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BUSINESS IN BRIEF 12-12More commercial banks cut deposit, lending interest rates

Many commercial banks are lowering both deposit and lending interest rates in anticipation of the central bank imposing a lending rate cap in the near future.

The Government and the State Bank of Viet Nam see low interest rates and a lending cap as a measure to ease credit access for enterprises.

Interest rates in the inter-bank market are also seeing a sharp decrease.

An employee of a commercial bank in HCM City who did not want to be named said that late November lending interest rates between banks decreased to 1.5 per cent for overnight and one week loans.

Meanwhile, rates on Government bonds, considered to lead the market, have also dropped to less than 10 per cent per year.

Faced with these changes, many commercial banks have launched big promotion programmes under which both lending and deposit interest rates are cut.

The Housing Development Commercial Joint Stock Bank (HDBank), for instance, is offering the lowest interest rate of 8.6 per cent per year for personal loans and 9 per cent per year for corporate loans.

In addition, HDBank also offers loans at just four per cent per year against collateral for customers to start or run a business, repair houses, buy cars and consumer goods.

The Viet Nam International Bank is offering loans at 9.9 per cent per year for the first three months for real estate projects and personal loans.

Meanwhile, Asia Commercial Bank (ACB) has decided to cut deposit rates in expectation of the lending cap that is predicted to be significantly lower than current rates.

Accordingly, the highest interest rates it offers, on deposits of 12-36 months, has been reduced from 13 per cent or more to 12 per cent per annum.

For deposits of 1 to 9 months, the interest rate is 8.8 per cent per annum, lower than the central bank’s current cap of 9 per cent.

The Export-Import Commercial Joint Stock Bank (EximBank) has made a further cut in deposit interest rates, keeping it’s the highest rate at 11.5 per cent per annum for 12-13 month deposits.

Eximbank applies an interest of 11per cent a year on deposits of 15 months or more.

Vu Viet Ngoan, chairman of the National Financial Supervision Commission, said that recent interest rate fluctuations in the market showed that a reduction in interest rates will surely occur soon.

The central bank’s move to lower interest rates and impose a lending cap in ways that would not only aim to support enterprises but also curb inflation, Ngoan said.

VN builder gets Myanmar okay

Hoang Anh Housing Development and Construction Joint Stock Company (HAGL Land) had been granted an investment licence for a US$300 million project in Myanmar, the company general director Le Hung told Viet Nam News last week.

The Hoang Anh Gia Lai Myanmar Centre project, covering an area of 8ha in Yangon, will include a 27-storey office building, a trade centre and a five-star 25-storey hotel.

“We received an investment license from the Myanmar Investment Commission last week. The project will be constructed in two phases over six years,” Hung said.

“The trade centre and office block should be ready to lease out in three years. We have invited Vietnamese wholesale companies to introduce made-in Viet Nam products at the trade centre,” he said.

Hung also said demand from Myanmar was likely to increase in the future as the market opened up to foreign investors.

Statistics showed that by the end of last year, Viet Nam had 15 investment projects planned in Myanmar with total registered capital of $514 million.

The first Vietnamese investors include Simco Da River Company, Military Telecommunication Group (Viettel), Vietnam Airlines, PetroVietnam, PetroVietnam Exploration and Production Corporation (PVEP) and Viglacera Corporation.

Long An’s exports rise 20%

The southern province of Long An generated an estimated US$2.15 billion from exports during the past 11 months, surging 20 per cent against the same time last year, according to the provincial Department of Industry and Trade.

During the period, the province also imported $1.58 billion worth of goods, down by a modest 1 per cent year-on-year, the department said.

VietJetAir opens flight to Da Lat

VietJetAir’s new flight between Ha Noi and Da Lat will help draw tourists to the Central Highlands city, Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai said during an opening ceremony for the new route yesterday in Lam Dong Province.

The deputy PM suggested the airline continue to modernise its fleet and focus on safety as well as reliable customer service.

