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Quicker disbursement of ODA funds shows the government’s responsibility and capability in utilizing funds in the eyes of investors and donors.

The disbursed amount of official development assistance (ODA) funds in Vietnam in the first nine months of 2020 stood at only VND26 trillion (US$1.12 billion), equivalent to 32.43% of the year’s estimate, requiring drastic measures to realize the government’s target.

The information was mentioned at an online conference on October 14 discussing the disbursement progress of ODA funds in the January – September period.

At the meeting, representative of the Ministry of Finance said the projects financed by ODA funds face much more severe impacts from the Covid-19 pandemic than domestic ones.

This came by the fact that contractors were unable to mobilize experts, machinery and equipment from abroad.

Moreover, changes in ODA policies, slow site clearance process, contractors’ limited capacity, disputes between project owners and contractors, are among notable issues preventing a faster ODA funds disbursement.

General Director of the Debt Management and External Finance Department under the Ministry of Finance Truong Hung Long said with current disbursement rate, the target of disbursing the remaining VND40 trillion (US$1.72 billion) in ODA funds for the rest months of the year remains a huge challenge.

However, as public investment is a key measure to boost economic growth during the Covid-19 pandemic, a faster disbursement progress of public funds, including ODA, is a must, stated Mr. Long, adding this proves the Vietnamese government’s responsibility and capability in utilizing funds in the eyes of investors and donors.

In late August, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc warned officials would face disciplinary actions if their ministries and localities fail to realize their respective disbursement targets of public investment funds for this year.

The government targets to disburse the full amount of VND630 trillion (US$27.26 billion) to aid economic recovery, and the progress as of September stood at 57.15% of the target. 

Webinar looks to bolster Vietnam-Russia trade amid COVID-19

A webinar aiming to bolster trade between Vietnam and Russia was held on October 15.

The event was jointly organised by the Department of Trade Promotion (Vietrade) at the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Trade Office at the Embassy of Vietnam in Russia in collaboration with the Russian Embassy in Vietnam, the Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Saint-Petersburg and Primorsky Krai.

It drew representatives of more than 30 Vietnamese firms and nearly 80 Russian ones in industrial-agriculture, pharmaceutical industry and cosmetics, exports-imports, transport-logistics, e-commerce and legal consultancy, among others.

In his remarks, Vietrade Deputy Director General Le Hoang Tai affirmed that cooperation in economy, trade and investment between Vietnam and Russia has made strides over the years.

Vietnam is an important partner of Russia in Southeast Asia as bilateral trade makes up about one third of the total ASEAN-Russia trade value.

Vietnam has poured nearly 3 billion USD in 22 projects in Russia, especially those in oil and gas, dairy farming and the Hanoi-Moscow multipurpose trade centre. More than 200 small- and medium-sized enterprises are operating in the East Asian nation.

Meanwhile, Russia ranks 24th among 129 countries and territories investing in Vietnam. Russia had channelled close to 1 billion USD into Vietnam as of last October.

Given that the two economies are supplementary, bilateral trade value still remains modest compared to the countries’ potential, Tai noted.

In the face of the negative impact brought by COVID-19 to global economic cooperation and trade, Vietnam has emerged as a destination for foreign businesses and investors. Therefore, enhancing economic cooperation, trade and investment between Vietnam and Russia in such context holds significant meaning, together with incentives on technology transfer, in helping raise Vietnam’s technology level and production capacity, he added.

During the webinar, the Russian side spoke highly of the Vietnamese market’s potential and the implementation of the Vietnam-Eurasian Economic Union Free Trade Agreement.

Vietnam earned 2.2 billion USD from exports to Russia in the first nine months of this year, up 3.8 percent. Shipments of fisheries, fruits and electronic components expanded in the period.

Vietnam imported goods worth 1.5 billion USD from Russia in nine months, a rise of 14 percent./.

Binh Duong industrial parks prepare for growing FDI flows

Binh Duong Province, which is a major destination for foreign investment, has been focusing on developing industrial parks.

The parks are quickly building technical infrastructure: since the start of this year businesses have invested VND146 billion (US$6.3 million) in infrastructure, 3.8 per cent more than in the same period last year.

Infrastructure work is nearing completion at the upcoming Viet Nam - Singapore Industrial Park III, which will open to investors in the near future.

The 1,000-hectare park, which has seen over VND6.4 trillion invested in its infrastructure, is expected to be a green industrial park, and will only house factories that are modern and environment-friendly.

Nguyen Thanh Truc, deputy chairman of the province People's Committee, said besides supporting industries Binh Duong focuses on industries that are hi-tech, environment-friendly and have high value-addition.

Binh Duong is among the top three destinations for FDI, accounting for 9.2 per cent of the country's total.

Japan is the top investor out of the 65 countries and territories that are in the province.

Hideyuki Okada, chairman of the Japanese Business Association in HCM City, said Binh Duong was one of the best places in Viet Nam for Japanese businesses.

The province attracted more than US$1.2 billion worth of FDI in the first nine months of this year, with nearly 70 per cent invested in industrial parks. 

Better policies needed to overcome impacts of pandemic

Though the Government has taken decisive steps to curb the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are still risks to the economy, economists said yesterday at a seminar in Ha Noi.

At a seminar on policies to overcome the impact of the pandemic held by the National Economics University and other partners, rector of the university and economist Pham Hong Chuong said: “The Government should implement more drastic measures to increase the resistance of the economy."

Chuong added: "The country needs to prepare capacity to respond to the pandemic and have a quick economic recovery when the virus is controlled, preventing a decline into recession.”

