vietnam economy,Vietnam business news
There are some 50,000 operational rooftop solar projects around Vietnam (Illustrative photo: VNA)


There are some 50,000 operational rooftop solar projects around Vietnam with a combined capacity of about 1,200 MWp, Electricity of Vietnam (EVN) has revealed.

Of these, 25,700 with 758.2 MWp were installed in the first eight months of 2020.

EVN reported that the sector generated and imported a total of 164.05 billion kWh from January-August, a year-on-year rise of 2.01 percent.

Of this, hydropower produced 39.03 billion kWh, down 12.75 percent against the same period last year, and coal-fired plants 88.87 billion kWh, up 11.66 percent.

Meanwhile, 24.96 billion kWh was generated by gas-fuelled plants and 1.04 billion kWh by oil-fired plants, respectively.

Electricity produced from renewable sources totalled 7.27 billion kWh. Some 6.39 billion kWh was from solar energy alone, surpassing the target and up 2.94-fold compared to the same period of 2019.

Notably, the proportion of customers using cashless payments for electricity bills stood at 61.5 percent in August./.

Deputy PM urges PetroVietnam to boost exploration, exploitation capacity

Deputy Prime Minister Truong Hoa Binh has urged the Vietnam Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam) to enhance its capacity in petroleum exploration and exploitation to develop the marine economy in the new context.

At a meeting with leaders of the State-owned corporation on September 10, he called for it to accelerate the exploration of oil and gas to boost reserves while combining the exploration of oil and gas with surveys to assess deep-sea resources and minerals, especially those with large reserves of high value.

The Deputy PM asked it to take into account environmental factors and biodiversity protection when exploiting and processing oil and gas.

Binh also requested that the group improve its corporate management, foster restructuring, and continue with equitisation and the divestment of State ownership in member companies, in accordance with plans approved by the Prime Minister. He also tasked the firm with seeking ways to meet domestic demand and ensure energy security and production effectiveness.

PetroVietnam needs to maintain stable production, speed up the progress of key projects, and identify ways to resolve issues at long-delayed and loss-making projects, for example the Dinh Vu polyester fibre plant, operated by its subsidy the PetroVietnam Petrochemicals and Textile Fiber JSC (PVTEX), and the Phu Tho ethanol project.

It also must develop plans to attract investment from investors and other private sources into its projects, he said, in particular a project on the development of infrastructure for the importation and sale of liquefied natural gas (LNG), and must cooperate with the power industry to create a supply chain and enhance investment competitiveness and effectiveness.

PetroVietnam posted total revenue of over 372 trillion VND (about 16 billion USD) in the first eight months of this year, despite COVID-19 impacts and dropping oil prices. It contributed 45 trillion VND to the State budget in the period.

Hau Giang facilitates development of circular economy

Authorities in the Mekong Delta province of Hau Giang held a working session via Skype on September 10 with the THD Vietnam Project Development JSC and Dutch businesses regarding a local circular economy project covering high-tech organic farming and processing and renewable energy.

The project consists of the AGINE complex for cow farming, rice and rice husk processing, and renewable energy, in Chau Thanh A district’s Nhon Nghia A commune, and the GREENDEVI complex with milch cow farming, feed processing and renewable energy facilities, in Phung Hiep district’s Tan Phuoc Hung commune.

Costing about 210 million USD, the AGINE complex spans 30 ha, while GREENDEVI will cost 420 million USD and covers an area of 63.5 ha.

Highlighting the suitability of the circular economy model with the province’s conditions, Truong Canh Tuyen, Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee, said authorities will soon issue a policy on helping THD Vietnam and other partners make their first steps related to the project.

He asked THD Vietnam to research and develop the project so as to ensure environmental protection, and not create issues for local people.

Mai Huy Tan from THD Vietnam said the project will make use of 7,500 tonnes of local agricultural waste and create at least 1.2 MWh of electricity along with phosphate and nitrate for farming. It also does not generate carbon dioxide, he added.

