VIETNAM'S BUSINESS NEWS HEADLINES AUGUST 13
Nearly 20,000 rooftop solar power projects installed
Vietnam Electricity (EVN) has announced that nearly 20,000 rooftop solar power projects with a combined capacity of 541.66 MWp were installed nationwide in the past seven months.
So far, more than 41,180 of such have been put into operation throughout the country with a total capacity of 925.8 MWp.
In January-July, the company produced and imported 142.47 billion kWh, up 2.09% against the same period last year, of which hydropower was 29.22 billion kWh (down 20.52%), coal thermal power 80.87 billion kWh (up 14.54%), gas turbines 22.4 billion kWh (down 15.36%), oil thermal power 1.03 billion kWh (up 33.11%), and renewable energy (wind power, solar power, and biomass power) 6.33 billion kWh.
The EVN reported that in the seven-month period, the commercial electricity rose 2.3% to 122.69 billion kWh.
It also launched the construction of 81 electricity works and completed the connection of 63 others to the national power grid.
Garment orders continue to fall sharply
The Ho Chi Minh City Textile and Garment - Embroidery Association said that the number of orders of garment enterprises in the city has continuously declined, merely equal to 40 percent compared to the same period last year.
Due to the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, traditional markets of the garment industry, such as the US and Europe, which account for up to 70-80 percent of Vietnam’s garment exports, were almost paralyzed while the number of orders from the Asian region was small. Many garment enterprises have not received high-value orders, including suits and high-class shirts, while face masks and protective clothes, which are considered as life-saver for many enterprises, have seen sharp decreases in their prices due to excessive supply worldwide.
According to forecasts, if the situation does not improve soon, there will be about 60-70 percent of micro and medium enterprises facing the risk of closing down. Chairman of the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (Vitas) Vu Duc Giang said that the Covid-19 pandemic has caused a change in consumer culture as people have shifted spending on essential products instead of laying too much emphasis on shopping as before. To manage to survive, many garment enterprises are returning to the domestic market, but domestic demand is also weak because people are tightening spending.
According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, in the first seven months of the year, textile production increased by 1.8 percent, clothing production decreased by 4.6 percent compared to last year. Garment and textile export turnover in the first seven months was estimated at US$16.18 billion, down 12.1 percent; fibers and yarns of all kinds decreased by 20.9 percent over the same period last year. It is forecasted that the total export turnover of the industry this year will be about $32.75 billion, down 16 percent compared to last year.
PVN reports profit of over VND10 trillion despite oil price drop
Vietnam Oil and Gas Group (PVN) recorded a profit of over VND10 trillion between January and July despite a plunge in oil prices and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Over the past seven months, most of the world’s leading oil and gas firms and groups were incurring losses of US$1.6-21 billion, forcing them to scale down production, while PVN earned over VND10 trillion in profit and paid over VND38 trillion to the State budget due to its quick response to the pandemic and the drop in oil prices, according to PVN.
The group was still maintaining its production and ensuring its supply of strategic items including gas, electricity, fertilizers and fuel to the local market, buoying its growth during the hardship triggered by the pandemic and oil price drops from January and July.
In the second quarter of 2020, global oil prices stood at low levels, even lower than those seen in the first quarter of the year. The average oil price was US$40.2 per barrel in July, while the price averaged out at US$44 per barrel between January and July.
Meanwhile, the group had earlier targeted US$60 per barrel of oil, Le Manh Hung, general director of PVN, said, adding that PVN’s financial results showed a positive performance.
All of the group’s members maintained their production, with Vietsovpetro, PetroVietnam Exploration Production Corporation and Rusvietpetro, among others, fulfilling their production targets.
In January-July, PVN churned out 12.5 million tons of fuel, well above its seven-month target and meeting 61.5% of the full-year target, while the group generated 12.7 billion kilowatt hours of power, reaching 59% of the full-year target.
The group discovered a large volume of oil at Ken Bau field, 65 kilometers east of Quang Tri, in July, promising to attract investments and smoothen the path for PVN to further develop in various fields including oil exploration and exploitation, processing and oil services in the future.
Pyn Elite Fund becomes CMC Group’s big shareholder
The Finland-based Pyn Elite Fund has announced it will buy 61,750 shares of CMC Group (CMG) to bring its ownership at the group to 5.08 per cent (equivalent to 5.08 million shares), according to the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange (HOSE).
According to the group’s financial report in April to June 2020, its net income rose by 5 per cent from the same period last year to VND1.05 trillion while its after-tax profit was double to VND43 billion.
CMC said the high growth was contributed by solution and technology business (67 per cent year-on-year increase of profit). Its global business started to report profit with a hike of 126 per cent from the same period last year.
CMC is one of the biggest IT and telecom groups in Viet Nam. Established in 1993, CMC operates in three main sectors including technology and solution, global business and telecommunications.
Sun Life Financial increases footprint in Asia
Canada-based insurer and asset manager Sun Life Financial is seeking opportunities to acquire Asian companies in a bid to increase its footprint in the region.
