VIETNAM BUSINESS NEWS FEBRUARY 7

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President Phuc attends groundbreaking ceremony for new route linking highways

State President Nguyen Xuan Phuc attended a groundbreaking ceremony in the northern province of Ha Nam on February 7 for the second phase of a road project connecting the Hanoi-Hai Phong highway with the Cau Gie-Ninh Binh expressway.

Upon addressing the event, President Phuc emphasised that the latest route is expected to reduce traffic load for urban areas in Hanoi whilst improving the efficiency of traffic linkages, thereby attracting further investment and strengthen trade, tourism, and urban development for the entire northern delta region.

Furthermore, the second phase will also contribute to improving transport infrastructure in order to meet the increasing demand for inter-regional traffic and trade exchanges among localities nationwide.

Some dynamic and fast-growing provinces and cities benefiting from the project include Ha Nam, Hanoi, Hai Phong, Hai Duong, Hung Yen, Thai Binh, Nam Dinh, and Ninh Binh.

The second phase of the 16.3km road project connecting the Hanoi-Hai Phong expressway with the Cau Gie-Ninh Binh highway features a total investment of VND702.82 billion, with the project set to be completed in 2023.

Government acts to achieve rapid economic recovery, development

The Government has issued a resolution on socio-economic recovery and development programme, and the implementation of the National Assembly’s resolution on fiscal and financial policies in support of the programme.

Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung said, to fulfill the economic growth target of 6.5-7 percent for 2021-2025, the programme is set to ensure rapid recovery and development, as well as safe adaptation to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2022-2023.

Economic reopening will be carried out firmly and safely, and under a roadmap that matches the country’s pandemic combat strategy, vaccination capacity and the supply of treatment drugs and medical equipment, he said.

The minister added that the programme aims to help enterprises with recovery, especially their special resistance in certain sectors that are hit hard by the pandemic, improve infrastructure and encourage investment in the public-private partnership (PPP) form.

Public investment in national strategic, key infrastructure projects will be stepped up, while greater efforts will be made in reforming administrative procedures and improving the business environment.

According to the minister, there will be risk management policies in tandem with measures to stabilise the macro economy.

Market expected to open the first week after Tet on a positive note

The market resumes trading after a week off due to the Lunar New Year festival. Historical statistics suggest that the market is likely to be positive after the holiday.

Nguyen Dinh Thang, an analyst at Saigon-Ha Noi Securities JSC (SHS), said that the Vietnamese stock market had a successful year, boosted by a sharp rise in liquidity as retail investors continuously opened new accounts.

The Vietnamese stock market after Tet has inched up five times in six years during the 2016-2021 period, and only declined in 2020 due to the impact of COVID-19, according to statistics from SHS.

On that basis, the analysis team of SHS forecasts that in the first trading week of the New Year of the Tiger, the market benchmark VN-Index is likely to continue to recover and head towards the psychological resistance of 1,500 points.

Similarly, Dinh Quang Hinh, Head of Macroeconomics and Market Strategy Department of VNDIRECT Securities Corporation (VND), said that the stock indices have shown a recovery effort after touching support levels in the range of 1,435-1,440 points.

Market consensus said that the stock market entered the Year of the Tiger with a positive trend thanks to expectations of a quick recovery of the economy.

Non-life insurance enterprises expand in market

Over the past year, the economic situation has changed a lot due to the pandemic, which has affected non-life insurance revenue, but many businesses still achieved high profits.

PVI Insurance Corporation said that its pre-tax profit reached VND790 billion (US$34.3 million) last year, exceeding 22.4 per cent of its plan.

The new year begins in the context of the “new normal”, and although the pandemic continues to be complicated, insurance companies are still confident in the set development strategy.

Similarly, PVI has set a sustainable growth target with double-digit revenue growth, while maintaining the leading position in the field of commercial and industrial insurance in the domestic market, and gradually reaching out to the Southeast Asian market.

The company is also confident of completing its target this year and becoming a high-ranking international insurer in Southeast Asia.

A quick report of non-life insurance businesses shows that this sector only grew 1.7 per cent in revenue last year compared to 2020, a record low growth compared to previous years.

Declining revenue growth is expected by businesses, because the revenue of the two main business lines, which are personal insurance and motor vehicle insurance, has continuously decreased, even recording negative growth for many months.

The revenue growth rate dropped sharply, but some businesses said that last year was not a year of great fluctuations, because the non-life insurance market in Viet Nam was always changing and the competition was getting fiercer.

Although there are different views and assessments about the market’s recovery, businesses believe that the non-life insurance market will continue to grow.

Reference exchange rate down on first day after Tet holiday

The State Bank of Vietnam set the daily reference exchange rate for the US dollar at 23,081 VND/USD on February 7, the first working day after the 9-day Tet holiday, down 18 VND from the day just before the holiday (January 28).

