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UK businesses keen on Vietnam market

A conference promoting trade and investment in Vietnam was held in Kent county, the UK, on November 9.

The event, jointly organised by UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), the UK-ASEAN Business Council (UKABC), the Kent City Council, the Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT), and the Vietnamese Embassy in the UK, followed the 6th UK-Vietnam Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETCO) meeting in London.

Former UK Ambassador to Vietnam Warwick Morris spoke about the great potential he detected during his working term in Vietnam from 2000-2003. He said the nation has achieved remarkable growth and become one of the emerging economies in Asia.

MoIT Deputy Minister Ho Thi Kim Thoa, the co-chairwoman of 6th JETCO, informed UK investors about the development of Vietnam-UK relations  since the two countries signed an Agreement on Strategic Partnership in September 2010.

She said that average two-way trade revenue has increased 20 percent annually and surpassed US$3 billion in 2011.

Thoa predicted that bilateral  trade will continue to rise sharply in 2012 as it hit US$2.5 billion over the past three quarters of this year.

She also reported the results of the 6th JETCO, adding that the two sides have agreed to submit their proposals on new incentives for business cooperation and investment to their governments.

She stressed that the ongoing negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Vietnam and the European Union will help strengthen the two countries’ economic and trading ties.

Vietnam and the UK should advance trade, investment, and mutual understandings so as not to languish behind other partners when the FTA takes effect, she said.

Deputy Minister Thoa affirmed the Vietnamese government’s desire to cultivate favourable conditions for foreign investors to do business in the country.

UKTI Deputy Representative in Vietnam Piers Craven urged UK investors to seek opportunities in Vietnam, a potential destination for UK businesses with a young, high growth market and an active and industrious population.

Prudential CEO Jack Howell shared stories of his company’s success in Vietnam, saying since starting operation in 1999, Prudential Vietnam  now numbers among the highest foreign tax-payers in the country.

Despite acknowledging difficulties, he expressed his approval of the Vietnamese Government’s commitment to developing infrastructure, accelerating the privatisation process of State-owned businesses, and reforming the banking system.

Earlier, a series of conferences and forums to broadly introduce UK businesses to the Vietnamese market were held in many parts of the UK.

Petrol prices down VND500/litre

The retail price of A92 petrol was cut by VND500 to VND23,150 per litre as of 18.00 pm on November 11.

A similar VND500 cut was also applied to F.O oil, according to a November 11 decision jointly released by the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

However, the prices of kerosene and diesel remain unchanged at VND21,900/litre and VND21,850/litre, respectively.

The decision follows a successive fall in global oil prices in the first half of November.

This is the first time since August 2012 petrol prices have been slashed to keep up with the global oil market trend.

Japanese businesses need more Vietnamese workers

Japanese businesses are seeking to employ 10,000 additional Vietnamese workers, mostly in agriculture and aquatic product processing, in 2012.

The information was unveiled at a conference in Dong Nai province to introduce Japanese employment opportunities to Vietnamese students. The event was jointly organized by the Dong Nai Provincial Vocational College and the Esuhai-Kaizen Yoshida School (Esuhai) of Japan.

Besides receiving information and advice on the Japanese labour market, attendees had chances to register to work for Japanese-invested businesses in some of the province’s industrial zones, or even in Japan as apprentices.

According to Esuhai, the demand for foreign labourers in Japan is huge and most of its businesses prioritise Vietnamese recruitments.

During the past 10 months, more than 4,000 Vietnamese nationals have been employed in Japan, raising the total number of Vietnamese workers there to nearly 18,000. Workers earn an average salary of VND30 million per month.

Nguyen Huu Nghia, Deputy Director of Esuhai, said most Vietnamese workers consider Japan a lucrative market offering high wages. Many potential employees, however, think Japan only wants highly skilled labour.

The fact is that Japanese businesses have diverse labour demands, with some—particularly in the mechanics, seafood, and garment industries—content to hire unskilled workers.

Japanese employers are especially keen to recruit Vietnamese employees, partly thanks to the goodwill engendered when many volunteered to remain in Japan after the severe earthquake and tsunami in March  2011.

Nghia also advised Vietnamese workers to directly approach legal employment companies instead of using middlemen.

Seafood export target within reach?

Seafood businesses have struggled to earn US$6.2 billion from exports this year, US$300 million less than the set target.

According to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Processors (VASEP), the past 10 months have seen seafood export earnings hit US$5 billion, representing a year-on-year increase of 1.7 percent.