Accordingly, Sun Life announced that it has opened a branch in Singapore a few days ago, in anticipation of its upcoming Asia-focus strategy. The newly-opened Singapore subsidiary extends Sun Life’s presence to eight markets in Asia, including China, the Philippines, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam.
The company now provides its services specialising on life, health insurance, and wealth management solutions to more than 23 million customers in Asia. Since 2016, Sun Life’s business in Asia has grown to support 11.5 million new clients and its underlying net income has grown at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15 per cent.
Sun Life targets affluent citizens, offering insurance services through international brokers and private banks.
According to Bloomberg, Sun Life is looking to make more acquisitions on the continent after reaching a bancassurance deal in Vietnam last year to sell insurance via privately-held lender Tien Phong Bank (TP Bank), said Leo Grepin, president for Asia.
“We’re very much looking for acquisitions in Asia across our core markets,” Grepin emphasised.
Furthermore, the insurer is mulling over lifting its ownership ratio to 100 per cent in a joint venture with China Everbright Group. Sun Life currently holds 25 per cent stake in the partnership.
“We’re very bullish on China, and over time we’d be interested in increasing our investment, but there’s no short-term plan to do so,” Grepin said. “Obviously, that would require partners to sell down.”
VNG hit hard in 2020
This year may not be one of prosperity for VNG as the local unicorn has been constantly beset by adversities in recent months.
VNG JSC – a local game developer with market capitalisation of about $2.2 billion – this month integrated Zalo Shop and Zalo Bank into its Zalo application, allegedly without getting a license to actually launch them.
The legal issue was disclosed by Dang Hoang Hai, head of the Vietnam e-Commerce and Digital Economy Agency (iDEA) under the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT), who said that Zalo qualifies as an e-commerce application under Article 3.4 of 2015 Circular No.59/2015/TT-BCT outlining the management of e-commerce activities via applications and mobile equipment.
“Therefore, Zalo is responsible for registering for a licence at the MoIT,” he said.
So far, VNG has integrated six features into its Zalo platform since 2018 – Zalo Food, Zalo Travel, Zalo Taxi, Zalo Bank, e-Government, and Zalo Shop with the aim of becoming an all-in-one application.
However, to date, the legitimacy of several of those features is unclear and VNG has so far refused to react to queries on the matter.
While only bringing the issue to the public now, iDEA had already contacted VNG three times last year and sent its legal representative to the authority to clarify the legal aspects of Zalo’s e-commerce activities, which the firm failed to comply with.
In September 2019 the authority sent Document No.32/TMDT-QL assigning the Department of Cyber Security and Hi-tech Crime Prevention under the Ministry of Public Security to handle the case. The department has been investigating the issue ever since.
The slow progress may be accelerated through iDEA putting the issue into the limelight, especially after receiving confirmation from the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) last month that it had yet to grant a license for the Zalo Bank feature, which has partnered up with many banks to offer loan packages over the pastctwo years.
According to SBV regulations, any credit institution that intends to provide bank-related services has to be licensed by the central bank, which essentially renders Zalo Bank’s operation illegal.
In a separate development, the recent failure of a merger deal between Tiki and Sendo has also crossed the expectations of VNG holding 24.6 per cent of shares in Tiki. E-commerce companies have been racking up tremendous losses and have yet to earn a single cent of profit to shareholders. With the deal that was expected to create a force to be reckoned with – and even perhaps break-even numbers – falling through, VNG is looking at a war of attrition in e-commerce that could last for months if not years.
According to VNG’s financial report from last year, the more than VND500 billion ($21.74 million) investment it has poured into Tiki since 2016 has all been lost. To recover at least part of the capital that went into Tiki, the local game developer in 2019 reduced its ownership in the platform from 38 to 24.6 per cent.
However, the ownership rate continued to decline to 22.23 per cent right after Tiki raised its charter capital from VND190.9 billion ($8.3 million) to VND208.3 billion ($9.05 billion), following the latest financial report of VNG.
The legal issues around Zalo and the failed merger deal is not the end of VNG’s troubles. On July 2 the corporation decided to dissolve its subsidiary VNG Data Center Co., Ltd. after four years of operation. The corporation gave up the subsidiary to free up resources to invest in ZaloPay.
Consequently, that may encourage VNG to reconsider its investment in the e-commerce sector and focus on the game business, which currently makes up about 80 per cent of its earnings. The remaining 20 per cent is shared between Zalo and its cloud computing service VNG Cloud, previously VinaData.
According to information published at its shareholders’ meeting in June, before the legal issues around Zalo became public, VNG’s net revenue in 2019 was VND5.178 trillion ($225.13 million), up 20 per cent on-year. The after-tax profit was nearly VND455 billion ($19.8 million), up 36.5 per cent. In 2020, the firm expected to receive about VND6.714 trillion ($291.9 million) in revenue, generating an on-year increase of 20 per cent.