Pieter Van Der Hoop, an energy expert with the Dutch-based KPP Energy and Waste Solutions - a partner of THD Vietnam - said that Vietnam, with its vast arable land, can take advantage of biomass energy but needs to link energy sources together.

His company wants to transfer relevant technologies to Vietnam, he said, and is willing to help it develop agro-energy technologies.

SBV tells banking industry to develop an inclusive finance system

The State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) urged the banking industry to build an inclusive finance system that serves all members of society in Vietnam in Hanoi on September 10.

SBV Deputy Governor Nguyen Kim Anh told the industry's conference on the action plan to serve the national financial strategy to 2025 that: “The inclusive finance system needs to specify vulnerable groups, helping them access the financial system in a favourable manner.”

Considering an inclusive finance system, which serves all stakeholders of society, as one of the important pillars in sustainable development in Vietnam, Anh said: “Such a system will contribute to creating livelihood opportunities, rotating investment capital flows and saving in society and promoting sustainable economic growth.”

She said the traditional economic growth model in other countries with the goal of rapid growth has gradually revealed its shortcomings when solving poverty but the increasing income inequality led to other political and social instability.

Thus, she said: “The overarching growth model towards long-term sustainability; in which, ensuring harmony between economic growth, social equity and environmental protection has become a common goal of all countries and regions.”

According to the central bank, inclusive finance has become a common vision around the world. Up to now, more than 60 countries have developed and implemented a comprehensive national financial strategy. Many countries have come up with innovative solutions in financial technology, focusing on reducing costs and improving the safety and convenience of financial services.

By that, the deputy governor said the system had contributed to improving service accessibility for people and businesses, especially those who have never been served by banks.

To develop such a system in Vietnam, Anh asked the whole industry to develop a specific plan to implement assigned tasks in the National Financial Inclusion Strategies (NFIS), approved by the Prime Minister in January this year.

By 2015, NFIS set targets to have at least 80 percent of adults having bank accounts or accounts with other authorised organisations, at least 20 branches and transaction offices of commercial banks per 100,000 adults, at least 50 percent of the total number of communes that have financial service points, at least 25 percent to 30 percent of adults depositing at savings credit institutions.

Also at the conference, Anh told the central bank’s payment department to issue a decree to guide the electronic know your customer/client (e-KYC) in the country this month.

Getting the direction, head of the department Pham Tien Dung also added the decree may define the cryptocurrencies in payment activities and the e-wallet term will be included in international payments.

They would also work on building local mobile money too, said Dung.

According to the payment department, the average growth rate of individual accounts and the total balance in the account reached 10.26 percent and 25.41 percent in 2015-19, respectively. It is expected there will be about 70 percent of Vietnamese adults having a bank account by the end of this year.

As for the Government’s strong push, non-cash transactions have increased sharply in recent years. In the first four months of the year, payments using bank cards increased by 15.7 percent over the same period in 2019, said the department.

Shrimp, tuna exports to EU see positive signs

Vietnam’s shrimp and tuna exports to EU markets showed signs of recovery in July and August despite the impact of COVID-19, rising slightly against previous months and the same period last year.

Vietnam earned 54.2 million USD from exporting shrimp to the EU in July, up 2 percent year-on-year. Shrimp exports in August were estimated to increase 20 percent year-on-year.

According to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), along with the fact that EU countries have gradually controlled COVID-19, the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), which took effect on August 1, has also had an impact on Vietnam’s exports to the market, including aquatic products.

The EU is Vietnam’s fourth-largest shrimp importer after the US, Japan, and China, and currently accounts for 13.3 percent of the country’s total shrimp export value.

With positive signs over the last two months, VASEP forecasts that Vietnam’s shrimp exports to the EU will continue to increase over the remainder of the year, though growth will be curtailed by the pandemic.

Tuna exports, meanwhile, have recovered faster than shrimp exports, rising 65 percent year-on-year in July.

Figures from customs agencies reveal that Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands were the largest importers of Vietnamese tuna products in the EU. In July alone, tuna exports to those markets grew an impressive 119, 200, and 210 percent, respectively.

Germany remains the largest import market in the EU for canned tuna from Vietnam, which account for 69 percent of its total imports.