In the context of the shrinking global market, the US$6.5 billion target is still a long way off, and VASEP has forecast that total export earnings could only amount to US$6.2 billion, or a one percent increase on 2011.

Shrimp exports will generate US$2.2 billion of the total expected earnings, down 8.3 percent compared to 2011, Tra fish exports will fetch USS1.8 billion, or 2011’s equivalent, and other aquatic product exports US$2.2 billion, up 19 percent on the previous year.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade has expressed concerns about sharp drops in shrimp and Tra fish exports, two of the sector’s major aquatic products, over the third quarter of this year.

In three months shrimp exports collected a little more than US$610 million, down 15 percent compared to the same period last year, while Tra fish exports fetched US$438 million, down 10 percent.

Local seafood processors have difficulties meeting their export targets because of a lack of capital and materials, increasing input costs, shrinking markets, and low export prices.

They attribute reductions in export earnings to instability in Vietnam’s traditional markets like the European Union, Japan, and the US. They also face regulatory barriers on food hygiene and safety recently introduced by importers.

Although Vietnam is the world’s largest Tra fish breeder and exporter, Thailand’s huge investments in Tra fish farming could spark fierce competition and add to the sector’s challenges.

Nguyen Van Dao, director of Go Dang JSC, says local processors have so far received fewer orders from European importers for Christmas and New Year celebrations than previous patterns suggest.

“Tra fish fillets are currently shipped to Europe at US$2.6-2.8 per kilogram on average. It’s clear that farmers and businesses do not get any profit from such low export prices,” says Dao.

The Mekong Delta province of Ca Mau, which has the country’s largest shrimp faming acreage and export volume, is taking additional measures to meet this year’s target.
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The province is supporting its businesses in their search for partners, outlets, and capital as a means of creating conditions most conducive to export success. It aims to earn US$1 billion from seafood exports this year.

An Giang, another Mekong Delta locality, defines seafood processing as one of its key industries, and any fluctuations in seafood exports badly affect provincial economic growth. It vows to assist businesses to meet the export target over the remaining two months this year.

The crux of the matter is that the fishery sector should restructure its production by reducing quantity and increasing quality and efficiency. Solutions should be guided by the principles of sustainable development.

More needs to be done if export earnings are to be raised to US$7.5 billion by 2015 and US$10 billion by 2020. The sector must advance the prestige of its brand names, maintain its traditional markets in the US, EU and Japan, and boost exports to potential markets like Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa, South America, China and the Republic of Korea.

Cuba, Vietnam boost trade ties

A Vietnamese delegation led by Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Ho Thi Kim Thoa paid an official visit to Cuba in early November.

The visit was made at the invitation of the Cuban Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment (MFTI) Rodrigo Malmierca Diaz.

The two sides discussed ways to boost bilateral trade, investment, and industry cooperation.

The delegation attended the Vietnam-Cuba Business Forum, jointly held by the Vietnam Trade Office in Cuba and the Cuba Chamber of Commerce (CCC), which attracted more than 100 enterprises from the two nations. They also observed the 30th Havana International Fair (FIHAV).

Deputy Minister Thoa briefed the business forum on Vietnam’s socio-economic developments in recent years, the country’s key export items, and Vietnamese businesses’ plan to invest in Cuba’s light industries.

Cuban and Vietnamese businesses signed a number of memoranda to cooperate in paper printing, office supplies, garments, footwear, and sports equipment manufacturing.

According to the General Department of Vietnam Customs, two-way trade turnover between Vietnam and Cuba reached US$274.3 million in 2011, of which Vietnamese exports generated US$270 million. In the first nine months of this year, export value fell sharply to only US$116 million.

Vietnamese company awarded at Havana fair

The Nhat Trang Trade and Tourism Limited Company has won a gold prize for its LED (Light Emitting Diode) board at the 2012 Havana International Fair (FIHAV) in Cuba.

Cuban Council of Ministers Vice President Ricardo Cabrisas presented the award to Nguyen Binh Minh, the company’s director and an entrepreneur who has been working with Cuban businesses for many years.

The VP praised the quality of the Vietnamese products exhibited and highlighted Nhat Trang Company’s particular success.

This year’s FIHAV attracted hundreds of businesses representing 65 countries and territories from around the world, all drawn by the cooperation and development opportunities it offers despite the continuing challenges of the global economic recession.

The VP stressed the priority the Cuban State and Government affords to  investing in and improving the efficiency of production with the aim of boosting the national economy by 2016.