With the current trading band of +/-3 percent, the ceiling rate applicable for commercial banks during the day is 23,773 VND/USD and the floor rate 22,388 VND/USD.

Online shopping continues to boom in 2022

A report with the theme of “Vietnam – E-commerce accelerates after COVID-19 pandemic” produced by the Vietnam E-commerce Association (VECOM) indicates that the country witnessed a skyrocketing rise in the number of online shoppers and businesses joining in the digital transformation process.

The report unveiled that the pandemic has triggered major changes in customers’ behaviour and shopping habits, with 58% of surveyed Vietnamese saying that they will continue shopping on online marketplaces because of its convenience. This habit is likely to remain in place in the future as 53% of respondents indicated that online shopping has now become a part of their life.

Economists believe that online shopping channels will record high growth in the coming time as this model has created greater convenience for consumers, while helping to push the retail chain expansion locally, thereby boosting sales of agricultural products, particularly during the recent strong resurgence.

According to Nguyen Ngoc Dung, president of VECOM, a series of e-trading floors have been formed, creating greater motivation for businesses and consumers to shop and transact more.

Lai Viet Anh, deputy director of the Vietnam e-Commerce and Digital Economy Agency under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, said in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the terms of e-commerce and online marketing have become popular.

Viglacera attracts nearly 15 billion USD in FDI

Viglacera Corporation JSC, the largest real estate and building materials group in Vietnam, has developed 11 industrial parks in Vietnam and one economic zone in Cuba, attracting nearly 15 billion USD worth of foreign direct investment from more than 300 enterprises.

The corporation’s IPs offer clean land and modern infrastructure, meeting enterprises’ needs and diverse options for investors.

Viglacera is continuing to expand investment in industrial real estate to strengthen its position as one of the leading operators of industrial property and workers’ housing.

Fruit and vegetable exports enjoy positive signs in early 2022

According to information provided by the Vietnam Fruit and Vegetable Association, many container trucks carrying bananas and dragon fruit, have been shipped to China on the initial days of the Lunar New Year. This represents good news for the Vietnamese fruit and vegetable industry because the Chinese side previously announced that it would take a long Tet holiday, leading to a backlog.

China remained the largest market for Vietnamese fruit and vegetables, duly accounting for 53.7% of the market share in 2021, equivalent to more than US$1.9 billion in value. Since 2019, the northern neighbour has made up more than 70% of Vietnamese exports of fruit and vegetables.

According to the chairman of the Vietnam Fruit and Vegetable Association, despite facing plenty of difficulties back in 2021, the domestic fruit and vegetable sector achieved an export value of US$3.551 billion, an increase of 8.6% over the same period in 2020, indicating the great efforts of the entire sector.

This year, providing that export growth rate is maintained, the export target of US$3.8 billion to US$4 billion is achievable.

Vietnamese edtech market attractive to investors

Hanoi – Educational technology (edtech) startups in Vietnam have drawn many domestic and foreign venture capital funds thanks to their high development potential.

CoderSchool, a startup providing online training in programming, has recently announced that it has raised 2.6 million USD in a Pre-Series A funding round led by Monk’s Hill Ventures.

Earlier, English learning app ELSA successfully called for 15 million USD at the Series B round co-led by Vietnam Investments Group and SIG.

According to Le Hoang Uyen Vy, CEO of Do Ventures that has invested in online learning platforms of Vuihoc and Manabie, the online learning market of Vietnam boasts huge potential with more than 23 million students, rising income of the middle class and one of the highest ratio of Internet users in the world. She noted that Vietnamese people spend 30 percent of their income on education, and parents are willing to pay more for higher quality education for their children.

Michael Ngo, ELSA Country Director in Vietnam said that online education will become a new standard in the future, especially amid the pandemic. Digital technologies help reduce cost and increase people’s access to high quality education.

Currently, no domestic edtech firm is valued at 100 million USD. Experts said that Vietnamese edtech firms still lack breakthrough technologies to grow stronger.

Vietnam’s outbound investment surges in Jan

Vietnamese firms poured over US$36.9 million into their projects abroad in January, 11.7 times higher than the figure in the same period last year, according to the Foreign Investment Agency under the Ministry of Planning and Investment.

Specifically, 15 projects received investment certificates overseas with total registered capital of nearly US$44.2 million, soaring nearly 14 times year-on-year.

In addition, a project had its investment added by US$9.19 million but another project’s investment was reduced by US$16.4 million.

According to the Foreign Investment Agency, Vietnamese firms invested in 13 sectors in January, with the mining sector receiving the most capital as a project in the sector received US$35.54 million, making up 90.8% of Vietnam’s total outbound investment.

The finance-banking sector came in second with US$9.19 million, followed by the wholesale-retail and transport-logistics sectors.

