recently.

Mirjam Boekestijn, Secretary of the Netherlands-Vietnam Horti Business Platform, said agriculture is an important sector in both countries. Vietnam has large areas for farming and favourable conditions for growing a wide variety of crops, while Netherlands has experience in using technology in agriculture.

Despite its limited land for farming, Netherland is the world's second largest agricultural producer due to large investment in infrastructure and technology, which has improved its productivity, she added.

Dinh Minh Hiep, head of the Agricultural Hi-tech Park of HCM City, said Vietnam has great export opportunities through its free trade agreements, but the small, scattered nature of its agriculture and the difficulty in monitoring food safety are problems it faces.

For sustainable development and to improve efficiency and quality, its production needs to be more focused and hi-tech, he said. Thus, hi-tech agriculture is among the top priorities for the city.

 

Both countries have huge potential in the vegetable, flower and fruit segments, and tying up with leading Dutch agriculture businesses will offer Vietnamese businesses a good opportunity to acquire technologies, especially in the areas of cultivar research, harvest, storage, and processing, he said.

Representatives from business to the event said lack of land and resources is a big hurdle to adopting technology in agriculture, and the Government should help businesses in this regard.

The conference was organised by the Agricultural Hi-tech Park of HCM City, Saigon Innovation Hub and The Netherlands Vietnam Horti Business Platform./.

Food producers urged to make efforts to boost exports

Vietnamese food producers need to improve quality, adopt international standards and overcome trade barriers in other countries to boost exports, the Vietnam Food Forum heard in Ho Chi Minh City last week.

Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Do Thang Hai said many multilateral and bilateral free trade agreements the country had signed had opened up plenty of opportunities for Vietnamese companies to boost exports.

Agricultural and food exports had seen good growth in recent years, but firms came up against stringent requirements in many markets.

Vianney Lesaffre of the International Trade Centre said: “There is an increasing trend of applying non-tariff barriers in the international market.

“Non tariff measures (NTMs) are official policy measures, other than ordinary customs tariffs, that can potentially have an effect on international trade in goods, changing volumes traded or prices or both.”

They include technical measures and standards as well as regulations on customs procedures, para-tariff measures, financial measures, prohibition, and others.

The ITC and the Vietnam Trade Promotion Agency (Vietrade) are jointly carrying out an NTM programme to identify the most challenging trade regulations faced by Vietnamese companies, define feasible actions to overcome the obstacles and reduce costs and increase understanding of NTMs and related procedures.

Nguyen Thi Minh Thuy, acting director of Vietrade’s information technology application centre, said besides the NTMs programme Vietrade has also collaborated with the ITC for some other projects such as the ‘Trade for sustainable development (T4SD) hub in Vietnam’ and the ITC SheTrades Initiative that aims to connect three million women entrepreneurs to international markets by 2021.

To boost exports, Vietnamese firms must understand the specific requirements of their target markets, improve marketing strategies and build brands, other delegates said.

Andreas Krey, general director of Germany’s Thuringia State Development Office, said: “German consumers are increasingly fond of Vietnamese products thanks to improving quality.”

He said he saw a lot of opportunities for both sides to bring products to each other’s market and suggested businesses from Germany, especially Thuringia State, and Vietnam should enhance co-operation, for example by creating joint ventures, “to share their experiences in production and quality.”

“It is time to come to Germany because we need your products,” he said./.

Quang Ninh ready to connect with national public service portal

Together with the capital city of Hanoi and the southern economic hub of Ho Chi Minh City, Quang Ninh has become ready to connect with the national public service portal – which will be launched at the end of November 2019.

The northeastern province is one of the leading localities nationwide in building e-government and smart city.

In 2015, Quang Ninh asked the Prime Minister for permission to pilot the operation of public administration centres of the province and 14 localities. This proposal was approved by the Government leader.

In 2016, Quang Ninh began to implement a smart city model project, which applies advanced technologies to develop integrated database for all sectors.

In August 2019, Quang Ninh put into operation a smart city operation centre and the province’s public service portal. The centre connects the database of departments and agencies in all socio-economic and cultural fields. It also connects surveillance camera systems in the province, such as those at road intersections, the provincial public administrative centre and other major public facilities.

The province is working towards offering more online services such as individual e-tax payment and customs procedure completion.

Quang Ninh aims to build Ha Long city – which is home to the world natural heritage site of Ha Long Bay – into a smart city by the end of 2010.

The city will apply technologies in various sectors including health, education, governance, transport, finance-banking and taxation with an aim to provide convenient services to people and businesses.