Director Minh announced Nhat Trang and other Vietnamese companies attending FIHAV will donate two containers of rice, paint supplies, and an electronic stadium board worth a total of nearly US$70,000 to support relief efforts in the wake of recent Cyclone Sandy. Santiago de Cuba city was hit especially hard by the recent storm.

Investment bank opens rep. office in Czech Republic

The Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV) has recently inaugurated its representative office in the Czech Republic.

The new office has testified to the bank’s efforts to expand its operations in the European market in the context of the global economic slowdown.

The facility is expected to help promote trade and investment ties between Vietnam and the Czech Republic, as well as fully tapping into the potential of the Vietnamese community there.

The Czech Republic is considered a promising market that can offer various banking and finance services for BIDV. It hopes that the European Union country will serve as a gateway for the bank to reach out to other East European countries like Slovakia, Poland, and Hungary.

Largest power plant to be inaugurated in December

The Son La hydro-electric power plant, the largest of its kind in Southeast Asia, will be connected to the national power grid in December 2012, two years ahead of schedule.

Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai gave instructions on preparations for the inauguration ceremony at a meeting of the National Steering Committee on the Son La hydro-electric power plant project in Hanoi on November 10.

The plant, which got off the ground in December 2006, has six groups of turbine with a total design capacity of 2,400MW. According to plan, all its six groups of turbine will generate approximately 10.2 billion kWh a year.

The project has a total investment of more than VND420 trillion. Nearly 18,000 local households in Son La, Lai Chau and Dien Bien provinces have been relocated to reserve land for the plant’s reservoir and facilities.

Vietnam to be among top three rubber exporters

Vietnam expects to produce 955,000 tonnes of natural rubber by the end of this year, to surpass Malaysia to rank third among the world’s largest rubber exporters.

The set target represents a year-on-year increase of 17.6 percent, according to the Association of Natural Rubber Producing Countries (ANRPC).

Vietnam’s rubber output in the first nine month was estimated at 930,000 tonnes, more than India’s 920,000 tonnes, making it the world’s fourth  largest rubber exporter.

The global rubber output is likely to rise in 2012, and Vietnam is making significant contributions to that growth, said the ANRPC.

The Association also revealed that China and India are now the two leading importers of rubber.

Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia account for 70 percent of the total global rubber output, and they are all members of the International Tripartite Rubber Council (ITRC).

Vietnam is expected to join the Council in the near future.

 Increasing investment in Development Triangle Area

Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia need to work on common preferential policies to attract investment in the Development Triangle Area.

The view was shared by delegates to a forum on investment and cooperation in the Mekong subregion, held in Dak Lak province on November 9.

They said these policies aim to take advantage of the strength and resources of each country, serving as the key to removing existing obstacles to investment attraction in the region.

The three countries should coordinate closely in attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) and official development assistance (ODA) from other regions to major transport projects, connecting 13 provinces in the Development Triangle Area with seaports in South Vietnam, they said.

The delegates suggested building large-scale commercial material supplying areas to encourage and lure investment in production bases and for-export product processing plants along arteries linking Vietnamese seaports to major world markets.

They also proposed that the governments of the three countries speed up investment licensing, especially for big projects on hydro-power, mining, cash crop planting, and infrastructure construction.

The Cambodia-Lao-Vietnam Development Triangle Area comprises 13 provinces, covering a total natural land area of 144,000sq.km. and with a population of approximately 7 million.

To date five Vietnamese provinces in the area have attracted 75 projects from Cambodia and Laos with a total registered capitalisation of US$95.5 million.

Meanwhile, Vietnamese businesses have invested US$3.09 billion in 75 projects in Lao and Cambodian provinces within the area.

However, the results have yet to match development potential as well as the strategic relationship between the three countries.

 Int’l maritime exhibition to be held in Vietnam

More than 200 businesses from 16 countries are expected to participate in the Inmex Vietnam 2013 (formerly Maritime Vietnam), in HCM City in early March 2013.

The exhibition has already received assistance from major foreign businesses and organisations such as the Holland Marine Equipment Association, the Institute of Marine Engineers India, the Indian National Shipowners Association (INSA), Maritime Norway, the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers Singapore (SNAMES), the Society of Maritime Industries, and the Marine and Offshore Equipment Industries.

Marjan Lacet, Director of HME Singapore, said she believes that with the participation of leading experts, Inmex Vietnam will be a valuable forum for sharing experiences and facilitating cooperation with Vietnam’s maritime industry.

“We are especially pleased with the organisers’ VIP buyer program, which will narrow the gap between buyers, policy-makers, and exhibitors,” she said.