VietJetAir’s Ha Noi – Da Lat route will operate one round trip a day on an Airbus A320. The one hour and 40 minute flight will depart from Ha Noi at 9:35am and return flights will leave Da Lat at 11:50pm.

Saigontourist builds near falls

Saigontourist Holdings Co broke ground for a four-star resort facing the Ban Gioc Falls in the northern border province of Cao Bang on Saturday.

Located on a 31.15ha area in Dam Thuy Commune in Cao Bang’s Trung Khanh District, the Sai Gon – Ban Gioc Resort will include a 60-room hotel, 24 bungalows, a 200-seat conference hall and other entertainment and sports facilities.

Saigontourist will invest VND170 billion (US$8.2 million) in the resort.

The first phase of the project is scheduled to be completed and become operational in late 2013, the company said.

 Experts forecast 5.68% growth

The nation’s growth rate is likely to reach 5.68 per cent in 2013, under the likeliest scenario discussed by experts at a conference held here last week to review economic growth in 2012 and prospects for development in 2013.

Based on an analysis of the economy’s strengths and weaknesses this year, as well as predictions for global growth in the coming year made by a number of international organisat-ions, the research group from the Ministry of Planning and Investment’s National Centre for Socio-Economic Information and Forecast presented to the conference three possible scenarios for Viet Nam’s economic growth next year.

In the worst-case scenario, said the head of the centre’s forecasting board, Pho Thi Kim Chi, growth would fall below targets due to slowed exports to the economies of the EU, US and Japan, resulting in growth next year of only about 5 per cent, comparable to this year’s pace.

While the US and European economies were on track to recover, which would be important for Vietnamese exports, both markets tended to erect more aggressive trade barriers, said the centre’s deputy director, Dr Do Van Thanh.

Japan’s growth was also forecast to slow next year, which would have a negative influence on Vietnamese exports, since Japan was not only one of the nation’s three top trading partners but also the country’s leading source of foreign investment, Thanh said.

In the second and most likely scenario, the eurozone would find its way out of its debt crisis, political and island sovereignty disputes would ease, the US economy enter a modest recover, and Japanese growth would match 2012 levels. Under this middle scenario, Viet Nam would see growth next year of 5.68 per cent.

Inflows of foreign direct investment (FDI) and official development assistance (ODA) were likely to be higher next year, giving further impetus to domestic growth, Thanh said. Slowing growth in India and China also offered a competitive opening for Viet Nam, which could still offer labour and input costs to foreign investors two-to-two-and-half times less than these regional giants, he noted.

Under the best-case scenario, the global economy would grew at 3.6 per cent next year and the Vietnamese Government would undertake effective measures to stimulate domestic production and lower bad-debt levels. Under this scenario, growth could reach 6.34 per cent, the research team said.

To achieve either of the latter two scenarios, the Government would need to maintain economic stability, keep inflation at 2012 levels, implement tight yet flexible monetary policies, and find ways to improve the efficiency of investment in the economy, especially among State-owned enterprises, they said.

The Government should encourage production by issuing tax and fee exemptions and reductions, and special attention should be paid to increase the spending power of low-and middle-income earners, Chi said.

Centre researcher Le Tat Phuong also emphas-ised that it would be necessary to stimulate the frozen real estate market in order to resolve the problem of mounting real estate loan defaults and high levels of bad debts in the nation’s banking system.

Bank restructuring also needed to be pursued thoroughly and aggressively, not only to resolve the problem of bad debts but to create healthier credit markets, Phuong said.

The experts at the conference also stressed the important role to be played by corporate restructuring, especially at State-owned enterprises, to reduce waste in the use of State capital and create a healthier competitive environment among enterprises.

Nation losing competitive edge

Over the last two years, Viet Nam went down 16 places in the global competitiveness index, devolving into a mere production economy, said experts at a workshop held in Ha Noi on Thursday.

Regaining a competitive advantage, they agreed, was essential as the global economic downturn continued and countries became more integrated.

President of the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) Vu Tien Loc said that Viet Nam had focused too much on developing the scale of the economy rather than its quality. Although the country had tried to address this problem for a decade, he said, few strides had been made.

