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HCM City hosts Mobile Marketing Association Forum

More than 300 local and international delegates attended the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) Forum 2012 in HCM City on October 25.

The event was co-organised by Global Mobile Marketing and the Goldsun Focus Media Company.

Under the banner of a “Smarter Tomorrow”, MMA 2012 focused on several major themes such as the potential of mobile marketing and the application of mobile marketing in business activities.

Rohit Dadwal, Managing Director of MMA Asia Pacific Limited, said that the event has offered an opportunity for attendees to update their knowledge in the field of mobile marketing and discuss important related issues.

At the forum, leading experts from the US, Japan, Singapore, France, India, China, the Philippines,Vietnam and elsewhere shared their knowledge of the latest in market research trends on mobile platforms. According to experts, the number of people using smartphones has been increasing exponentially and the establishment of companies providing mobile marketing solutions in newly-emerging markets in the region, such as China, India and Singapore, has helped businesses approach consumers more effectively.

Vietnam is a potential market of mobile phones in the South East Asian region, with more than 127 million subscribers, including 16 million users of 3G data services.

Currently, up to 60 percent of subscribers use their mobile device to access the Internet and the figure is increasing rapidly.

Seminar discusses new challenges for Vietnam

Choosing the optimal way for Vietnam in the new global context was the main theme of a seminar held in Hanoi on October 25.

Professor Do The Tung from the HCM City National Academy of Politics and Public Administration pointed out that the four key challenges for Vietnam are the under-qualified human resources to meet the demands for rapid modernisation and industrialisation, rising public and foreign debt, improper national economic restructuring and an unhealthy credit and monetary system.

Professor Chu Van Cap, also from HCM City National Academy of Politics and Public Administration, devised solutions for developing a green economy model, instead of the traditional model of brown economy which merely relies on the exploitation of natural resources.

Cap said that businesses should change their behaviour by considering not only profits, but also environmental protection and long term sustainability. In addition, companies should help to raise public awareness of the significance of environmental protection and invest in developing sources of green energy, especially windpower and hydro-electricity projects.

Delegates also discussed issues related to the basic characteristics and trends in the contemporary world, such as sustainable development and the development of culture, education and human resources in the context of international integration.

Professor Vu Van Hien, Vice President of the Party Central Committee’s Theoretical Council stressed that as the world is experiencing rapid changes in areas such as scientific and technological revolutions, knowledge-based economy, and globalization, it is important to examine the nature of these changes to devise accurate strategies and development policies for all nations, including Vietnam.

Asian science parks towards Green Economy

The 16th Conference of Asian Science Parks Association (ASPA) is taking place in HCM City on October 25-26 under the theme of “Science Parks towards a Green Economy”.

The annual event attracted more than 140 delegates, including  senior government representatives along with leading scientists and managers from science parks, research institutes and universities from over 20 nations around the world.

It provided a good opportunity for the domestic business and technological community to share experience in establishing and managing science parks and hi-tech development projects with foreign partners in Asia and the world.

Speakers from Asian science parks, such as Schinchu Science Park in Taiwan and Technopark in the Republic of Korea, talked about their achievements under their successful organisational models..

Minister of Science and Technology Nguyen Quan said Vietnam is in the process of global economic integration and looks towards to building a modern science and technology industry, especially in the hi-tech field.

Vietnam aims to increase the application of hi-tech advances to industrial products with their value accounting for 40 percent of the national industrial production by 2020.

The Ministry of Science and Technology will take note of new ideas and learn from the experience of international partners in formulating policies and developing national hi-tech parks.

ASPA President Yong Hyun Lee said scientific and technological cooperation plays a key role in international linkages for mutual development, and affirmed that the 16th ASAP indicates the rapid emergence of science parks throughout Asia.

Japan signals more investment in Vietnam

Vietnam has recently implemented preferential policies for foreign investors, particularly those from Japan, in recognition of their mutual benefits.

Deputy PM Hoang Trung Hai was speaking at a meeting with Japan’s Foval Corporation Chairman and CEO Hideo Okubo in Hanoi on October 25.