More than 50 firms set up LNG desks in Singapore

More firms have set up liquefied natural gas (LNG) desks in Singapore to capitalise on growing demand for gas in Asia, Singapore’s Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said.

Singapore has currently over 50 companies with an LNG trading or business development presence in Singapore, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing told the Gastech virtual summit held early this week.

They include key buyers of LNG such as Osaka Gas setting up trading operations in Singapore, according to the minister.

A push for more transparency in the sector has boosted spot trades of Asian LNG. Singapore, which is the Asian oil trading hub, is seen as a natural hub for LNG especially for companies that already have a presence in the city-state and are looking to expand into LNG.

Chan said the companies have chosen Singapore due to the "rich eco-system" of companies across the LNG value chain, Singapore's close links to the growing region and the ease of doing business in the country.

Thailand works to modernise agriculture with advanced technology

The Thai government is pushing ahead with the bio-economy concept to modernise agriculture with advanced technology in a move to improve the national economy, local media reported.

Bio-economy, which uses renewable resources and turns them into value-added products, is expected to help farmers better deal with unstable crop prices and convince various industries such as automotive and electronics to come up with new products.

Authorities put agriculture and biotechnology, which are at the core of a bio-economy, on the list of 12 targeted S-curve industries, covering a range of businesses from cars and smart electronics to affluent and medical and wellness tourism.

According to Alongkorn Ponlaboot, adviser to the agriculture and cooperatives minister, the S-curve initiative will be a new tool to grow the Thai economy.

“Such crops as sugar cane, cassava and rice can be developed into value-added products,” Alongkorn was quoted by the Bangkok Post newspaper as saying.

“The government is preparing biochemical projects for them," he told a webinar co-organised by the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau, the Thai Chamber of Commerce and Post Today.

According to Alongkorn, Thailand has high potential for a bio-economy because it has a large agricultural base and is a major food exporter. Biochemical projects must be supported by innovations and advanced technology, with cooperation from farmers and companies.

The Industry Ministry of Thailand launched biochemical projects to upgrade crops such as cassava by turning them into pharmaceutical-grade raw materials, as well as food and feed products to serve the global market.

The Thai government plans to support biochemical projects and related research until 2026. The goal is to strengthen five sectors: bioenergy, biochemicals, food, animal feed and biopharmaceuticals.

Sugar cane and cassava are used as raw materials for many industries such as ethanol, bioplastics, food, bioenergy and biopharmaceuticals.

Alongkorn said Thailand also needs to develop and improve labour skills to serve the bio-economy scheme.

The Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry expects the bio-economy will help Thailand escape the middle-income trap.

ADB approves 127.8 million USD loan for Cambodia to expand power transmission lines

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a 127.8 million USD loan to support the construction of transmission lines and substations in Cambodia, the bank said in a press statement.

The project will help provide Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia, and three other provinces with stable and reliable electricity supply, the statement said.

"The Grid Reinforcement Project, along with ADB's ongoing assistance to Cambodia in power system planning, shows that adequate, reliable, and environmentally sustainable power supply can be provided at reasonable cost to support equitable development," said ADB country director for Cambodia Sunniya Durrani-Jamal.

The government has set energy sector development as a national priority, as more robust electricity supply will boost economic productivity and the quality of life, the statement said.

The project will help the Electricite du Cambodge, Cambodia's national electricity utility, strengthen its transmission infrastructure by financing the construction of four 115-230 KV transmission lines and 10 substations in Phnom Penh and Kampong Chhnang, Kampong Cham, and Takeo provinces.

Since 1994. ADB provided loans of nearly 200 million USD for Cambodia to develop its energy sector. Last year, the bank gave 7.64 million USD to the Southeast Asian country to build a solar power park through public-private partnership model.

UNDP, KOICA launch solar power plant project in Indonesia

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) launched on September 10 an 18 million USD project to provide solar power systems to rural communities in four provinces across Indonesia.

The project, called ACCESS Project, will install 23 communal solar power systems with a total power of 1.2 MW in 23 villages in West Sulawesi, Southeast Sulawesi, East Nusa Tenggara and Central Kalimantan by 2023.