“The economic shock forced many enterprises out of the market, leading many projects to grow stagnant,” Loc said. “This will push enterprises to seek new competitive advantages.”

Director of the Viet Nam Economics Institute Tran Dinh Thien said Viet Nam was wasting its rich potential, pointing out that the production level and labour productivity had not seen improvements despite increases in foreign direct investment (FDI) that poured billions of dollars into the country.

Looking at exports, Thien pointed out, FDI enterprises surpassed domestic enterprises in terms of turnover.

“Viet Nam has had a number of opportunities to improve its competitiveness, but failed to grasp them,” he said. “Viet Nam is currently simply a production economy.”

Director of Fulbright Economics Teaching Programme Vu Thanh Tu Anh reinforced this argument, pointing out that Viet Nam mainly exported physical products and natural resources.

According to Loc, a recent VCCI survey revealed that 30 per cent of domestic enterprises planned to expand production in the coming years.

“Expanding production in these difficult times means placing a priority on increasing quality, labour efficiency and sustainable development,” said Loc.

Many enterprises, mostly small- and medium-sized firms, reported a growth rate of 50-60 per cent this year thanks to good management practices that brought them into the global value chain.

General director of FPT Group Truong Gia Binh said enterprises should apply modern technology to production to enhance labour productivity as well as competitiveness.

Viet Nam should also continue to develop high-quality human resources, he said, as young workers from rural areas would bring a competitive advantage to the economy if they were provided with good training.

According to Nguyen Thi Tue Anh from the Central Institute of Economic Management, low-skilled labour and underdeveloped infrastructure were the two biggest problems facing the country and should be tackled immediately.

If core industries saw breakthoughs, she said, this would motivate other industries to develop. These breakthroughs could be stimulated by stabilising the macroeconomy, reforming State-owned enterprises and involving the private economic sector.

Viet Nam ranked 75th out of 144 economies in the Global Competitiveness Index 2012-13, according to a report recently released by the World Economic Forum.

Small banks strive to survive

Some commercial banks targeted for restructuring by the central bank are making efforts to do it on their own, seeing that their survival depends on it.

GP Bank, Navibank, Trust Bank and Western Bank were on the central bank’s list for restructuring this year because of their weak liquidity.

These banks show that their bad debt ratios are just around 2 per cent of the total outstanding loans. However, the real figure is closer to nearly 10 per cent.

To survive and develop, TrustBank and Navibank have taken the initiative in preparing their own restructuring plans and submitting them to the central bank and the government for approval.

A representative of TrustBank told the Dau Tu (Investment Review newspaper) that the central bank approved the bank’s restructuring solution in September and allowed the implementation soon.

TrustBank’s plan called for capital from domestic strategic shareholders with the biggest share to be held by a large-scale bank, he said.

“TrustBank believes that after the self-restructuring process is complete, it would be able to develop in a stable manner,” he added.

Nguyen Hoang Minh, deputy director of the State Bank of Viet Nam’s HCM City Branch, also revealed that his office has received the restructuring plan of Navibank, because the latter has been placed under its management.

The branch has already submitted Navibank’s plan to the central bank and government for approval, Minh said.

Senior economist Pham Do Chi said that many small banks in the country have had modest prescribed capital and their Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) has been also low.

“In particular, the small banks’ equity capital often accounts for only 10 per cent of their total assets, while the corresponding figure in other countries is about 20 per cent,” Chi said, adding that this was a sign of weakness in the domestic banking sector.

Because of the banks’ low equity ratio, the banking sector’s restructuring process should not be implemented by merely reducing the number of commercial banks. It should be done through the mergers and acquisitions (M&A) to create comprehensive improvements in the Vietnamese financial system, Chi said.

SBV Governor Nguyen Van Binh has also said that restructuring was a voluntary exercise for small and weak banks to survive.

However, in case these banks cannot restructure on their own, the central bank would intervene by merging them with other banks, Binh said.

Sugar import tax to rise 40%

The Ministry of Finance has decided to sharply increase import tax on sugar from January next year as local supplies are forecast to exceed demand.