Aquatic sector capitalises on opportunities from FTAs

Vietnamese shrimp exports are anticipated to enjoy robust growth this year thanks to an array of advantages from bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements (FTAs), according to the Directorate of Fisheries.

Furthermore, the local shrimp industry is set to enjoy other favourable factors such as the continued recovery in the global import demand for shrimp, especially in major markets such as the EU, the United States, Japan, China, and the Republic of Korea.

Tran Dinh Luan, director of the Directorate of Fisheries, revealed that the nation has been in the process of implementing 16 FTAs with markets that have set forth stringent requirements regarding food safety and hygiene.

Due to this, experts have advised manufacturers and processing enterprises to thoroughly prepare a range of technical solutions and trade promotion schemes in a bid to gain entry to demanding markets in a proactive manner.

Vietnam aims to become attractive investment destination in SEA

The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted all aspects of life, although the spirit of innovative start-ups over the years has greatly contributed to economic development and the nation’s further recovery.

Last year, despite complicated developments relating to the pandemic, the financial source of investment for innovative start-ups domestically increased in an unprecedented manner, with more than US$1.3 billion being invested in Vietnamese innovative start-ups, the highest ever figure ever recorded.

Promoting innovative start-up activities in the nation can be attributable to the efforts of the Government, relevant ministries and sectors, along with media agencies, especially the National Innovation Center (NIC) under the Ministry of Planning and Investment.

The centre typically attracts major domestic and foreign technology enterprises and groups, thereby providing an optimal infrastructure system for the research and development of technology ideas and startups. It also supports connection and investment promotion as a way of accelerating the commercialisation of technology products.

Gold prices surpass VND63 million per tael on first working day after Tet

Domestic gold prices fluctuated sharply as they hit a new peak exceeding VND63 million per tael on February 7, thereby reaching a new all-time high.

At 9:30 a.m. on February 7, Saigon Gold and Jewelry Company listed each tael of SJC gold at VND62.45 million for buying, and VND63.15 million for selling, marking increases of roughly VND650,000 for both compared to the previous transaction’s rates.

During the morning trading session, both selling and buying prices for gold bars quoted by DOJI Group stood at VND62.2 million and VND63.15 million per tael, respectively.

Local gold prices thereby broke the record of VND62.6 million per tael set in the pre-Tet trading period on January 26.

VNR should seek ways to promote logistics services

Amid the pandemic and difficulties in logistic transport, the railway industry must work out solutions to accelerate logistics services to reduce challenges for businesses, according to industry insiders.

In July last year, the Vietnam Railways (VNR) added a new rail freight link from Viet Nam to Belgium with the first train departing from Yen Vien station in Ha Noi to arrive at Liege City in Belgium.

Currently, VNR is providing freight train services between Viet Nam and China and transiting to Russia, Europe, ASEAN and Central Asian countries. The firm provides full logistics services to clients.

Under the development plan for railway network for 2021-2023 approved by the Government, Vietnamese railways are connected with Chinese railways via two lines starting from Viet Nam’s Dong Dang to China’s Ping Xiang, and Viet Nam’s Lao Cai station and China’s North Hekou station.

Experts said upgrading railway infrastructure was a decisive factor, especially the Asia-Europe railway network that helped boost the capacity of rail freight.

Techcombank reaches US$1 billion pre-tax profit in 2021

Techcombank record a US$1 billion pre-tax profit in 2021 despite COVID-19, reinforcing the resilience and potential of its business models.

Its total operating income (TOI) grew 35.4 per cent, while the sector-leading current account savings account (CASA) ratio reached 50.5 per cent.

The bank’s focus on transformation and technology investments, to meet the needs of its fast-growing customer base, drove an impressive 81 per cent rise in the value of e-banking transactions.

Its strong net interest income (NII) and net fee and commission income (NFI) growth drove a 35.4 per cent year-on-year uptick in TOI to VND37.1 trillion.

Banking industry forecasts large-scale recruitment demand

The Vietnamese banking industry will have large-scale recruitment demand this year, recruitment service provider Navigos Group has forecast.

In a recent report on recruitment demand for middle and senior personnel in Việt Nam’s market, Navigos Group said that forecast signals in 2022 show that large-scale recruitment demand in the banking sector would continue to increase.

Recruitment requests in Q4 2021 of businesses in the financial and banking sector decreased compared to the previous two quarters because banking, as well as financial companies, tend to focus on making plans for the new year.

The report also said information and communication technologies (ICT) was still an exciting industry in the recruitment market. ICT is an industry that has not been affected much by the pandemic, thus this industry was still vibrant for recruitment demand.

Ba Ria – Vung Tau real estate market abundant in supply

A report on the Ba Ria -Vung Tau real estate market by the Viet Nam Association of Realtors (VARs) noted that the supply in this area is always abundant, exceeding the buying demand in many segments.