According to Sophie Kemkhadze, deputy resident representative of UNDP in Indonesia, the project will contribute to the achievement of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

ACCESS Project is a beacon of important contribution to SDGs for both Indonesia and Timor Leste, not only because it addresses one particular goal for SDGs, which is access to global energy, or because it contributes to the agenda of environment and climate, but also because it addresses so many different goals, Sophie said.

It is in line with the government’s agenda as it seeks to raise the share of regions that have access to electricity, called electrification ratio, to 100 percent from around 99 percent today.

The project is also carried out in neighboring Timor Leste, where 1,000 highly effective solar lamp systems will be installed in 25 villages across three municipalities, together with 11 solar water pumping systems.

Verania Andria, a senior advisor for sustainable energy at UNDP Indonesia, said the project would provide access to electricity for 20,000 people and access to clean water for 3,500 people in total from the selected regions in both countries.

Delay in collecting land-use fees causes late handover of house-ownership certificates

Tardy collection of land-use fees from property developers in HCM City has affected the government’s revenues and created many obstacles for them in turn, a forum heard on Thursday.

At the forum, organised by Thanh Nien (Young People) newspaper, attendees heard that in the first six months of this year, the city’s budget revenues were down 14.4 per year-on-year to VND163 trillion, just 40.2 per cent of the annual target.

Income from land-use fees was down 21 per cent.

The COVID-19 pandemic was particularly blamed for the fall.

The seminar heard that the difficulties caused by the cumbersome process of paying land-use fees was another major issue since it caused a delay in issuing house ownership certificates.

There are now many housing projects where buyers do not have title deeds yet despite buying two or three years ago.

“Real estate developers in the city are ready to pay land-use fees so that their buyers can get house-ownership certificates, but the issue is not simple,” the forum heard.

In recent times the media has been regularly reporting about the challenges faced by developers in paying the fees.

The HCM City Real Estate Association has also written to the city People’s Committee and other relevant agencies about this problem.

The tardiness in collecting the fees is caused by difficulties in completing legal procedures related to land.

Problems caused by supervision of land use and management as well as corporate equitisation.

These delay the fixing of land-use prices.

Many developers have faced these obstacles, the forum heard.

Novaland Group cannot pay the fees for some projects while Hung Thinh has two projects for which the fee rates have not been intimated.

According to the association, 44 apartment projects with 22,000 units by 11 developers lack house-ownership certificates due to delays in accepting land-use fee payments.

“Most developers are ready to pay estimated land-use fees [before the official rate is fixed] so that they can issue title deeds to their buyers,” Nguyen Ngoc Toan, deputy editor-in-chief of Thanh Nien newspaper, said.

“Helping companies resolve their difficulties will not only enrich the city’s coffers but also help property developers retain their prestige and safeguard the rights of house buyers.”


Making efforts not enough

Many developers in the city have failed to hand over house ownership certificates to buyers in spite of their sustained efforts to co-operate with relevant authorities to fulfil all legal and financial responsibilities.

One of the many developers thus affected, Novaland, has made all efforts to co-operate with relevant authorities to clear the all obstacles faced by each of its projects.

Since 2016-17, when its first project ran into problems, Novaland has been making efforts to resolve them.

Despite this its land-use prices have not been fixed. In 2017 the company has been repeatedly volunteering to pay estimated rates, but this has not led to a solution either.

A long time ago the group began writing to the Department of Natural Resource and Environment asking for the rates for its projects, which include housing and commercial complexes at 119 Pho Quang and 130-132 Hong Ha in Phu Nhuan District and 108-112B-114 Hong Ha Road in Tan Binh District.

The delay in issuing house-ownership certificates is causing tension among buyers, with many suing the company or holding public demonstrations.

It has also had a negative impact on the developers’ prestige.

In order to foster the property market, developers hope to get timely guidance so that they can resolve difficulties and contribute to the development of society.

Timely guidance will also help them fulfil their financial responsibilities and bolster the government’s revenues.

