The “Hello Ho Chi Minh City” campaign has been launched to build upon the local tourism sector’s gradual recovery after the “blowback” from the COVID-19 pandemic. It also expresses its determination to realise the goal of becoming the leading tourism city in Asia, while promoting and honouring the values of Vietnamese cultural heritages.
This song was created specifically for the “Hello Ho Chi Minh City” campaign and passes on a message of a city that is young, lively, friendly, and safe. And many visitors already know this, especially now that the local tourism sector is getting back on track.

Along with the introduction of the song “Hello Ho Chi Minh City”, the local tourism sector has also released video clips with new and unique angles on the city. A travel guide in both Vietnamese and English will also be released, with tips for domestic and foreign visitors on great things to see and do.

Along with refining its image and promoting tourism, the city will also introduce a range of solutions to encourage tourists to visit. Travel agencies are therefore exerting every effort to set up a range of tour programs with appealing itineraries and attractive prices.

Few people and places are remembered with such enthusiasm and affection as those in Saigon - Ho Chi Minh City. It inherent generosity brings every street corner, every person, alive./.

Vietnam seeks investment, business chances in Ukrainian province

Vietnamese Ambassador to Ukraine Nguyen Anh Tuan paid a working visit to Cherkasy province on October 8 to explore the potential for economic cooperation between this province and localities of Vietnam.

Cherkasy is located in a strategic location that connects eastern with western regions and northern with southern regions of Ukraine. It is situated on the banks of the Dnepr River with fertile black soils that are favourable for agriculture.

This province accommodates a number of food processing and poultry farming facilities. It is also known as a cultural, educational, tourism and industrial centre of Ukraine.

At a meeting during the trip, Ambassador Tuan and Cherkasy Governor Sergey I. Sergeychuk shared information on the advantages and potential for partnership in economy, science, education and tourism between Vietnamese localities and Cherkasy.

Tuan noted many successful Vietnamese entrepreneurs used to study and work in Ukraine, including Cherkasy, and they wish to return to invest and do business in this province.

Meanwhile, Sergeychuk spoke highly of Vietnam’s attainments in economic development and COVID-19 fight, affirming that favourable conditions will be created for Vietnamese firms to operate in Cherkasy.

On this occasion, the ambassador had a meeting with representatives of Vietnamese people in Cherkasy and presented the embassy’s gifts to the families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and its subsequent economic crisis./.

RCEP signing to take place online on November 14

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is set to be signed on November 14 via hologram, according to Director General of the Trade Negotiations Department Auramon Supthaweethum.

Auramon was quoted by local media as saying that 15 RCEP members have insisted on signing the pact at the upcoming summit despite the prolonged pandemic.

She said Vietnam as host country organised the unconventional approach. There will be a referendum or official signing by each country after the hologram.

The official added that the Trade Negotiations Department will publish the deal’s details on its website in both Thai and English. The deal is scheduled to be submitted to the Thai legislature for approval next year.

Auromon said she hopes the RCEP will take effect in 2021, as member countries want to stimulate economic growth amidst the serious impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic through this deal, the largest of its kind in the world.

The RCEP is a proposed FTA between the 10 member states of ASEAN and six dialogue partners, namely China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand. Negotiations on the RCEP started in late 2012 at the 21st ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh.

In last-minute talks on Nov 4 last year, with Thailand as ASEAN Chair, India pulled the plug on joining the RCEP over unresolved issues, especially those concerning agricultural tariffs.

So far, 15 participating countries have concluded text-based negotiations for all 20 chapters of the deal and market access issues.

Work starts on Da Nang Software Park No 2

The central city of Da Nang on October 10 started construction on the first phase of the Software Park No 2, worth more than 703 billion VND (30.4 million USD), at Hai Chau district.

The move forms part of the city’s effort to realise its goal of developing a smart city by 2030 and becoming a smart metropolis, a centre for startups and innovation and a livable coastal city by 2045, as set in the Politburo's resolution 43-NQ/TW.

In his remarks at the ground-breaking ceremony, Vice Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Ho Ky Minh said the Da Nang Software Park No 2 plays a vital part in developing the local information technology (IT) industry, improve business climate and create a new engine for the city’s socio-economic development.

The 28.6-ha project is scheduled to complete after 690 days. Once operational, it is expected to accommodate about 6,000 workers in the IT and digital technology sectors.

The park will house a 20-storey ICT office building with total internal floor area of more than 26,000 sqm and two 8-storey ICT office blocks with combined internal floor area of nearly 66,500 sqm.

Hanoi market has lower new condo supply but higher sold units in Q3

The Hanoi condominium market had lower new supply volume in the third quarter of this year (Q3 2020), while the sold units have exceeded new launches, according to CBRE Vietnam's report on the Hanoi property market in Q3 2020.