Maciej Leszek Ryczko, Managing Director of the Poland-based company Polviet.com, said Vietnam remains a promising destination for the industry despite the current difficulties. He believes Inmex Vietnam 2013 will attract the lasting attention of the international maritime market and reflect the Vietnamese maritime industry’s recent positive reforms.

Inmex Vietnam 2013 aims to offer opportunities for maritime businesses to develop fruitful collaborative relationships and to promote Vietnam’s image as a newly emerging market, laden with potential for the Southeast Asian maritime industry.

Vietnam-Chile trade up 29 percent

Two-way trade between Vietnam and Chile reached more than US$456 million over the first nine months of this year, a year-on-year increase of 29 percent.

According to the Chile Trade Promotion Agency (ProChile), Vietnam’s exports earned US$141 million and imports were valued at US$315 million, up 36.6 percent and 26 percent, respectively.

Vietnam ships to Chile cement, footwear, Tra fish, clothes, and coffee, and imports copper, crabs, steel scrap, pine wood, and tuna from this South American nation.

Trade between Vietnam and Chile has increased sharply, while Chile’s overall foreign trade exchange rose only 1 percent to US$110 billion due to the impact of the global financial crisis.

Bilateral trade hit a record high of S$486.84 million in 2011.

Switzerland helps Vietnam in finance and banking

Deputy Prime Minister Vu Van Ninh received Swiss ambassador Andrej Motyl in Hanoi on November 8.

He praised the ambassador’s contribution to strengthening relations between the two countries and expressed hope that the Swiss Government will send highly qualified experts to help Vietnam perfect its finance and banking system.

In reply, Mr Motyl spoke highly of the results of Vietnam-Switzerland cooperation, especially in the economic field, with many joint projects bearing strategic significance.

Sending Swiss finance and banking experts to Vietnam in late November is part of activities to lift the relations of friendship and cooperation to a higher level.

Commercial banks cut interest rates

Many commercial banks have reduced interest rates on deposits which were raised to about 13 per cent three months ago.

Among major banks, only the Asia Commercial Bank and Sacombank have still maintained their rates at 13 per cent for 13-month deposits and 12.5 per cent for 12-month deposits.

Techcombank made 12 per cent their highest rate while Eximbank applied a new rate of 12 per cent for both 12-month and 13-month deposits, a reduction on their previous rate of 12.3-12.8 per cent.

Several banks are offering even lower rates, with Vietcombank dropping the amount to 10 per cent for deposits with terms of 12-months and above. Agribank have altered rates to 11 per cent for 12-month deposits and 11.5 per cent for 18-month deposits.

Small banks, which recently raised interest rates to significantly high levels in order to compete with large competitors, have also now slashed these back down.

SeABank and WesternBank lowered deposit interest rates to around 12 per cent. LienVietPostBank offered a rate of 11 per cent for 12-month and 13-month deposits, and 11.5 per cent for terms up to 24 months. The highest interest rate for long-term deposits is now 11 per cent at the Vietnam International Bank.

An anonymous financial expert told the press that commercial banks have mobilised significant capital amounts and are in no rush to attract more, and this led to the interest cuts.

The expert said the move was just temporary, adding that “banks will maintain the low rates until the end of November; a new interest rate race is widely expected to take place in December when banks launch special programmes to attract customers for Tet.”

Le Xuan Nghia, a member of the National Advisory Council for Monetary Policies, said at a meeting earlier this month that in early 2013 interest rates will increase to a new level as banks begin to treat bad debts.

According to the State Bank of Viet Nam, as of October 19 the deposit growth of credit institutions reached 14 per cent, more than five times the growth of their combined lending amount. Deposits in dong increased over 17.5 per cent, while deposits in US dollars declined 1.55 per cent. In total, people’s deposits alone increased by 23 per cent.

Vinacomin’s coal sales below target below target

Vinacomin Group, the State-owned mining giant, expects to sell 8 million tonnes of coal in the final two months the year, with the group’s member companies expected to co-ordinate production and shipping in order to reach the goal.

However, total coal consumption this year was predicted to reach only 39 million tonnes, well below the 45.5 million tonnes targeted earlier in the year, the group admitted.

According to Ministry of Industry and Trade figures, Vinacomin sold 30.7 million tonnes of coal in the first 10 months this year, 10.6 million tonnes of which was exported.

Export volume has failed to increase due to strong competition from other regional producers, including Australia and Indonesia, while domestic demand in the first 10 months also declined by 13 per cent against the same period last year, the group said.