Notwithstanding, it also forecast a negative after-tax profit of VND249 billion ($10.83 million) due to accelerating investment in ZaloPay – its e-wallet application operated by Zion that is also neck-deep in losses.
In 2018, Zion – in which VNG holds 60 per cent – reported a deficit of VND133.4 billion ($5.8 million), as much as seven times its loss in 2017.
Vinatex facing difficulties in past two quarters
Scattered orders along with a saturated market for face masks – which was a temporary lean-to for so many textile and garment firms – have pushed Vietnam National Garment and Textile Group (Vinatex) in the deep in the last two quarters.
This was shared by Vinatex chairman Le Tien Truong at the conference summarising the group's performance in the first six months and discussing plans for the second half of the year.
Accordingly, In the second quarter, the group acquired VND3.08 trillion ($133.9 million) in net revenue, down 36 per cent on-year. Gross profit was VND280 billion ($12.17 million), down 36 per cent.
Regarding the accumulated business results for the first half, Vinatex reported VND7.04 trillion ($306.1 million) in net revenue, a decrease of 24.5 per cent on-year. After-tax profit was VND276 billion ($12 million), down 20.7 per cent on-year. Especially, in April, the group's revenue was nearly zero because of the social distancing and isolation policies.
The group had VND69 billion ($3 million) in revenue from financial activities, increasing by 25 per cent on-year. Meanwhile, net profit was down 22 per cent to VND120 billion ($5.2 million).
The shares of a number of member companies dropped in value, including Viet Tien Garment Corporation and Phu Bai Spinning JSC which shed more than half and a quarter, respectively, compared to their valuation before the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Truong, the first half was not all that difficult a period because the number of COVID-19 patients was not overly large. At present, the pandemic returned to Vietnam and promises heavy disruptions. In addition, countries across the globe are struggling to control the epidemic. These situations decreased consumption demand, thus, the third and fourth quarters will be a challenging period for the textile and garment sector, including Vinatex.
At present, the corporation received few orders from overseas for the fourth quarter, which is a challenge for the company. In addition, the selling price of face masks have been decreased to equal production costs, thus the group can no longer acquire profit from this segment.
“In spite of challenges, the group will make an effort and seize every business opportunity, including manufacturing new products in order to maintain operations as well as jobs for employees,” Truong said.
HCM City has 105,000 job vacancies till year-end
Ho Chi Minh City has about 105,000 job vacancies in the rest of the year, according to the city Human Resources Forecast and Labour Market Information (Falmi) Centre.
The jobs are mostly in the areas of business-trade, service, garment-footwear, food processing, customer services, marketing, construction, IT, office admin, transport-warehouse-port services, and real estate.
Of the total, 84.5 percent need trained workers.
According to the city Department of Labour-Invalids and Social Affairs, the city has so far this year filled 172,561 job vacancies and created 78.651 new employments.
Due to the impact of COVID-19 pandemic, the number of labourers who got employment reduced 5.6 percent, while that of new jobs also dropped 6.72 percent.
Falmi Director Tran Le ThanhTruc said that from Mid-February, the demand for labourers of businesses fell more than 28 percent compared to the same period last year.
A survey by the centre showed that prolonged difficulties facing the firms include those in seeking customers, selling products, transportation, shortage of material for production, and access to support policies.
Truc said that in order to connect labourers and businesses, the centre has increased activities of employment consultations, re-training and job seekingfor labourers in all of its six branches.
Alongside, the centre has held employment transaction sessions twice per month.
So far this year, the centre has organised 20 job transaction sessions, during which 223,360 labourersreceived employment consultations and more than 21,400 got jobs./.
Travel firms suffer losses after tour cancellations due to COVID-19
Travel firms have suffered great losses from thousands of recent tour cancellations due to a new outbreak of COVID-19, according to tourism associations.
Reports from leading travel firms in HCM City show that nearly 40,000 bookings for tour packages, free and easy tours, hotels, air tickets and travel services have been cancelled due to concerns over COVID-19.
Customers have mostly dropped tours to the central city of Da Nang while tours to other popular tourist destinations such as Phu Quoc Island, Nha Trang city, Da Lat city and Hanoi in August and September have also been cancelled.
Nguyen Thi Khanh, deputy director of the HCM City Association of Tourism, said travel firms have been hit hard by many tour cancellations due to fears over the recurrence of COVID-19.
Most customers have requested 100 percent refunds for paid expenses, and only a few have agreed to schedule their trips at a later date.
Many travel firms have made payments to airlines, transport companies, hotels and restaurants, and are not receiving refunds from them, Khanh said.
Many travel firms have seen losses because they have not received refunds for deposits or service payments for airlines, transporters, accommodations and catering services, but have given refunds to their customers.
Airline and tourism service providers have been encouraged not to fine travel firms for tour cancellations and postponement, and offer them refunds.
Khanh also called on customers to share losses with travel firms by accepting postponement of their trips instead of asking for cancellations and full refunds.