In Q3 2020, there were about 3,500 units launched in Hanoi leading to a total new launch during the first nine months of this year of around 10,700 units – down 61 percent year on year (y-o-y).

In terms of segments, there were only mid-end and affordable products launched in Q3 2020, accounting for  51 percent and 49 percent of total new launches, respectively. Most projects launched during this quarter are small to medium projects located outside Ring Road No 3.

Meanwhile, about 4,200 apartments were sold during the quarter, 20 percent higher than the new launch volume, although there were some delays in sales and marketing activities due to the second wave of COVID-19 in late July and early August.

Selling prices in the primary market in Q3 2020 averaged 1,325 USD per sq.m (excluding VAT and maintenance fees), down by 4 percent y-o-y due to the higher share of new launches in the affordable segment.

Moving forwards, the level of new launches is expected to hover at around 14,000 - 16,000 units in 2020, allowing sales absorption to catch up. The primary pricing is forecast to remain flat in Q4 2020 since new supply is heavily dominated by the mid-end segment and higher competition in this segment.

Nguyen Hoai An, director of Hanoi Branch, CBRE Vietnam, said: “The Hanoi condominium market has been heavily dominated by local, Hanoi-based developers. We expect this to change in the near future, as an increasing number of foreign developers, and Vietnamese Southern-based developers are expected to invest in new projects in Hanoi.”/.

Realty market embraces digital technology

More and more realty firms are using digital platforms to sell their products, driven by the Government's encouragement to develop local digital technology firms amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The application of technology in the real estate sector is forecast to be a prominent trend in 2020 and in the future,” said Pham Kim Xuan, a representative from realty research firm Jones Lang Lasalle Vietnam (JLL).

Xuan said restricted travel during the pandemic had made it difficult for traditional site inspections and direct meetings, however, demand for land still increased.

To support the demand, more and more online platforms and realty apps have popped up, offering virtual tours and online webinars so customers can experience products from a distance.

According to technology experts, tech trends have helped real estate brokers approach customers, using big data to help brokers analyse the habits, preferences, predict the wishes of customers. From there, the target audience can be selected to have suitable approaches to make advertising more effective.

Pham Ngoc Thien Thanh, manager of market research and development consulting for CBRE Vietnam, said: “The Industry 4.0 is a global trend that helps the real estate market and other industries be developed in a more comprehensive and efficient manner.”

With the VinID app, Vingroup attracted a number of customers to transact real estate and make online payments without any physical contact.

Other realty firms such as LinkHouse Company or Khai Hoan Land also developed house selling apps while realty brokerage sites such as and developed special apps to attract buyers.

Nguyen Van Dinh, vice chairman of the Vietnam Association of Realtors, said technology was changing very fast, forcing firms to be ready to adapt.

“Marketing teams of realty firms need to be creative and constantly update trends to have the best strategies to serve the customers to win the digital race," he said./.

Luxury brands shift to selling online in Thailand

Luxury fashion and auto brands in Thailand have turned to selling their products on Line – a chat app developed by Japan amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Brands like Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Volvo were among those that opened official accounts on the messaging app, which outranks Facebook’s WhatsApp and Rakuten’s Viber in Thailand, aiming to connect with users during a coronavirus lockdown.

Thailand earlier this year imposed a nationwide curfew and closed malls for nearly two months to contain infections.

“The luxury category was forced to adapt because their stores were closed. During the pandemic, sellers became very active,” said Line Thailand chief commercial officer Norasit Sitivechvichit.

Line, which charges sellers for sending messages and live streaming, said its monthly active users in Thailand grew from 44 million to 47 million this year, its second largest market after Japan.

Volvo successfully sold cars on the platform after launching in May and studying customer data, its Thailand head of marketing and digitalisation, Jean-David Harel, said.

“We have an understanding of which models they own today, which interest they have and when they plan to change their existing car,” he said.

Line last year introduced a feature for merchants to organise inventory and online store fronts, which now has over 50,000 users.

Another tool to support sellers with customer relationship and data management is slated to launch next year.

Line will soon introduce “MyRestaurant” with its food delivery app, Line Man Wongai, to support restaurants./.

ADB, Phu Yen JSC sign Vietnam’s first certified green loan for 257 MW solar power plant

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Phu Yen TTP Joint Stock Company (Phu Yen JSC) on October 9 signed a 186 million USD loan to develop and operate a 257 megawatt (MW) solar power plant in the southern province of Phu Yen’s Hoa Hoi, through the country’s first certified green loan.

Phu Yen JSC is owned by B.Grimm Power Public Company Limited and Truong Thanh Vietnam Group Joint Stock Company (TTVN).