Although local authorities have provided timely and flexible packages to help people and the economy stay safe amid the pandemic, Nguyen Minh Son, deputy chairman of the National Assembly’s Economic Committee, said difficulties in disbursement were still preventing people from accessing the support.

“It is necessary to evaluate the disbursement rate of the support package, clarify the causes of slow implementation in some places and offer solutions.”

The number of enterprises temporarily suspending operations reached 34,300 in the first nine months of the year, up 70.8 per cent from the same period last year. In September, about 17.6 million workers had their incomes reduced, of which 2.4 million lost their jobs while the unemployment rate was reported to be the highest in 10 years.

Bui Duc Tho, vice rector of the university, urged the Government to give more support for businesses and local producers, adding: “Support policies should be clear and transparent, minimising the procedures to access them.”

Tho said small and medium enterprises should receive more attention due to the poor resilience of this type of business amid the pandemic, mentioning there were thousands of small firms in tourism and service industries that had to shut down as they ran out of capital.

Attending the seminar, economist Vo Tri Thanh said the effectiveness of the first support package was low, adding: "I'm very concerned that the second support package that should have been launched in September is not yet ready."

Participants at the seminar said while the tourism industry and related sectors such as transport, restaurants and services suffered due to declines in international visitors, information and technology; electronic equipment and accessories, logistics, e-commerce, consumer goods and retail saw good growth.

Son from the National Assembly’s Economic Committee said the FDI flows were shifted from processing, manufacturing and real estate to technology and retail as the country was one of the most attractive for investment.

However, he added: “To compete with other countries in the region in attracting FDI, Viet Nam needs clear orientations and solutions in both the short and long term.”

Son said: “Solutions are needed to increase productivity and attract investment from the private sector and high-quality FDI, increase exports, public investment and domestic consumption.”

As economist Vo Tri Thanh said: “Expectations for the second support package are huge.”

Participants from ministries, departments, central branches, international organisations, universities and economists discussed important issues and suggested policies and economic development models to overcome the impacts of the pandemic in Ha Noi.

They also forecast the opportunities and challenges for the local economy in the last months of 2020 and next year. 

SSI sets up Vietnam Growth Investment Fund with 2 foreign partners

SSI Asset Management has signed a deal with two foreign partners to set up the Vietnam Growth Investment Fund.

They include CT Bright, Charoen Pokphand Group’s flagship investment platform, and Mercuria Investment Co., LTD, an investment management company in which Development Bank of Japan, Itochu Corporation and Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank are the major shareholders.

VGIF will invest around US$150 million in private companies.

Its main investment focuses will be consumers goods and other sectors in which Viet Nam has competitive advantages, mainly essential industries that have many growth factors like attractive support policies like food and beverage, retail, medicine/health, energy, and water.

In addition to capital contribution, the three founders will also co-ordinate in all aspects such as management of fund operations, capital mobilisation, enterprise appraisal, and investment decision making.

SSIAM is responsible for finding, approaching and negotiating investment opportunities and participate in the management of the investee enterprises.

Speaking at the online signing ceremony, Le Thi Le Hang, CEO of SSI Fund Management Company, said: “2020 has been a memorable year for SSIAM as we successively established new funds such as SSIAM VNFIN LEAD ETF, SSIAM VN30 ETF and the upcoming Private Equity Fund - VGIF.

“With the growing economy and increasingly diversified investment needs, with a longer-term vision, we believe that VGIF will achieve great success.”

Vietravel Airlines poised to take flight this December

Vietravel Airlines will launch its first flight in mid-December 2020 as opposed to the previous schedule of starting flights during the first half of 2021, according to Nguyen Quoc Ky, CEO of Vietravel, one of Vietnam’s leading tour operators.

Addressing the 2020 Business Forum hosted by Forbes Vietnam October 15, Ky revealed that he has now received a flight permit and the company will move forward with plans to conduct its first flight on December 18.

Earlier this year Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung signed a decision approving the Vietravel Airlines project, with total investment reaching VND700 billion.

Vietravel Airlines will be headquartered at Phu Bai International Airport in Thua Thien-Hue province, central Vietnam. It is designed to provide domestic and international air transport services, setting a goal of welcoming one million passengers during its first year of operation.

Ky added that due to COVID-19 the airline will largely focus on the domestic market of 100 million people in the near future, alongside a small number of businesses.

Plans proposed by Vietravel will see the airline use three aircraft during the first year, and the fleet is expected to expand to eight by the fifth year.

Ky also said that the company’s revenue from domestic travel in July was unexpectedly higher than before, adding that the tourism industry is likely to bounce back due to the return of the international market in autumn of next year.

Teleconference discusses Vietnam-Germany trade promotion

Dozens of Vietnamese and German firms were attending a teleconference on October 15 with the aim of boosting trade promotion, strengthening connectivity, and ramping up bilateral co-operation between the two countries.

The event was jointly held by the Vietnamese Embassy in Germany and the Vietnam Trade Promotion Agency (VIETRADE) under the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

In his opening speech, Ambassador Nguyen Minh Vu emphasised that co-operative relations between Vietnam and Germany have been developing across multiple fields, especially following the two countries upgrading ties to a strategic partnership in 2011.

Germany has since developed into one of Vietnam’s most important economic partners within the EU, with two-way turnover reaching EUR14 billion last year, a four-fold increase compared to figures from 2009, Vu said.

In addition, he said Germany is also one of the four EU members that has poured a large amount of investment into Vietnam. Currently, 361 German-invested projects are operating in Vietnam, focusing mainly on such fields as mechanics, machinery manufacturing, logistics, chemicals, and renewable energy.

