VIETNAM BUSINESS NEWS FEBRUARY 18

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Vietnam has highest gold demand in Southeast Asia

Vietnam has highest gold demand in Southeast Asia hinh anh 1

Vietnam has the highest demand for gold in Southeast Asia, Andrew Naylor, Regional CEO, Asia-Pacific (excluding China) and Public Policy of the World Gold Council, said during a recent virtual workshop on the Vietnamese gold market.

The demand for the precious metal in Vietnam amounted to 43 tonnes in 2021, posting a year-on-year rise of 8 percent. Of the figure, jewelery accounted for 12 tonnes, up 11 percent; and gold bar and coin 31.1 tonnes, a slight increase from the previous year.

A recent survey showed that 72 percent of Vietnamese consumers believe that gold is a safe asset and they will continue to invest in it in the coming time.

Vietnamese people have a higher rate of gold ownership compared to their regional counterparts, and tend to store gold for the long term.

WB: Vietnam’s major mobility indicators rise sharply in January

All major mobility indicators in Vietnam rose sharply ahead of the Tet celebration as vaccination coverage surpassed 73 percent of the population, according to the World Bank (WB).

The bank said in its Vietnam Macro Monitoring in February that industrial production continued to grow, though at a slower pace and with mixed performance across sub-sectors while retail sales posted the first positive year-over-year growth rate since the COVID-19 outbreak starting in late April 2021.

Retail sales in January grew by 6.7 percent month-on-month and 1.3 percent year-on-year.

This recovery was fueled by strengthening consumer demand, particularly for goods as households prepared for Tet celebration. Indeed, sales of retail sales grew by 7.0 percent month-on-month and 4.3 percent year-on-year. Sales of services also increased by 5.2 percent month-on-month but was still 2.2 percent lower than a year ago.

Merchandise trade posted a surplus of 1.4 billion USD despite a slowdown in exports growth. Merchandise exports growth moderated to 8.1 percent year-on-year in January 2022 from 25.1 percent year-on-year in December 2021 while imports growth remained strong at 11.3 percent year-on-year.

ASEAN FMs reaffirm commitment to full, effective implementation of RCEP

ASEAN Foreign Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to ensuring the full and effective implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) during the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting Retreat (AMMR) that was held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, in both in-person and online formats from February 16-17, according to Cambodian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn.

Speaking at a press conference after the AMMR on February 17, he said that the ministers reiterated the significance of strengthening ASEAN economic integration and intra-bloc trade as well as investment connections and supply chains to improve the competitiveness, linkage and resilience of the region as stated in the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint 2025.

Sokhonn said the ASEAN FMs were encouraged that the RCEP has become effective in January and reaffirmed their commitment to fully and effectively implementing the deal to enhance ASEAN’s attractiveness in trade, investment and global supply chains.

Bamboo Airways opens Rach Gia-Phu Quoc route

Bamboo Airways on February 17 operated its first flight from Rach Gia city in the Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang to Phu Quoc island, marking the opening of the route.

There will be three flights per week on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, each taking only about 20 minutes.

China halts imports via Hekou-Lao Cai border gate

China has suspended the import of Vietnamese goods via its Hekou border gate that pairs with Lao Cai of Vietnam due to COVID-19 pandemic.

Deputy head of Lao Cai’s economic zone management board Ha Duc Thuan said on February 17 that Hekou’s border gate management board informed via the hotline that the suspension was due to the detection of new COVID-19 cases in the Chinese district, prompting the Chinese authorities to put Hekou under lockdown and conduct testing on all residents.

The Chinese side also asked for Lao Cai’s coordination to stop trucks from entering Hekou from February 17 until further notice. However, the return of empty trucks will still take place as normal.

Lao Cai’s border gate management board has been requested to inform relevant agencies and businesses about the suspension, Thuan said.

US’s anti-dumping tariff against bee honey to negatively impact on Vietnam’s beekeeping industry

The US’s plan to impose an anti-dumping tariff of up to 400 percent against imported Vietnamese raw honey products would pose very negative impacts on Vietnam’s beekeeping industry, of which the US has been the prime import market, said spokeswoman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Le Thi Thu Hang.

Answering reporters’ question on Vietnam’s reaction to the plan at a regular press briefing on February 17, Hang said it would also adversely impact on Vietnam’s agriculture and cultivation as a whole as artificially kept bees also contribute to the pollination of crops.

This will certainly have a direct impact on the livelihoods and employment of many beekeeping and farming families in Vietnam, particularly those in the southern region and the Central Highlands, Hang stressed.