The financing comprises a 27.9 million USD loan funded by ADB, a 148.8 million USD syndicated loan (B loan) funded by commercial banks with ADB as lender of record, and a 9.3 million USD loan from Leading Asia’s Private Infrastructure Fund (LEAP).

The syndicated loan is the first green B loan in Asia and the Pacific to be certified by the Climate Bonds Initiative, and one of the largest B loans mobilised in Vietnam.

Participating commercial banks include Bangkok Bank, Kasikorn Bank, Kiatnakin Bank, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, and Standard Chartered Bank. Green loans are used to fund new or existing projects that deliver environmental or climate-related benefits.

Infrastructure Finance Division Director for East Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific at ADB's Private Sector Operations Department Jackie B. Surtani said ADB is committed to supporting B.Grimm, one of the bank’s most valued clients, with its long-term expansion into Vietnam and its important work in renewable energy.

“We’re also excited to work for the first time with TTVN. This project will support the rapid development of solar power capacity in Vietnam, advance the country’s low-carbon growth goals, and, we hope, catalyse further commercial bank financing for renewable energy,” Surtani said.

The project is the largest single operating solar power plant in Vietnam and one of the largest in Southeast Asia. It will help to reduce 123,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually. The power plant will deliver electricity to Quang Ngai and Nha Trang cities, as well as surrounding areas in a region that is emerging as one of Vietnam’s key tourist centres.

B.Grimm Power President Preeyanart Soontornwata said this transaction will support the development of clean and sustainable energy in Vietnam and help promote the green loan market in Southeast Asia.

“This project is a further demonstration of B.Grimm Power adopting international best practices, and this landmark green transaction is proof of our focus on doing business sustainably. We would like to express our sincere appreciation to ADB for their leadership role in the transaction, and to our B loan lenders whose invaluable support builds on our long-standing relationships forged over multiple transactions,” Preeyanart Soontornwata said.

TTVN Chairman Dang Trung Kien said TTVN had successfully worked with B.Grimm from day one to reach commercial operation within a short period, thereby contributing to the energy security goals of Vietnam.

“We are pleased to see the project operating very well and value the partnership and support from ADB and participating commercial lenders in achieving this financing milestone in the Vietnamese renewables market,” he said./.

Indonesia to set up 5 billion USD sovereign wealth fund

The Indonesian government is preparing 75 trillion Rp (5.1 billion USD) for the nation’s sovereign wealth fund (SWF) to attract investment and support the economy as global heavyweights from the United States to the United Arab Emirates have expressed interest to join.

The Jakarta Post quoted Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati as saying that 30 trillion Rp of the sum would be in cash, while the remaining would be in the form of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) shares and other state assets.

The fund is aimed at attracting 225 trillion Rp in investment, with foreign funds from the United Arab Emirates, Japanese conglomerate Softbank and the US International Development Finance Corporation (IFDC) already lining up to invest in the fund, officials said previously.

The establishment of the sovereign wealth fund, which will be called the Indonesia Investment Authority, is included in the Job Creation Law. The law has met with widespread protests and criticism from labor unions and civil groups over the potentially negative impact it could have on labor rights and the environment, although the government’s goal is to attract investment, boost economic growth and create jobs.

The fund will have a supervisory council led by the finance minister, with members including the SOEs minister and three more professionals, according to the law. The board of directors will include five professionals to oversee the fund’s operation, including to formulate the fund’s policy and work plan, among other things.

The Indonesian government can inject more money into the fund should its capital decline significantly, the law states. Indonesia would follow Russia’s sovereign wealth fund model as it would raise the required funds from private investors instead of from the country’s reserve funds, Deputy SOEs Minister Kartika “Tiko” Wirjoatmodjo said earlier this year.

According to Permata Bank economist Josua Pardede, although the fund could act as alternative financing sources to boost economic growth, the government must ensure that the fund should be transparent and independent.

“Both the supervisory council and board of directors must be independent, transparent and far from political interest to mitigate the risk of corruption. As the fund will manage a significant amount of assets, prudent management is the key to avoid potential state losses,” he said./.

Indonesia: 35 percent of workers laid off due to COVID-19

A recent survey conducted by Jobstreet Indonesia showed that 35 percent of workers in the country had been laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, while 19 percent had been forced to take unpaid leave.

JobStreet Indonesia country manager Faridah Lim said that 54 percent of Indonesian workers had felt the impacts of the pandemic.

He said the hospitality, tourism, textile, food and beverage and architecture sectors had been the most impacted. Those working in the hospitality and catering services were most affected, with 85 percent, followed by tourism workers 82 percent, and construction workers 64 percent.

People aged 18-24 were also among the hardest hit by the coronavirus, with 67 percent, the survey showed.