Five smart-city projects have investment for the 2017-2020 period, including plans to upgrade lighting system, set up online tax collection system and technology application in urban management and improve tourism safety on Ha Long Bay.

According to the municipal People’s Committee, authorities have completed drawing up plans of these projects. Nearly 3,500 Light Emitting Diode (LED) lamps – which help save electricity - have been installed on 18 key roads of the city, while a public lighting controlling centre has been built to supervise the operation of the city’s lighting system.

The city’s Taxation Department has also applied technology in managing electronic bills of businesses, households and individuals. A total 986 out of 3,607 local enterprises have used electronic bills. More than 3,000 units pay tax online.

Ha Long aims to apply electronic bills at 60 percent of local businesses by this year and all by 2020.

The provincial general hospital, Obstetrics and Paediatrics Hospital and Bai Chay Hospital are also using electronic health records.

Patients may use hospital-issued cards that show their personal information and health records to book medical check-up appointments.

Earlier, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc had approved a master plan to develop the city into a world-class tourism and service hub by 2050. Under the plan, Ha Long will be converted into a civilised and friendly sea tourism city with synchronous and modern socio-economic infrastructure systems.

The national public service portal will be set up at a unique address to publicise information regarding administrative procedures and provide public services, ensuring inspection and assessment of individuals and organisations as well as accountability of State agencies.

The launch of the portal aims to improve the quality of public services by State agencies, largely by digitalising the process.

It is also expected to improve Vietnam’s performance in Online Services Index of the E-Government Development Index as rated by the United Nations (UN), and complete institutions for online public service supply, especially online administrative procedures.

The portal will offer at least 30 percent of essential public services of ministries, agencies and localities by 2030, which will increase 20 percent each year towards all public services at the third and fourth levels.

Particularly, with the Simple Single Sign On (SSO) platform, the portal is expected to have 500,000 accounts in 2019, one million in 2020 and at least eight million in 2030./.

HCM City reforms customs procedures

Customs clearance will be conducted right at the wharf in Cat Lai port in Ho Chi Minh City under a project that was officially launched by the municipal Customs Department last week.

The project will help save up to 70 percent of customs clearance time and ease congestion at the port.

Dinh Ngoc Thang, head of the department, said the project demonstrates determination of the southern hub’s customs sector to speed up the reform and modernisation of customs services, towards the goal of cutting 70 percent of customs clearance time thus saving about 5 trillion VND (215.3 million USD) spent on such services each year.

Besides, the project also helps to reduce costs of container storage, freight unloading and infrastructure upgrading, among others, while enabling transportation businesses to maximize their capacity.

The project will first benefit customs agents and 200 selected businesses based on their customs record. Last year, these firms posted a total import value of 21.7 billion USD, making up 38.5 percent of the city’s accumulative import revenue, and tax contribution worth 54.76 trillion VND, accounting for 50.5 percent of the department’s State budget collection./.

Workshop discusses impacts of global changes on Vietnam marine transport

New regulations and development in the global economy will have a strong impact on Vietnamese shipping, a conference held to discuss Vietnam’s Maritime Future heard in Ho Chi Minh City recently.

Organised just ahead of the Asia Pacific Maritime 2020 exhibition and conference, the event, organised by Asia Pacific Maritime (APM), gathered maritime experts from Vietnam and neighbouring countries.

The Vietnamese marine transport sector is growing steadily, with goods transported by the country’s fleet exceeding 81 million tonnes in the first half of 2019, a year-on-year increase of 16 percent.

The Vietnam Maritime Administration said in the period the country’s ports handled 308.8 million tonnes of goods, up 13 percent.

Yeow Hui Leng, group project director, APM, said Vietnam has developed significantly over the past three decades and its economic outlook remains bright despite economic headwinds and global uncertainties.

She added that however, the country will need to stay on top of tightening regulations and modernise.

The biggest change facing global shipping is the International Maritime Organisation (IMO)’s new global sulphur cap that comes into effect in January. From then ships will have to use fuel with a sulphur content of no more than 0.5 percent compared to 3.5 percent now.

The change poses a great technical challenge for ship owners. Besides, it will increase costs, and major shipbuilders in Japan, the EU and the US are looking for ways to use liquefied fuel to reduce costs, the conference heard.

Participants suggested ships should switch to methanol.

Another issue discussed at the event was digitisation in the shipping industry.

Delegates said though Vietnam’s shipping industry is poised for growth, many players have outdated maritime assets and limited access to capital, which hinders digitisation.

The Vietnam Maritime Department issued a call in late 2018 for the industry to accelerate the adoption of industry 4.0 technologies.