Electricity of Viet Nam (EVN) reduced its coal buy from Vinacomin from VND600 billion (US$28.6 million) to VND550 billion ($26.2 million), and the electricity producer’s coal purchases in the last two months of the year were not expected to exceed about VND300 billion ($14.3 million).

To help boost demand, the Government approved Vina-comin’s proposal last month to reduce the export tax rate for coal from 20 per cent to 10 per cent.

Over the next three years, the industry continued to expect a growth in demand. The Viet Nam Energy Association said that production would need to increase by 20 million tonnes to meet domestic demand of 55 million tonnes in 2015. This would require building 10 new mines with an average yearly output of 2-2.5 million tonnes each.

The Government has alread approved a plan to build 28 new mines. Under the plan, each would require $300-350 million to develop over a period of 6-7 years. This would require investment of $3.5 billion to develop just 10 new mines, the association said.

Meanwhile, even as export prices have declined 24-36 per cent, the domestic coal price has continued to be cost-controlled, resulting in losses to Vinacomin and the industry, which lacked the financial capacity to invest or attract investment into the development of new mines.

Vinacomin was therefore projecting a domestic coal shortage by 2015 that were further cut export revenues and the group’s financial stability.

Agriculture exposition goes hi-tech

The International Agriculture Exhibition opened yesterday in HCM City with 750 foreign and domestic agricultural companies and co-operatives taking part. The six-day AgroViet 2012 will focus on creating and developing a safe and stable agriculture sector that uses high technologies.

Participants will exhibit their agriculture, forestry, and aquaculture products as well as machinery and technologies used for processing fresh foods and other farm produces.

A number of conferences on the agricultural sector in Viet Nam’s southern provinces and production of organic vegetables will be organised on the sidelines.

It is expected to provide farmers with a chance to learn about new technologies and their use to improve quality, especially at a time when many markets have stringent import standards for agricultural and forestry products.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Diep Kinh Tan said the exhibition was an important event since the world has been changing rapidly and competition among countries was becoming tougher. The exhibition is being held at the Phu Tho Gymnasium

Car sales on the rise as many new models hit VN market

Domestic auto sales increased slightly in October compared to the last few months as a host of automobile makers launched new cars.

Ford Viet Nam reported sales of 536 units last month, ten more than they achieved in September, while Toyota Viet Nam saw their sales rise by 230 to reach 2,500.

Suzuki, Vinastar and Honda Viet Nam reported increases of 376, 300 and 218 units respectively.

Some automobile makers attributed the increase to contracts that were signed at the Viet Nam Motor Show 2012 held in Ha Noi in September. However, it has often been the case that more customers buy automobiles towards the end of the year.

The car companies have said that despite the slight recent increase, the figures as a whole represent a sharp decrease compared to sales over the same period last year. Toyota Viet Nam’s sales reduced by 500 units compared to October 2011, while Truong Hai sold 749 fewer, GM Viet Nam 390 fewer and Ford 116 fewer.

October saw the most successful sales of the year at Mercedes-Benz Vietnam a record for a single month, a rise of 66 per cent compared to average month of the other quarters.

In the first 10 months, Viet Nam’s entire auto industry figure was down by around 40 per cent. But Mercedes-Benz retained its No.1 position.

During the Viet Nam Motor Show 2012, 75 orders and more than 150 follow-ups, were received with customer support campaigns and enhanced after-sales service activities. The result was a good start for Mercedes-Benz in the last quarter of the year.

The service and parts business has shown significant growth over the last year with reported increase of 17 per cent in parts sales and vehicles at Mercedes-Benz authorised service dealers.

Michael Behrens, CEO of Mercedes-Benz Vietnam, said: “In October we started successfully into the fourth quarter with the new models, spearheaded by the new GLK and C and E-class vehicles are giving us significant tailwind “.

They said the market could struggle to reach sales of 100,000 units following several months of gloomy business results and no late surge expected. Last year’s sales were over 140,000 units.

The industry has principally blamed the economic downturn for this worrying trend. They have also claimed that potential consumers are worried about possible car fees being introduced by the Ministry of Transport.

Earlier this year the ministry proposed that in the future every car owner should be required to pay between VND20-50 million per year in a move to try and restrict rising car numbers that will cause chronic traffic congestion.

However, the ministry have admitted that such fees will not be introduced during the next few years, and have committed to taking advice from relevant ministries and public opinion before reaching a final decision.

‘Invest in each other’ Mekong nations told

Countries in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) need to introduce better policies to attract investment from each other, allowing for the promotion of the advantages of each nation and the region as a whole, a forum heard yesterday in Dak Lak.