Involving more than 5,000 respondents from across Indonesia, including employees, jobseekers and recruiters, the survey also found that 43 percent of Indonesian workers have suffered pay cuts of up to 30 percent during the imposition of large-scale social restrictions (PSBB).

Jobstreet Indonesia also made an assessment of the satisfaction of Indonesian workers with the quality of life. Accordingly, before the COVID-19 outbreak, about 92 percent of respondents said they were satisfied with their quality of life. However, at present, the number of such people has fallen to 38 percent.

According to experts, the number of people who are pessimistic about the quality of life in Indonesia will continue to increase if the Indonesian Government does not take drastic measures to control the pandemic to recover the economy./.

Industrial production in HCM City needs long-term support: Insiders

Businesses in HCM City are in need of specific and long-term solutions, given that its index of industrial production (IIP) fell 4.9 percent in the first nine months of this year, according to insiders.

Rising 9.6 percent in September against August, yet the IIP has failed to gain ground this year, the municipal Department of Industry and Trade said.

Sectors such as processing and manufacturing, electricity generation and distribution, and water supply and waste treatment posted declines ranging from 1.2 to 5.8 percent in the period.

Sharp falls were seen in metals (29.1 percent), wood and wooden products, except beds, wardrobes, tables and chairs, (22.6 percent), clothing (20.3 percent), and other processing and manufacturing industries (19.2 percent).

The IIP in electronics and chemistry rose 18.5 percent and 7.6 percent, respectively.

Figures show that the consumption index for the processing and manufacturing sector fell 3.6 percent year-on-year in the January-September period. Its inventory index, meanwhile, remained high in certain areas like copying, wood processing, and chemical production.

Nguyen Phuong Dong, Deputy Director of the Department of Industry and Trade, attributed the situation to the COVID-19.

Hirai Shinji, Chief Representative of the Japan Trade Promotion Organisation (JETO) in HCM City, said Vietnam has emerged as a leading investment destination.

He suggested the country update equipment and technologies, increase productivity, and improve workplace knowledge in order to integrate more deeply into the global supply chain./.

Cambodia’s poverty rate to double to 17.6 pct due to COVID-19: UNDP

Cambodia’s poverty rate could nearly double to 17.6 percent and unemployment could rise to 4.8 percent, according to a policy brief that assesses the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 in Cambodia released by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) on October 8.

It was launched through careful consultation with the Cambodian Ministry of Economy and Fiance (MEF) and other partners.

The impact assessment uses three models to measure impact and model scenarios that can mitigate further risks resulting from the pandemic.

The assessment estimates that economic growth could contract from an original 6.5 percent for 2020 to minus 4.1 percent. Under this scenario, the poverty rate and unemployment are forecast to surge to 17.6 percent and 4.8 percent, respectively. Cambodia’s poverty rate fell significantly to 10 percent last year from 53.2 percent in 2004.

A social protection stimulus of 3.5 percent of GDP would limit GDP contraction to minus 3.3 percent and lessen the impact on unemployment and poverty to 4.4 percent and 14.2 percent, respectively, the assessment says. This social protection stimulus would prevent 570,000 people from sliding back into poverty.

“The modelling of economic and social impacts can help us better understand the impact of this global pandemic on Cambodia and how we can best design stimulus packages in response,” said Nick Beresford, UNDP Resident Representative.

Earlier this week, the Cambodian government announced it will extend the COVID-19 relief programme for another three months for about 600,000 poor families, equivalent to more than 3 million people.

Chhour Sopanha, director of Cambodia’s Social Welfare Department of the Ministry of Social Affairs, said the extra fund is up to 300 million USD.

The country has so far set out two phases for the support, with the first phase covering June and July, and the second phase covering August and September./.

Southern logistics projects catch eye of investors

Substantial amounts of domestic and foreign capital are being poured into major logistics projects in the south of Vietnam.

Last weekend, the Tan Cang - Cai Mep JSC and the Republic of Korea’s KCTC Vietnam signed a comprehensive partnership deal on providing warehousing and logistics services.

Founded in Vietnam more than a decade ago, KCTC Vietnam provides multimodal transport, cargo handling, warehousing, logistics consulting, and goods storage services, according to general director Park Hyun Bae.

With years of experience in logistics services, KCTC Vietnam aims to become a centre providing the best logistics solutions to customers in the East - South - North Asian regions, he said.

Meanwhile, the Tan Cang - Cai Mep JSC has operated a deep-water seaport of the same name in the southern province of Ba Ria - Vung Tau, Vietnam’s first, since June 2009, which is capable of berthing vessels of up to 160,000 DWT.

The two companies have cooperated over recent years to handle Out of Gauge shipments at ports in the Cai Mep area. The new partnership is therefore expected to better serve shipments by FDI firms in Vietnam and set the scene for the logistics sector to thrive.