Meanwhile, Vietnam represents one of Germany’s three largest economic partners within ASEAN, funneling investment into finance, banking, informatics, as well as restaurants and hotels.

The Vietnamese diplomat underscored the enforcement of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and the imminent ratification of the EU-Vietnam Investment Protection Agreement (EVIPA) in putting both sides on the pathway to brighter economic prospects in the near future.

At the event, Vu Ba Phu, VIETRADE director, noted Germany has become one of the country’s traditional and most significant trading partners, acting as an important gateway for Vietnamese goods to penetrate other markets throughout Europe.

According to Phu, local firms have recently been keen to meet the stringent requirements set by German and EU importers, while fully tapping into opportunities brought by the EVFTA. In addition, he said VIETRADE has exerted all-out efforts to serve as a bridge for firms from both sides to enhance trade exchanges and intensify investment in the future.

Representatives of the Federal Association for Economic Development and Foreign Trade, the German Association for Small and Medium-sized Businesses, and the Vietnam Business Association in Germany shared experiences, as well as opportunities and challenges from the EVFTA, in order to expand cooperation partnerships.

Businesses of the two sides then met virtually to exchange information and seek partners for future cooperation. 

Pork prices sharply fall due to abundant supply

Pork prices in Vietnam have been on a drastic decrease thanks to abundant supply.

On Thursday, a kilo of pig at a cattle and poultry wholesale market in the northern province of Ha Nam was just VND55-67,000 (USD2.39-2.91); down VND13-25,000 per kilo compared to one month earlier. 

Nguyen The Chinh, head of the Ha Nam cattle and poultry wholesale market, said that many pig breeding companies have succeeded in increasing livestock, helping to spur supply.

Despite the considerable price decline, pig transactions at the market has remained slow.

In May, pig prices in Vietnam reached a record high of around VND100,000 per kilo because of local supply shortages. To help ease the problem, Vietnam decided to import pigs from Thailand and pork from some markets, including Russia.

However, according to some traders, the country would still face the risk of pork price rises again in the coming time as African Swine Fever has not yet been brought under control. Demand for pork would also dramatically grow in the run-up to the Lunar New Year.

State-owned enterprises’ overseas investments face losses

Up to 47 overseas investment projects by Vietnam’s state-owned enterprises (SOEs) incurred losses of around USD1 billion by the end of last year.

The government has sent a report on state-owned capital use and management to the National Assembly.

According to the report, by late December last year, 27 SOEs had invested in 130 projects abroad, focusing mostly in the areas of telecommunications, petroleum, health and aviation.

Ten of 27 Vietnamese SOEs had recouped USD2.98 billion, or 45.72% of their total investment capital from their overseas projects. Among those, PetroVietnam recouped some USD2 billion, followed by Viettel with USD810 million.

In 2019 alone, 53 projects reported a combined profit of USD565 million, up USD39 million against 2018.

By the end of last year, 47 overseas investment projects of Vietnamese SOEs saw total losses of USD1.048 billion.

The report indicated that common reasons behind the underperformance was Vietnam's limited ability in market forecasting, management capability, financial capacity and experience in making overseas investments.

Quang Ninh determines manufacturing to be key industrial pillar

The northern province of Quang Ninh has determined that manufacturing will be one of the main pillars of its industrial production over the next five years, building on a wide array of advantages.
Its advantages include a network of sea ports, logistics services, industrial parks, expressways and border gates with China.

Quang Ninh was home to only 291 manufacturing businesses in 2010, but the figure has grown to 841 in 2020, accounting for 81.8% of the province’s all industrial firms.

Total investment in manufacturing during the 2010-2020 is estimated at nearly VND69 trillion (US$3 billion). The sector is creating jobs for more than 54,000 workers each year.

Over the next five years, Quang Ninh will attract manufacturing projects selectively, with priority given to those employing advanced and environmentally friendly technologies, having high added value, using resources effectively, and making substantial contributions to economic growth.

The province also aims to develop industrial parks in a sustainable way by combining it with the development of urban and services areas with modern technical and social infrastructure.

Ninh Binh promotes typical products for tourism stimulation

Ninh Binh Province’s tourism sector launched a tourism promotion programme on October 15, attracting over 200 travel businesses, press agencies and management unites from 13 provinces and cities around the country.

The programme aims to respond to the second tourism stimulation programme themed “Safe and attractive Vietnam” of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

COVID-19 pandemic has heavily affected Ninh Binh’s provincial tourism activities, causing a serious decrease of the number of visitors.

In the first ten months of this year, the number of tourists to Ninh Binh reached 2.1 million, a year-on-year decline of 68%; meanwhile, the province’s revenue was just over VND1.180 trillion (down 61% from the same period last year).

Ninh Binh’s tourism trend has witnessed many changes, from mass tourism to ecological and safe tourism with the increase of cultural factors based on its typical products that are imbued with the local cultural identities.

During the last months, the northern localities will focus on enhance the linkage to create different and diverse products so that visitors will have the chance to enjoy unique cultural features and cuisine.

Quang Ngai considers discontinuing VND8-trillion eco-tourism project

The Quang Ngai government is considering scrapping the Thien Dang eco-tourist area project with a total cost of VND8 trillion due to long delays in execution.

The Management Board of Dung Quat Economic Zone and Quang Ngai Industrial Parks granted a license to Thien Dang Company as the investor of the project, which merged into the Nam Quang Nam Development Investment JSC in 2004.