He thanked the Foval Chairman for his efforts in encouraging Japanese businesses to invest in Vietnam, saying that his government is focusing on building and developing support industries required by targets to reduce the trade deficit and make Vietnam an industrialised country by 2020.

Okubo suggested that construction of industrial zones (IZ) in Vietnam should be integrated into urban zoning plans.

Japanese businesses are already investing in several IZs in Haiphong and Ba Ria-Vung Tau and seek to expand their operations in other cities and provinces across the nation.

As a result, they will need to support employment and training of human resources to master Japanese, he concluded.

Ha Long Bay attracts visitors from high-end markets

Representatives from 40 Japanese travel agencies and tourist associations attended a seminar on Ha Long Bay on October 24.

Delegates had a good chance explore its tourism potential, special products and services and nearby places of interest.

They also experienced stunning scenery first hand by undergoing a series of field trips around the bay.

The country plans to attract more visitors from high-end markets like Japan, to destinations such as Ha Long Bay, a world natural heritage.

Agriculture Insurance fails to impress farmers

One year since the Government introduced a pilot scheme for agriculture insurance in 20 provinces and cities, very few farmers have come forward to avail this scheme, partly because of complicated rules and procedures.

From millions of farmers in the Mekong Delta, agriculture insurance has lured only about 161,000 households, 85 percent of who are very poor.

About 4,000 households have bought agriculture insurance in Bac Lieu, Soc Trang, Tra Vinh, Ben Tre and Ca Mau Provinces, of total premium of VND836.34 billion (US$40 million), but so far only 100 seafood breeders in Bac Lieu, Tra Vinh and Ben Tre have received compensation for damages, a very low figure comparatively.

Several farmers have not yet been reimbursed insurance payment due to lengthy and complicated procedures.

For instance, if tiger prawns and white-leg shrimps are infected with the white spot disease, yellow head disease and early mortality syndrome, they must be determined and verified by local authorized organs.

However, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in Bac Lieu Province, said that the province has not been able to perform tests to determine the above diseases.

Farmer Tran Van Tam from Dam Doi District in Ca Mau Province said that several diseases occur in their localities which do not come under the range of insurance.

Doan Ngoc Pha, deputy chairman of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in An Giang Province, said that agriculture insurance is rather new for farmers and local authorities alike.

Regulations guiding the implementation of the insurance are far too slow and tedious, even confusing local authorities who are not yet fully aware of related procedures, said Pha.

Doan Quoc Khoi, deputy director of the Department of Finance in Ca Mau Province, said that fear of regulations has prevented farmers from buying agriculture insurance.

For instance, insurance covers shrimp breeding under improved-extensive farming, semi-intensive farming; and intensive farming of tiger shrimps and white-leg shrimps. However, these forms of farming require large capital which most shrimp breeders do not have. Most shrimp farmers still breed using traditional extensive farming methods.

The Ministries of Finance, and Agriculture and Rural Development, have now broadened insurance to cover rice and seafood products, ducks and Basa fish and made the process to determine damages far swifter. The premium for rice has also been increased.

Phung Ngoc Khanh, deputy head of Insurance Management and Supervisory Department under the Ministry of Finance, is considering extending the deadline for the pilot implementation of agriculture insurance by six months, until June 30, 2014. This is to improve the basic mechanism and policies for agriculture insurance.

The Ministry of Finance will work with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and people’s committees in provinces and cities to increase the premium rate for those living close to poverty line.

Agricultural exports up 9.5%

The export value of agricultural products and seafood has increased 9.5 per cent year-on-year to US$22.5 billion, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development announced.

Nguyen Viet Chien, director of the ministry’s Information and Statistics Centre, said the export value of forestry products had the biggest year-on-year surge, growing 18.3 per cent to $4 billion. Major agricultural products followed with a year-on-year increase of 7.7 per cent to $12.2 billion, as did seafood, which floated up 1.7 per cent in export value to $5 billion.