Work, meanwhile, started in September on the second phase of the Long An International Port project in the Mekong Delta province of Long An. The 147-ha port is being developed in three phases with a total investment of nearly 10 trillion VND (430.7 million USD). It is designed to have seven wharves with two - wharves No 6 and 7 - built in the second phase and be able to berth vessels of up to 70,000 DWT.

Work on wharves No 4 and 5 is being fast-tracked so they will be operational by 2021.

Construction was completed on three wharves with a total length of 630 metres in the project’s first phase. As of 2019, Long An International Port had received nearly 1,000 domestic and foreign ships, including many of 50,000DWT, and handled about 1 million tonnes of cargo.


The project investor is working on legal procedures to expand the port and build two other wharves at an undisclosed date, which would be able to receive 100,000DWT ships.

This would increase its total number of wharves to nine with a combined length of 2,368 metres, making it one of the country’s longest international ports.

Experts estimate that Vietnam’s logistics market accounts for 21-25 percent of GDP, but the industry remains dominated by foreign investors holding a market share of some 80 percent. More foreign investment is expected to land into the sector in the future, as Vietnam is now a member of a number of new free trade agreements (FTAs), such as the EU-Vietnam FTA.

In August, the IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, announced it will provide a financing package of 70 million USD to the Vietnam-based Indo Trans Logistics Corporation (ITL Corp), to support the development of the logistics sector, thereby facilitating trade and enhancing Vietnam’s competitiveness amid COVID-19.

According to the IFC, Vietnam’s logistics sector has enjoyed strong growth over the last few years, which can be attributed to record-high foreign investment, mainly in manufacturing and processing, which require strong logistics, and from booming local consumption.

The loan will enable ITL Corp to provide higher quality and sophisticated logistics services to local manufacturers and small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Meanwhile, European investors are eyeing injecting capital in developing Cai Mep Ha Port’s 984-million USD logistics services centre on an area of over 1,760 ha.

The project aims to provide seaport services and goods storage in bonded warehouses, frozen warehouses, and others, with a capacity of 3 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) per year./.

Vietnam, RoK cooperate in sustainable sesame production

Research results on sesame production, processing, and trading from experts in Vietnam and the Republic of Korea (RoK) were the topic of discussion at a workshop held in the north-central province of Nghe An on October 8 and 9.

Vietnam’s National Agricultural Extension Centre and the Korea Rural Economic Institute (KREI) have joined hands since 2019 in a project on sustainable sesame production in Vietnam.

Sesame is a good source of energy due to their high fat content, containing healthy fats like polyunsaturated fatty acids and Omega-6. They also contain fibre, iron, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus, which help boost energy levels, scientists have shown.

The sesame growing area in Vietnam has contracted sharply in recent times, from 54,840 ha in 2015 to 31,180 ha last year, with average productivity of just 0.8 tonne per ha. Nghe An province has the largest area of sesame in the north-central region, with 3,500 ha.

The Department of Crop Production at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development blamed the decline on inadequate attention from farmers and the impact of climate change.

According to the Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences, sesame must compete with other crops with higher economic value. Policies for production have also remained limited.

The department, therefore, suggested suitable policies be introduced in support of sesame production and more attention be paid to research studies on sesame varieties as well as technical measures.

The production chain, with the involvement of State management agencies, researchers, farmers, and businesses, must be effective, it said./.

Long An enterprises updated on EVFTA

Enterprises operating in the Mekong Delta province of Long An received updates on the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and international economic integration in general at a conference hosted by the provincial People’s Committee on October 9.

Ngo Chung Khanh, deputy head of the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT)’s Multilateral Trade Policy Department, briefed those in attendance on the policies and views of the Party and the State on international economic integration as well as instructions for implementing key contents of new-generation FTAs, including the EVFTA and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

Addressing the event, Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Nguyen Van Ut highlighted the significance of the signing of the EVFTA, saying that it contributes to accelerating economic restructuring, changing growth models, and creating favourable conditions for businesses to join newly-formed value chains in partnerships between Vietnam and other countries worldwide.

The deal also opens up more opportunities for Vietnamese businesses in general and those in Long An in particular to expand export markets./.

HCM City's trade co-operation programme with provinces a big success

The trade co-operation programme between HCM City and southern provinces has over the past years helped significantly promote consumption of his province’s products, enabling businesses to expand production and trading and contributing to socio-economic development, a Ben Tre Province leader has said.

Nguyen Huu Lap, vice chairman of its People’s Committee, said, “The programme has helped manufacturers in the province find regular outlets for their products, making them feel secure about investing more into expansion and improving product quality.”