The project has gone inactive for 16 years with nine extensions but has failed to meet the progress requirements, said Dang Van Minh, chairman of Quang Ngai Province.

This has proved that the investor is incapable of implementing the project, so it is necessary to stop it, Nguoi Lao Dong Online reported, citing Minh.

After the first phase of the project had been completed, the Thien Dang eco-tourism area project was put into operation in the short run and was then abandoned, according to the management.

Despite the abandonment of the project for many years, the investor has repeatedly applied for extensions.

After listening to the report of the board, many relevant departments and agencies reached a consensus to revoke the license of the eco-tourism area project.

To put an end to the project, the chairman of Quang Ngai Province assigned the provincial Department of Planning and Investment to collaborate with the management board and other relevant agencies to inspect the investment progress of the project and report the result to the provincial government. The province will handle the problem in line with the regulations in the Investment Law by the end of the year.

The Thien Dang eco-tourism area project is developed on an area of some 200 hectares in Binh Thanh Commune in Binh Son District.

IMF: Cambodia to be fastest-growing economy in ASEAN by 2025

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has projected that Cambodia will be the third-fastest growing economy in ASEAN next year and fastest growing economy in the region by 2025.

In the IMF’s recently-released World Economic Outlook, Cambodia’s economy is forecast to shrink 2.8 percent this year, much higher than the 1.5 percent contraction forecast for Indonesia.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, deeper contractions of 8.3 percent are forecast for the Philippines, 7.1 percent for Thailand and 6.0 percent for both Malaysia and Singapore.

Meanwhile, Myanmar is forecast to be the fastest-growing ASEAN economy this year with GDP expanding by 2.0 percent, followed by Vietnam with growth of 1.6 percent.

The IMF’s mid-term projections for 2025 show Cambodia outpacing its peers with growth forecast at 6.9 percent, making the country the region’s fastest growing economy.

Slower growth is forecast for Vietnam (6.6 percent), Myanmar and the Philippines (6.5 percent), Laos (6.1 percent), Indonesia (5.1 percent), Malaysia, (5.0 percent), Thailand (3.7 percent), Singapore (2.5 percent) and Brunei (1.8 percent).

In her forward to the outlook, IMF Economic Counsellor and Director of Research Gita Gopinath said the latest forecasts for 2020 were “somewhat less severe though still deep” compared with IMF forecasts in June.

Vietnam’s seafood exports to EU predicted to down 20 percent

Vietnam's seafood exports to the European Union (EU) market this year is forecast to decrease by 20 percent compared to last year, reaching only over 1 billion USD, heard a workshop held in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho on October 16.

According to Le Thanh Hoa, deputy director of the Agricultural Product Processing and Market Development Department at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), the elimination of tariffs in the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) is expected to create a great opportunity for Vietnam’s seafood exports.

From the beginning of August, the number of export orders of seafood has increased by about 10 percent compared to July 2020.

Vietnam’s seafood production value increased by 2.48 percent, while the export turnover reached 692 million USD in the first nine months of this year despite impact caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic, Hoa said.

Piotr Harasimowicz, Chief Representative Officer of the Polish Investment and Trade Agency in Vietnam, said during the COVID-19 pandemic, Polish consumers’ demand for frozen and canned products is increasing.

Seafood exports from Vietnam to Poland in the first eight months of 2020 reached 19.6 million USD, up over 24 percent over the same period last year.

Harasimowicz advised Vietnamese enterprises to focus on controlling the quality of their products, saying that in order to stand firm in the Polish market, Vietnamese products need to meet regulations on food quality and safety and at a reasonable price.

A report of the National Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Quality Assurance Department (NAFIQAD) at the workshop showed that out of the 805 Vietnamese enterprises exporting seafood to markets across the world, there are 579 enterprises exporting seafood to the EU, accounting for 72 percent. Vietnam's seafood products have penetrated deeply and have a firm foothold in the EU, ranking 11th in the market share in the market.
The EU has recognised Vietnam's aquatic food safety control system, and NAFIQAD as the Vietnamese authority to control seafood exported to the EU.

It remained the second largest importer of Vietnamese shrimp products after the US in the 2010-2019 period. The shrimp export turnover to the market in this period averagely grew by 8.7 percent per year.

In the next five years, Vietnam's seafood exports to the EU will grow better if the “yellow card” warning for illegal seafood exploitation by the European Commission is removed, and the country takes advantage of tax incentives brought by the EVFTA. The turnover in the next five years is forecast to reach 1.2 -1.5 billion USD per year.

State Audit Office strengthens technological adoption

The initial results of the application of technology in audit activities not only improved audit efficiency but also set further requirements for innovation in auditing in the digital era. To make technology more widespread in the field, the State Audit Office of Vietnam (SAV) must continue to study the matter and act accordingly.

 

The application of remote sensing technology in the auditing of mineral resource exploitation activities in Thuy Nguyen district, northern Hai Phong city, proved to be entirely feasible. “For successful application, it is necessary to conduct detailed studies, from selecting suitable technologies to building processes and procedures and perfecting the legal framework for each subject and audit,” said Duong Quang Chinh, Chief inspector of the SAV.

A workforce with professional and technological expertise is needed in order to effectively apply new software in audit activities, together with greater cooperation with experts to develop IT applications. To turn new technologies into effective audit tools, the SAV is speeding up training and engaging technological-capable auditors. Further attention is being given to developing software to support auditors and investments made in specialised technological equipment.