Hoang Van Vinh, chairman of Khanh Hoa province’s Tourism Association, said the association had sent notes to tourism service providers in the province, asking them to give refunds to travel firms and remove penalties for breach of contracts.
Tra Vinh expands lucrative high – tech shrimp farming
The Mekong Delta province of Tra Vinh is encouraging farmers in coastal areas to expand high - tech shrimp breeding by using super - intensive farming since the model is sustainable and offers high profits, according to the province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Under the model, shrimp breeding ponds are covered with anti-sun nets and plastic sheets on the bed, and are also equipped with oxygen generating facilities.
Other ponds filter water before releasing it into shrimp breeding ponds, while some ponds treat waste water.
In 2017, the province provided the high – tech, intensive model for 110 households who breed a total of 150ha of white - legged shrimp.
The initial cost for investing in one hectare of high – tech shrimp breeding is VNĐ3 billion (US$130,000). Shrimp is bred under a density of 150 – 170 shrimp per square metre.
The households had a yield of 50 – 55 tonnes per hectare a crop and earned a profit of VNĐ2 billion ($86,700), 5 – 10 times higher than extensive and semi-intensive shrimp farming models, according to the department.
The province now has 347ha of super-intensive shrimp farms belonging to 300 households.
Phạm Minh Truyền, director of the department, said super-intensive shrimp farming has advantages in high yield and high quality compared to traditional shrimp farming methods.
However, to receive support from the department and localities, farmers have to strictly follow breeding processes to ensure environmental protection, he said.
The department is co-operating with relevant agencies to provide this model to more farmers, he said.
Under the province’s agriculture restructuring plan, it will produce more than 70,600 tonnes of shrimp bred in brackish and salty water areas this year and 103,300 tonnes in 2030.
The province had more than 24,000ha of shrimp with an annual output of 35,000 tonnes last year.
The province is also planning to mobilise more than VNĐ5 trillion ($216.5 million) to develop shrimp cultivation, including VNĐ3 trillion for infrastructure like irrigation, road and power facilities.
The infrastructure will help farmers switch from traditional shrimp farming methods to the high-tech, super – intensive farming.
To export to more markets, the province’s localities are encouraging farmers to set up co-operatives or co-operative groups to work with companies in shrimp cultivation and consumption.
With a 65km coastline, Trà Vinh has high potential for developing aquaculture, especially shrimp cultivation in brackish and salty water areas. It has a total area of 95,000ha for aquaculture.
Thailand keeps interest rate unchanged at record low
The Bank of Thailand (BoT) last week decided to keep key interest rate unchanged at a record low for a second straight meeting, as widely expected, on signs of improvement in the economy after the easing of measures to contain the coronavirus outbreak.
According to the Bangkok Post, the central bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) voted unanimously to keep the one-day repurchase rate steady at a record low of 0.50 percent, after having cut it three times this year to help mitigate the impact of the pandemic on tourism and domestic consumption.
The Thai economy is forecast to contract the most on record this year, shrinking 8.1 percent, with any recovery taking as long as almost two years, according to outgoing BoT Governor Veerathai Santiprabhob. The economic damage could reach as much as 3 trillion THB because of the hit to Thailand’s growth drivers, tourism and exports.
With the policy rate hovering close to zero, the central bank is running out of conventional monetary policy space to spur the economy and boost prices as deflation sets in. The bank has said it’s studying options like large-scale asset purchases and some form of yield-curve control.
At the same time, authorities are worried about the currency’s gains, which threaten to undermine any recovery in exports. The baht has gained more than 4 percent against the dollar in the past three months, the best performer in Asian currencies tracked by Bloomberg./.
Agricultural industry to account for 32 percent of Cambodia’s GDP
The agricultural industry is on track to account for 32 percent of Cambodia’s gross domestic product (GDP) by the end of the year as a large number of the country’s workforce moves into the sector, said a researcher.
Royal Academy of Cambodia economics researcher Ky Sereyvath predicted that the agricultural labour force had ballooned between 30 and 40 percent during the span of the COVID-19 crisis.
“The growth of the agricultural sector is due to the fact that some of the remaining labour force from the services sector turned to agriculture, with the workforce integration leading to a larger production volume,” Sereyvath was quoted by the Phnom Penh Post newspaper as saying.
He said the food processing industry, fruit and vegetable processing are prominent sub-sectors – the top segments after garments. Pepper, mango, fish and meat processing will all absorb a greater market share.
The government predicted that the Cambodian economy will shrink by 1.9 percent this year due to impacts of COVID-19.
Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon said the government is aiming for a three percent annual growth rate of agricultural value added – the net output of the agricultural sector after adding up all outputs and subtracting the value of intermediate inputs.
He said the government also aspires to increase agricultural labour productivity – the annual output per agricultural worker – from 1,839 USD last year to 4,625 USD by 2030.