Chau Thi Le, deputy director of the Long An Province Department of Industry and Trade, said HCM City, a large market for her province’s products, played an important role in guiding provinces’ agriculture by fixing standards their produce have to meet to sell to it.

“The province actively encouraged farmers to change their methods towards safe production in accordance with VietGAP standards, but achieved very limited results.

“When HCM City set the purchase standards … farmers immediately changed their production methods to enable their produce to meet these requirements.

“Thanks to HCM City’s requirements, Long An has built 17 safe agricultural supply chains for vegetables, rice, chicken, pork, beef, and seafood and is building three more for dragon fruit, vegetables, mushrooms.

“Besides, many safe and organic production models are being adopted.”

Bui Ta Hoang Vu, director of the HCM City Department of Industry and Trade, said, “Enhancing demand-supply links is an indispensable and important aspect of trade.

“The Trade Cooperation Programme between HCM City and other provinces and cities has had a positive effect, creating comprehensive co-operation in the field of trade between the city and provinces and cities in the south-eastern and south-western regions.

“During the last five years 3,193 contracts and MoUs have been signed between city businesses and those in the southern region worth an estimated VND4.5 trillion (US$194.06 million) a year on average.”

Provinces and cities have created favourable conditions for HCM City businesses to set up shop there and to collaborate with farmers for animal breeding and cultivation, according to his department.

Twenty eight firms participating in the city’s price stabilisation programme have invested more than VND18 trillion ($778.1 million) in 47 production facilities and 63 agricultural farms in their localities.

Thus they have created reliable raw material sources and ensured quality, the department said.

Saigon Coop, for instance, has developed a system of warehouses, logistics and supermarkets throughout the country and is a large buyer of agricultural products.

Vissan is associated with many livestock breeding farms in provinces and cities. Saigon Livestock Breeding and Food Processing Company (Sagrifood) annually supplies 80,000 piglets to breeding farms in 23 provinces and cities nation-wide, of which 80 per cent are in the south.

Nguyen Huynh Trang, deputy director of the city Department of Industry and Trade, said most enterprises participating in the city’s price stabilisation programme distributed at a single price nation-wide.

Thus, they contributed to stabilising markets around the country, she pointed out.

"In addition, the city’s three wholesale markets receive an average of 8,000 tonnes of agricultural products and foodstuffs every day from other localities for consumption in the city and transshipment to many other provinces and cities, helping balance supply and demand in the southern region.”

Following the resounding success of the programme, the HCM City Department of Industry and Trade will continue to work with its counterparts in other cities and provinces for another five years.

They plan to enhance exchange of information, sharing their experiences in management of industry and trade, production, and trading and discussing the strengths of each province and city.

In the next phase, the programme is expected to not only expand domestic consumption, but also promote export of industrial consumer products and household appliances and build brands for agricultural products and specialities of each locality.

Government agencies will work to improve the efficiency of the programme to enable more businesses to meet, exchange information and explore co-operation opportunities.

Lap said the Ministry of Industry and Trade, HCM City and businesses should continue to provide businesses in his province with information about the market and requirements for goods, help connect them with distributors and create favourable conditions for their goods to enter the city’s modern distribution network.

Duong Anh Duc, vice chairman of the HCM City People’s Committee, said, “The city will continue to direct relevant departments and agencies to clear obstacles to furthering trade between the city and other cities and provinces.”

SBV updates security for card payments

In the wake of new advances in science and technology that pose challenges to security and confidentiality, the State Bank of Viet Nam (SBV) is drafting amendments to Circular 47/2014/TT-NHNN with new technical regulations on security and confidentiality for the card payment system.  Under the changes, banks and payment intermediaries will need to withdraw, remove or deactivate unused, expired or inactive accounts after 90 days, or accounts that are not activated within the required period.

Card numbers must also be kept confidential by only displaying the first six and the last four digits.

Only employees who have the authority to perform certain procedures or the authorities and the cardholders themselves will be allowed access to the full information.

Banks, card payment organisations and payment intermediaries will no longer be allowed to provide intranet addresses and routing information to other organisations without authorisation, and should take measures to protect such information when connecting with third parties.

In addition, workstations must not have access to card data which is not concealed or encrypted.

For payment equipment, all remote administration access connections should be encrypted using strong encryption to minimise cybersecurity risks.

To ensure security, banks and payment intermediaries will need to review software technology at least once a year. If it is no longer supported or does not meet security requirements, it must be repaired or replaced.

Access to all card payment systems must be verified using at least one of these methods: secret password, device, authentication card, biometrics.

The SBV said the provisions under Circular 47 were technical requirements for equipment security serving the card payment system and would not affect bank customers' accounts. 

Housing prices in central provinces cool off

Housing prices in central provinces have cooled off in recent times after rapidly rising in 2018-19.

