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StanChart wants to lend to city’s projects

Standard Chartered Bank Vietnam on Tuesday met with HCMC leaders to discuss chances of funding projects in need of capital, especially in technical infrastructure and social security fields.

The bank has substantial and well-managed funds that it is willing to offer to the city to carry out vital projects, such as traffic works, hospitals and schools, with competitive lending conditions, said Louis Taylor, CEO of Standard Chartered Bank (Vietnam) Ltd.

He said the bank needed to know how to join in the city’s projects. StanChart wants to provide funding for project owners like HCMC Infrastructure Investment Joint Stock Company (CII), he noted.

HCMC vice chairwoman Nguyen Thi Hong said the city really needed finances for technical infrastructure and economic development, especially in the fields of environment, transportation (metros and overhead roads) and social security (healthcare and education).

The city’s investment capital is sourced mainly from its own budget, as well as ODA grants and loans, Hong said.

Pham Nhu Anh, deputy general director of Standard Chartered Bank Vietnam, informed the city leaders and leaders of departments of lending conditions, interest rates, terms and preferential policies.

Depending on each project, the bank will consider an appropriate lending rate, Anh said, adding that while local banks are giving out loans with an interest rate of 3%, Standard Chartered offers an interest rate of 2.5-2.6% but for certain projects, the rate may be higher.

Financial planners told to lift standards

Chief financial officers (CFOs) must be more proactive in improving their companies’ liquidity and capital structure in today’s highly competitive business envir-onment, experts urged at a Viet Nam CFO Forum held yesterday in HCM City.

Le Hai Phong, the CFO of Bao Viet Group, said that, in today’s high-risk financial climate, CFOs also must use financial tools that have international standards, including those that cover profitability analysis, price analysis, production costs and inventory control.

Proper training is needed so they can use these tools productively, according to Phong.

CFOs are also responsible for identifying and attracting potential lenders, investors and buyers, and ensuring their companies’ cash flow. Le Thi Hong Len, head of ACCA Viet Nam, said the role of CFOs had changed significantly in the context of global economic challenges.

“They are now expected to become strategy advisors to management boards, and intervene in cost – and risk-control as well as investment and business decision-making.

This trend is a positive move, and it is growing,” she said.

She pointed out that CFOs must be equipped with a business-development mindset so they can analyse and forecast risks as well as advise on long-term business development strategies.

Because of the risks that exist today in the business environment, CFOs play a key role in developing business models and predicting economic trends and results.

Pham Thi Viet Nga, chairperson of DHG Pharma, said CFOs were the major pillar of businesses in today’s market economy, particularly those companies that could be on the brink of bankruptcy.

Chief financial officers must be able to identify legal and financial risks and advise on preventive or proactive measures, with a mindset that “measures taken today may be problems in the future”.

Nga said that DHG Pharma’s CFO was responsible for not only controlling cash flow and reducing expenses, but also must determine how to use investments in the most efficient way.

Hiroshi Yaguchi, chairman of the International Association of Financial Executive Institutes, and founder and executive director of the Japan Association for CFOs, said the biggest challenge facing Japanese firms today was the competition with investors who were increasingly seeking business opportunities in emerging countries.

The International Association of Financial Executive Institutes helps establish linkages among CFO associations around the world.

The forum was organised by the Viet Nam Chief Financial Officer Club, Japan Association for Chief Financial Officers and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants Viet Nam.

It attracted more than 200 business-chamber members as well as CEOS, CFOs and representatives from international and domestic financial associations.

Agricultural investment slows in Vietnam

Vietnam remains an agricultural country, however investment into that sector here remains modest and has even seen annual decreases, said Dr. Do Kim Son, Head of the Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development.

The country has seen an annual fall in agricultural investment over the past 20 years, Dr. Son said at the launch in Hanoi on October 16 of Oxfam’s “Growing a better future” report. The report highlighted challenges for Vietnam’s agricultural development and solutions that the organisation has proposed to improve the situation.

He also added that investment into Vietnam’s agriculture sector is among the lowest in Southeast Asia.

According to Dr. Son, only 30% of local enterprises have invested in the agriculture sector. Agriculture contributes to around 20% of the GDP, but, only 6.3% of the state budget is poured into it, down from 13.8% a decade ago.

Meanwhile, the government investment has prioritised irrigation works rather than improved rural traffic infrastructure and research to increase agricultural productivity.