The agricultural sector is an important engine of economic growth and could enjoy a one percent surge this year, he said, adding agriculture remains crucial considering the downswing experienced by industry and services.
Cambodian agricultural product exports blossomed from nearly 1 billion USD in 2013 to 1.5 billion USD last year.
Phu Quoc promotes eco-agriculture in combination with tourism
Phu Quoc district in the southern province of Kien Giang has invested in eco-agriculture in combination with services and tourism, aiming to create more tourism products by 2025, with a vision towards 2030.
Huynh Thanh Minh, head of the district’s economic bureau, said the locality has worked to link agricultural firms with farming households and travel companies to promote the model, while intensifying the communications work to introduce its products to visitors.
Competent agencies have been tasked with signing long-term contracts with businesses and investors in high-tech agriculture and tourism, and facilitating the farmstay model.
Phu Quoc has also promoted collective brand names for its agricultural products and improve personnel quality in service of agriculture-based tourism.
Currently, there are 21 models where science-technology are applied in agricultural and fishery production in Phu Quoc, Minh said, adding that many households have turned local fruits into specialties.
However, rural tourism in Phu Quoc has yet to match its potential and advantages due to the lack of planning, connectivity and investment, the official said.
Cambodia’s exports to US up 23 percent in H1
Cambodia exported 2.75 billion USD worth of goods to the US in the first half of 2020, up 23 percent year-on-year, according to the US Statistics Bureau.
Cambodia mainly exported textiles, footwear, travel goods and agricultural products to the US.
The country spent 144.6 million USD on imports from the US in the reviewed period, a decrease of 45.43 percent compared to the same period last year.
Secretary-general of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) Ken Loo said the US remains the priority export market of Cambodia's key exports.
According to Spokesperson of the Cambodian Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training Heng Sour, Cambodia exported 3.784 billion USD worth of garment and footwear to foreign markets in the first six months of 2020, down 5.4 percent year-on-year./.
Indonesia’s forex reserves hit record high in July
Indonesia’s foreign exchange (forex) reserves increased to 135.1 billion USD in July, the highest level ever, following the government’s move to issue global bonds, Bank Indonesia (BI) has announced.
BI said in a statement that the foreign exchange reserves are adequate, supported by stability and a positive outlook for the economy, in line with various policy responses to push for economic recovery.
The rise in forex reserves in July was driven by the government’s global bonds issuance and government loans, according to the central bank.
Specifically, the government has raised 100 billion JPY (930 million USD) from the issuance of five-tranche samurai bonds to help cover the fiscal deficit and fund the coronavirus pandemic response in early July.
The government previously planned to raise 5.5 billion USD from loans from multilateral organisations in the second half of the year, after raising 1.8 billion USD in the first half from five multilaterals, including the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB)./.
Experts: Malaysian economy can see quick recovery after COVID-19
Penang, Malaysia’s technology hub, is helping drive an economic recovery that could see the country bounce back faster than any of its peers in Southeast Asia, said experts.
The northern state drew 6.8 billion ringgit (1.6 billion USD) of foreign direct investment in the first quarter, almost two-thirds of the country’s total. It attracted new projects even as the pandemic disrupted global supply chains and dampened demand worldwide. Approved investments in Penang in Q1 nearly doubled from the previous three months, according to the InvestPenang investment promotion agency.
Wellian Wiranto, an economist at Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. in Singapore, said that Malaysia plays a key role in the global semiconductor supply chain, and has benefited from the tentative recovery in the electronics cycle.
The Malaysian government has announced nearly 70 billion USD in stimulus -- equal to about 20 percent of GDP -- to cushion the effects of the pandemic. However, unemployment has surged to 5.3 percent, the highest since at least 1990.
Early signs of a rebound are evident in Malaysia’s exports, which climbed 8.8 percent from a year ago, driven by a 20-month high in electronics sales.
Analysts believe that Malaysia will overcome the difficult period caused by the COVID-19 pandemic better than most other countries in Southeast Asia. The World Bank (WB) predicted that Malaysia's economy will decrease by 3.1 percent in 2020 before increasing 6.9 percent in 2021. Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) projected that Malaysia’s economy will shrink 3.8 percent this year before growing 6.3 percent next year.
Fitch Ratings said that the demand of Malaysia's middle class, making up 77 percent of total households, will help offset the decline in demand in overseas markets. CGS-CIMB believes that Malaysia's strong monetary and fiscal measures will help its economy recover faster than other Southeast Asian countries./
Policies needed to promote mechanical engineering in agriculture
Vietnam needs policies to promote mechanical engineering in agriculture to increase added value and quality for the farming sector, experts have said.
According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, agricultural mechanisation still had very low levels of adoption in Vietnam with an average of 1.6 horsepower (HP) per hectare, much lower than 4HP per hectare of Thailand, 8HP of China and 10HP of the Republic of Korea,
Vietnam must now import about 70 percent of its agricultural machinery, mainly from China. Domestically-produced agricultural machines cost 15-20 percent more than those imported from China.