Chien said the increases were due to a surge in export volume but not value, although most of the products’ export prices on the world market went up.

Seven products gained billions of US dollars, including seafood, rice, coffee, rubber, wooden products, cassava and cashews, Chien said.

Of the above, coffee saw record growth in both export volume and value, he said. The volume of exports saw a year-on-year increase of 37.7 per cent, swelling to 1.41 million tonnes, while the value increased by 32.7 per cent to $3 billion.

However, the export price decreased by 3.8 per cent to $2,126 per tonne compared with the same period last year.

The two largest export markets for Vietnamese coffee products were the US, accounting for 12.11 per cent of the export value, and Germany, which represented 12 per cent.

The ministry expected that national coffee exports might go down due to lack of supply but spike again in December because the growers would begin to harvest the 2012-13 crop.

Wood and wooden products also saw a large increase in exports for the first 10 months of this year.

These items surged in value to $3.8 billion, a year-on-year increase of 19.3 per cent. Most major export markets for Vietnamese wood and wooden products had strong growth, including the US with a growth rate of 28.76 per cent, Japan with a rate of 19.73 per cent and China with a rate of 7.2 per cent.

By the end of this year, exports of those products could increase given high demand in the world market, Chien said.

In the first 10 months of this year, seafood increased slightly in export value, going up 1.7 per cent to $5 billion. This was mainly due to higher export prices in the world market, according to the ministry.

Meanwhile, local seafood exporters faced tough competition from both domestic and world markets during the period, particularly given mounting fees and technical barriers, Chien said.

Rice and rubber were the only key export products to see an increase in export volume but a reduction in export value during the first 10 months.

Rice had a year-on-year surge of 8.3 per cent in volume to 6.9 million tonnes but a year-on-year decrease of 8.7 per cent in value to $3.14 billion. The average export price fell 9 per cent to $452 per tonne compared with the same period last year.

FDI in major sectors keep growing, despite fall in total

Foreign direct investment in the first 10 months hit US$10.5 million, a 25 per cent reduction compared to the same period last year, said the Foreign Investment Agency under the Ministry of Planning and Investment.

However, despite the decline in total, FDI in some main economic sectors was still growing strongly, the agency said.

The processing industry and manufacturing had attracted the most FDI, recording over $6.9 billion, which accounted for about 66 per cent of the total registered capital so far, a 19 per cent increase compared to the same period last year.

Real estate saw a total registered capital of $1.84 billion, accounting for 17 per cent of the total registered capital, a four-fold increase over last year’s figure.

Other areas, including wholesale, retail and  repairs and maintenance, attracted over $456 million, twice as many as last year, accounting for 4.3 per cent of the total registered capital.

The 10 months also saw an increase in FDI disbursements of up to $9 billion, which was similar to last year’s period.

The agency reported that Japan had registered by far the highest FDI at $4.9 billion, accounting for nearly half of the total registered, followed by South Korea and Samoa with $937 million and $900 million respectively.

The southern province of Binh Duong has attracted the most FDI with $2.17 billion, closely followed by HCM City and Hai Phong with $1.12 billion and 1.08 billion respectively.

Free trade pacts offer opportunities

Enterprises need to develop a better understanding of the advantages and challenges offered by free trade agreements to expand export markets and boost their domestic competitiveness, the director of the Trade Promotion Agency’s export support centre, Le Xuan Duong, said at a conference here on Wednesday.

In addition to providing access to export markets with lower tariffs and the elimination of technical barriers, free trade agreements also increase the competition faced by companies from a greater influx of foreign goods into the local market, said Duong.

“It’s important that enterprises be well aware of the challenges and opportunities to actively map out their own strategies to penetrate and expand export markets,” he said.

Many domestic enterprises have already taken advantage of free trade agreements to successfully boost exports, said Tran Ba Cuong from the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Department of Multilateral Trade Policy.

But many others lacked a proper understanding, he said, noting that many enterprises were unprepared to deal with technical, safety and hygiene standards imposed by these agreements.