She said that Vietnam always looks forward to promoting the comprehensive partnership with the US, especially in terms of trade and business, which should be geared more towards greater balance, mutual benefits, and sustainability.

The spokeswoman added that Vietnam is ready to and is regularly discussing with the US through existing mechanisms such as the trade and investment framework agreement (TIFA) in order to further promote economic interests and trade relations and bilateral investment relations, and to address any issues that may arise, contributing to the advancement of Vietnam-US ties as well as the interests of the two countries’ people.

Bac Giang moves to promote sale of farm produce on e-commerce platforms

The northern province of Bac Giang will pay attention to developing e-commerce, expanding markets for agricultural products, especially typical ones, according to Deputy Director of the provincial Department of Industry and Trade Pham Cong Toan.

In the 2022 – 2025 period, Bac Giang province will step up the dissemination of information to raise awareness about e-commerce for state management officials on e-commerce laws; organise training courses on e-commerce for businesses, cooperatives, and individuals; facilitate the access to technology and digital transformation in production and sale.

Bac Giang has also improved state management capacity in e-commerce, actively built solutions to support the sale of key local agricultural products through digital platforms, and carefully prepare conditions to organise activities to promote litchi consumption in 2022.

IFC partners with Singapore’s YCH and Vietnamese T&T to develop super port in Viet Nam

International Finance Corporation (IFC) announced it will partner with Singapore’s YCH Group and Viet Nam’s T&T Group to develop a “super port” in Viet Nam.

Located roughly 60 kilometres outside of Ha Noi in the northern province of Vinh Phuc, the Vinh Phuc Inland Container Depot (ICD) Logistics Centre (Vietnam SuperPort) project will be developed by T&Y Superport Vinh Phuc JSC, a joint venture between Singapore’s YCH Group and Vietnamese conglomerate T&T Group (sponsors). The project is set to be one of the country’s first ICDs with multi-modal facilities, including an international distribution centre and an inland port for rail connectivity and air transportation.

Over the next 12 months, IFC will help YCH Group and T&T Group develop a bankable and sustainable project by providing technical expertise, helping the developers mitigate risks and strengthen environmental and social standards. IFC will also support the sponsors in making the logistics hub’s infrastructure green and sustainable, supporting Viet Nam in its efforts to reach its net zero carbon emissions target by 2050.

IFC also has the right to act as lead arranger of long-term financing for the Vietnam SuperPort. Total investment capital for the project is expected to be over VND4.5 trillion (US$199 million).

FDI to Viet Nam predicted to surge in 2022

Viet Nam remains an attractive destination for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), which is likely to experience a surge in 2022 after a long hiatus due to the pandemic, according to economic experts.

During the first two months of the year, Viet Nam recorded US$2.1 billion in new investment with $1.6 billion disbursed, respectively a 6.8 per cent and a 4.2 per cent increase from the same period last year.

Much-anticipated projects include a sound equipment factory in WHA Industrial Park in Nghe An Province, which just received over a quarter of a billion dollars in investment to upscale its production and technology. Once completed, the factory is expected to employ up to 30,000 workers, making it one of the largest projects in the province.

Taiwanese fund launched with VinaCapital as advisor

Taiwan’s Jih Sun Securities Investment Trust has signed up VinaCapital Fund Management JSC as the investment advisor for its newly launched fund in Viet Nam.

The Jih Sun Vietnam Opportunity Fund (JSVOF) IPO, which closed on January 19, raised US$143 million.

In 2021 VinaCapital’s Vietnam-domiciled open-ended equity funds led the industry, widely outperforming the benchmark VN Index, which itself grew by 36 per cent, making it the top performing stock market in Southeast Asia and one of the best in the world.

Ministry seeks prime ministerial approval for two casino projects

The Ministry of Finance is seeking the prime minister’s approval for two casino projects in the central city of Danang and the southern central province of Khanh Hoa.

According to the Ministry of Finance, the ministry had received casino project proposals from Danang, Khanh Hoa and Binh Thuan Province.

Danang proposed opening a casino at the Sun World Ba Na Hill tourist site. Currently, Danang is home to only one casino, Silver Shores. The casino has operated quite effectively.

Meanwhile, Nha Trang wants to invest in a casino project at Hon Tre Tourism Complex.

The two projects are expected to attract more foreign tourists, the ministry said.

LOGOS Vietnam Logistics Venture announced fourth acquisition in the country

LOGOS Vietnam Logistics Venture and Manulife Investment Management on February 17 announced to set up a joint venture to acquire an 11-hectare, build-to-suit logistics asset in the greater Ho Chi Minh City area.