According to the Viet Nam Association of Realtors, after increasing rapidly in 2018-19, housing prices in Da Nang, Nha Trang and Quang Nam are now more reasonable.

In Da Nang City, for example, FPT City had prices of around VND22-25 million, Hoa Xuan Urban Zone VND20-27 million and Nam Hoa Xuan 27-30 million per square metre.

In Quang Nam Province, projects in the cities had prices of VND40-60 million and VND17-20 million per square metre in emerging districts.

The association said in the first nine months of this year, the Da Nang and Quang Nam real estate markets did not see many new offerings and housing supply of projects with good infrastructure system and clear legality was limited.

Projects which drew attention in the third quarter of this years were Hoa Xuan and FPT City in Da Nang.

In Quang Nam, Epic Town and 7B Quang Nam Urban Area were also drawing significant interest. About 60 per cent of the units on offer were sold.

Projects which had basically completed their investment in infrastructure and had clear legal status and reasonable prices were the most attractive to investors, the association said.

In Khanh Hoa Province, statistics of the Viet Nam Association of Realtors showed there were few real estate projects approved in the past two years.

The market did not see robust transactions while prices also dropped by 20-30 per cent.

Prices of high-end apartments in Nha Trang City fell from VND40-60 million per square metre to VND30-50 million. Middle-end apartments now had prices of around VND22-30 million.

The association said projects in areas with development planning and improving infrastructure would attract investors.

The association forecast that transactions of land in the western and northern Nha Trang, Bac Van Phong and Cam Lam would be robust in the remaining months of this year and next year.

September saw a significant interest of investors in real estate projects in Khanh Hoa, the association said. 

Gelex completes acquiring shares at Viglacera

The Viet Nam Electrical Equipment JSC (Gelex) has acquired a 21.1 per cent stake at construction group Viglacera to raise its ownership to 46.07 per cent.

Both firms said in a filing to the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange (HoSE) on Thursday that Gelex had bought more than 94.6 million Viglacera shares, lifting its ownership in the latter to more than 206.5 million shares.

Prior to the deal, Gelex and its member firm owned a total of nearly 112 million Viglacera shares, equal to a 24.96 per cent stake.

Gelex had bid for 95 million Viglacera shares between August 26 and September 25. The firm had raised its offer three times from VND17,700 (US$0.76) per share to VND21,500 and VND23,500 per share, respectively.

During the bid, Viglacera shares – listed on HoSE as VGC – swung between VND22,000 and VND23,000 per share.

Thus, the deal was valued between VND2.08-2.17 trillion.

Viglacera shares were flat at VND22,800 apiece on Friday while Gelex shares (HoSE: GEX) gained 1.3 per cent to trade at VND22,900 apiece.

Gelex is planning to gain the controlling stake at Viglacera as the company wants to own 51 per cent of the industrial park developer.

If Gelex bids for the remaining 5 per cent, the company will not have to make the deal public according to the amended securities law.

Viglacera was equitised in July 2014 and the Ministry of Construction has represented the Government to manage the State capital at the firm.

The ministry now has a 38 per cent stake at Viglacera and it is planning to offload its stake in 2020 at a reasonable price. However, Viglacera’s divestment plan has remained confidential.

Gelex’s plan to acquire Viglacera will help the electrical firm enter the industrial park development sector. On October 1, Gelex vice chairman Luong Thanh Tung was appointed the vice general director at Viglacera.

If the merger is completed in 2020, Gelex will log a total revenue of VND19.6 trillion ($846.4 million), up 27 per cent on-year, and a pre-tax profit of VND975 billion, down 12 per cent on-year, on increased expenses.

Online forum discusses role of cobots in future manufacturing industry

Leading experts discussed the role collaborative robots (cobots) in the future manufacturing industry throughout Asia-Pacific at an online congress, entitled “Meet the Cobot Leaders”, early this week.

At the event, leading experts in the cobot industry gave insights and answered questions from practitioners and attendees online, with visionary and practical insights on post-pandemic manufacturing, and how manufacturers in Asia-Pacific can be future-ready.

Participants heard that the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 exacerbated existing challenges and exposed new vulnerabilities for manufacturers around the world.

The serious disruption to supply chains, sudden material shortages, and steep swings in demand left manufacturers grappling with changes.

Labour-intensive manufacturing has been hit painfully by the regional governments' COVID-19 measures of extended lockdowns and social distancing. But such measures present an opportunity for labour-centric manufacturers to rethink their operations, on ways to keep production going while adhering to regulatory measures, without sacrificing cost efficiency, and to future-proof operations for more resilience.