The import tax on raw sugar would increase to 25 per cent from 15 per cent and on refined sugar to 40 per cent from 15 per cent, the ministry said.

The nation’s 2012-13 crop was expected to yield around 1.5 million tonnes of sugar, roughly 100,000-200,000 tonnes higher than local demand.

In the domestic market, the sugar price was expected to fall by VND1,000/kg over September to VND20,000/kg while the Ministry of Finance’s Price Control Department forecast it would continue to fall.

In April last year, the ministry had to cut the import taxes on raw and refined sugar to 15 per cent from 25 and 40 per cent, because of concern that surging prices due to the increased demand and short supply would push inflation. The price was VND24,000 before Tet last year with the local crop producing only 1 million tonnes of sugar.

Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang said Viet Nam would import 100,000 tonnes of sugar this year because of the country’s WTO commitment.

The ministry accepted an import quota of 70,000 tonnes in August, adding that it would work closely with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Viet Nam Sugar Association to decide the most suitable time to grant sugar import quotas to avoid their impact on domestic production.

VN-Indonesia trade reaches new heights

Viet Nam has become an attractive investment destination due to the country’s investment promotion policies and increasing efforts to improve its business climate, said Vietnamese Ambassador to Indonesia Nguyen Xuan Thuy at a conference here yesterday.

Viet Nam’s fast growth rates in recent years and top global rankings as a producer and exporter of rice, pepper and seafood have opened up many opportunities for both domestic and foreign investors, Thuy told representatives of about 60 Indonesian companies participating in the conference.

The ambassador spoke of the rapid development in the relationship between the two countries and said that they have targeted bilateral trade worth US$5 billion by 2015.

Bilateral trade reached $3.3 billion in the first nine months of this year, with Vietnamese exports to Indonesia accounting for over $1.6 billion of the total, a year-on-year rise of 5.43 per cent. Total trade was estimated to hit $4.5 billion by the end of the year.

Among the key Vietnamese exports to the Indonesian market were mobile phones and parts, steel, rice, crude oil and coffee.

Indonesian businesses greatly appreciated Viet Nam’s investment promotion policies and efforts to improve its investment environment, said Juan Gondokusumo from the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

He urged a greater effort to match enterprises with opportunities and improve information exchanges with Vietnamese counterparts.

In the first 11 months of this year, Indonesian companies pumped $244 million into 33 projects in Viet Nam. Indonesia currently ranks 30th among the 96 countries and territories investing here, according to the Ministry of Planning and Investment’s Foreign Investment Agency.

Sales via mobile offer new market

The ability to buy and sell goods and services via cell phones will become more popular in sales and marketing, says Department for E-Commerce head Tran Huu Linh.

With a growing demand in the mobile phone sector and the massive growth of the internet, the development of digital content on mobile devices has become of great interest to businesses.

Digital content is the likes of animation, audio, graphics and images and video.

Linh said at a Digital Content Summit in Ha Noi this week that mobile devices were potential infrastructure to develop digital content, adding that by 2015 about 20 per cent of Viet Nam’s population would be using 3G services and in the next two years, half of the population would access the internet daily.

Once trading or advertising products and services became applications on the internet, development opportunities via mobile phones would become more significant than ever.

Bui Truong Son, director of Felix Studios Software Joint Stock Company, said the number of mobile internet users would become larger than the number of personal computer users.

However, the issue of copyright for digital content on mobile phones had not yet been solved. As a result, a requirement to collect charges on “digital content business” from users was needed to ensure the rights of authors and to create a level playing field for online users.

Nguyen Hoa Binh, head of the communication service of the Viet Nam e-Commerce Association (VECOM), emphasised that if businesses wanted to turn payments for digital content into reality they had to make it more easy and convenient for users.

In addition, mobile devices were now used to update the latest information about social, economic and entertainment issues. They were no longer only a communication device.