Bui Van Trung, secretary general, Vietnam Shipowners Association said the country’s fleet consists mostly of second-hand ships, many of which have technologies 15 years old or older, and this puts Vietnam at a disadvantage amid fierce competition from newer ships belonging to foreign owners.

According to Trung, while modernisation is a must to survive, it is also a grave problem for the shipping companies, chiefly because of low profitability in the business and lack of funds, especially from commercial sources.

The current shortage of skilled maritime manpower is also another problem for ship owners, he said./.

Vietnam can help India enter larger markets: official

Vietnam can become a gateway for Indian businesses and goods to enter other large markets, according to Do Quoc Hung, head of the Asia-Africa Market Department under the Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade.

Hung, who led the Vietnamese delegation to the Vietnam-India trade-investment-tourism promotion forum in New Delhi recently, said Vietnam can help India penetrate the markets of ASEAN and partners in 12 free trade agreements the country has signed, especially the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership and the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement.

This is a foundation for Vietnam to integrate into the world at a new level, open up broader cooperation space for its development and create a favourable environment for foreign investors, Hung said at the event which drew more than 200 delegates from Vietnamese and Indian businesses.

According to Hung, the world and the region are experiencing great instability. Protectionism and trade tension among world powers have slowed down regional and global trade expansion, negatively impactingall regional countries, including India and Vietnam, he said.

However, he said with its potential, advantages and efforts, Vietnam is improving its business environment and offering more favourable conditions for foreign investors to do business in the country.

Amidst the difficult world and regional economic situation, Vietnam and India should foster collaboration to overcome challenges and continue developing for common prosperity, he said.

Hung said Vietnam always welcomes Indian firms who are keen on investing in the country and seeking partnerships with local businesses.

Statistics showed India is one of the leading trade partners of Vietnam, and the most important partner in South Asia.

According to the General Department of Vietnam Customs, last year, two-way trade reached 10.68 billion USD. So far, India has run 223 projects in Vietnam with total capital of 913.33 million USD.

India ranks 26th out of 131 foreign investors in Vietnam./.

Vietnam – a target of German state Sachsen’s businesses: workshop

The development situation and foreign investment attraction policies of Vietnam were introduced to businesses, research centres, universities and members of the Association of German Engineers (VDI) at a workshop in Dresden city, the German state of Sachsen, last week.

Vietnamese Ambassador to Germany Nguyen Minh Vu briefed participants about the development as well as foreign investment attraction policies of Vietnam. He also mentioned the fields Vietnam and Sachsen can enhance cooperation in such as mechanical engineering, innovation, energy, environment, education and research.

Vu expressed his belief that thanks to the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement and Investment Protection Agreement that are awaiting ratification, there will be more chances for investment and cooperation in Vietnam for German businesses, universities and research institutes, including those from Sachsen.

At the workshop, representatives of the Sachsen State Ministry for Economic Affairs, Labour, Transport and Digitalisation and the VDI highly valued the dynamic development of Vietnam, noting that with a young, abundant and skilled workforce, Vietnam is currently a target of many Sachsen businesses.

Introducing their projects in Vietnam, leaders of some Sachsen enterprises, research centres and universities, including Eab New Energy GmbH, GICON, CERSS and Dresden University of Applied Sciences, shared investment experience in the country.

They also gave several recommendations to Vietnamese agencies so as to further facilitate Sachsen firms’ projects in the future.

Also on November 12, Ambassador Vu had working sessions with Sachsen Governor Michael Kretschmer, President of the state parliament Matthias Robler, and Dresden Mayor Dirk Hilbert./.

Firms encouraged to make integrity pledge to improve business climate

A workshop was held in Hanoi last week to discuss the enhancement of businesses’ engagement through promoting their integrity pledge, which is said to be useful to create a fair and transparent business climate in Vietnam.

At this event, certificates were presented to 11 business associations to recognise their commitments to helping build a culture of integrity in business practices in Vietnam.

They include six Hanoi-based associations, namely the Vietnam Textile & Apparel Association; the Vietnam Association of Consumer Goods Development; the Hanoi Association of Small and Medium Enterprises; the Vietnam Leather, Footwear and Handbag Association; the Hanoi Business Association; and the Vietnam Pharmaceutical Companies Association.

The six others are organisations of Ho Chi Minh City, namely the business association; the rubber – plastic manufacturers association; the food and foodstuff association; the textile, garment, embroidery and knitting association; and the plastics association.

Addressing the workshop, Chairman of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) Vu Tien Loc said professionalism, ethical practices and integrity form indispensable parts of business activities.

He expressed his hope that following this workshop, business associations will strongly promote business integrity in the enterprises and sectors they represent, and together take actions to minimise and prevent risks relevant to bribery and corruption in business transactions.