Experience has shown that effectively adopting new technologies and turning them into important audit tools is very much needed. To lay the foundation for the SAV’s technological activities in line with orientations to build e-Government and develop a digital society and economy, the State Auditor General has approved a comprehensive IT and development strategy for the SAV in the 2019-2025 period with a vision to 2030. The strategy also sets a roadmap for switching traditional audits to digital audits based on big data, artificial intelligence (AI), and the Internet of Things (IoT) via digitalisation and incorporating data relating to audit activities, using digital technology, particularly AI, to analyse and use data.

Notably, the draft SAV development strategy for the 2020-2030 period with a vision to 2035 also sets out four basic contents, including developing the SAV amid Industry 4.0 and considering the application of IT in its activities a regular and ongoing task in both the near and long terms.

The SAV’s orientation in technological application, especially in audit activities, is reflected in its development strategies and guiding documents, proving its determination in integration efforts, actively seizing opportunities, fully tapping advantages, and mitigating any negative impact from Industry 4.0.

IT application in audit activities also reflects the SAV’s pioneering role in its capacity as the Chair of the Asian Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (ASOSAI) for the 2018-2021 tenure. Apart from directing ASOSAI’s activities, the SAV has gradually affirmed its position with international audit organisations and ASOSAI members regarding reform via specific commitments and actions.

One goal set for the 2026-2030 period is to conduct regular annual audits of budget balances at ministries, centrally-run agencies, provinces, and centrally-run cities. Audits of operations, specialised audits, information technology audits, and audits of the environment will be promoted, with these to account for 30-40 percent of all audits each year. Attention will be also paid to detecting loopholes in mechanisms, policies, and laws.

The SAV will work to move from conventional auditing procedures to digital auditing based on big data, with the support of AI in a proactive manner, and improve auditing capacity to meet the requirements of the Government’s management of administration work and supervision work by the National Assembly and People’s Councils.

Regarding international cooperation, professional integration will be the key pillar, towards the goal of quickly narrowing the gap in professional capacity between the SAV and counterparts in the region and the world. Multilateral cooperation will be geared towards raising the SAV’s position in the international community through joining in the implementation and drafting of common auditing standards and rules. Meanwhile, bilateral cooperation will focus on the sharing of experience and technology to enhance the SAV’s capacity. The SAV will organise a various coordinated audits, send or receive auditors for training, and conduct cross-assessments with regional and global supreme audit agencies./.

Indonesia, Singapore enhance economic cooperation to speed up recovery

Indonesia and Singapore have agreed to enhance economic cooperation, including in digital technology investment, to speed up economic recovery in the two countries which have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The two countries agreed to make remarkable efforts and initiate new policy breakthroughs to ensure that stringent health protocols can run in line with economic recovery, Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Airlangga Hartarto said following a bilateral meeting virtually held with Singapore’s Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing on October 15.

Both countries highlighted the importance of previous agreements, such as the ratification of bilateral investment, travel corridor, provisions for the elimination of double taxation, and Indonesia's structural reform policy through the job creation law.

Hartarto said the agreement is aimed at improving the investment climate and Indonesia's competitiveness in the region.

The two countries also see the potential to increase investment, especially in the sector of digital economy, smart cities, financial technology, and digital technology-based start-ups.

Indonesia, he said, could learn from other countries that have made advanced progress in the sector, hence cooperation in digital economy and training in technology application are important.

The bilateral meeting also discussed achievements in bilateral economic cooperation in six working groups, namely Batam, Bintan Karimun working group (WG) and special economic zone; working groups on investment; transportation; tourism, labor, and agribusiness.

Singapore is Indonesia’s third largest trade partner, while Indonesia is the sixth largest trade partner of Singapore.

Singapore was a major source of foreign investment for Indonesia in 2014-2019, with total investment reaching 6.5 billion USD in 2019. In the tourism sector, 1.61 million tourists from Singapore visited Indonesia last year.

Amid the global economic slowdown and crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Singapore's investment in Indonesia until the second quarter of 2020 has increased 36.19 percent to 4.67 billion USD compared to 3.43 billion USD in the same period last year./.

Better policies needed to overcome impacts of pandemic

Though the Government has taken decisive steps to curb the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are still risks to the economy, economists said at a seminar in Hanoi on October 15.

At a seminar on policies to overcome the impact of the pandemic held by the National Economics University and other partners, rector of the university and economist Pham Hong Chuong said: “The Government should implement more drastic measures to increase the resistance of the economy."

Chuong added: "The country needs to prepare capacity to respond to the pandemic and have a quick economic recovery when the virus is controlled, preventing a decline into recession.”

Although local authorities have provided timely and flexible packages to help people and the economy stay safe amid the pandemic, Nguyen Minh Son, deputy chairman of the National Assembly’s Economic Committee, said difficulties in disbursement were still preventing people from accessing the support.

“It is necessary to evaluate the disbursement rate of the support package, clarify the causes of slow implementation in some places and offer solutions.”

The number of enterprises temporarily suspending operations reached 34,300 in the first nine months of the year, up 70.8 percent from the same period last year. In September, about 17.6 million workers had their incomes reduced, of which 2.4 million lost their jobs while the unemployment rate was reported to be the highest in 10 years.

Bui Duc Tho, vice rector of the university, urged the Government to give more support for businesses and local producers, adding: “Support policies should be clear and transparent, minimising the procedures to access them.”

Tho said small and medium enterprises should receive more attention due to the poor resilience of this type of business amid the pandemic, mentioning there were thousands of small firms in tourism and service industries that had to shut down as they ran out of capital.

