VIETNAM BUSINESS NEWS FEBRUARY 23

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Vietnam records 3.91 billion USD trade deficit in first half of February

Vietnam records 3.91 billion USD trade deficit in first half of February hinh anh 1

Vietnam reported a trade deficit of 3.91 billion USD in the first 15 days of February as exports decreased, the General Department of Customs has announced.

In the first half of February, Vietnam exported 8.75 billion USD worth of goods while its imports hit 12.66 billion USD. That brought the country’s total trade value since the beginning of the year to 81.68 billion USD. During the period, the country also saw a trade deficit of over 2.5 billion USD.

However, economists said that the trade deficit was not a worrisome figure as February was the time the Lunar New Year holiday fell. The country’s largest holiday lasted up to nine days, so the number of exported goods decreased.

From the beginning of this year to mid-June, two groups of imported goods saw a turnover of billions of dollars. They were computers, electronic products and components; and machinery, equipment and spare parts.

Vietnam Airlines launches flight delay/cancellation insurance

In order to help customers feel secure during each trip, national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines, in cooperation with Post and Telecommunication Joint Stock Insurance Corporation (PTI), has launched flight delay/cancellation insurance FLY PRO.

This is an insurance product exclusively for the carrier’s passengers on domestic and international flights departing from Vietnam.

Passengers participating in the insurance programme will receive maximum benefits when their flight schedule is changed, in cases such as flight delayed for 120 minutes or more, flight returning to the place of departure, flight landing at another airport, flight cancellation, or passenger missing the next flight, including that of other airlines.

Under this programme, with only 60,000 VND (2.63 USD) per person per way, passengers can be insured up to 1.5 million VND. Passengers will receive a message informing them of the compensation right after the delay occurs.

For other cases, passengers will be paid within 15 days. The claim period is up to one year.

Cooperatives to be supported in digital transformation

The Vietnam Cooperative Alliance (VCA) has suggested the People’s Committees of cities and provinces earmark capital to establish a coordinating centre that supports the development of cooperatives, especially in digital transformation.

The centre will mobilise and use resources to boost the development of collective economy and cooperatives in localities, the alliance said.

The VCA added that it will closely coordinate with localities to step up consultation and assistance to cooperatives in trade promotion, high-tech application, personnel training, credits and legal matters.

It is scheduled to put into operation an information-technology project to serve the consultation work by 2025.

Vietnamese products increasingly popular in Hong Kong: Official

Vietnamese products have become more and more visible in the market of Hong Kong (China) thanks to strong trade ties between the two sides, said Vu Thi Thuy, head of the Vietnamese Trade Office in Hong Kong.

Thuy cited statistics from the General Department of Vietnam Customs showing that two-way trade between Vietnam and Hong Kong rose 18 percent year on year to 13.6 billion USD in 2021, with Vietnam’s exports valued at 12 billion USD, up 15 percent.

The Hong Kong market accounted for 3.6 percent of Vietnam’s total export revenue, she noted.

In terms of investment, Thuy said that as of December 20, 2021, Hong Kong was the fifth largest investor in Vietnam with 2,041 projects worth 27.83 billion USD, focusing on processing-manufacturing, garment and textile, service, real estate and construction sectors.

In 2021, 126 new Hong Kong-invested projects were licensed in Vietnam with total capital of nearly 1.7 billion USD, she noted.

National master planning needs mindset breakthroughs: experts

The Ministry of Planning and Investment on February 22 consulted experts and scientists about a report on orientations for the national master planning for 2021-2030, with a vision towards 2050.

The national master planning is scheduled to be submitted to the National Assembly in October.

Minister Nguyen Chi Dung said the building of the master planning needs the engagement of the entire pollical system, ministries, agencies, experts, scientists and institutes, as it would be used to serve the formation of other planning schemes.

It is set to create an effective, sustainable national development model, form key economic regions, economic centres and strategic urban areas, with modern, synchronous infrastructure.

It is also expected to spur the national economic growth and contribute to fulfilling Vietnam’s target of becoming a developing nation with modern industry and high-middle income by 2030, and a developed country, with high income, a harmonious society and a quality, clean and safe environment.

Reference exchange rate stays unchanged on February 23

The State Bank of Vietnam set the daily reference exchange rate for the US dollar at 23,130 VND/USD on February 23, unchanged from the previous day.

With the current trading band of +/-3 percent, the ceiling rate applicable to commercial banks during the day is 23,823 VND/USD and the floor rate 22,436 VND/USD.

The opening hour rates at commercial banks all rose.

At 8:25am, Vietcombank listed the buying rate at 22,650 VND/USD and the selling rate 22,960 VND/USD, both up 20 VND from February 22.