Experts urge caution when investing in farmstays

Condotels have lost their attraction among investors due to tighter management restrictions, and farm stays have emerged as a new investment trend during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, experts have urged caution when investing in this model, given the risks of an incomplete legal framework and a potentially long wait for investors to make a return on the outlay.

Financial expert Dinh The Hien said that farm stays were regarded as a kind of second home and an asset that could appreciate in the future.

However, land prices in popular areas for farm stays had increased dramatically in the past decades while the land profile was mainly agricultural land, even forest land, which was not legally guaranteed, Hien said.

Investments in farm stays had seen a resurgence ten years ago when middle-class investors bought five to ten hectares of land to build garden houses, but the trend soon declined as investors baulked at the high expense of maintaining their properties and a lack of nearby utilities.

“Farm stay investments are on the up again, especially with farms of around 1,000 – 2,000 sq.m,” Hien said, while warning the model still faced the same difficulties.

Hien said investors must look at the legality of the land and planning in the region when they decide to invest in the model.

Investors could have to wait for at least five years, or even decades, to see returns on their investments, he warned.

According to Tran Khanh Quang, general director of Viet An Hoa Real Estate Investment Joint Stock Company, managing farm stay properties was not easy, and it was also costly to maintain their operation.

Quang said investors should only buy farm stay properties in areas which could be converted into residential land and areas which had good transport infrastructure and were connected to the power grid.

According to Le Hoang Chau, president of the HCM City Real Estate Association, it would cause big problems if organisations and individuals illegally divided agricultural and forest land into lots for transactions and for developing farm stays without permission.

Chau recently submitted a document to the Government saying that splitting non-residential land into lots should be banned to prevent the illegal development of farm stays.

Chau stressed that enterprises and individuals who wanted to convert agricultural and forest land into commercial land for investment projects, including farm stays, must comply with established regulations and get permission from authorised agencies.

Chairman of TAT Law Firm Truong Anh Tu said that most lots on which farm stays were developed were agricultural and forest land, so it would be difficult for owners to be granted land use rights or house ownership certificates.

Tu said the Government should issue regulations to ensure farm stay development remained on the right track, adding that lessons should be learned from the condotel market.

Vietnam likely to gain export target for timber and wooden products

Experts believe Vietnam this year will reach its export target for timber and wooden products at 12 billion USD, despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the Import and Export Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT), the export value of timber and wood products in August was estimated at 1.15 billion USD, up 21.7 percent year on year. Of which, the export value of wooden products was 924 million USD, up 35.2 percent compared to August 2019.

In the first eight months of this year, the export value of timber and wooden products stood at 7.3 billion USD, up 9.6 percent over the same period in 2019, including 5.45 billion USD from wooden product exports, up 14 percent.

To Ngoc Ngoi, General Director of the Vinafor Saigon Company, said the country gained growth in the export of timber and wooden products in the first eight months and this positive situation is forecasted to continue until year end. Therefore, the domestic wood industry expects to reach its export target of 12 billion USD this year.

The pandemic continues to pose problems, but at present, some countries have ended social distancing measures. Therefore, from mid-July, the company has received many new orders, he said. The domestic supply of raw materials has met demand for those new orders instead of material imported from countries that are still implementing social distancing.

To achieve the export target of 12 billion USD, Vietnam's wood industry must undergo many changes, including the Handicraft and Wood Industry Association of HCM City (HAWA)’s initiative of developing an online trading platform to connect local wood and furniture businesses with foreign partners.

In the last two quarters of this year, Vietnam's timber and wooden product exports are expected to record growth thanks to the renovation efforts of businesses, support from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and signs of recovery in some major markets.

To increase the export value of wooden products, the Vietnam Administration of Forestry said that local companies need to focus on maintaining growth in five high export markets, including the US, Japan, China, the EU, and the Republic of Korea. At the same time, they should expand market shares in a number of potential markets through efficient trade promotion programmes.

They should promote use of advanced and environmentally friendly technologies and automatic equipment systems in processing wooden products to improve quality and save raw materials. They also need to comply with regulations on product origin.