Attending the seminar, economist Vo Tri Thanh said the effectiveness of the first support package was low, adding: "I'm very concerned that the second support package that should have been launched in September is not yet ready."

Participants at the seminar said while the tourism industry and related sectors such as transport, restaurants and services suffered due to declines in international visitors, information and technology; electronic equipment and accessories, logistics, e-commerce, consumer goods and retail saw good growth.

Son from the National Assembly’s Economic Committee said the FDI flows were shifted from processing, manufacturing and real estate to technology and retail as the country was one of the most attractive for investment.

However, he added: “To compete with other countries in the region in attracting FDI, Vietnam needs clear orientations and solutions in both the short and long term.”

Son said: “Solutions are needed to increase productivity and attract investment from the private sector and high-quality FDI, increase exports, public investment and domestic consumption.”

As economist Vo Tri Thanh said: “Expectations for the second support package are huge.”

Participants from ministries, departments, central branches, international organisations, universities and economists discussed important issues and suggested policies and economic development models to overcome the impacts of the pandemic in Hanoi.

They also forecast the opportunities and challenges for the local economy in the last months of 2020 and next year./.

Seafood exports to surge if EU removes yellow card

Enjoying advantages of tax incentives from the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), coupled with the removal of the European Commission (EC)'s yellow card, mean that seafood exports to the EU are anticipated to witness robust growth over the next five years, a seminar in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho heard on October 16.

Le Thanh Hoa, deputy director of the Agro-Processing and Market Development Authority (Agrotrade), emphasised that the elimination of tariffs in line with the terms of the EVFTA are expected to offer a wealth of opportunities for local seafood exports.

Since the enforcement of the trade deal last August, the number of export orders in the sector has seen a 10% increase compared to July, with seafood export turnover to the EU market in September enjoying a surge of 13% to US$92 million, while the nine-month export value reached US$692 million.

According to the National Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Quality Assurance Department (NAFIQAD), Vietnam has 579 enterprises that export seafood to the EU, accounting for 72% of the total number of enterprises. Vietnamese aquatic products have successfully penetrated and secured a firm foothold within the EU market.

At present, Vietnamese seafood ranks 11th in terms of the market share in the EU, behind the United States, China, Japan, Hong Kong (China), the Republic of Korea, India, Mexico, Canada, Singapore, and Taiwan (China).

The NAFIQAD has been recognised by the EU as a competent Vietnamese authority with regard to food safety inspection and issuing certification for fisheries exports to the EU market.

Despite this, NAFIQAD representatives recommended that local businesses meet stringent food safety standards set by the EU market while simultaneously combating the acts of illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, as previously put forward by the EC.

Dao Trong Hieu, deputy head of the Agrotrade’s Fisheries Market Development Department, revealed that Vietnamese seafood exports to the demanding market remain modest, between US$1.2 billion and US$1.4 billion each year in comparison to the EU's seafood imports of more than US$22 billion annually.

Seafood exports to the EU market this year are projected to suffer a decline of 20% to more than US$1 billion due to the impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

According to figures released by the General Department of Vietnam Customs, total Vietnamese seafood exports in September rose by 1.4% to more than US$826 million from the previous month, while throughout the nine-month period the value of seafood fell 3% to over US$6 billion in comparison with the same period from last year.

Digital transformation for a transparent and sustainable businesses

Integrity in business and the role of digital transformation in increasing business integrity were highlighted at the first ASEAN Startup Forum where officials, experts, business circle, startups and young people in ASEAN countries shared experiences and future outlook.

The forum held yesterday by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) was part of the activities on ASEAN as Việt Nam is chairing ASEAN this year. It is also part of the project 'Promoting a fair business environment for new businesses in Việt Nam' of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Việt Nam with funding from the British Prosperity Fund.

Discussions were held about the co-operation for transparency and sustainable development in the digital era.

The forum also offered chances for stakeholders to share experiences in developing the start-up ecosystem. Currently, each ASEAN country is pursuing its own start-up support policies and if they are connected to create a common start-up ecosystem, it could make ASEAN an innovation entrepreneurship hub in Asia.

The ASEAN region, with an advantage of about 60 per cent of the population under the age of 35, has potential for entrepreneurship and innovation.

Vũ Tiến Lộc, chairman and president of the VCCI, said integrity must be the first requirement for any business.

“In order to have a prosperous business, businessmen must always keep integrity in their hearts and innovations in their head,” Lộc said, adding that the world after the COVID-19 crisis would not look like the world from before and sustainable and responsible businesses were vital. Start-up spirit must be in the minds of all enterprises, both new and existing ones.

“Digital transformation helps build up business’s integrity,” he said.

Not only big companies but small, super small and medium-sized enterprises implemented digital transformation, he said, noting that smaller firms would be the masters of the digital era, not big ones.

While big companies could access digital platforms, smaller ones need support for digital transformation, Lộc said.

“Governments, organisations and individuals are responsible for supporting small, super small or medium companies. That’s the way we together develop a sustainable economy,” Lộc said.

UNDP Resident Representative in Việt Nam Caitlin Wiesen said that given the high rate of start-ups in the ASEAN region and their drive for innovation, there was little doubt that those young entrepreneurs would play a key role in the COVID-19 recovery journey.

“By supporting youth start-ups and entrepreneurs in ensuring business integrity and driving sustainable business, we will contribute not only to rebuilding our economies but also to achieving a society and culture that puts a premium on caring and protecting a more sustainable future for all,” she said.