Cuong said that enterprises can access information online at www.nciec.gov.vn and www.moit.gov.vn, including information on trading partners, technical barriers and quarantine regulations, as well as contacts in relevant ministries and organisations.

Oversupply chokes property market

Loan defaults and high inventories were the greatest challenges facing the real estate market in the nation’s major cities in the coming year, Viet Nam Real Estate Association general secretary Phan Thanh Mai told a conference held here this week.

“Property developers are faced with a number of difficulties, including bad debts and high inventories, caused challenges not only for themselves but for businesses in related sectors, including construction and building materials,” Mai said.

Property firms have been one of the sectors seeing the biggest decline on the stock market this year and the lowest business results, he added. By the end of the third quarter of this year, developers in the nation’s two leading cities of Ha Noi and HCM City had found buyers for only 5-7 per cent of a total of 115,000 unsold apartment units, he said.

Bui Tat Thang, director of the Ministry of Planning and Investment’s Research and Development Institute, forecast that, by the end of this year, several real estate firms would retreat from the market altogether due to a lack of capital.

Thang suggested that the market might recover if the Government had proper policies on gold and overseas remittance. The country received about US$10 bilillion per year in remittances and imported about 500 tonnes of gold, worth about $28 billion.

“If we could mobilise these reserves, the real estate market would heat up again,” Thang said.

However, Do Thu Hang, head of Savills Viet Nam’s research and consultancy department, said it would take five years for Ha Noi to reduce its enormous inventory of unsold apartments.

More loan defaults were imminent, Hang said. Statistics from banks showed that bad debts in the real estate sector had totalled VND117 trillion ($5.6 billion) by late May, a bad debt ratio of 5 per cent. Meanwhile, the State Bank of Viet Nam has set the figure at VND202 trillion ($9.6 billion), or 8.6 per cent.

To ease the difficulties, HCM City Real Estate Association chairman Le Hoang Chau suggested policies to encourage people to buy apartments by providing favourable conditions for accessing credit and allowing foreigners to buy apartments in Viet Nam.

The head of the State Bank’s credit office, Tran Van Tan, said restructuring the market and settling bad debts were also key issues for the banking sector next year.

Tan said that banks would continue to lend to social housing projects and project already under construction, but that further development in the high-end and office segments would be strictly controlled.

He urged banks to take measures to help heat up the real estate market, e.g., converting short-term loans to mid- and long-term loans to help investors and home buyers avoid defaults.

Banks fail to meet rising demand for dollar

The annual year-end spike in demand for foreign currency has set in, but it is unlikely that foreign currency loans by banks will expand sharply as a result.

Companies usually require foreign currency at this time of the year, the peak business season due to a clutch of festivals, to pay for imported goods and services.

The stable exchange rates, and massive differences between interest rates on dong and loans in the greenback have also added to the demand for dollar loans.

Independent analysts said the forex rate would not fluctuate by more than 2 per cent during the whole year.

Meanwhile, though interest rates on dong loans have been cut significantly, they remain twice as costly as dollar loans.

The lowest interest rates on dong loans are between 10 and 12 per cent, while on US dollars it is only 5-6 per cent.

Pham Thien Long, deputy director of HDBank, explained that the demand for foreign currency rose at the year-end due to the cyclical nature of demand for imports.

Dau Tu (Investment Review) newspaper quoted Pham Linh, deputy general director of the Orient Commercial Joint Stock Bank (OCB), as saying his bank offers dollar loans at 6-6.5 per cent to firms exporting agricultural products.

But banks are unlikely to meet the high demand, analysts said.

They pointed to Circular No 03/2012/TT-NHNN that took effect on May 2 which allows banks to lend foreign currency loans to pay for goods and service imported only to those able to repay from their foreign exchange revenues.

Thus, firms that did not have legitimate revenues in foreign currency from production or business activities cannot get loans in foreign currency, they said.

This has prevented a large number of companies from getting forex loans, they added.