Binh noted that fee collection on copyright via mobile devices still faced barriers. It was mainly derived from the psychology of mobile users in Viet Nam. Not everyone was ready to pay fees for digital content.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade was now considering a decree dealing with e-commerce-related violations that was expected to be published in June next year, Linh said

Viet Nam was seen as having one of the fastest growth rates of mobile subscribers in the world, with more than 120 million 2G and 3G mobile subscribers. The 3G charge would become more beneficial to consumers to help a large number people gain access to broadband internet.

Since early this year, the country had about 31 million internet users. Of this figure 88 per cent had internet access from home, 28 per cent from workplaces, 26 per cent from public internet stations and nearly 30 per cent from mobile devices.

The Viet Nam Digital Communication Association calculates that by the end of this year there would be around 10 million 3G users in the country.

Viet Nam in top competitive list

Viet Nam is expected to join the world’s top 10 most competitive manufacturing nations in the next five years, according to the 2013 global manufacturing competitiveness index (GMCI) report from Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited’s Global Manufacturing Industry group and the US Council on Competitiveness.

The GMCI ranks Viet Nam 10th, an eight-place leap from its current position. Brazil also makes a big jump, from eighth to third, and India jumps from fourth to second place. China once again stands as the most competitive manufacturing nation in the world – both today, and five years from now.

The report predicts that many advantages are tilting toward Asia, the continent where 10 of the 15 most competitive nations within the decade are located.

The report seeks to determine how CEOs view the competitiveness of the manufacturing industry in different countries around the world. A global CEO survey, which generated responses from 552 CEOs and senior executives, offers perspectives on the most important factors that drive the manufacturing industry’s competitiveness.

Survey suggests e-commerce hopefuls still have lot to learn

The nation’s businesses still have way to go before they master the intricacies of e-commerce. In a recent survey of enterprises by Viet Nam, 46 per cent said they weren’t sure what e-mails were for.

According to the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), there are 520,000 enterprises nationwide and all of them have at least internal information websites. Ninety per cent report using the internet.

But from there, the numbers drop fast. In addition to the nearly half which express uncertainty over the business purpose of emails, only 19 per cent of businesses use their websites to promote their companies’ images or products. The chamber’s goal that 80 per cent of provinces and cities nationwide would host business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-customer (B2C) platforms by 2015 seems a long way off.

Among government agencies, 100 per cent of ministries and branches have their own websites, while 98.4 per cent of provincial and municipal governments have websites. Nearly 90 per cent of computers at ministries and ministerial-level agencies have internet access.

But the figures begin to plummet when one looks into particular sectors. In the healthcare sector, for instance, only 2,230 out of 11,111 communal healthcare establishments have internet access, a rate of only 20 per cent, according to Ministry of Information and Communications data.

The figures rise to 30.3 per cent in urban areas but tall to as low as 17.8 per cent in rural areas.

To tackle the problems, authorities have targeted boosting the role of the internet in online education and training.

All of the nation’s educational establishments nationwide had internet access by 2010, and about 30,000 education establishments and 25 million administrators, teachers and students can now access the internet.

Software park to be built next year in Da Lat

Work will kick off next year on an ambitious new software park in the resort city of Da Lat, which has attracted an estimated investment capital of VND799 billion (US$38.4 million).

A detailed construction plan was released to the public yesterday revealing that the park will cover an area of 63 hectares and be built in seven years. It will include areas for IT production and training, exhibition rooms, conference halls and a centre for trade, services, entertainment and sports.

The park is expected to help the central highland province become more competitive in attracting investment, developing technology and boosting the economy.

As many as 50ha of the land – equal to 80 per cent of the whole project area – will be used to grow trees around the park.

The provincial authorities said that they would co-operate with HCM City to carry out the project. A branch of Quang Trung software park, owned by HCM City, will be built in the Da Lat software park.

Banks tipped to be active in Government bond auctions

Commercial banks with abundant capital sources due to slow credit growth are expected to play a more active role in Government bond auctions.

“The liquidity of most banks remains healthy and this will have a positive influence on the primary market,” analysts from Bao Viet Securities Co (BVSC) wrote in a report.