Phan Tan Ben, Director of Phan Tan Agricultural Machinery Company Limited, said the local agricultural machinery industry was outdated and was about to come to a dead-end compared to the rapid development of other regional countries.
Agriculture mechanisation was taking place but the machinery was mostly imported while domestically-produced machines were losing their position in the market, Ben said.
The main reason for this situation was that Vietnam had not developed spearheads in mechanical engineering and agricultural mechanism in particular, lacking strategies for the industry's development.
He added there was also a lack of resources for investment in the industry, outdated technologies and a shortage of raw materials. In addition, competition from imported machines from China, Japan and the Republic of Korea was also an issue, he said.
According to Nguyen Chi Sang, Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Association of Mechanical Enterprises, market demand for each type of agricultural machine remained small, which would not ensure an economy of scale.
Another factor was that mechanical projects required very huge investment, Sang said, adding that most Vietnamese firms lacked such huge capital while the Government’s support remained limited. In addition, the part-supplying industry for the mechanical industry had not been developed.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development forecast Vietnam had significant demand for agricultural machinery by 2025, including 500-1,000 rice planting machines per year and 2,000-3,000 rice combine harvesters annually.
Demand for harvester machines for sugarcane, coffee, corn, been and peanuts would be three to five times higher.
Nguyen The Ha, Director of Bui Van Ngo Technology Institute, said that the Mekong Delta had a large demand for agricultural machinery which was estimated to amount to billions of dollars.
According to Ben, the Government’s support in terms of capital, tax and land policies and human resources was critical for the development of the agricultural machinery industry.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade said to develop the mechanical industry, it was necessary to develop policies to encourage large-scale agricultural production.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said it was studying a special credit package for the purchase of agricultural machines which would accelerate agricultural mechanisation. The package will be proposed to the Government for consideration./.
Malaysia spends nearly 15 million USD to support pandemic-hit farmers
Malaysia has allocated 62 million RM (14.6 million USD) to farmers' organisations through the Prihatin Rakyat Economic Stimulus Package (PRIHATIN) to help its members affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Malaysian Minister of Agriculture and Food Industry Ronald Kiandee said that of the total, 50 million RM was given to short-term agrofood programmes (start producing in three to six months) with each farmers’organisation receiving between 100,000-200,000RM.
Ronald said that another 10 million RM was allocated for infrastructure facilities for food storage and distribution purposes as well as crop integration programmes to ensure the food supply value chain is streamlined more efficiently.
Another 2 million RM is also allocated to increase the use of agricultural machinery including tractors and harvester, the minister said.
He affirmed that all departments and agencies under the ministry including the Agriculture Department, Fisheries Department, Veterinary Services Department, Farmers’ Organisation Board (LPP), Malaysian Fisheries Development Authority (LKIM) and Agrobank have been instructed to implement these programmes and initiatives as soon as possible to ensure that the target groups receive the benefits and the government’s goals are achieved./.
Fruit and vegetable exports down over 12 percent in first seven months
Vietnam earned nearly 2 billion USD from fruit and vegetable exports in the first seven months of this year, down 12.3 percent year-on-year, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).
The ministry attributed the decline to falls in the shipments of certain commodities, including dragon fruit, which made up the largest part of total exports at 34 percent, down 6 percent; bananas 9.5 percent; durian 71 percent; and watermelon 38.5 percent.
China was the leading buyer of Vietnamese fruit and vegetables in the period, accounting for 59 percent, but exports to the market fell by some 29 percent. Shipments to Singapore also dropped, by nearly 1 percent.
Vietnam recorded higher fruit and vegetable exports to most of the remaining markets, including the Republic of Korea (up 25.5 percent), Thailand (234 percent), the US (10 percent), and Japan (13 percent).
Between January and July, the country imported 708 million USD worth of fruit and vegetables, down 37.7 percent from a year earlier.
The US, China, and Australia were the largest sources./.
Tien Giang enjoys fruitful agricultural restructuring
The Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang has been promoting agricultural restructuring towards expansion in both area and production of vegetable farming.
According to Nguyen Van Man, Director of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, incomes from vegetable farming rose to more than 226-271 million VND ((9,711-11,645 USD) per hectare in 2019, much higher than 124.9-143.9 million VND per hectare in 2016.
The central area of Tien Giang has more than 4,500 hectares under vegetable with output of more than 550,000 tonnes per year, making up 50 percent of the province’s total production.
In 2019, the province had 57,753 hectares of vegetable with output of 1.15 million tonnes, surpassing the target by 27.77 percent and 49.5 percent, respectively.
In the 2017-2019 period, Tien Giang saw a 5.69 percent increase in vegetable area and 5.43 percent rise in output. In this period, the province switched about 10,400-11,000 hectares of rice farms into vegetable farms each year, which produced an economic value from 4.7-5.9 times higher than that of rice.