The selling price of apartments and ground in the fourth quarter of Ba Ria Vung Tau area increased by 3-5 per cent compared to the previous quarters.

The segment of townhouses and shophouses rose by 5-7 per cent last year over the previous year. The residential real estate market in Ba Ria – Vung Tau area is forecast to continue to grow this year.

Bank stocks expect a promising year in 2022: experts

Analysts of many foreign investment funds and local securities companies expect bank stocks will continue to record positive results in 2022.

Bank stocks have been showing impressive performance in recent sessions, playing the role as the market’s leader while most other stock groups plummeted.

Foreign investment funds and securities companies are optimistic about the outlook of bank stocks in 2022.

In a recent report, foreign fund VinaCapital citing the latest survey results of the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV), said that in the fourth quarter of 2021, the bank business situation had significantly improved compared to the previous quarter. Banks also expect that their business situation will continue to improve further in the first quarter of 2022 and the whole of 2022.

Analysts from MB Securities Company (MBS) also see promising growth of the banking industry after disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic thanks to favourable macro factors such as rapid economic growth, a stable political situation and the participation in many free trade agreements.

In addition, asset quality continued to be improved because of the supportive policies of SBV and the proactive strategy in ensuring the asset quality of commercial banks. MBS also expects the bad debt ratio to improve in 2022, while the bad debt coverage ratio will to continue to be stable.

As SBV continues to loosen monetary policy to maintain low interest rates, banks’ profit picture is more positive this year.

Capital-raising activities are also one of the highlights of the industry in 2022, as a series of banks announced plans to sell capital to strategic shareholders such as VPBank or Orient Commercial Joint Stock Bank (OCB).

Major AI trends in 2022 forecast

Companies are increasingly using artificial intelligence to further their digital advantage and increase competitiveness and efficiencies and generate new revenue streams.

AI is now a global focus, with countries spending billions of dollars in research and development to be at the forefront of the new technology, and they include Viet Nam.

An IBM study found 42 per cent of CEOs in Viet Nam saying AI technology would most help them deliver the results they need over the next two or three years.

IBM also predicted the top AI trends in 2022 in Viet Nam.

The first is customer care using AI to get more personal. Virtual assistants will become a critical tool for large organisations and governments during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Consumers will notice more personalised and fully realised interactions with retailers and service providers as AI assumes a bigger role in customer care.

AI will play a key role in helping businesses achieve sustainability benchmarks through improved measurement, data collection, carbon accounting, prediction and supply chain resiliency.

This will be the outcome of consumers, regulators and shareholders putting greater pressure on companies to make tangible sustainability gains, and climate change and extreme weather straining supply chains and business operations.

My Thuan 2 Bridge project nearly 50% complete

The project to build My Thuan 2 Bridge and roads leading to the bridge is 47.27% complete, exceeding the progress target by 1.83%, and a package of the project has been completed, according to the Project 7 Management Board under the Ministry of Transport.

The project has five packages–XL.01, XL.02, XL.03A, XL.03B and XL.04. Of which, the XL.01 package is 77.06% complete, meeting the progress target, while the XL.02, XL.03B and XL.04 packages are 65.64%, 1.9% and 80.31% complete, respectively, exceeding the targets.

The XL.03A package has been completed.

According to the Project 7 Management Board, nearly VND2.5 trillion has been disbursed for the project, or 99.2% of the total capital allocated for the project.

The project is connected to the Trung Luong-My Thuan and My Thuan-Can Tho expressways. The bridge will be some 1.9 kilometers long, while roads leading to the bridge will be over 4.7 kilometers long.

Industrial production rises 2.4% in Jan

Vietnam’s industrial production index (IPI) in January rose 2.4% compared with the same period last year, according to the General Statistics Office (GSO).

Data of the GSO showed that the processing and manufacturing sector, which accounted for over 70% of the country’s total industrial output, saw an IPI increase of 2.8% in January and contributed 2.6 percentage points to the industrial sector’s overall growth.

Industries that enjoyed the sharpest rise in IPI included metal ore mining (21.9%), leather and related products (12.3%), electrical equipment (11.5%), clothing (11.4%), textiles and garments (8.8%), and rubber and plastic products (8.1%).

Industries whose IPI declined were beverage production (2.7%), drugs, pharmaceutical chemicals and medicinal herbs (3.6%), electronics, computers and optical products (5%), wood processing and products from wood and bamboo (5.1%), and crude oil and natural gas (9.7%).

Products that recorded a high IPI increase last month included alumina (35.7%), steel (30.3%), powdered milk (16.2%), NPK fertilizer (15.6%), monosodium glutamate (15.4%), processed seafood (13.8%), automobiles (11.7%) and fabric (8.7%).

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

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