Hai Quan Newspaper cited statistics by the Ministry of Planning and Investment’s Foreign Investment Agency that by the end of August this year, Vietnam had 500 valid foreign direct investment (FDI) projects in the agriculture sector with total capital of USD3.28 billion, accounting for just 2% of the country’s total registered FDI. In the last 10 years, FDI in Vietnam’s agriculture sector dropped from 8% in 2001 to 1% in 2010.

The FDI in Vietnam’s agriculture sector remains very modest compared to the country’s agricultural development potential, Son said, noting that the government should change its strategy to focus on agricultural advantages to lay the foundations for the development of other sectors.

Vietnam targets to become a modern industrialised country by 2020 but in fact, up to over 70% of the country’s total populations still live in rural areas. They will be a key labour force for Vietnam’s economic development. Therefore, investment to fully tap the agriculture sector is essential.

Challenges for Vietnam’s agricultural development

Despite achievements, Vietnam still faces big challenges for its agricultural development, according to the Oxfam report.

The report indicated that Vietnam’s fight against the poverty and food shortages will continue therefore the government’s policies need to pay more attention to farmers. Currently, up to 80% of the country’s farmer households have less than half a hectare of land, while 8.5% of rural households in Vietnam face food shortages.

Environmental pollution, climate change and volatile market prices pose a risk for agricultural production in Vietnam, according to the report.

Land conversion is also creating additional pressures. As many as three million Vietnamese people have had their lives disrupted as a result of land reassignment in the last five years. Meanwhile, small-scale farmers have coped up with an increase in crop and animal diseases, while also having to face the depletion of forests and natural resources and a decline in ecological diversity.

Half of all outstanding debts are in real estate

NA deputies discussed solutions to resolve the high level of unused housing stock on October 16.

The NA deputies agreed that the most important task now was to ease economic difficulties and boost spending, closely followed by taming bad debts.

National Assembly Vice Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan reminded everyone of the biggest problem, “We have to take in the high levels real estate stock and abandoned or suspended projects.”

However, statistics about the real number of houses available were not supplied. “I’m not sure if we’ve ever collected such data. The reports from General Statistic Office of Vietnam also don’t have such a section but the levels of unused housing must be high.” minister of Planning and Investment Bui Quang Vinh said.

Nguyen Sinh Hung Chairman of the National Assembly said the banks were holding VND2,000 trillion (USD96 billion) in outstanding debts with half of that money being in the form of mortgages and bad debts from failed real estate speculation.

Vinh said as of September 1, the inventories of the manufacturing and processing industry sector stood at 20.4% of the total sales volume, while plastics stood at 52.6%, cement 52%, textiles 39%, and cars and motorbikes 37%. However, some inventory levels had gone down such as footwear at 13.7% and medicine 10%.

HN receives over 1.6 mln foreign tourists

Ha Noi welcomed more than 1.6 million foreign visitors in the first nine months of 2012, a year-on-year increase of 20%.

Chinese tourist figures grew by 29% (nearly 155,800 visitors), followed by Japan with 114,33 (up 33%), Australia, 97,900 (up 22%) and the Republic of Korea, 60,887 (up 57%).

The number of domestic travelers to Ha Noi is estimated to reach 10 million, up 10% year on year.

These gains were attributed to Ha Noi’s organization of a number of promotion activities and upgrade of its tourism Website to advertise cultural festivals and historical monuments far and wide.

The city has actively updated information about new places of interest, tourism products and traditional handicraft villages including Bat Trang ceramic village, Van Phuc silk, Phu Vinh bamboo and rattan, Quat Dong embroidery village.

Currently, it is researching tours for the National Tourism Year 2013 with localities in the Red River Delta and Hai Phong and implementing cooperative agreement signed with five provinces and cities including Ha Noi, Thanh Hoa, Nghe An, Thua Thien Hue and Binh Dinh.

Investors seek chances in condo-for-rent market

Property project owners are looking for chances in the condo-for-rent segment while making efforts to sell their commercial apartments.

Apartment leasing offers low-income earners affordable accommodations and helps project owners diversify their products to meet the market demand.

Le Thanh Commercial Construction Co. Ltd., for example, plans to lease out some 40 condos of the Twin Towers project in Binh Tan District in HCMC to gauge the market. The company will this Saturday launch the model condo for the project that consists of some 350 flats for middle-income buyers.