Over the years, Tien Giang has strengthened the transfer of vegetable cultivation techniques to farmers. So far, the province has about 1,000sq.m of poly-green houses and about 10 hectares of net houses for vegetable and fruit cultivation.
Chau Thanh district is Tien Giang’s “vegetable kingdom” with more than 14,000 hectares, producing over 300,000 tonnes of vegetable each year.
Man said that along with the development of vegetable areas, Tien Giang has focused on production organisation and selling. The province has supported the establishment of more than 100 vegetable trading facilities, along with nine cooperation groups and 12 cooperatives for safe vegetable production.
The province also has 20 firms signing contracts to buy vegetable from farmers./.
RoK to export paprika to Vietnam
The Republic of Korea (RoK) said on August 10 that it has completed negotiations with Vietnam to export paprika, a type of bell pepper, to the Southeast Asian country.
The RoK had been negotiating with Vietnam since 2008 on export terms for paprika, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
Korean exports of paprika reached 91.5 million USD in 2019, with Japan accounting for 99.7 percent of the volume. Other destinations include Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Russia.
Last year, Vietnam imported 16 million USD worth of Korean pears, followed by strawberries with 6.6 million USD. Grapes and apples were also among the popular Korean agricultural products in Vietnam.
Vietnam was the third-largest export destination for the RoK in 2019, with China and the US standing as the top two.
The RoK’s combined exports to Vietnam in 2019 reached 48 billion USD, down 0.9 percent from a year earlier./.
PV Gas Vung Tau sets new record in daily LPG filling
The PV Gas Vung Tau, a subsidiary of the PetroVietnam Gas Corporation (PV Gas), has set a new record of the corporation in LPG filling.
The Thi Vai filling station at Vung Tau Terminal, one of the PetroVietnam Gas Corporation (PV Gas)’s gas depots, has pumped close to 1,448 tonnes of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) per day onto 84 tanker trucks for delivery to retailers and end-users, the PV Gas said in a statement last week.
The figure surpassed the previous record of nearly 1,396 tonnes per day set in April 2019.
The PV Gas Vung Tau Terminal is located in Phu My district, the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau. Operated since 2000, it is the largest storage facility for LPG and condensate in Vietnam.
The terminal stores LPG and condensate produced by Dinh Co Gas Processing Plant, Nam Con Son Gas Plant as well as those imported, and provides them to distributors.
It is capable of storing up to 75,000 tonnes of LPG, accounting for about half of the country’s total storage capacity.
As the operator of the Vung Tau Terminal, PV Gas Vung Tau has led the corporation in business performance for many years./.
PM approves investment plan of Dong Dang-Tra Linh expressway
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on August 10 approved the investment plan of the Dong Dang-Tra Linh expressway under the public-private partnership (PPP) model.
The 115km expressway connects the northern mountainous provinces of Lang Son and Cao Bang. It will have four lanes and allow vehicles to ply at 80km per hour.
The project will cost nearly 21 trillion VND (895.75 million USD) and comprise of two phases, with the first, from 2020-2024, running from the Tan Thanh border gate in Lang Son province to Phuc Sen commune, Quang Hoa district, Cao Bang province, and the second, after 2025, from Quang Hoa district to the Tra Linh border gate in Cao Bang province.
The project is expected to boost socio-economic development in the two provinces and ensure national defence and security, as well as the country’s border sovereignty.
The PM has assigned the People’s Committee of Cao Bang to sign the contract with the investor of the project./.
Indonesia offers 10 oil and gas projects in 2020
The Indonesian government offers 10 oil and gas working areas in 2020, through direct offers and regular auctions.
Speaking at a recent virtual press conference, acting director general at the Energy and Mineral Resources (EMR) Ministry Ego Syahrial said the 10 oil and gas working areas spread across Kalimantan, Java and Papua Island.
In detail, five direct offering are Merangin III (onshore), Sekayu (onshore), North Kangean (offshore), Cendrawasih VIII (offshore), Mamberamo (onshore and offshore) with potential 1,203.69 million barrels of oil (MMBO) and 586.9 billion cubic feet (Bcf).
The five remaining projects are offered through regular auctions, including West Palmerah (onshore), Wangkas (offshore), Liman (onshore), Bose (onshore and offshore), and Maratua (onshore and offshore) with potential 2,232.75 MMBO and 4,420 Bcf.
He stated that EMR will continue efforts to keep investment and business activity in oil and gas remain positive.
As of July 2020, Indonesia had 99 working areas, consisting of 73 conventional and 26 non-conventional ones.
According to Syahrial, investment in the oil and gas sector in the first half of 2020 was still below the target due to the impact of the pandemic, reaching only 5.6 billion USD or 39 percent of the 14.5-billion-USD target./.
Dong Nai working to develop rooftop solar power
More than 2,500 customers of the Dong Nai Power Company in southern Dong Nai province had installed rooftop solar panels with total capacity of nearly 50.9 million kWp as of the end of July.
So far, Dong Nai has contributed more than 15.2 million kWh of solar power to the grid, the company noted.