“In Asia-Pacific, business owners and operators have to juggle costs, value creation, and profit. In some locales where real estate is costly, such as Singapore and other metropolitan cities, cobots can be a tremendous help in maximising floor space with human operators and cobots working in tandem to achieve the highest levels of production while adhering to physical distancing guidelines,” said James McKew, Regional Director of APAC, Universal Robots.

“We foresee cobots to grow exponentially in the very near future in our ASEAN region, especially in the small and medium businesses (SMBs) segment. COVID-19 has accelerated the adoption of cobots in many industries," said Dr Yeong, moderator of “Meet the Cobot Leaders” conference, and Director of DF Automation and Robotics.

Experts said that cobots have been the perfect nimble tool for many innovative applications throughout the world, and especially in emerging ASEAN markets where the adoption rates of cobots and other industrial robots have been steadily outpacing the established Western markets.

Cobots do not require professional engineers or software developers, anyone with an ability to operate a simple graphical tablet will be able to command and control such cobots after some basic training.

Cobots have found their way into medical applications because of the COVID-19 crisis, with applications such as swab testing, sterilisation, and mobilised disinfection, including the disinfection of aircraft seat arm rests to alleviate the possibility of repetitive strain injuries or even infections in humans.

“Meet the Cobot Leaders” is part of “WeAreCobots APAC”, the first collaborative robots virtual expo in Asia Pacific, hosted by Universal Robots. “Meet the Cobot Leaders” and all 15 online keynote sessions, including “Meet the Cobot Leaders” will be on-demand at from October 9 to November 7. 

Cashew exports to enjoy vigorous growth during end of year

Vietnam raked in US$2.3 billion from exporting 363,00 tonnes of cashew nuts during the opening nine months of the year, representing a year-on-year rise of 10.6% in volume and a decline of 4% in value, according to data released by the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT). 

The figures by the MoIT show that the average export price of cashew nuts in September enjoyed an increase of 2.1% to US$5,960 per tonne from the previous month, but fell by 13.5% from September last year.

In terms of the global market, the price of cashew nuts ranged between US$6,128 and US$7,054 per tonne, with Chinese demand for the products increasing.

Recent times have witnessed the price of cashew nuts among the domestic market continuously increase, with some local companies facing shortages of raw materials.

Due to the supply source of raw cashew nuts in the global market remaining huge, the price of cashew nuts is anticipated to increase over the next two months. As a result of these shift, experts recommend that domestic cashew processing factories should remain cautious about the situation.

Ta Quang Huyen, general director of Hoang Son 1 Company, said that cashew nuts in local inventories have been sold at lower prices compared to the same period from last year, adding that market demand has seen a gradual rise, largely due to businesses starting to purchase raw materials in an effort to resume production activities.

Moving forward, the Vietnam Cashew Association forecasts that the export of cashew nuts during the remainder of the year will record a sharp increase due to high consumption demand from major importers such as the United States, the EU, India, and China.

Most notably, the price of cashew nuts is forecast to see a slight increase due to several small and medium-sized cashew processing facilities in both Vietnam and India reducing their capacity, therefore leading to a decline in terms of the supply sources to the global market.

Live pig prices fall steeply

Live pig prices in Vietnam have fallen steeply due to the surge in the imports of frozen pork and live pigs from Thailand.

Live pig prices declined by VND10,000-12,000 per kilo in October compared with September to some VND70,000 per kilo.

In the northern provinces and cities, the prices of live pigs today, October 12, are at some VND66,000-73,000 per kilo. Hanoi, Bac Giang and Vinh Phuc saw the steepest declines in the prices of live pigs.

Live pig prices range between VND72,000 and VND78,000 per kilo in the central region and Central Highlands and between VND70,000 and VND76,000 per kilo in the southern provinces and cities.

According to a live pig trader, the price in Hanoi today is VND66,000 per kilo, the lowest over the past several months.

A live pig trader in the Mekong Delta province of Long An said live pig prices in the province have dropped from VND78,000 per kilo early this month to VND70,000-71,000 per kilo at present.

Speaking to VnExpress, Le Xuan Huy, deputy general director of C.P. Vietnam Corporation, said the company’s live pig prices have fallen by VND10,000 per kilo over the past month to VND70,000-73,000 per kilo.

Huy explained that besides the increasing imports of frozen pork and live pigs from Thailand, the decreasing local demand for pork has led to the recent drop in the prices of live pigs. 

According to a report of the Hoc Mon wholesale market in HCMC, 4,530 live pigs are transported to the market everyday, some 1,000 pigs less than the daily average of last month. Compared with 10 days ago, the prices of live pigs have decreased by VND7,000 per kilo to VND70,000-73,000 per kilo, while pork prices have also fallen by VND5,000-7,000 per kilo.

Data of HCMC indicated that the city’s current consumption is just 5,600-5,700 pigs a day, falling by 43% compared with the same period last year.