Le Huu Nghia, director of Le Thanh, said his company would offer 40 apartments of 35 square meters each for rent.

Each tenant will pay VND240 million in total, divided into five installments over a one-year period. Tenants can live in these apartments in 15 years, meaning the rental is about VND1.3 million per month.

This is a viable solution for middle-income earners in need of houses as the rental is not higher than that of rooms for rent. In addition, living in apartments in 15 years is enough, because after that the apartments will start deteriorating and the project owner will have to renovate them, said Nghia.

He said if the market response was positive, his company would develop more projects of this kind.

The Bee Home project of C.T Group on Nhan Tran Trung Street in HCMC’s Tan Binh District is another apartment-for-rent project. The project includes two four-story blocks with 315 flats covering 30 square meters each.

Each tenant will pay VND241 million for a 12-year rental, or VND1.7 million a month.

Investment in commercial apartments is more efficient than condos for rent, which take a longer time for capital recovery, said Nghia. However, some project owners are offering their unsold commercial apartments for lease.

Secondary investors also choose apartment leasing as a solution to their financial distress.

Phan Thanh Mai, general secretary of the Vietnam Real Estate Association, said project owners should adjust the function of their construction works in the current tough conditions. Instead of waiting for big revenues from apartment sale, they could earn regular small sums in a longer period.

Statistics in the past three years show that condo-for-rent projects were often 80% occupied, and the demand in this segment remains huge.

Condos for rent and incentives for investors in this housing segment are mentioned in the national housing development strategy. However, people suggested that aside from providing incentives, the State should play the role of a developer of apartment-for-rent projects, whose potentials are said to remain untapped.

US stops anti-subsidy investigation into steel pipes

The US Department of Commerce (DOC) has removed its anti-dumping lawsuit against steel pipe products imported from Vietnam.

It announced on October 18 that the year-long lawsuit against Vietnamese steel pipes was officially invalid.

The results of recent DOC’s investigation show SeAH Steel Vina Corporation and Vietnam Haiphong Hongyuan Machinery Manufactory Co. Ltd. did not receive any government subsidy as previously accused by the US.

As scheduled, the US International Trade Committee (ITC) will release its final decision on welded carbon-quality steel pipes imported from Vietnam, India, Oman and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on November 14.

Improving the effectiveness of FDI inflows

The current investment environment is one of the biggest challenges to the attraction, utilisation and management of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). It needs improving in the first place.

The Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) is drafting a project to improve the effectiveness of attracting, utilising, and managing FDI inflows until 2020.

In order to make the project successful, experts propose identifying and making up for shortcomings in strategic plans and orientations.

Judging from poor management and implementation capacity, they demand top priority be given to improving the investment environment.

Many Japanese businesses admit that they are still in two minds about investing in Vietnam, even though they wish to be less dependent on the Chinese market.

According to MPI Minister Bui Quang Vinh, Vietnam cannot attract more foreign capital unless the investment environment becomes healthier.

Ngo Sy Bich, head of the Bac Ninh provincial Management Board of Industrial Zones, says some project managers are unable to make clear what they are going to do with funding from FDI sources.

No doubt, this has caused concern among foreign businesses who plan to invest in the country.

A Japanese business leader complains that his company has tyre-making factories in two different provinces and they are charged with different rates of tax.

Many German businesses say they have had to wait for months to receive their investment licenses due to a complicated process that requires too many documents, even seemingly unnecessary ones.

Overlapping regulations on FDI management are putting a damper on many foreign business operations in the country. For example, a Nokia factory management in Bac Ninh province has had to spend months asking for its recognition as a high-tech business to enjoy a preferential corporate income tax.

Even worse, some foreign businesses have to get around the law when they want to see their new projects get off the ground on schedule.

Improving the investment environment is no novelty as the Vietnamese government has gone to great lengths to do it.

Do Nhat Hoang, Director General of the MPI’s Foreign Investment Agency, says although Vietnam is considered an attractive destination, Japanese business investment in Thailand is still three times larger than in Vietnam. He puts this down to Thailand’s better investment environment.

Hoang underscores four main principles as the key to attracting FDI inflows, namely harmony between policy and law, effective use of capital at all levels, competitive incentives, and significant improvement in the investment environment.

Vietnam hosts ITMF Annual Global Conference

The 2012 Annual Global Conference of the International Textile Manufacturers Federation (ITMF) will be held in Hanoi from November 4-6, according to the Vietnam National Textile and Garment Group (Vinatex).