The province boasts huge potential for the development of renewable energy, especially solar power and energy from waste.
To Dong Nai, a major industrial hub, energy development is important to its foreign investment attraction as well as reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from industrial activities. Tapping into renewable energy potential will help ensure electricity supply and meet local socio-economic development demand.
Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Tran Van Vinh said Dong Nai is home to 32 industrial parks covering 10,200ha of land, along with many hi-tech and large-scale agricultural projects, which are favourable for rooftop solar power development.
As Dong Nai is an industrial province with 75 percent of electricity output used for industrial activities, a figure predicted to grow fast in the years to come, it is necessary to develop renewable energy, he added.
In the time ahead, the province will become one of the localities taking the lead in rooftop solar power development, the Dong Nai Power Company said, adding that it is making an electricity development plan which will also cover rooftop solar power, and this plan will ensure synchronous development of related infrastructure from generation, transmission to distribution facilities.
Dong Nai is the biggest electricity consumer in Vietnam, about 14 billion kWh per year, equivalent to 6 percent of the national electricity output. Local power demand increases by over 7 percent every year./.
Vietnamese shrimp sells like hot cakes in US in H1
Vietnam exported 323.3 million USD worth of shrimp to the US in the first half of this year, up 29 percent year-on-year, statistics show.
The US was the only market where Vietnam experienced positive growth in shrimp export during the period under review.
The Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) said the US’s shrimp imports mainly serve retail channels and e-commerce, and suggested Vietnamese exporters focus on intensively processed products and those of added values.
In the first six months, despite the great impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Vietnam still earned 2 billion USD from shrimp export.
VASEP expected that this year’s revenue will expand 20 percent against the previous year./.
Singapore’s Q2 economy shrinks more than forecast
The Singaporean economy suffered a deeper recession in the second quarter than earlier estimated as it contracted by 13.2 percent year on year, compared to the previous prediction of -12.6 percent.
The country’s Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said on August 11 that given the fall, it now forecasts this year’s gross domestic product (GDP) will shrink between 7 percent and 5 percent, instead of the previously predicted decline of 4 to 7 percent.
The second-quarter GDP plunge was due to the circuit breaker measures implemented from April 7 to June 1 to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Singapore, as well as weak external demand amid a global economic downturn caused by the pandemic, said MTI in a statement.
Singapore's central bank eased its monetary policy in March, while the government recently pumped in nearly 100 billion SGD (72 billion USD) worth of stimulus to blunt the impact of the pandemic./.
Trade development programme yields results in remote, island areas
A trade development programme in remote, mountainous and island areas brought in positive results during 2015-2020, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Do Thang Hai has said.
During a conference in Hanoi on August 11 to review the programme and outline tasks for 2021-2025, Hai said it helped develop special trade policies and mechanisms for several island communes and districts.
It also built a special distribution model in several areas such as Ly Son in Quang Ngai province and Con Dao island district in Ba Ria - Vung Tau province, a database of products of strength in remote, mountainous and island localities, and 35 sets of guidelines for specialty products from 35 remote, mountainous and island localities.
Workers were also trained for more than 4,000 enterprises and business households. Over 10 documentaries, nearly 80 reports, and some 2,600 news stories and articles on trade activities have been published.
The portal on products from remote, mountainous and island areas was launched at www.sanphamvungmien.com while a publication entitled “Branded goods from remote, mountainous and island areas” was also released.
Hai said diverse activities over the last five years helped step up goods production and consumption and enhanced capacity in trade development of officials and cadres in communes, districts and provinces, helping to improve lives and ensuring national defence and security in remote, mountainous and island areas.
Deputy Director of the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Domestic Market Department Le Viet Nga suggested the Prime Minister approve the programme for the 2021-2025 period.
She also proposed allocating enough funds from the central budget for the programme, including for upgrading wet markets and strengthening regional connectivity to boost consumption.
The Government should issue policies to facilitate the involvement of economic sectors in developing trade infrastructure in remote, mountainous and island areas, she said, adding that localities should also earmark some funding from their budget for the programme each year.
Fuel prices cut slightly on August 12
Retail prices of some petrol products were reduced slightly in the latest review by the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Ministry of Finance, with effect from 3pm on August 12.
The two ministries review fuel prices every 15 days to make adjustments in accordance with fluctuations in the global market.
The price of RON95-III was cut by 51 VND per litre to a maximum of 14,922 VND per litre.
The price of E5RON92 remains unchanged at 14,409 VND per litre.
The price of diesel 0.05S and kerosene are now at a maximum of 12,201 VND and 10,207 VND per litre, respectively, down 200 VND and 72 VND per litre.
The price of Mazut 180CST 3.5S is also unchanged, at no more than 11,183 VND per kg.
Amid the complex developments of the COVID-19 pandemic, the two ministries have decided to use the petrol price stabilisation fund to keep retail prices of petrol and mazut stable and reduce diesel and kerosene prices.