“Market participators forecast the deposit interest rate will be lowered in the near future, and macroeconomic factors are supporting this possibility,” BVSC analysts said.

According to the Ha Noi Stock Exchange, there were more successful bids last month than in October.

The rate of successful bidding improved substantially, averaging 48 per cent this year compared to 32 per cent in 2010.

Commercial banks became more active in the bond market with the number of banks participating in the market increasing from 25 in 2009 to 36 this year. Meanwhile, market involvement of securities companies decreased, falling from 41 in 2009 to just 30.

The value of auctions on the Ha Noi exchange also expanded, with each bond code rising from VND943 billion (US$45.1 million) in 2010 to almost VND1.97 trillion ($94.3 million) in 2012.

The Vietnamese bond market is currently regarded as one of the most fascinating markets in Asia thanks to its high safety and profitability levels. However, most successful bids are concentrated on short terms of 1-3 years. According to market observers, if this situation continues, it could create high pressure of payment in the short term.

Building contractor reduces year’s financial targets on economy woes

Ba Ria-Vung Tau Urban Development and Construction (UDC) has reduced this year’s financial targets between 46-67 per cent due to economic turmoil.

Its total revenue dropped to VND427.6 billion (US$20.3 million), and net profit fell to VND14.38 billion ($684,700) as expected after the revision.

In the third quarter this year, the company lost VND1.2 billion ($57,100) compared to a profit of VND2.3 billion in the same period last year. During the first nine months of the year, gross profit accounted for only 12.86 per cent of the previous year.

Construction firm, seafood exporter axed from investment fund FTSE

Investment fund FTSE yesterday announced its initial review of tracking stocks in December.

Accordingly, construction firm Sudico (SJS) will be excluded from the FTSE Viet Nam Index, while seafood exporter Hung Vuong (HVG) will be dismissed from the FTSE Viet Nam All-Share Index.

In addition, the fund noted the room for foreign investors fell from 29 to 22 per cent in property developer Vingroup (VIC) and from 40 to 33.91 per cent in HCM City Infrastructure Investment (CII). These two companies have revised the ratio for bond issuance purposes.

The fund’s review will take effect on December 24.

New circular eases administrative burden for foreign investors

Administrative procedures related to foreign investment will be less complicated following a new circular guiding the activities of foreign investors on the stock market.

Circular No 213, issued by the Ministry of Finance on Thursday, will remove the need for judicial records for foreign investors while allowing them to extend the time to apply for transaction codes.

The issuance of transaction codes will also be reduced from 10 to seven days. In addition, to increase the transparency of the market, the circular added more regulations on information disclosure of foreign investors.

He made the remarks at a Hitachi Christmas Light-Up ceremony recently held in Ho Chi Minh City.

Toyoshima said Hitachi will focus on increasing investment in Vietnamese energy, urban transport, water treatment, and elevator manufacturing..

Hitachi Asia Ltd is a company organised under the Hitachi Ltd Group. It currently operates in six Asian countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

The group’s main business interests include information technology, energy and industry, digital communication, and international purchase transactions.

The Hitachi Christmas Light-Up programme underway in HCM City offers locals and tourists three weeks of entertainment activities and art performances.

The programme will last through to January 1, 2013.

Hitachi will also organise an exhibition displaying its latest hi-tech and environmental protection products to consumers.

Syndicated loan for Vietnam Airlines to buy Airbus A321

Taiwan-based Cathay United Bank (CUB) and other five banks have successfully arranged a 100 percent funded loan valued at US$60 million for the Vietnam Airlines Corporation to buy an Airbus A321 from France aircraft manufacturer Airbus.

CUB and Vietnam Airlines signed the contract with 10 year syndicated term loan on December 7, 2012. This is the first syndicated and big loan arranged by Taiwanese bank for Vietnam’s state-owned enterprises, according to CUB.

This Airbus A321 aircraft is delivered in this month.

Vietnam Airlines signed the purchasing agreement of 26 Airbus A321 aircraft to be delivered from 2011 to 2015.