This is LOGOS’ first partnership with Manulife and an important investment to support the growing demand for modern, high-quality logistics facilities in Vietnam.

Located in Dau Giay Industrial Park in Dong Nai Province, the property comprises three high-tech warehouse facilities, two of which were completed in 2021 with the third to be completed in late 2022. Upon completion, the property will boast a total of 116,000sq.m of modern logistics space, valued at over $80 million.

Credit contract for the last PPP section of the North-South Expressway signed

The investors of the Dien Chau-Bai Vot section of the Eastern Cluster of the North-South Expressway planned for 2016-2020, together with involved banks, signed a VND3.56 trillion ($154.8 million) credit contract on February 12, paving the way for the acceleration of the project.

The event rendered Dien Chau-Bai Vot the last Public-Private Partnership (PPP) section of the project completing the signing of the credit contract.

Le Kim Thanh, head of the PPP Department under the Ministry of Transport (MoT), said that the section experienced many challenges in negotiations of the credit loan.

The sector is planned to be developed in 36 months, but now it has 27 months left. Meanwhile, many large works remain, including the Than Vu Tunnel and the Hung Duc Bridge.

Producers crack on with fresh orders while preparing for all 2022 eventualities

With the festive season out of the way, businesses are eager to ramp up production as well as proactively adapt to future challenges.

Hong Kong’s apparel maker Worldon Vietnam Co., Ltd., in Ho Chi Minh City plans to recruit about 8,000 more workers to serve the needs of production expansion in the current quarter. General director Zhou Gao Feng said that nearly 13,000 employees have received three vaccine shots.

Local companies are also joining foreign-invested enterprises in ramping up production.

Leading steelmaker Hoa Phat Group said that it has signed a contract to export hot-rolled coil to Italy with a total capacity of 35,000 tonnes. According to Tran Ngoc An, deputy head of sales at a Hoa Phat subsidiary, this first order to Europe has opened up a large consumption market for the group’s products.

In other sectors, Truong Tien Dung, general director of Saigon Seafood Business JSC, said that work is back underway after the break.

Fresh investment sources required for key ring road

Ho Chi Minh City has proposed holding a land auction along Ring Road No.3 to acquire capital for the construction of the important infrastructure project.

The route passes through the city and Binh Duong, Dong Nai, and Long An provinces and has the total investment of $3.6 billion. After nearly ten years of construction, however, only 16.3km has been built due to financial difficulties.

According to Ho Chi Minh City Department of Transport, some possible options were proposed for mobilising further funds for the project.

Among those are issuing government bonds to localities involved in the project, auctioning land located along the route, and using the local budget.

Luong Thi Cam Tu succeeds Yasuhiro Saitoh as new chairwoman of Eximbank

At the latest annual meeting of shareholders of Eximbank, Luong Thi Cam Tu has been chosen to succeed Yasuhiro Saitoh as newly-appointed chairwoman of the bank’s board of directors in the 2020-2025 tenure.

Tu was previously appointed to the Eximbank’s board of directors at the bank’s second annual general meeting of shareholders on February 15, with a voting ratio of 62.2 per cent.

At the time of her appointment as the general director of Nam A Bank in 2015, she was the youngest executive in Vietnam’s banking system (35 years old). Previously, Tu was regarded as one of the most promising leaders of Sacombank.

Tu has joined Eximbank’s board of directors since 2018.

A fortnight ago, Eximbank and SMBC’s 14-year strategic collaboration arrangement finally came to an end.

Bullish export outlook ahead in spite of external woes

Export prospects are proving upbeat despite several looming threats such as growth slowdowns in China’s economy and lingering input material shortages.

The latest international growth forecasts remain buoyant about rebound prospects for the global economy in 2022 that could help maintain high growth momentum for Vietnam’s export throughout the year.

The World Trade Organization’s latest report noted that the global trade volume would grow 4.7 per cent this year, slightly more than the 4 per cent hike in the previous forecast, and could resume pre-pandemic growth level late this year.

Logistics costs have begun to normalise since late last year on the back of high COVID-19 vaccination rates as well as marked improvement of container deficiencies following soaring orders for container production from mid-2021.

Lower transportation costs would also be instrumental in helping local businesses boost exports, particularly to the US and EU markets.

VNR seeks nod to upgrade 41 train stations

Vietnam Railway Corporation (VNR) has written to the relevant ministries and agencies proposing spending nearly VND2.4 trillion repairing and upgrading 41 railway stations in the 2022-2023 period.