She said digital transformation helped increase transparency and institutions’ effectiveness, ensure fair business environment as well as undisrupted service supply even in social distancing caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chairwoman of Việt Nam Angle Investment Association, Project 844 Innovation Advisory under the Ministry of Science and Technology Nguyễn Phi Vân said a prerequisite in selecting businesses to invest in was their integrity.

“Only when doing business with integrity can companies create transparency for partners, shareholders, investors and customers, thus, their business can develop sustainably,” she said. 

HCM City e-commerce market firmly on growth path

Vissan JSC has launched an online store chain on Loship, the Vietnamese e-commerce platform operating its own fleet of one-hour delivery.

Its products like fresh meat and processed foods are also available on e-commerce platforms Sendo and Tiki and the Now app, and the company said it plans to further diversify its online sales channels to offer more convenience to customers.

Retailers like Saigon Co.op and Big C have also enhanced sales via online channels and telephone and home delivery services.

According to the HCM City Department of Industry and Trade, city enterprises have embraced digital transformation and are promoting online sales, achieving good growth in this channel, especially during the Covid-19 outbreak.

According to experts, with the growing middle class, relatively young population and robust consumer spending, Viet Nam, especially HCM City, has been experiencing high growth rates in its retail sector.

Technology has been changing consumer behaviour, with more people buying online, they said.

This has prompted supermarket and convenience store chains to pay more attention to the online channel, besides expanding their physical distribution networks and improving in-store experience for customers, they added.

In a report on e-commerce development, the department said the HCM City market has enjoyed double-digit growth annually since 2015.

Sales in the online segment were up sharply, particularly during the Covid-19 outbreak, it said.

Around 90 per cent of the city’s residents have access to the internet, making it easy for them to search and shop for goods online, according to the department.

Many people also choose refer to information about goods and evaluate and compare prices mainly online before deciding to make a purchase online or offline, it added.

With fierce competition in the market, retailers in the e-commerce market have constantly made efforts to improve their business model and develop new technologies to improve the customer experience.

They have also entered into partnerships with online payment service providers and e-wallets to offer customers various payment options.

Nguyen Anh Duc, general director of Saigon Co.op, the owner of Co.opmart, Co.opXtra, Co.op Food and other supermarket chains, said Viet Nam's e-commerce market is forecast to achieve a breakthrough and continue to maintain high growth over the next five years.

"Saigon Co-op will continue with its unique e-commerce development strategy based on existing points of sale and enhancing the use of new technology and digitisation to keep up with market trends.

“Saigon Co-op will exploit the e-commerce model effectively, perfecting an e-commerce website and developing omni channel."

Le Tri Thong, CEO of Phu Nhuan Jewelry Joint Stock Company, said since gold and jewellery are high-value goods so there is always a need for in-store experience.

But this has changed with its revenues from online sales rising significantly in recent times.

The company has set up an online order processing centre in each region to ensure harmonious development of both online and offline sales channels.

According to market research companies, despite the rise of digital channels, physical channels still dominate the retail scene in Viet Nam.

This underscores the need for businesses to develop omni-channel strategies, and provide seamless consumer experiences that integrate both online and offline consumer journeys across all their touchpoints, they said.

There is huge demand for online shopping, but many consumers are still concerned about the poor quality of products, the huge disparity between what is advertised and delivered and leakage of personal information, according to experts.

To gain consumers' trust, their products should have certified origins and they should control fake and poor quality goods on their platforms, they said.

Phan Bich Tam, country manager of the Mobile Marketing Association in Viet Nam, said businesses need to adopt responsible marketing strategies to help build customers’ trust in online shopping.

The HCM City People’s Committee has assigned the Department of Industry and Trade to draft a plan for developing the e-commerce sector in the next five years in order to create a legal framework for the sector in line with the current trend. 

Logistics indispensible to boost exports to Russia

Viet Nam should increase its investment in logistics infrastructure to facilitate the flow of goods exported to Russia, according to an expert.

The statement was made by Shamil Magomedov, Deputy Executive Director Russian Retail Market Experts Association, at a webinar aiming to bolster trade between Viet Nam and Russia held on Thursday in Ha Noi.

The event was jointly organised by the Department of Trade Promotion (Vietrade) at the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Trade Office at the Embassy of Viet Nam in Russia in collaboration with the Russian Embassy in Viet Nam, the Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Saint-Petersburg and Primorsky Krai.

It drew representatives of more than 30 Vietnamese firms and nearly 80 Russian ones in industrial-agriculture, pharmaceutical industry and cosmetics, exports-imports, transport-logistics, e-commerce and legal consultancy, among others.

Many Vietnamese products have attracted Russian interest but their presence in this market remained insignificant, said Shamil Magomedov.

He said the webinar offered opportunities for businesses of both sides to promote business relations, seek co-operation in trade and better study each other’s market.

Due to the specific geographical distance between the two countries, it takes a long time for Vietnamese sellers to distribute their goods to other states, thus Vietnamese enterprises should promote the export of products with long shelf lives and long-term storage ability, Magomedov said.

Vietnamese firms needed to invest more in logistics infrastructure so that the delivery of goods to Russia is more convenient, fast and cost-effective.

Businesses of both sides should consider establishing a Trade House, a business that specialises in facilitating transactions between a home country and foreign countries, in Russia and Viet Nam to facilitate product distribution, he added.

Currently in Russia there are many Vietnamese restaurants and food chains. Vietnamese businesses can consider linking the sales of their goods into these chains so that Vietnamese products can be further promoted and achieve easier access to Russian consumers, Magomedov said.

He added that Vietnamese seafood and confectionery are popular in Russia and favoured by Russian consumers.