The GMS Investment Co-operation Forum 2012, which is an annual event held in alternate regional countries, aimed to suggest the means in which such a boost in investment might be achieved.

Participants discussed how economic development objectives should be particularly implemented in the Mekong region and the Viet Nam-Laos-Cambodia development triangle.

Measures were suggested to remove investment barriers and promote development co-operation in the region. It was suggested that countries should be given incentives for investing in areas facing difficulties, especially those in the development triangle.

It was argued that more collaboration is needed in order to attract official development assistance (ODA) and foreign direct investment (FDI) to the region.

The forming of a large-scale materials supply zone was mooted as a way of encouraging investors to take part in constructing production and processing facilities, increasing the volume of exports and ensuring sustainable development in the subregion.

The Viet Nam-Laos-Cambodia development triangle, located in the GMS, holds a strategic position between the three countries in relation to their economic strategies.

Attracting investment will allow a further tightening of the economic co-operation between the triangle’s members, and would unite the whole region and its foreign partners, the forum heard.

There have been some encouraging achievements in trade and investment between the countries in recent years.

According to the Ministry of Planning and Investment, Viet Nam has 120 projects in Cambodia with a total investment of over US$2.64 billion, including 25 projects of $1.44 billion in the triangle.

The country has also invested $3.6 billion in 218 projects in Laos, of which 50 projects worth $1.65 billion are centred in the development triangle.

Drink makers vie for market share

The beverage market continues to be a highly promising market, reflected by the increase in the number of recent investments from major domestic and foreign enterprises.

According to market research company Nielsen Viet Nam, the local beverage industry recorded a growth rate of 17 per cent last year, despite difficult economic times that caused many other kinds of companies to struggle.

Tran Quy Thanh, chairman of Tan Hiep Phat Beverage Group, said Viet Nam’s annual per capita consumption of soft drinks rose sharply in recent years, from three litres in 2007 to 23 litres at present.

However, consumption in the country remains half that of the Philippines.

With rising income levels, Vietnamese are spending more on food and drinks, Thanh told Thoi Bao Kinh Doanh (Business Times) newspaper.

“This means that the market still has big room for companies to develop,” he added.

Muhtar A. Kent, chairman and CEO of the Coca Cola Company, said that soft-drink consumption in Viet Nam was about a quarter of the global average.

He said that beverage companies were jumping into the market because per-capita purchasing power had risen to about US$3,500 per year and the middle class was continuing to grow at a fairly fast rate.

Viet Nam remains an attractive market for the beverage industry, with PepsiCo holding a firm foothold in fast-food and beverage areas, according to Umran Beba, president of Pepsico’s Asia Pacific Region.

Both foreign and local enterprises have developed new strategies to grab more market share.

The Tan Hiep Phat Beverage Group, for instance, is investing VND4 trillion ($192.12 million) to build two new plants in Quang Nam and Ha Nam provinces.

Coca Cola also plans to invest an additional $300 million in the Vietnamese soft drink market by 2015.

In addition, PepsiCo Viet Nam has agreed to form a joint venture with Japan’s Suntory Holding Ltd under which Suntory would buy a 51 per cent stake in PepsiCo’s Vietnamese beverage business.

The deal is an important part of PepsiCo’s long-term strategy in Viet Nam.

Coca Cola and PepsiCo still hold the largest share of the Vietnamese beverage market, totalling about 60 per cent.

In 2009, Coca Cola pumped an additional $200 million into Viet Nam, while PepsiCo, not wanting to play second fiddle to its rival, injected $250 million.

With its recent investment of $300 million, Coca Cola will be able to improve the effectiveness of its three plants that operate in Viet Nam, and further develop its brand names and expand its retail system.

For PepsiCo, its joint venture with Suntory is expected to enable it to enhance its already well-known brand name and expand its influence in the Asian market.

Since it is impossible to compete with foreign giants Coca Cola and PepsiCo in the carbonated drink market, domestic beverage companies have chosen to focus on non-carbonated drink products.

Vietnamese consumers prefer non-carbonated water and drinks such as Tan Hiep Phat, Vinasoy, Vinh Hao and Sapuwa.

In the first six months of this year, turnover for many kinds of non-carbonated drinks rose sharply, including energy drinks (up 27 per cent), green tea and bottled water (up 23 per cent).

Tan Hiep Phat is one of the biggest producers of non-carbonated drinks. It holds a 53 per cent market share for bottled water and herbal tea drinks, according to London-based Euromonitor International Ltd, which provides market-research and business-intelligence reports and data.