The 2012 Annual Global Conference of the International Textile Manufacturers Federation (ITMF) will be held in Hanoi from November 4-6, according to the Vietnam National Textile and Garment Group (Vinatex).

Participants will include 250 representatives from ITMF member countries.

The conference will provide a good opportunity for domestic enterprises to promote trade, investment, and export business.

Vietnam invests over US$15 billion abroad

Vietnamese business investments in overseas markets reached nearly US$1.3 billion in the first nine months of this year.

According to the Foreign Investment Agency, the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) granted investment licenses to 66 overseas projects with a total registered capital of US$1.217 billion, 6 projects more than in the same period last year.

By September Vietnam had 736 overseas projects worth more than US$15 billion, mostly in the field of agro-forestry (14), wholesale, retail and repair business (11), processing industry (8), and mineral exploration (8).

Vietnam has invested US$3.8 billion in Laos, US$2.6 billion in Cambodia, US$306 million in the US and US$87 million in Singapore.

Japan’s warning against seafood exporters

Fourteen domestic seafood exporters have been warned against their violation of Japan’s food safety regulations against chemical and antibiotic residues.

They were mentioned in a list released by the National Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Quality Assurance Department (NAFIQAD) under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).

It claimed at some Vietnamese seafood products contain Enrofloxacin, Chloramphenicol and Ethoxyquin residues that are higher than the permitted level.

NAFIQAD said that all export items the 14 blacklisted businesses will be strictly inspected.

Japan is currently one of Vietnam’s key export markets. In the first nine months of this year, domestic businesses earned more than US$740 million in export revenue from Japan (nearly 18 percent from seafood).

Japan is a demanding market that requires high-quality products, especially imported seafood.

Modern mobile services introduced at Hanoi int’l expo

The International Conference and Exhibition Mobile Vietnam 2012 opened in Hanoi on October 18, attracting leading Vietnamese and foreign IT companies and service providers.

The four-day conference and expo, hosted by the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC), is a great opportunity for enterprises to showcase their products and services, seek new partnerships, expand their markets and promote their brands.

Addressing Mobile Vietnam 2012, Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Bac Son highlighted the strong growth in the IT sector, saying it plays an increasingly important role in boosting socio-economic development.

Vietnam aims to master its IT infrastructure, with a focus on human resource training and telecommunications, especially in mobile services, he said.

Covering an area of 4,000 square metres, the exhibition draws key Vietnamese mobile operators as well as leading foreign manufacturers of mobile handsets, mobile products and services such as Sony, Ericsson, Huawei, Samsung, Telcordia and Gelmato.

Participants in the conference on the future of Vietnam’s mobile sector discussed urgent issues relating to the policies of State management agencies, businesses’ competition strategies, and mobile applications and technologies.

Laos, Vietnam boost cross-border exchange

A seminar was held in the Lao province of Sekong on October 18 to promote bilateral trade ties.

Participants highlighted the effective trade cooperation between Vietnam and Laos and discussed measures to raise the two-way trade turnover.

In 2011, the bilateral trade turnover reached US$783.32 million, up 23 percent over the previous year.

The figure hit US$726.7 million in the first nine months of 2012, representing a year-on-year increase of over 15 percent.

The two countries are expected to record their trade turnover to US$1 billion by the end of this year, and raise the figure to US$2 billion in 2015.

Delegates stressed the need to promote border exchange, develop a border market network and build an overall plan on border trade management regulations.

Viet Nam exports rice to Indonesia

The Southern Food Corporation (Vinafood 2) has signed a deal with the Indonesian Bureau of Logistics (Bulog) to export 300,000 tonnes of 15-per-cent broken rice to Indonesia by the end of this year, an official of the Viet Nam Food Association (VFA) has confirmed.

Truong Thanh Phong, VFA chairman, said the rice exports would be delivered to Indonesia from the end of October through to December, aligning with the autumn-winter rice crop harvesting period in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta region.

The Indonesian Government had signed a memorandum of understanding with Viet Nam agreeing to import 1.2 million tonnes of rice from Viet Nam.

Phong said that this is the first government contract to export Vietnamese rice to Indonesia this year. Rice is a key export product for Viet Nam, and annually it accounts for 50 per cent of the value of trade with Indonesia.