In his remarks, Vietrade Deputy Director General Le Hoang Tai said co-operation in economy, trade and investment between Viet Nam and Russia has made strides over the years.

Viet Nam is an important partner of Russia in Southeast Asia as bilateral trade makes up about one third of the total ASEAN-Russia trade value.

Viet Nam has poured nearly US$3 billion in 22 projects in Russia, especially those in oil and gas, dairy farming and the Ha Noi-Moscow multipurpose trade centre. More than 200 small- and medium-sized enterprises are operating in the East Asian nation.

Meanwhile, Russia ranks 24th among 129 countries and territories investing in Viet Nam. Russia had channelled close to $1 billion into Viet Nam as of last October.

Given that the two economies were supplementary, bilateral trade value still remained modest compared to the countries’ potential, Tai told Viet Nam News.

“In the face of the negative impact brought by COVID-19 to global economic co-operation and trade, Viet Nam had emerged as a destination for foreign businesses and investors.

“Therefore, enhancing economic co-operation, trade and investment between Viet Nam and Russia in such a context held significant meaning, together with incentives on technology transfer, in helping raise Viet Nam’s technology level and production capacity,” he said.

During the webinar, the Russian side spoke highly of the Vietnamese market’s potential and the implementation of the Viet Nam-Eurasian Economic Union Free Trade Agreement.

Viet Nam earned $2.2 billion from exports to Russia in the first nine months of this year, up 3.8 per cent. Shipments of fisheries, fruits and electronic components expanded in the period.

Viet Nam imported goods worth $1.5 billion from Russia in nine months, a rise of 14 per cent.

For his part, Vitaly Mankevich, President of the Russian-Asian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RAUIE) said RAUIE regularly partnered with the Viet Nam Trade Office in Russia to organise joint activities to boost trade co-operation between both sides.

RAUIE assisted Vietnamese businesses in finding business partners, implementing investment projects, setting up production contracts, organising sales and exchange offices and representative offices in Russia, besides paying special attention to businesses’ interest protection.

The Russian-Asian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs is a business association that implements programmes of trade, economic, investment and humanitarian co-operation between state, business and public structures of Russia and Asian countries. 

Vietnam Airlines increases flights on domestic routes

Vietnam Airlines is set to add more flights on its domestic routes to meet increasing travel demand, said a representative of the national flag carrier.

The airline will raise the number of flights between Hanoi and the northern mountainous province of Dien Bien to 14 per weeks from October 26.

Meanwhile, routes linking HCM City with the Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang and the southernmost Ca Mau province each will see seven flights per week.

Those routes are served by the airline’s affiliate Vietnam Air Services (VASCO).

On the occasion, promotional tickets will be offered on those flights and valid for departures until December 31.

Advertising equipment, technology expo opens in HCM City

The 11th Vietnam International Advertising Equipment and Technology Exhibition that opened in HCM City on Tuesday is showcasing many of the latest technologies in the industry.

The annual event has attracted over 60 exhibitors, who have brought machines for digital inkjet printing, photo printing, laser cutting, carving, and engraving; LED technology, advertising and display equipment, and others.

According to the organisers, due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the event is smaller this year than usual.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Nguyen Thanh Dao, general director of Dong Nam Advertising and Commercial Promotion JSC, one of the expo’s organisers, said the expo is an opportunity for businesses to explore co-operation opportunities and technology transfer.

It also aims to cater to information demand from firms across sectors.

After being held many times in HCM City and Ha Noi, the expo has become an indispensable annual event for the local and international advertising community, he said.

Organised by the Vietnam Advertising Association, the HCM City Advertising Association and Dong Nam Advertising and Commercial Promotion JSC, the expo at the Phu Tho Indoor Stadium in District 11 will run until October 23. 

Viettel and VinGroup join forces to develop 5G broadcast station

Viettel High Technology Industries Corporation - VHT (under Military-Run Industry and Telecommunication Group) and VinSmart Research and Manufacture Joint Stock Company (under VinGroup) signed cooperation agreement on the development of a 5G gNodeB base station system at a ceremony in Hanoi, on October 20.

The signing ceremony took place under the direction of the Ministry of Information and Communications towards the development of "Make in Vietnam" products. Viettel Group and VinGroup plan to research and develop 5G technology to successfully commercialize 5G broadcast stations owned by Vietnamese people.

Accordingly, VinSmart is responsible for developing and supplying an 8T8R radio unit (RU); an 8T8R antenna; and a Massive MIMO Radio 64T64R (integrated with both RU and Antenna); VHT research and development of signal processing equipment (CU-DU); 5G core network system; providing 5G service and new technologies such as Beamforming and Multi User Massive Mimo, which also provide high-speed service to many users.

The two sides agreed in October to complete the set of specifications for 5G base station products, and complete two laboratories for each side. In November, the two sides will make the first test call on the 3,600 - 3,800 MHz frequency band.

The goal of VHT and VinSmart is to successfully commercialize the 5G gNodeB 8T8R base station on June 30, 2021 and the 5G gNodeB 64T64R base station on June 30, 2022. These will be the first high-quality 5G broadcast stations that are jointly owned by two Vietnamese Technology Groups.

Addressing the event, Member of Party Central Committee and Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Manh Hung, the deputy head of the Party Central Committee (PCC)’s Communication and Education Commission, asked VinGroup to focus on developing radio. Viettel will focus on signal processing, the core network, and integration into commercial products.

Source: VNA/VNN/VNS/VIR/VOV/SGT/NDO/Dtinews