Caitlin Wiesen, Resident Representative of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in Vietnam, spoke highly of the country’s approval of the Anti-Corruption Law in 2018.

She said it takes time to make changes, so clear objectives for each period is necessary to monitor the implementation of commitments so as to ensure that commitments are not only promises but also an effective tool to promote a fair and transparent business climate in Vietnam.

Applauding the associations’ commitments, Stephen Taylor, Second Secretary at the British Embassy in Vietnam, congratulated them on having been taking the lead in consolidating the country’s future success through improving the business environment. He hoped that more enterprises will follow their example.

The workshop was attended by more than 70 representatives of government agencies, companies, business associations, and social organisations. It was part of the Government – Business Integrity Initiative implemented by VCCI within the framework of an UNDP project named “Promoting a Fair Business Environment in ASEAN”./.

Hanoi remains top FDI destination in 10 months

Hanoi continued to top the list of foreign direct investment destinations in Vietnam in the first 10 months of this year, raking in about 6.85 billion USD, most of which came in form of capital contributions and share purchase.

The figure left Ho Chi Minh City, who ranked second with 4.96 billion USD, far behind.

Of the FDI flow into Hanoi, 945 million USD was poured into new projects, while 578 million USD was added to existing ones and about 5.33 billion USD was injected by foreign investors via capital contributions and share purchase.

Noteworthy projects in the period included the smart city project in Dong Anh district which costs more than 4.2 billion USD, invested by a joint venture between BRG Group and Sumitomo Corporation of Japan. Hong Kong’s BeerCo Limited spent 3.85 billion USD on acquiring a stake in Vietnam Beverage Co., Ltd, a local unit of Thai Beverage Public Co., Ltd. Meanwhile, Japan’s Meiko Electronics added 200 million USD to its facility.

According to the municipal Department of Investment and Planning, the FDI capital flowed the most into property development, processing and manufacturing industry, trade and services, and telecommunications and information.

In October, the capital city licenced 91 new FDI projects, worth 468 million USD, including 72 wholly foreign invested and 19 associate and joint venture ones.

The month also saw ground broken at the smart city project in Dong Anh district, the biggest FDI project in Vietnam so far.

The 272-hectare project stretches across over 11km along both sides of the Nhat Tan – Noi Bai Road.

It will be built in five phases, which are all scheduled to be operational by 2028, and will apply digital technologies including smart energy management, transportation systems, security management, classroom systems, economics and smart life.

The highlight will be the 108-storey financial tower, with the investors saying it will become a financial hub for not only Vietnam, but also Southeast Asia.

The Department of Investment and Planning said the FDI injection has been on a rise in Hanoi and was forecast to exceed 8 billion USD this year.

The department’s director Nguyen Manh Quyen noted Hanoi prioritised high-quality projects that produce value-added products and are competitive in pursuit of sustainable development. Prioritised sectors include IT services, biotechnology, education, tourism, healthcare and logistics, he said.

Last year, Hanoi attracted 7.5 billion USD worth of FDI, the highest among the country’s 63 provinces and cities, and more than twice as much as the 2017 figure.

Eighty percent of the city’s projects were wholly owned by foreign investors. The remaining were associate and joint venture businesses.

Japan was Hanoi’s largest investor with total capital of 10.2 billion USD. The followers included Singapore (6 billion USD) and the Republic of Korea (5.5 billion USD)./.

Workshop looks to bolster Vietnam-India trade

The Embassy of Vietnam in India and the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PHDCCI) of India recently held a workshop which focused on measures to bolster Vietnam – India trade.

The event also aimed to promote investment and tourism between the countries and introduce images of Vietnam and its people to Indian and international friends.

It was attended by Vietnamese Ambassador to India Pham Sanh Chau, PHDCCI officials, a delegation of Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade which included 16 Vietnamese firms, and more than 100 businesses of India and other Southeast Asian nations.

Addressing the event, Ambassador Chau underlined the potential and development prospect of trade, investment and tourism of Vietnam and India three years into the comprehensive strategic partnership, supported by direct air routes of IndiGo and Vietjet Air.

The diplomat also pointed out outstanding obstacles in the bilateral trade, particularly India’s anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties on some Vietnamese products, as well as restriction of incense stick imports.

He called on Indian authorities to review trade barriers and restrictions to stimulate bilateral trade relations, contributing to the target of raising two-way trade to 15 billion USD in 2020.

A series of activities to introduce Vietnamese products and services were arranged within the framework of the event. Businesses of Vietnam also met with their Indian and foreign counterparts to discuss cooperation./.