Now Indonesia, along with Malaysia and the Philippines, are beginning to change the ways they import rice from Viet Nam. In the past they have always signed Government contracts, but recently Indonesia has permitted private enterprises to import rice via auctions in place of signing Government contracts. The enterprises then can sign commercial contracts with foreign partners to import rice for the nation.

Phong said that so far this year Viet Nam has exported more than 6 million tonnes of rice, earning US$2.6 billion.

The VFA fixed floor prices for rice exports from October 10. The price is currently at $460 per tonne of 5-per-cent broken rice, $455 per tonne of 10-per-cent broken rice, $445 per tonne of 15-per-cent broken rice and $435 per tonne of 25-per-cent broken rice.

Slow progress on reforming SOEs

Restructuring of State-owned enterprises (SOEs) was showing slow progress, Ministry of Finance officials told press.

By the end of last month, about 30 restructuring projects filed by SOEs had been approved by authorities, according to Nguyen Duy Long from the ministry’s Department for Enterprise Reorganisation and Development.

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, who has said reorganising SOEs was one of the pillars for restructuring the economy, asked projects of State-run economic groups and corporations under several ministries to be presented to the Government for consideration within the third quarter.

He said these ministries included the ministries of Construction, Transport, Finance, Agriculture and Rural Development, Industry and Trade, and Information and Communications.

According to Long, most of the approved schemes belonged to companies managed by the Transport and Agriculture and Rural Development ministries.

PetroVietnam, Vinacomin, the Viet Nam Rubber Group and the Electricity of Viet Nam had already submitted their plans to the Government, while many other firms were still developing their plans.

Dang Quyet Tien, deputy director of the ministry’s Corporate Finance Department, told Dau tu Chung khoan (Securities Investment) that sluggish progress in this area was due to the lack of drastic measures from ministries as well as provincial authorities, in addition to the impacts of economic difficulties.

Long said while legal frameworks for SOE restructuring, especially regulations on equitisation and State capital investment and trading, were being promptly completed, business leaders and governing bodies needed to take decisive responsibilities for the restructuring process.

He urged units which hadn’t achieved substantial progress to draw experience and be responsible to the Government.

Dung, who approved the nation’s SOEs restructuring project in July, required State-run firms to revise their core lines of business and file plans for reorganising production and management methods, rationalising financial resources, boosting co-operation and renewing technologies until 2015.

Bui Tat Thang, head of the Ministry of Planning and Investment’s Development Strategy Institute, said the general economic restructuring process needed more breakthroughs such as recent Government moves to terminate the pilot business model for the Viet Nam Construction Industry and Viet Nam Urban and Housing Development companies.

Such breakthroughs would support other pillars for overall restructuring, including public investment and banking-finance system reorganisation, he said.

Cheap Russian coal provides top energy

Steelmaker Hoa Phat Group in an effort to diversify energy supplies and reignite the slowing steel industry made its first import of anthracite coal (hard coal) from Russia last week.

Five thousand tonnes of coal to be used to assist steel production, is VND270,000 (US$12.9) per tonne cheaper than the domestic price.

Despite the low cost, its quality is reported to be equal to the coal dust 2HG produced by the Viet Nam National Coal – Mineral Industries Holding Corporation Ltd (Vinacomin).

According to the director of Hoa Phat Energy Company Hoang Duc Thuan, the purchase was in line with the strategy of diversifying sources of raw materials to avoid dependence on a sole provider, while lowering steel prices.

Thuan said that as world coal prices decrease, the import would help meet the raw material demand for producing coke – a vital ingredient in the steel making process, adding that the factory needed about 10,000 tonnes of anthracite per month to be converted into coke.

Currently, the raw materials used for coke production by Hoa Phat are mainly fat coal imported from Australasia and domestic anthracite coal from Vinacomin.

Filipino investors hunt opportunities

Filipino businessmen were encouraged to dig deep and explore the burgeoning opportunities of investment in Viet Nam at a conference in HCM City on Tuesday.

The trade and investment conference with the theme ‘Viet Nam – Investment destination’, was attended by a number of foreign investors with an eye to promote cooperation with Viet Nam.

Addressing the event, which was organised by the HCM City chapter of the Philippines Business Group Viet Nam, the Vice Chairman of HCM City People’s Committee Le Manh Ha said trade and investment between Viet Nam and the Philippines a2ds developed significantly in various fields.