Seafood industry eyes US$10.5 billion in 2020 export

The local seafood industry is striving for an export turnover of US$10-10.5 billion by 2020, said Duong Phuong Thao, deputy head of the Export-Import Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

In the coming time, the seafood industry wants to boost exports in a sustainable way, improve competitiveness and keep the country in the list of the world’s top ten seafood exporters, said Thao a workshop on solutions for sustainable development of seafood production and export held in Can Tho on Wednesday.

Specifically, the industry aims at US$7.5 billion in export revenue by 2015, or US$1.3 billion higher than 2011. The targeted export growth rate in the 2012-2015 period is 8% per year.

By 2020, the industry sets a goal to export US$10-10.5 billion worth of seafood, with the annual growth rate of 7% in 2015-2020.

However, experts deemed this target hard to obtain.

Participants in the workshop said that after a period of strong growth, seafood output did not increase in recent two years. Therefore, it would be difficult to achieve volume-driven export growth in the coming period.

Meanwhile, in-depth cultivation methods to create added value for aqua-products have not been applied.

“To obtain these export turnover targets (US$7.5 billion by 2015 and US$10-10.5 billion by 2020), we cannot rely on output increase anymore. It’s time to raise the proportion of value-added products, which should reach 60% in 2015,” Thao said.

Nonetheless, this will be a difficult job, said Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Vu Van Tam, explaining that Vietnam still mainly exports crude products (fish fillets), while value-added products, such as collagen extracted from aqua-products, make up just a tiny portion.

Duong Long Tri, director of the seafood information center under the General Directorate of Fisheries, said the general directorate had suggested several measures for sustainable development of the seafood industry. They include re-planning of tra fish and shrimp farming zones, applying advanced technology in fishing, and developing logistics services, among others.

However, participants in the workshop deemed it very hard to achieve sustainability in seafood production as long as traders keep undercutting each other, thus lowering export prices and pushing down buying prices.

Many seafood exporters have reduced their selling prices to quickly gain money for bank debt repayment. This not only drags down seafood export value but also bring losses to farmers, who are forced to sell their products at prices below production costs.

It is also the cause of supply-demand imbalance, leading to a lack of sustainability in seafood production, processing and export.

For instance, when farmers have products available, traders push down prices, bringing losses to farmers. As a result, farmers quit their farms, affecting material supply for processing and export.

Fair promotes emerging markets

Hundreds of home decor and fashion accessories made in Viet Nam and other emerging Asian markets will be showcased at an international business-to-business sourcing fair in Hong Kong that will open tomorrow.

Hinrich Foundation, a Hong Kong-based charitable organisation, in partnership with Global Sources, a business-to-business media company, is promoting more than 900 established small- and medium-sized exporters from Viet Nam and other emerging Asian economies beyond China.

Information about the enterprises is featured in 60 industry-specific sourcing reports on display at the Global Sources China Sourcing Fairs: Fashion Accessories Show, which ends on October 30.

Each report is a comprehensive sourcing guide for specific products, including home decor, gifts, furniture, kitchenware, Christmas ornaments, garments, footwear and fashion jewelery from Viet Nam and other emerging markets, including India, Cambodia, Indonesia and the Philippines.

The reports offer in-depth profiles of export manufacturers, market-industry overviews, product specifications, and supplier surveys on pricing and forecasts.

Products on display from the featured exporters include 150 new designs of kitchenware, basketware, hanging dcor, baby quilts, eco-friendly photo frames and bags, boxes, trays and vases, gifts and premiums, fashion jewelery, garments, handbags and shoes.

Dorota Jankowska-Tomkow, purchasing manager of LPP S.A, a Polish company of clothing design and distribution, said that sourcing reports bought by her company contained practical information like contact details as well as in-depth forecasts and analyses of relevant industries.

Dorota, who visited the show last year, said she made a sourcing trip to meet with suppliers in Ha Noi to seek an alternative supply chain in Asia.