According to the General Department of Forestry, Vietnam still has many opportunities to expand export markets and increase export value for timber and wooden products. The world's furniture and wooden product market is large with a value of about 430 billion USD, including 150 billion USD from furniture products. Meanwhile, Vietnam’s furniture products at present only account for about 6 percent of the global market share.

Besides traditional markets with high export value such as the United States, Japan, China, EU, and the Republic of Korea, some other potential markets also bring more opportunities for Vietnam to promote furniture exports, like Canada, Russia and India.

The Voluntary Partnership Agreement on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (VPA/FLEGT) between Vietnam and the EU effective from June 1, 2019 helps local businesses to improve competitiveness for wooden products exported to the EU, according to the general department.

The US market's demand for wood products from other countries, including Vietnam, is likely to increase because high import tax imposed on Chinese products has reduced furniture imported from this market.

In addition, Vietnam has ratified free trade agreements with many partners such as the EU, Japan, Chile and the Republic of Korea and it is implementing those FTAs so Vietnam’s many goods enjoy reductions or elimination in import duties. That would create a competitive advantage for export goods of Vietnam to those markets.

In addition, the Government, ministries, sectors and localities are implementing many solutions to continuously improve the investment and business environment for businesses processing export wooden products, including reduction of administrative procedures.

Vietnam firms seek to boost exports of medical supplies to Venezuela

Vietnamese businesses introduced their capacity to produce and supply medical supplies to Venezuela in response to the COVID-19 pandemic while attending a webinar held by the Vietnamese Embassy in Venezuela on September 11.

The event aimed to promote economic relations between the two nations, while helping Vietnamese firms participate more actively in the supply chains in the Latin American market amidst the complicated developments of COVID-19 and the region emerging as the pandemic epicenter.

At the webinar, Vietnamese Ambassador to Venezuela Le Viet Duyen affirmed the Vietnamese Government and people always attach much importance to the friendship and bilateral relations with Venezuela, particularly in the fields that both sides hold strengths.

Vietnam is willing to share experience in national construction, especially when the COVID-19 has been adversely affecting the socio-economic life and food security in the world and the region as well, he stressed.

The ambassador also highlighted Vietnam’s initial successes in realising the dual targets of COVID-19 prevention and socio-economic development, saying this is spurred by the Government’s drastic strategy on early detection, quarantine and treatment.

At the seminar, representatives from the two health ministries shared measures to fight against the pandemic, while Vietnamese firms introduced their capacity to produce and supply medical equipment such as ventilators, quick test kits, PCR kits, medical face masks, and protective gears, among others.

On the occasion, the Thanh Long Global Joint Stock Company, Thien An Pharmaceutical Company Limited committed to present Venezuela with 200,000 face masks, and the Thinh Long International Trading Joint Stock Company will donate 6,000 N95 face masks to the Venezuelan Ministry of Health.

Duyen expressed his belief that with support from the Vietnamese companies, the Venezuelan Government and people will control the COVID-19 pandemic soon, contributing to the socio-economic recovery as well as enhancing the sound comprehensive partnership between the two nations.

Earlier, the Vietnamese Embassy also had working sessions with the Venezuelan health and foreign ministries to promote agreements on medical cooperation and exchange.

Vietnam exports first batch of shrimp to EU under EVFTA

The export of the first batch of frozen shrimp to several European countries under the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) was marked with a ceremony in the south central province of Ninh Thuan on September 11.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Phung Duc Tien said tariff removal under the EVFTA is expected to create big opportunities for Vietnam’s aquatic product exports.

Accordingly, the EU is set to eliminate tariffs on 86.5 percent of Vietnam’s aquatic product exports in three years, 90.3 percent in five years, and 100 percent in seven years, he said, noting that to take this advantage, orders for Vietnamese aquatic products since the beginning of August has increased by around 10 percent compared to July.

Tien added the EVFTA, taking effect on August 1, promises a bright prospect for shrimp exports to the EU in the remaining months of 2020.