He said he hoped the conference would help Vietnamese and Filipino businesses instigate joint projects and sign contracts with new partners.

Municipal authorities had been committed to creating the best possible conditions for Filipino businesses to prosper and would support them in their trade and investment activities, added Ha.

According to its Ambassador Jerril Santos, the Philippines is the 27th biggest overseas investor in Viet Nam, with investments totalling almost US$300 million. In HCM City alone, there are currently 26 projects operated by Filipino businesses with a total capital of $46 million.

“Although two-way trade has risen significantly, there is still room for further cooperation. The Philippines also encourages Vietnamese businesses to take part in the country’s investment and agricultural sectors,” he said.

During the conference, representatives from various sectors in Viet Nam and the Philippines gave presentations on the investment environments in their countries.

‘Follow copyright or lose US’

Vietnamese exporters and producers face the risk of losing their markets in the US unless they respect copyright rules, a conference on competition law and copyrights heard in HCM City yesterday.

The US would not allow import of products and would fine exporters and producers a minimum of US$20,000 if they used illegal software and hardware, delegates said.

“These are provisions in the US’s Unfair Competition Act [UCA] which has been effective in Washington and Louisiana states since last year,” Tran Thuc Hoang, director of the Information and Telecommunications Development Assistance Centre, said.

“Vietnamese companies must prepare carefully for them if they do not want to lose their markets and prestige,” he said.

Concurring with him, Pham Chau Giang, deputy head of the Competition Authority’s International Co-operation Board, said though the exact details about the implementation of the UCA were not available, “I am sure this will be effective in the whole country.”

“Vietnamese companies will be badly damaged if they flout the UCA,” she said.

“They will be fined and their products will be confiscated for sure. In addition, they will have to pay competitors who use legal software and hardware.

“Furthermore, they have to pay high costs for courts and lawyers,” she said, adding “the most important thing is that they will lose their prestige and other Vietnamese companies will be affected.”

Jewelry maker opens $5m factory

The Phu Nhuan Jewelry Joint Stock Co (PNJ) opened a VND100 billion (US$4.76 million) jewelry plant yesterday in HCM City’s Go Vap District.

The new facility is the largest of its kind in the country with a total area of 12,500sq.m and 1,000 workers. It is expected to produce 4 million products a year.

PNJ chairwoman Cao Thi Ngoc Dung said that the inauguration of the factory would help the company solidify its position as one of the top domestic jewelry makers.

In the first nine months of this year, the company earned nearly VND4.9 trillion ($233.33 million) in total turnover and VND257 billion ($12.24 million) in pre-tax profits, or 81 per cent of its yearly goal.

The strategy, which will run until 2017, aimed to reach an annual turnover growth of 20 per cent and a yearly profit growth of 15 per cent for its core line of business, while quadrupling its export turnover, Dung said.

PNJ also hoped to become one of the leading jewelry makers and retailers in Asia, she added.

PepsiCo opens $73m factory in Bac Ninh

PepsiCo has inaugurated its US$73 million beverage and foodstuff production plant in northern Bac Ninh Province’s Viet Nam-Singapore Industrial Park earlier this week.

The plant is part of committed investment packages worth $250 million in Viet Nam over three years.

Argentinean businesses seek opportunities

A delegation of 250 Argentinean enterprises will come to Viet Nam to explore business opportunities in the market later this month.

The participating enterprises specialise in food and beverages, automobiles, machinery and construction equipment, agriculture, garments and textiles and pharmaceuticals.

The visit is part of trade promotion activities launched by the Argentinean Government. The Argentinean businesses are scheduled to arrive in HCM City on October 28.

Two-way trade last year reached record figures of above US$971 million, up 17 per cent over 2010, according to statistics from Argentinean Customs.-

Viet Nam competitive market for baby food

When it comes to baby formula products, the domestic market is competitive and offers consumers a range of quality products, according to a study by the Central Institute of Economic Management (CIEM).

The study on the Competitive Landscape of the Market for Infant Formula Products for children between 0-12 months in Viet Nam from 2009 to 2011 was carried out by Unity&Trust (CUTS International).

The research shows that strong competition in the market brings benefits to consumers in terms of both wide products ranges and price points that are available for consumers.

According to the report, the infant formula market in Viet Nam is relatively small in terms of demand but quite large in terms of supply in comparison with other markets in the region.