BIDV also raised both rates by 20 VND to 22,680 VND/USD (buying) and 22,960 VND/USD (selling).

Vietnam-India trade turnover first exceed US$13 billion

Two-way trade turnover between Vietnam and India in 2021 crossed the US$13 billion mark (US$13.2 billion) for the first time, up 36.5% over US$9.6 billion recorded in 2020.

The Vietnam Trade Office in India quoted data from the General Department of Customs of Vietnam as saying that in the total two-way trade turnover, India raked in US$ 6.95 billion from exports, representing a year- on-year rise of 56% and Vietnam’s export turnover hit US$ 6.95 billion to India, up 20% compared to 2020.

Vietnam’s main export items to the south Asian nation accounted for a large proportion in December 2021, including common metals (US$79.3 million), computers, electronic products and components (US$78.8 million).

India’s export staples to Vietnam accounted for a large proportion in December 2021, including iron and steel, cotton and machinery and equipment.

For the whole year of 2021, iron and steel exports of all kinds have the largest turnover, reaching nearly US$1.4 billion, constituting about 20% of India’s total export value to Vietnam

Domestic gold prices hit new record high of nearly VND64 million per tael

Domestic gold prices have witnessed a sharp fluctuation these days, hitting a new all-time high of approximately VND64 million per tael on February 22 amid the current impact of the global market.

At 10:45 a.m. on February 22, Saigon Gold and Jewelry Company listed each tael of SJC gold at VND63.2 million for buying, and VND63.8 million for selling, representing increases of roughly VND550,000 to both prices compared to February 21 transactions.

Both selling and buying prices for gold bars quoted by DOJI Group stood at VND63.7 million and VND63 million per tael, respectively, rising by VND500,000 and VND600,000, respectively, against the previous day.

In terms of the global gold market as a whole, prices hovered at approximately US$1,907 an ounce on February 22, equivalent to VND52.74 million per tael when converted in the domestic exchange rate.

DHL Express launches Vietnam – US air cargo service

DHL Express, the best Express Logistics Service Provider in the world, on February 22 launched a new cargo service between ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam) and the United States to keep up with the growing trade between the two countries.

This route will connect Sydney (Australia), Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam) and Nagoya (Japan) before returning to the DHL Express Cincinnati hub in the US.

“We continue seeing strong express logistics services demand between intra-Asia and the U.S.,” said Ken Lee, CEO, DHL Express Asia Pacific. “With Vietnam’s continued rise as a manufacturing hub for semiconductors, garments accessories and materials, as well as electronics, we see an increasing demand for our services and we are confident that this additional flight will support our customers in growing their global footprint and entering new markets.”

Challenges remain in tourism’s digital transformation

The COVID-19 pandemic has posed big challenges for almost all industries and fields, with tourism suffering the most.

At the same time, due to the impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, with changes in consumer habits, especially after the COVID-19 outbreak, digital transformation has become an indispensable requirement of the industry.

The transformation of Việt Nam’s tourism sector is said to face many barriers due to the uneven quality of workers, low management capacity, and limited digital technology.

In the future, in order to remove those barriers, the industry must carry out effective solutions and overcome limitations in terms of finance, human resources, policies, information technology, organisation and management, and cooperation mechanisms.

Experts say that Vietnam can learn from international experience in planning and developing information infrastructure, the Internet of Things, and artificial intelligence in a professional and modern direction, associated with the tourism product value chain. In addition, Việt Nam should focus on developing smart cities along with tourism digital transformation infrastructure.

Dragon fruit production needs reorganisation for sustainable development: minister

To sustainably develop dragon fruit farming, localities should reorganise production from the commune level upwards based on understanding production status and market demand, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Le Minh Hoan has said.

The country had 64,000ha under the fruit and an output of 1.4 million tonnes last year, double the 2015 production, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s (MARD) Plant Cultivation Department.

The fruit is grown in nearly all the country’s 63 cities and provinces but the south – central province of Binh Thuan, and the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta provinces of Long An and Tien Giang are the biggest producers.

Binh Thuan tops with 33,500ha and an annual output of 700,000 tonnes. Some 15 per cent of its output is consumed domestically and the rest is exported, mostly to China.

VN tourism industry prepares for reopening

The tourism industry is working hard to prepare for reopening on March 15, according to Nguyen Trung Khanh, director of Viet Nam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT).

Khanh said the VNAT and local authorities were cooperating to revamp tourism facilities, which have been closed for two years.

The authority is also calling for more training programmes and supportive policies to lure back workers who left the industry during the pandemic.