In July, Vietnam earned 54.2 million USD from shrimp exports to the EU, up 2 percent from a year earlier. The year-on-year growth continued in August, at about 20 percent, and the upward trend is expected to be sustained until the year-end although the pace is unlikely to be fast due to COVID-19 impact, according to the deputy minister.

At the ceremony, Carsten Schittek, head of trade and economic affairs at the EU Delegation to Vietnam, said the shipment of this batch of brackish-water shrimp to the EU affirmed the success of shrimp farming, processing and exporting businesses of Vietnam.

Vietnam’s fishery industry, including the shrimp sector, is highly competitive, he noted, adding that with tariffs slashed from 12 percent to zero percent under the EVFTA, the country’s shrimp sector will become even more successful in gaining a bigger market share in the EU.

For his part, Truong Huu Thong, Chairman and General Director of the Thong Thuan Co. Ltd – the shrimp exporter, said among the largest markets his firm is selling products to, Europe is the most stable one in terms of demand, policies and prices.

When the EVFTA came into force, orders the company received from the EU have risen sharply, he added.

According to Chairman of the Ninh Thuan People’s Committee Luu Xuan Vinh, frozen processed shrimp is one of the key export items of the province, accounting for 43.5 percent of total shipments, and over 95 percent of the local shrimp exports is contributed by the local branch of the Thong Thuan company.

US firms help improve business climate in Da Nang

Aside from injecting fresh capital into the central city of Da Nang, firms from the United States have contributed to developing local supply chains, therefore improving the environmental quality and enhancing social welfare within the locality. 

Mary Tarnowka, CEO of the American Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (Amcham), affirmed that the June 2020 establishment of AmCham Da Nang Office will serve to encourage more businesses from the US to invest in the central city, with priority areas including services, high technology, and information technology. 

The new office is expected to serve as a bridge that can connect global US enterprises to the central region’s economic-tourism hub. This factor will also provide a solid foundation for the future establishment of the US consulate’s office in the city.

As of 2019, more than 20 businesses from Da Nang have set up trade ties with their US counterparts to develop 56 projects valued at US$589 million. Many of the US firms have operated for several years in the central city and are striving to expand their operations to maintain their sustainable investment schemes in the locality.

Most notably, as one of AmCham’s closest members, Coca-Cola has made efforts to upgrade its factory in Da Nang, with a total investment of US$5 million made in 2017, which has therefore contributed to generating hundreds of jobs for local workers and providing a boost for the region’s economy. 

Furthermore, the upgrade of a local wastewater treatment system with modern membrane filtration (MBR) technology has also allowed wastewater to reach level A, thereby exceeding existing standards.

US businesses have also engaged in a range of social activities, including presenting the Da Nang Department of Health with medical supplies worth VND500 million.

During the initial phase of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic, Coca-Cola also co-operated with the Vietnam Red Cross Society to donate approximately VND900 million to COVID-19 prevention activities in Da Nang. This was part of a wider VND7.2 billion support package aimed at providing assistance for medical workers, doctors, and health centres in the region. 

The firm has also prioritised community support activities by establishing the Community Support Center (EKOCENTER) in order to provide an ideal venue in which to organise training courses for start-ups. Indeed, the centre currently uses solar energy to maintain its operations while purifying 6,000 litres of clean water per day.

Other actions include Coca-Cola launching the “Clean drinking water in schools” project which will run from 2018 to 2022, with the company handing over 12 drinking water purification systems to schools throughout Da Nang since the launch of the scheme.  

Vietnamese Ceramic Joint Stock Company receives two world records

Two world record certificates issued by the World Records Union - WorldKings were conferred to the Vietnamese Ceramic Joint Stock Company on September 12 during an awards ceremony held in Quang Ninh province.

The prestigious awards are widely considered to be the pinnacle of recognition for the Vietnamese construction material industry as they serve to affirm the importance of the company in the manufacturing of bricks and clay. 

Furthermore, the occasion also saw the Vietnamese Ceramic Joint Stock Company presented with 11 other records by the Vietnam Records Organization. 

This comes after the firm had also received six other Vietnamese records, therefore making the ceramic company the enterprise with the most records in the nation.