The repairs and upgrade sourced from the socio-economic recovery and development program are aimed at boosting the capacity and effectiveness of the railway system and helping the system recover quickly after the Covid pandemic.

VNR proposed upgrading and rehabilitating warehouses, cargo yards, railway tracks and some components at nine key freight stations such as Song Than, Dong Dang, Kim Lien and Dieu Tri, the local media reported.

Besides, it is necessary to repair and upgrade station buildings, railway tracks, fences, pedestrian bridges and other components at 32 passenger rail stations to offer better services to passengers.

The national railway system has 297 freight and passenger train stations, with most of them deteriorating, according to VNR.

As many as 220 stations are outdated or considered unsafe for use. Twenty-five of them were built during the French-domination period. Only Ninh Binh and Halong stations have been newly built in a modern manner.

Higher mid-term public investment proposed to fund Ring Road 3

HCMC and the localities where the Ring Road No. 3 project will pass through have proposed reviewing the public investment plan in the 2021-2025 period and raising the mid-term capital to allocate capital for the project.

The HCMC government has sent a document on the capital hike to the prime minister and the Ministry of Planning and Investment. At present, HCMC and Binh Duong, Dong Nai and Long An, where the Ring Road No. 3 project will pass through, have yet to include the capital for the project in the mid-term public investment plan in the 2021-2025 period, the local media reported.

The National Assembly had earlier approved the mid-term public investment plan for HCMC in the 2021-2025 period at over VND142 trillion. The city estimated that it could mobilize over VND119 trillion for key projects during the period.

According to the prefeasibility report for the Ring Road No. 3 project that the HCMC government sent to the Government early this year, the first phase of the project required an investment of nearly VND75.8 trillion.

The project will be executed under the public investment mode using the budgets of the State and the localities.

Separate lane at TSN airport reserved for ride-hailing vehicles

The Hochiminh Stock Exchange has announced it will delist 250 million shares of GTNFoods JSC (GTN), with a total value of VND2.5 trillion, with effect from March 8, as GTN will merge with Vietnam Livestock Corporation JSC (Vilico/VLC).

VLC is set to issue over 156 million shares to exchange the entire GTN outstanding shares at the ratio of 1.6:1. The deadline to register for the exchange will be March 9.

After merging with GTN, VLC will boost production in the livestock and meat processing sector in Vietnam through its investment in a cow farm with a daily beef output of 2,000 head and a total investment of less than VND1,7 trillion, according to Dau tu Chung khoan newspaper.

Home Credit, MSIG announce strategic partnership to expand insurance offering and support financial inclusion in Southeast Asia

Agreement will see MSIG leveraging Home Credit’s significant regional distribution network to better serve insurance customers across three markets.

Home Credit B.V. (“Home Credit”), the international consumer finance provider in Europe and Asia, and MSIG, one of Asia’s leading general insurance providers, today announce a three-market strategic insurance partnership with the objective of making insurance solutions simpler and more accessible for retail consumers, a fast growing insurance segment in Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia.

By partnering in retail distribution and product development respectively, Home Credit and MSIG are aiming to increase the current low levels of retail insurance penetration in three major Southeast Asia (SEA) markets where demand for retail insurance services is growing rapidly.

HCMC pilots seaport fee collection

HCMC began piloting the collection of fees for use of infrastructure facilities and public services at seaport terminals in the city on February 16. The pilot will last until March 15 before the city officially begins the collection from April 1.

It is aimed at creating conditions for the relevant individuals, agencies and organizations to access the fee collection system, the local media reported.

Seaport operators can check the enterprises’ fee payments at https://thuphihatang.tphcm.gov.vn:8092/Home, while import-export firms can make fee declarations at https://thuphihatang.tphcm.gov.vn:8081/Home. They can also call the hotline 1900 1286 for support.

Vietnam striving to stabilize goods price

The recent petrol price surge and the current political instability in the world have negatively impact the price of merchandise in Vietnam, especially those of commodities. That might lead to changes in consumption power in the country.

The retail petrol price rise of nearly VND1,000 (US$0.044) per liter from February 11 resulted in a corresponding increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) of January 2022 by 0.19 percent and 1.94 percent compared to December and January 2021, respectively. The core inflation rate also grew by 0.66 percent.

The most affected industries are those consuming a large volume of fuel like aquaculture, freight and passenger transport.