It is also running the campaign “Live fully in Vietnam” and reaching out to international channels, including CNN and CNBC, to promote Vietnamese tourism to target markets.

The authority has also suggested the resumption of the pre-pandemic visa waiver policy for tourists from 24 countries.

Viet Nam has accepted vaccine passports from 79 countries so far, but only 14 countries have reciprocated on Vietnamese vaccine passports.

Demand picks up for HCM City commercial rental spaces

Thanks to HCM City’s success in controlling the COVID-19 pandemic and the sharp fall in rentals in the last two years, its retail rents are showing signs of recovering.

Downtown streets, malls, restaurants, and coffee and tea shops are becoming crowded again, especially during weekends.

After a long period of shuttered doors and ‘Available for rent’ signs, the Phan Xich Long food street in Phu Nhuan District is bustling again.

Most malls, supermarkets and convenience stores are also recovering.

The shophouse segment is becoming vibrant.

Phan Thanh Binh of Thu Duc City said he had signed a lease contract for a shophouse with six floors at Vinhomes Grand Park to open a cafe, restaurant and rooms for rent.

According to property brokers, the demand for space for restaurants and cafes is recovering, and rents, while still low, are starting to rise.

Assessing the rental real estate segment in the city, CBRE Viet Nam said the retail market boom would push rates up in the second half of this year.

Vietnam’s frequency of int’l flights equal to 10% of pre-pandemic levels

Vietnam reopened international air services to and from 20 countries and territories, but the current number of international flights has reached nearly 10% of the pre-pandemic levels.

Tran Bao Ngoc, head of the Transportation Department under the Ministry of Transport, said Vietnam has so far reopened air routes linking the country with 20 countries and regions, compared to 28 countries and regions during the pre-pandemic period.

The remaining eight countries and regions to which Vietnam has yet to resume air services comprise Brunei, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Macau, Finland, Italy, and Switzerland.

The current frequency of international flights to/from Vietnam is 370 flights per week, compared to 4,185 during the 2019 winter before the Covid-19 pandemic hit the country, he added.

Up to now, six local carriers, comprising Vietnam Airlines, Vietjet Air, Pacific Airlines, Bamboo Airways, Vietravel Airlines, and Vasco, are operating 56 domestic air routes with 2,570 flights per week each way, down two routes and 217 weekly flights scheduled in the 2019 winter.

Over VND8 trillion of public investment sought for bridge in Mekong Delta

The Ministry of Transport has proposed using more than VND8 trillion of public investment for the Dai Ngai Bridge linking the Mekong Delta provinces of Tra Vinh and Soc Trang, which will help shorten the travel distance between the Mekong Delta and HCMC by some 80 kilometers compared to traveling on National Highway 1.

The ministry suggested the Government approve the adjusted investment plan for the bridge on National Highway 60.

Work on the project will not start until the second quarter of 2025.

The project, when completed, will connect the southwestern provinces and HCMC, shorten the travel time by 1.5-two hours and reduce goods transport costs. Therefore, the Ministry of Transport and Mekong Delta provinces want the project to be executed early.

Over VND13.6 trillion proposed for Ring Road No. 2

The HCMC Department of Transport has proposed sourcing more than VND13.6 trillion from the public investment plan for the 2021-2025 period for the Ring Road No. 2 project.

The capital will be used for two sections in Thu Duc City: the Phu Huu Bridge-Hanoi Highway and the Hanoi Highway-Pham Van Dong Street. The capital is equivalent to 80% of the total investment in the two sections (some VND17 trillion).

The remaining VND3.4 trillion needed for the two sections will be allocated in the next periods.

The municipal Department of Transport proposed the municipal government assign the Department of Planning and Investment to review the approved mid-term public investment in the 2021-2025 period and the increased capital to arrange funds for the two sections. The results will later be reported to the municipal People’s Council at its upcoming meeting.

Finance Ministry secures VND291 trillion for socioeconomic recovery program

The Ministry of Finance has secured VND291 trillion for the country’s socioeconomic recovery and development program, according to Nguyen Minh Tan, deputy director of the ministry’s State Budget Department.

The total value of the program’s fiscal packages amounts to some VND291 trillion (US$12.5 billion), including VND64 trillion in terms of tax and fee reduction or exemption, VND176 trillion for public investment, VND6.6 trillion to support disadvantaged workers, VND38.4 trillion for the Vietnam Bank for Social Policies to provide loans for social welfares, and VND6 trillion to support businesses.

Some VND240 trillion for the program will be sourced from the State budget.