Regulations tighten on short selling

The State Securities Commission will increase surveillance of and penalties for illegal short selling after a recent rise in such activities led to the arrests of some local stockbrokers.

Brokerages are forbidden from providing short selling services to clients – the selling of a security that the seller does not yet own – but it is widely known that many companies have offered this serivce “behind the scenes”.

Commission chairman Vu Bang told local media that further violations would be fined severely and any securities companies violating the regulation would see their brokerage operations suspended for up to two months. Individual brokers who committed these acts would have their professional certificates revoked, he said.

“In some cases, some short selling acts might be classified as market destruction and could be sent to police agencies for prosecution,” Bang warned.

The arrest of the former head of the brokerage department at Vien Dong (Far East) Securities Co, Phan Thien Hau, along with the recent detection of short selling at HCM City Securities Co and Dai Nam Securities Co, have raised the alarm about an upswing in this phenomenon on the stock market.

The commission recently hit two HCM City Securities Co brokers with fines of VND85 million (US$4,000) each for lending securities to clients on the accounts of other clients. The company itself was sanctioned VND105 million ($5,000) for not effectively supervising the performance of its employees.

Current sanctions were not strong enough to deter violations, so the commission was amending the decree on sanctioning administrative violations on the securities market, including increasing penalties, Bang said.

“The act of short selling has become increasingly sophisticated and complex and is difficult to detect,” he said. “The buying or selling has been made on the account of brokers and the Viet Nam Securities Depository Centre has not detected it.”

Basico Law Firm managing director Tran Minh Hai has encouraged investors to improve their knowledge of the law when using derivatives contracts since this area of the market was still subject to an insufficient legal framework.

Mobile sector rings up success

Thousands of phone enthusiasts flocked to the Mobile Viet Nam 2012 opening in Ha Noi yesterday, eager to discover the latest mobile phone innovations and take a peak into the future.

The four-day event, held in Viet Nam for the first time, aims to further enhance the booming mobile phone sector in one of Asia’s fastest growing wireless markets.

“As one of the most significant event of the year for Viet Nam’s ICT sector, the show provides a prime opportunity for local and international telecom companies to introduce their newest products and network with other businesses,” said Information and Communications Minister Nguyen Bac Son.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Son said Viet Nam’s telecom industry has made amazing progress in recent decades, helping to boost the overall development of the country’s economy.

“Now our telecoms sector has begun to invest in overseas markets,” he said. “But it must make greater efforts to ensure speedier and safer connections as well as securing the sovereignty of the national telecommunications network.”

Son also acknowledged the contributions of foreign telecom companies to the growth of Viet Nam’s sector, who have worked closely with the industry from the very early stages.

The show, which has attracted dozens of local and international mobile operators, service providers and handset suppliers, was yesterday dominated by Viettel, VNPT, Samsung and Sony.

The mobile network operator Viettel displayed a number of new packages aimed to meet the broader needs of users such as fisherman, pensioners and VIPs as a part of its “mobility life” project.

The eight-year-old operator has enjoyed mass expansion to overseas markets recently, having invested in mobile networks across Laos, Cambodia, Haiti, Mozambique and Peru.

Meanwhile, the country’s oldest telecom giant Viet Nam Posts and Telecommunications Group (VNPT), the owner of Vinaphone and MobiFone mobile networks, focused on valued-added services such as mobile payment, mobile education and mobile games.

“Visitors at the fair could experience our hottest services in the real time via 3G (third mobile generation network),” said VNPT’s spokesman Bui Quoc Viet.

Handset giants Samsung and Sony, which occupy largest pitches at the event, introducing their latest smartphones and tablets, featuring state of the art technologies such as NFC and 4G.

Swedish telecoms veteran Ericsson, one of the first foreign telecom firms to invest in Viet Nam, unveiled its “Mobile Health” project, which provides services remotely, eliminating the need for patients to visit hospitals.

Meanwhile, Telcordia Technol-ogies showcases its solution for the “Change mobile network, save number” project initiated by the Ministry of Information and Communications.

The company, a subsidiary of Ericsson, has already implemented this solution in more than 19 countries worldwide, enabling mobile phone subscribers to swap network providers without changing their numbers.

An international conference will be held today at Ha Noi’s Melia hotel, providing a platform for governmental agencies and businesses to share views on the future of Viet Nam’s mobile sector.