That could become an obstacle when the Government is trying to resume tourism, manufacturing, and transport activities to the extent that some expert commented the policy to decrease VAT tax by 2 percent for economic growth stimulus might be useless.

Trucks waiting for customs clearance at Northern border gates yet to decrease

According to an update from the General Department of Vietnam Customs, by 5 p.m. on February 17, the number of vehicles waiting for customs clearance procedures at the border gates of Lang Son Province had not decreased after the Lang Son Department of Industry and Trade announced to temporarily suspend receiving agricultural products for exporting to the Chinese market.

Accordingly, there were 759 container trucks at Tan Thanh Border Gate, 1,082 trucks at Huu Nghi International Border Gate, 1,081 vehicles at Coc Nam Border Gate, 1,217 trucks at Dong Dang International Border Gate, and hundreds of trucks at Chi Ma Border Gate. Among these, container trucks carrying agricultural products and fruits were mainly concentrated at Tan Thanh, Huu Nghi, and Chi Ma border gates.

According to the Department of Industry and Trade of Lang Son Province, the number of trucks carrying agricultural products from inland to border gates still tends to increase, but the progress of customs clearance remains sluggish. On average, Huu Nghi International Border Gate can only clear 69 trucks for export and 346 for import, and Tan Thanh Border Gate 39 trucks per day. According to calculations, it takes at least 18 days to carry out customs clearance for all existing fruit trucks at Huu Nghi International Border Gate.

Rising gasoline prices spell trouble for logistics companies

The sharp increase in gasoline prices is putting pressure on the logistics industry, forcing businesses to increase service prices; It is forecast that manufacturing enterprises will face many difficulties. When the price of fuel goes up, carriers are required to increase their prices or take some losses.

The rising costs of fuel affect the whole industry in that if it costs more for the freight carrier to transport goods, the shipper is charged more to transport those goods to make up for the increased costs.

Analyzing the increase in gasoline prices, which has a strong impact on logistics service prices, Director of VIJAI Logistics Vietnam International Company Le Dang Tam said that fuel prices contribute to 35-40 percent in the operational cost in individual transporters.

Therefore, when the price of petrol is adjusted, it immediately affects the operation of enterprises. The operational cost has increased forcing transport companies ought to increase their prices of services to retain margin; however, they had signed contracts to provide logistics services partners for the whole year; consequently, the prices of services can’t be adjusted immediately. Many logistics enterprises; therefore, have fallen into a state of loss.

Difficulties related to logistics activities are even more serious when most domestic enterprises depend on foreign logistics services.

Room for Vietnamese agricultural and food products in UAE

There remains huge opportunities for Vietnamese enterprises to accelerate exports of agricultural and food products to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) thanks to its strong demand for these items, experts have said.

As the regional trade and logistics centre, the UAE was considered one of the world’s largest re-export markets for goods including farm produce, said Vietnamese Ambassador to the UAE Nguyen Manh Tuan.

Currently, Vietnam exports 200 million USD worth of agricultural products to the UAE each year. This figure was still modest compared to the UAE’s annual import turnover at about 5 billion USD.

Truong Xuan Trung, Vietnamese Trade Counselor in the UAE, said that in order to increase market share in the UAE, Vietnamese businesses should strengthen cooperation and attend large agricultural fairs and exhibitions in the UAE.

Detailed visualisation of int’l financial centre model in HCM City needed: experts

The development of an international financial centre in Ho Chi Minh City must be associated with the planning work and socio-economic development of the locality, as well as a political consensus, according to experts.

At a seminar on February 17, Dr. Can Van Luc – an economic and financial expert, stressed the necessity to imagine what this centre will be like first, saying there are some visualisations of a financial centre but they are yet to be right.

The financial world is changing very quickly as digital transactions, digital and crypto currencies will be a new financial and monetary trend in the next 5-10 years, Luc said, adding that is why main pillars of the centre should be determined and attention paid to developing financial technology companies (Fintech).

According to Dr. Vo Tri Thanh, Director of the Institute of Branding and Competition Strategy, said municipal authorities should choose a new financial centre model rather than the traditional one and immediately approach an integrated financial one associated with urbanisation and high-quality service.

He also underlined the need to issue a legal document in order to immediately deploy a project of building an international financial centre in HCM City in order to realise the idea.

Recently, the municipal People’s Committee signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Import-Export Pan Pacific Group (IPPG) on research and preparing a project to build an international financial centre in the southern hub.

As scheduled, the project will be completed in April.

Source: VNA/SGT/VNS/VOV/SGGP/VNN/Hanoitimes

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