Vietnam Airlines currently has 75 aircraft and it aims to expanse its fleet to 115 and 170 aircraft by 2015 and 2020 respectively, according to Vietnam Airlines.

Key power plant construction starts in Tra Vinh

A ground-breaking ceremony for Duyen Hai 3 Terminal Power Plant, a key project of the National Power Development Master Plan VII, was held in Tra Vinh province on December 8.

Addressing the ceremony, Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai underlined the importance of the Duyen hai 3 project, as it will generate power for business production and domestic use in the Mekong Delta region.

He praised the Electricity of Vietnam (EVN), the major investor, and CHENGDA – DEC – SWEPDI – ZEPC, the co-contractors, for speeding up negotiations of bidding packages and land clearance for the project to get off the ground on schedule.

He assigned EVN to work closely with contractors to ensure the project meets technical specifications and is completed as planned.

The coal-fired power plant, to be built on an area of 879ha, has two turbine generators with a total design capacity of 1,244MW. Once completed, it is expected to generate 7.8 billion kWh annually.

The project has total investment of VND28.5 trillion, of which 85 percent comes from loans and the remainder is sourced from EVN.

The first generator is scheduled to operate commercially in 46 months, and the second generator in 50 months.

Mekong Delta rambutan exported to US

The VietGAP Tien Phu firm, based in the Mekong Delta province of Ben Tre, has signed US market export contracts for trading 20 tonnes of rambutan during December.

More than six tonnes have already been shipped to the US at a price 20 percent higher than that of the domestic market.

The Mekong Delta rambutan was inspected for quality and safety, successfully securing the export license codes required to enter the US market.

VietGAP Tien Phu is expanding its current 1,500 hectare planting area in order to fulfill its signed US contracts. The firm is increasing its rambutan purchases in other southern provinces like Tra Vinh, Vinh Long, and Binh Phuoc.

In 2011, VietGAP Tien Phu exported 60 tonnes of rambutan to overseas markets.

Vietnam increases food links with Argentina

Vietnam and Argentina discussed mutual recognition of their authorized agencies on food safety and the list of approved exporters during the former’s recent visit to Buenos Aires.

The Vietnamese delegation led by Tran Bich Nga, deputy head of the National Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Quality Assurance Department (NAFIQAD), concluded their working trip on December 7.

NAFIQAD delegates held working sessions with the National Food Safety and Quality Service of Argentina (SENASA) to inquire into its management mechanisms for food safety, food quality inspection, and food safety certification required by exporters targeting the Argentinean market.

They also made fact-finding tours of a number of breeding farms, aquaculture facilities, and animal slaughtering and processing units.

In August 2012, a SENASA delegation visited Vietnam to inspect the seafood processing facilities whose products were shipped to Argentina.

According to the SENASA’s statistics, in 2011 Argentina earned US$581 million from agricultural exports to Vietnam. The primary exported commodity was soya beans. Vietnam’s export revenue from the Argentinean market was estimated at US$3.3 million, a year-on-year increase of 117 percent.

Over 15,460 businesses go bankrupt

More than 15,460 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have gone bankrupt since the beginning of 2012 according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s (MoIT) latest statistics.

In an interview granted to a VOV reporter, Dr. Cao Sy Kiem,Chairman of the Vietnam SMEs Association, said that SMEs can only ultimately blame devolvement on themselves. To prevent bankruptcy, they must seize every available opportunity to alleviate their difficulties and not only rely on receiving State subsidies.

Most SMEs lack adequate capital, management skills, and technology. Their inventory levels continue to increase as the global economic downturn drags on. Dr. Kiem said SMEs can expect some relief in 2013 when the Government makes their structure and operation a top priority.

He suggested SMEs focus on evaluating their operations, identifying strengths and ways of overcoming shortcomings so that the Government’s 2013 incentive policies will have the maximum chance of success.

Intel Vietnam wins 2012 ACE for social responsibilities

Intel Vietnam Corporation has won the 2012 Award for Corporate Excellence after beating 82 nominated businesses from around the world.

The award was given in HCM City on December 7 in recognition of the company’s activities that show its responsibility towards education and training, the environment and the community.