Vietnamese goods introduced at Japanese chain AEON

An array of Vietnamese goods are being introduced at the Vietnam Fair which is set to run from September 11 to September 13 at 40 AEON supermarket chains across Japan.

The occasion, co-organised by the Vietnamese Embassy, the Vietnamese Trade Office in Japan and  AEON Group, serves as an ideal venue for local businesses to promote their goods to Japanese consumers while seeking new partners, thereby accelerating the introduction of Vietnamese goods into the Japanese retail system. 

Addressing the event, Vietnam Ambassador to Japan Vu Hong Nam extended his thanks to AEON for their successful co-hosting of the trade fair since 2016, hoping that the Japanese retail group will continue creating favourable conditions for Vietnamese goods to gain entry to the group’s distribution system in the near future. 

Ambassador Nam went on to highlight the group’s efforts to import and distribute Vietnamese items, adding that the Vietnamese embassy will strive to speed up the completion of procedures in order to bring Vietnamese longans into the Japanese market, along with introducing Japanese tangerines to Vietnamese consumers. 

The fair will allow Vietnamese enterprises to showcase their products in the fields of textiles and garments, agricultural products, processed food, consumer goods, furniture, handicrafts, and technology. 

The event also aims to allow Vietnamese firms to further engage in foreign distribution systems during the remainder of the year under a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between the Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade and Japan’s AEON Group. 

The MoU outlines that Vietnam aims to gross US$500 million from exporting products to AEON this year, and the figure is projected to rise to US$1 billion by 2025.

Procedural bottlenecks prevent businesses from benefiting from Government support packages

The central and local governments and other agencies have announced a number of policies and programmes to help businesses overcome difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, but the many conditions they have to meet means not many have benefited from them, according to experts.

Pham Binh An, deputy director of the HCM City Institute for Development Studies, said: “Viet Nam is one of the most successful countries in fighting the COVID-19 epidemic, but … we had to trade [this] off against significant economic losses.

“Although the social distancing period was short, the endurance of most Vietnamese enterprises is limited, and so they face many difficulties.”

A survey done by the HCM City Union of Business Associations in August on the status of businesses in the city found 84 per cent of them faced difficulty or great difficulty in restoring their production and business activities after the pandemic, 9 per cent had started to overcome the difficulties and only 5 per cent had returned to normal.

Most suffered from lack of funds, falling demand and supply chain disruption.

Only 10 per cent of enterprises have been able to benefit from the support packages while more than 80 per cent have not been able to access them due to many reasons, he told a online seminar titled “Accompanying Businesses to Respond to Risks from the COVID-19 Crisis" held on September 10.

Dr Vo Tri Thanh, director of the Institute for Brand and Competitiveness Strategy, said the Government has been proactive and vigorous in both fighting the pandemic and promulgating support policies for businesses and the economy as a whole, but their execution has been slow.

“Enterprises find it hard to benefit from the support since [they] have to carry out many procedures and meet a number of unreasonable requirements.”

For instance, to get bank loans, businesses must have cut their payroll by 50 per cent after the outbreak began, whereas many businesses made great efforts to retain workers to be ready to resume production post-pandemic.

"The Government promptly and vigorously brought in policies to support enterprises. But that determination has not percolated down to all levels and localities. The enforcement of these policies is not synchronised between the central and local levels due to a rigid mindset and some officials’ fear of taking responsibility by approving enterprises’ applications for support packages.

“Therefore, to improve the effectiveness of policies and programmes to support businesses, it is necessary to clear the bottlenecks in the implementation of these policies at the grassroots level."

Nguyen Hoang Dung, an economist and former R&D director of the HCM City Institute of Economy and Management, said: "It is necessary to analyse the reasons why the recent support packages are difficult to disburse. If the conditions are too difficult, they can be relaxed. If banks or officials in charge of approving applications cause difficulties for businesses, that should be corrected immediately.

“If the problems involved in the previous support packages cannot be resolved, the addition of more support packages will not help businesses or the economy.”

The online seminar was held by the Center for International Integration of HCM City and the Vietnam International Arbitration Centre.