While VNPT will address two topics “Developing high-speed broadband 4G” and “Social networks for everyone,” Viettel will share its experiences of investing abroad.

The event, which concludes on Sunday and is expected to attract 50,000 visitors, is jointly organised by the Ministry of Information and Communications, Viet Nam Exhibition Conference and Advertisement Join Stock Company and Number one Media Technology Corporation.

Viet Nam’s ICT sector earned US$13.7 billion in 2011, a year-on-year increase of 79 per cent. Of this, the hardware sector accounted for $11.3 billion, according to the 2012 ICT White Book released by the Ministry of Information and Communications.

Khanh Hoa seeks $4bn harbour funding

The authorities of central Khanh Hoa Province will focus efforts on securing funds for its US$4 billion Van Phong International Transit Port project during the period of 2012-15.

The project, which has three phases of planned construction, has been deemed a top priority by the region’s authorities.

The first phase development would cover 118-125 ha, constructing berths which would stretch a combined 1,680 to 2,260 meters.

With 7 wharves (2 big and 5 small ones) catering for ships up to 9,000 Twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU), the port could handle up to 2.1 million TEUs of cargo. The overall phase is expected to cost US$500 million.

The second phase would follow on until 2020, with seven wharves being built to receive vessels of up to 12,000 TEUs. This phase would raise the total handling capacity up to 4.5 million TEUs per year with a total investment of $1.2 million.

After the final phase, the port complex would boast a total of 17 container wharves for very large vessels of up to 15,000 TEUs and 4 small wharves for feeder ships, with a total handling capacity of 14.5 to 17 million TEUs per year, while the total investment figure would be close to $4 billion.

Hoang Dinh Phi, deputy head of the management board of the Van Phong Economic Zone Authorities, said that the Government recently halted the transshipment port project of the start-up phase.

The project was suspended because Viet Nam National Shipping Lines (Vinalines), the project owner of the start-up phase, changed containers from 6,000-9,000 TEU to 12,000-15,000TEU which would have required huge investment and international support.

The Government has suggested Vinalines and the Transport Ministry should approach prestigious and experienced foreign investors to join the project.

Van Phong is a large bay to the east of Viet Nam, encompassing 43,500 hectares of water surface area and a depth of 15-22 metres. With its favourable natural conditions and potential, the Government has approved plans to develop the area into an international transshipment port and a multi-purpose economic centre of commerce, industry and tourism.

There are 100 projects with total investments of $13.9 billion due to be constructed in the bay. Of which, 28 projects are already underway and 48 have been granted investment licences.

Earnings data fails to impress

Investors remained cautious yesterday as companies continued to publish third-quarter earnings, with many top companies either disappointing profit expectations or posting losses, FPT Securities Co analysts wrote yesterday in a note.

“The market is moving sideways, and the trend has been maintained for several months,” they said. “We still keep a cautious view and recommend investors to hold a high ratio of cash since the market has yet to show signs of recovery,” they wrote.

Bao Viet Securities Co analyst Nguyen Xuan Binh commented that third-quarter earnings would be unlikely to have a significant impact on the overall market trend as much of the data was already reflected in stock prices.

“However, in the short-term, this factor could produce a differentiation among stocks and cause indices to continue fluctuations,” Binh said.

Driven mostly by blue chips, the VN-Index made slight gains yesterday, closing up by 0.38 per cent over the previous day to 398.51 points.

Trading on the HCM City Stock Exchange was sluggish, as both the volume and value of trades plunged to about half of the previous session. The value of trades was just VND450 billion (US$21.4 million) on a volume of 35 million shares.

Among the southern bourse’s 30 leading shares, Tan Tao Investment Industry (ITA) and Kinh Bac City Development (KBC) rose to the ceiling, while dairy giant Vinamilk (VNM), Vietinbank (CTG), PetroVietnam Finance (PVF) and steelmaker Hoa Phat Group (HPG) all saw gains of 1.2-2.6 per cent. Overall, the VN30 Index closed up by 0.55 per cent to 471.96.

ITA was also the most-active stock yesterday, with over 7 million shares changing hands, closing at the ceiling price of VND4,900 each.

On the Ha Noi Stock Exchange, shares declined in the afternoon session, and the HNX-Index lost 0.2 per cent to finish the session at 55.82 points. The value of trades reached only VND207.2 billion ($10 million) on a value of 30.4 million shares.

(vietnam net)

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