According to Intel Products Vietnam General Manager Sherry Boger, the honour demonstrates Intel Vietnam’s responsibilities as well as the tremendous and continuous impact that the firm has on Vietnam.

Speaking at a ceremony, Le Hoai Quoc, head of HCM City High-Tech Park’s management board, said the award recognises the efforts Intel Vietnam has made in sustainable business development, while reflecting its social responsibilities.

Launched in 1997, ACE is an annual award that recognises US-owned businesses that exhibit exemplary corporate citizenship, promote innovation, and advance democratic principles around the world.

UK, Vietnam strengthen trade cooperation

Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Ho Thi Kim Thoa and British Ambassador to Vietnam Antony Stockes signed the minutes of the sixth session of the Vietnam-UK Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETCO 6) on December 7.

At the signing ceremony, the two sides repeated the commitment to intensify bilateral ties in all fields mentioned in the 2010 strategic partnership agreement, which stresses JETCO as a mechanism to discuss important issues on trade and economic ties.

They agreed JETCO has to reach specific results and successes in trade to achieve the common targets that will strengthen their bilateral trade relations and mark the 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties next year.

Thoa said that the two sides reached a consensus in the establishment of a working group on pharmaceutical products to discuss related issues and proposals to improve current regulations on intellectual property and mandatory registration of clinical trials.

In terms of mechanisms to solve disputes effectively, both sides agreed to boost dialogue between the International Cotton Association and relevant Vietnamese companies.

Stockes pledged to continue supporting Vietnam’s financial services, including training in banking, and aiding Vietnamese banks that want to establish operations in the UK.

The two sides will assess the implementation of JETCO 6’s commitments at quarterly meetings to be held in Hanoi in 2013.

Investment opportunities promoted in Indonesia

Vietnam has emerged as one of the world’s efficient, attractive and trusted investment destinations courtesy of its offered incentives and improved business environment.

Ambassador Nguyen Xuan Thuy expressed these sentiments at a December 7 workshop in Jakarta introducing Vietnam’s investment-business-related opportunities to interested Indonesians.

Thanks to the Doi Moi (Renewal) policy initiated in 1996, the national economy has enjoyed rapid growth over the years, and the country is now listed among the largest exporters of rice, pepper and seafood.

He noted that during Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung’s 2011 visit to Indonesia, both countries agreed on officially upgrading their relationship to the level of a strategic partnership, aiming to raise two-way trade to US$5 billion by 2015.

Thuy also acknowledged challenges the two countries and their business circles face, lamenting how barriers meant to safeguard domestic production in the context of global economic recession now lingering on.

He added investors are more cautious about investing in new overseas projects because of fierce competition between countries wishing to attract foreign direct investment.

These factors not only affect investment cooperation between Vietnam and Indonesia, but also the establishment of a united ASEAN community by 2015, he stressed.

Two-way trade between Vietnam and Indonesia reached US$3.7 billion in 2011 and is expected to amount to US$4.5 billion this year. If the current patterns continue, both countries hope to fulfil the US$5 billion target ahead of schedule.

However, Thuy said Indonesian investment in Vietnam remains a modest US$243 million, much lower than the investments of other ASEAN member countries like Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia.

Juan Gondokusumo, President of the Indonesia-Vietnam Economic Cooperation Coordination Committee, expressed admiration for Vietnam’s high economic growth rate, its initial success in market economy development and its sustainable poverty reduction rate.

He highlighted Vietnam’s contributions to food security reinforcement, saying it has overtaken Thailand to become the world’s largest rice exporter.

Indonesian businesses value the Vietnamese government’s investment incentives and its reforms intended to create a healthy business environment, said Gondokusumo.

He expressed businesses’ desires to increase direct exchanges with their Vietnamese counterparts, including cooperatives and small- and medium-sized enterprises.

The embassy also showed video clips promoting tourism and investment potential in the three regions of Vietnam.

Source: VEF/VNA/VNS/VOV/SGT/SGGP/Dantri/VIR

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