The company has invested in two new plants that will continue to produce 40 kinds of products and will also introduce several new products, including beer, wine, noodles, spaghetti and instant food.

Tuna exports surge by 55% in October

As of mid-October, Viet Nam had exported US$450 million worth of tuna, marking a year-on-year increase of 55 per cent, according to the Viet Nam Association for Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP)

“This is an encouraging sign when exports of our key seafood products are likely to slow down or even significantly decrease,” VASEP said, adding that priority would be given to increasing tuna exports and turnover.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s General Department of Fisheries has decided to put tuna on the list of key seafood exports.

HSBC named best cash management bank

HSBC has been named the Best Domestic Cash Management Bank in Viet Nam in 2012 by Euromoney Poll – the most comprehensive survey of the global cash management sector.

2012 is the third consecutive year that the bank has been honoured with the award, which proves the excellent quality of the bank’s client-oriented services, according to a news release by HSBC’s Head Office in HCM City on Thursday.

Apart from being recognised in Viet Nam, the bank was also honoured in Bangladesh, Brunei, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mauritius, the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and Thailand.

Ninh Binh to open new industrial zones

The northern province of Ninh Binh has approved the establishment of seven new industrial zones in an attempt to attract more investment capital.

These zones, named Gian Khau, Khanh Phu, Tam Diep, Khanh Cu, Phuc Son, Xich Tho and Son Ha, will cover a total area of 1,961ha.

The province is also perfecting infrastructure facilities for the zones to better facilitate domestic and foreign investors.-

New licence increases vn domains

The Viet Nam Internet Network Information Centre (VNNIC) has granted GMO Runsystem a licence to provide domain .vn services in Viet Nam, bringing the total number of these providers in the country to 17.

VNNIC said that the licence allows the firm to offer domains ending with .vn, including com.vn, info.vn, gov.vn, edu.vn, int.vn, pro.vn, health.vn, biz.vn, ac.vn and net.vn.

The centre, a subsidiary of the Ministry of Information and Communications, said the new licence would help increase the number of domains ending in .vn.

Speaking at the licence granting ceremony, former Minister of Information and Communications, Le Doan Hop, congratulated GMO on their efforts to obtain the licence. “We promise to try our best to provide the .vn service which will help bring the image of Viet Nam to the world”, said GMO System director Ngo Van Tau.

As many as 21,813 such domains were registered in the third quarter of this year, bringing the total to 219,000 and making Viet Nam one of the Southeast Asian countries with the most domains.

The number, which registered an average annual growth rate of 172 per cent, was largely contributed by the country’s three largest domain providers (PA Viet Nam, FPT and Matbao).

With headquarters in Ha Noi, GMO System is a subsidiary of GMO Internet, Japan’s biggest domain service provider with omanae.com.

Trade with Chile rises 29% in nine months

Two-way trade between Viet Nam and Chile experienced a yearly increase of 29 per cent in the first nine months of this year to reach US$456 million, according to the Trade Commission of Chile (ProChile).

During the period, Viet Nam exported $141 million worth of goods to Chile, up 37 per cent year-on-year, while imports from the market hit $315 million, surging 26 per cent against the same period last year.

Among Viet Nam’s key export items were cement, footwear, tra fish, garments and coffee.

Blackberry expands retail system

Research In Motion (RIM) has decided to expand its retail network in Viet Nam, and announced the appointment of a new distributor.

Smartcom, the distributor, will provide servicing at its Blackberry Expert Centre, and an 18-month guarantee on all products it sells.

Canada-based RIM has also tied up with mobile operator MobiFone to provide an unlimited internet data package for Blackberry users at VND40,000 per month.

Acer competes in tablet market

Acer has unveiled a range of products including two new Windows 8 tablets, the Acer Iconia W700 and W511, which combine the features of a tablet and a PC, and the Acer Aspire S7 laptop.

The Ace Iconia W511 uses an Intel Clover Trail 1.5GHz Processor with 2GB RAM.

It features a full HD1080p front and a rear-facing camera, 18-hour battery life, and support for 3G connection.

Apart from a traditional keyboard, it also offers a bluetooth option for more convenient usage.

VTV takes over VTC cable operation

The Viet Nam Cable Television and Electronics Joint Stock Company (CEC) has decided to sell off a 51 per cent stake to Viet Nam Cable Television (VCTV) in order to raise money to pay bank debts, while retaining a 49 per cent stake, reported Viet Nam Post newspaper.