Firms asked to make declarations before hauling goods to Lang Son’s border gates

All import-export enterprises have been required to make online declarations on the digital border gate platform before transporting their goods to the Huu Nghi and Tan Thanh international border gates in Lang Son Province from February 21, said Vi Cong Truong, deputy head of the Lang Son Customs Department.

According to the provincial Department of Information and Communications, information about the enterprises’ goods will be digitalized before they reach the border gates. The competent forces at the border gates just need to check and confirm the information declared by the enterprises, the local media reported.

The online declaration will help reduce costs, time and workload of enterprises and the competent agencies.

In the context of the complicated Covid-19 pandemic, the use of the digital border gate platform will also help minimize the gathering of a large number of people, reducing the risk of virus transmission to the competent forces at the border gates.

LCG leader sells 2 million shares

Bui Duong Hung, board chairman of Licogi 16 Joint Stock Company (LCG), has finished selling 2 million LCG shares, which are listed on the Hochiminh Stock Exchange (HoSE), to reduce his ownership at the company from 4.17% to 3.02%.

According to Hung, the transactions were made from January 19 to February 17.

LCG posted nearly VND471 billion in revenue and more than VND21 billion in after-tax profit in the fourth quarter of 2021, falling 62.7% and 83.9% year-on-year, respectively.

The company’s revenue reached over VND2.12 trillion, while after-tax profit reached VND183.1 billion in 2021, falling 40% and 41.3% year-on-year, respectively.

LCG expected its revenue at VND3.6 trillion and after-tax profit at VND300 billion last year. It meant that the company met only 61% of its revenue target.

PM asks to ensure fuel supply for domestic market

Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh yesterday signed and promulgated official letter No. 160/CD-TTg on ensuring the supply of petroleum for the domestic market.

In the PM’s official letter, he ordered the government inspectorate to supplement the inspection plan for 2022 on the observance of policies and laws in the state management of petroleum in order to promptly detect loopholes and inadequacies in business activities, from which the inspectorate will have a proposal for penalties according to the present regulations because petroleum is an essential commodity that directly impacts on macroeconomic stability.

In particular, the Prime Minister requested the Ministry of Industry and Trade to coordinate with relevant ministries and agencies to adjust the supply and demand of the petroleum market according to its competence, ensuring that there is no shortage of petroleum supply for the domestic market.

Moreover, the Ministry should work with relevant agencies to pay more unscheduled visits to petrol and oil suppliers and distributors and fuel filling stations across the country to promptly detect violations and throw a book on violators according to the provisions of law for acts of hoarding goods for profit and other violations in petroleum business activities.

Project to upgrade rice value chain kicked off in Vietnam’s Red River Delta

The project is expected to raise the income of rice farmers and economic efficiency in agricultural production in the Red River Delta.

The US$4.5-million project to upgrade the rice value chain in the Red River Delta kicked off in Lien Hoa Commune, Dong Hung District, the northern province of Thai Binh on February 21.

The project, with a non-refundable aid worth 5 billion KRW (over $4.5 million), is provided by the South Korean Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs through the South Korean Rural Community Corporation (KRC).

The project will be carried out in Thai Binh, Nam Dinh and Hung Yen provinces in the 2022-2025 period.

AI application proves useful to improving tourists’ experience

Like e-commerce and retail, customers in the tourism and hotel industry now tend to book tours on the websites providing customised travel experiences.

Some surveys show that the mushrooming of social networks has facilitated new forms of communication via automatic interaction like chatbot.

Chatbot hasn’t been used widely in Vietnam. However, Da Nang, a tourism hub in the central region, has become the second city in Southeast Asia to apply chatbot to tourism.

To help holidaymakers easily check information, the municipal Tourism Department coordinated with the Hekate Technology JSC to develop and pilot Chatbot Danang Fantasticity, the first automatic tourism information searching and support channel via text message conversation in Vietnam.

During the first six months since its debut, the app has been frequently updated with relevant information about famous destinations, events, weather, ATM locations, and hotlines, among others, according to the Da Nang Tourism Promotion Centre.

In Ho Chi Minh City, most of the tourists trying this type of artificial intelligence (AI) application held that this is a modern and useful tool for many circumstances that require quick response.

This shows the rich potential of AI applications like chatbot in assisting customers and reforming tourism products and services.

Given the benefits from AI apps, many experts said Vietnam’s tourism sector should promote the widespread application of AI achievements by building an AI development process and continually applying them in reality to measure their compatibility with the set targets.

They noted that in the tourism sector, chatbot has just been used to help customers book rooms, services, and products. It is necessary to connect with the suppliers of relevant products and services so as to create a complete chatbot ecosystem for tourism.

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

Export-import turnover hits $21.41 bln in first half of February

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