CEC, part of the Viet Nam Multimedia Corporation (VTC) conglomerate, has released a document informing that the management and operation of the CEC cable television network would be transferred to VCTV, a subsidiary of Viet Nam Television.

The document said that from November 1, 2012, CEC subscribers would enjoy VTCV services, provided that subscribers agreed to sign new contracts with VCTV.

Russian search engine targets VN

Russia’s New Horizon Internet (NHI) has officially launched a search engine known as http://wada.vn in Viet Nam.

Wada is the first search engine to be developed in the Vietnamese languague. WADA will provide users with options to search for news, images, or website directories.

Web directories are a prominent feature of WADA in comparison with other search engines that contains hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese website addresses.

More brokerages have operations suspended

The State Securities Commission temporarily suspended operations at two brokerages in October – Golden Bridge Vietnam and Trang An Securities – due to their inability to pay transaction fees.

Other firms have also volunteered to cease operations. Last Friday, Au Viet Securities Co (AVS) decided to terminate its membership on both the HCM City and Ha Noi stock exchanges, which meant the company itself halted brokerage services.

If the situation did not improve by next June, the company would have to weigh up its options and consider shifting to another industry, said chairman Dao Duc Vinh.

“We’re trying to be optimistic, but the outlook for the Vietnamese stock market is unclear,” he added. “We have not written off the possibility of dissolving the company.”

The same thing happened to Cho Lon Securities, who had to transfer all investor accounts to HCM City Securities (HCM). “Competing in the current market conditions requires more capital which is hardly feasible as shareholders have been discouraged by meagre trading,” it said.

In addition, some firms have also announced the withdrawal of brokerage operations, such as Truong Son, Ha Noi, Gia Anh and Dong Duong.

Brokering is the main income source for securities firms, but with trading value on the national stock exchanges totalling only VND500-600 billion (US$23.8-28.5 million) per session, it creates very low profits.To add to this, the top 10 securities firms already account for 60 per cent of market share, leaving the remaining 90 companies battling for the remaining 40 per cent.

Of the 100 companies to release their financial reports in the third quarter, over half reported losses.

Troubled securities firms wanted to be bought out by larger companies, but it was difficult to make this happen, Nguyen Van Thuan, head of HCM City Open University’s Banking and Finance Department, told the website dddn.com.vn.

For foreign investors, there is little incentive for them to buy out struggling companies when they have been given the green light to establish their own firms.

Viet Nam-UK to lift trade to $4bn

Viet Nam and the UK agreed to increase two-way trade to US$4 billion next year, while the UK will also spend an extra $3billion on direct investment.

The agreements were made at the sixth UK-Viet Nam Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETCO) meeting in London on Thursday.

The talks were co-chaired by the UK’s Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Hugo Swire, and Viet Nam’s Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Ho Thi Kim Thoa.

The meeting discussed the importance of trade and investment in the wider relationship between the two countries. JETCO would help the two sides reiterate their commitment to the Strategic Partnership with a particular focus on realising trade and investment targets.

The meeting also addressed issues relating to intellectual property rights, resolution of commercial disputes and other issues of importance to bilateral trade and investment ties.

At the meeting, Swire said bilateral investment and trade relations have seen strong progress since the Viet Nam – UK Strategic Partnership was signed in 2007.

Swire said Viet Nam had developed a reputation as an attractive destination for foreign investors including British investors. However, Viet Nam needed to continue to improve transparency and its licence granting procedures.

“As we look ahead to celebrating 40 years of diplomatic relations between our countries in 2013, I hope that these talks will help us to realise the full potential of our partnership,” said Swire.

“Trade and investment is an integral part of the UK-Viet Nam Strategic Partnership, with two-way trade growing by over 25 per cent last year,” he said.

For her part, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Thoa said she highly appreciated British assistance to Viet Nam in the field of banking reform and training. She said JETCO had to improve its preparatory work for meetings to be able to work out new and effective resolutions which would help promote bilateral trade and investment activities.

This is the sixth meeting of JETCO, which was established in 2007 as a mechanism to discuss and tackle bilateral trade issues. The meeting is convened annually, alternating between London and Ha Noi.

Trade and investment relations between the UK and Viet Nam have grown significantly in recent years. Trade value between Viet Nam and the UK topped $3 billion in 2011, said Viet Nam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade. Viet Nam’s exports to the UK reached $2.4 billion, accounting for 14.5 per cent of all Vietnamese exports to the EU. Viet Nam’s main exports to the UK during 2011 included seafood, footwear, wooden products and coffee.

(Vietnam Net)

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