Cao Minh Thuy Trang, head of the HCM City Handicraft & Wood Industry Association, said that many of the group’s members had received practical export trade assistance from the Hinrich Foundation which had helped them participate in competitive global markets.

Mobile marketing on the rise

With Viet Nam’s growth in mobile marketing expected to continue at a breakneck speed, companies need to improve the content of their adverts to reach consumers, experts urged at a forum held yesterday in HCM City.

The forum was co-organised by the US-based Mobile Marketing Association, which has branch offices worldwide, and local partner Goldsun Focus Media.

More than 300 domestic and foreign businesses and leading industry experts from the US, Japan, Singapore, France, India, mainland China and the Philippines discussed the latest market-research information and mobile-marketing case studies.

The Vietnamese mobile market is a key market in Southeast Asia, with a mobile subscriber base of more than 165 million, amounting to a penetration rate of more than 183 per cent.

Viet Nam, however, has a unique market dynamic that marketers need to appreciate before formulating mobile advertising strategies, experts at the forum said.

Much of the mobile marketing growth trajectory in Viet Nam is expected to be defined by rapid growth in mobile internet usage, with over 60 per cent of internet access through mobile devices.

Experts said that brands, agencies, technology innovators and publishers want to woo customers by effectively integrating mobile with other channels to build smarter campaigns that would lead to smarter branding and sales.

Nguyen Thi Thuy Binh, vice-president of strategy development for Goldsun Focus Media, the first professional mobile ad network provider in Viet Nam, said that famous brands in the Vietnamese market were applying mobile marketing to their advertising campaigns.

However, he noted that if marketers wanted to be successful with mobile marketing campaigns, they must make relevant ad content for target audiences.

Stewart Hunter, vice president of business development at Somo, said the mobile industry had been on a whirlwind journey over the course of last year, and had finally come of age.

The market had expanded rapidly, with Asia-Pacific countries offering some of the greatest opportunities for brands trying to engage with new consumers. He said it was more important than ever that global companies build a targeted mobile strategy that delivers the necessary return on investment by understanding consumer usage, context, and the speed of change.

Banks struggle for capital in wake of new law

A crackdown on inter-bank trading has reduced their access to capital, prompting banks to raise deposit interest rates, often above the Government’s cap, said Le Tham Duong of the HCM Banking University.

Since September 1, lending institutions have not been able to deposit money with each other. Sacombank deputy director Dang Minh Tam said it was necessary for banks to have plenty of money in hand in case business enterprises needed it.

Orient Commercial Joint Stock Bank chairman Trinh Van Tuan said improving liquidity was important, especially in view of the risk of bad debts and profit contraction.

To attract more deposits, commercial banks had raised rates for long-term dong deposits to 12-12.5 per cent. Asia Commercial Bank, Western Bank and Eximbank had gone to 13 per cent.

In fact, deposit rates for terms of 12 months or less were higher than the 9 per cent cap stipulated by the State Bank in June.

Dau tu (Viet Nam Investment Review) reported that several banks had even allowed their clients to withdraw money monthly or quarterly on term deposits and some permitted them to draw out money at any time on term deposits.

The State Bank recently flagged new penalties for violations of banking regulations. It proposed banks offering interest rates higher than that regulated would be fined between VND500 million (US$23,800) and VND1 billion ($47,600).

Duong said the penalty was sufficient but other strict punishment measures should also be used to ensure compliance.

Paris hosts meeting of Indochina business club

The Viet Nam-Cambodia-Laos (VCL) Business Club in Paris held its 10th meeting in the French capital on Tuesday, with French entrepreneurs and business people from the three countries residing in France taking part.

At the meeting, the participants discussed economic and political situations in their regions and around the world. They also debated measures to speed up and strengthen trade links between Viet Nam, Laos and Cambodia, as well as between the three countries and their host.

Established in March 2009 in France, the VCL Club has around 1,650 members from 37 countries across the world.

Its annual meeting gives entrepreneurs from the three Southeast Asian countries the opportunity to meet with their French partners as well as introduce projects that promote socio-economic and cultural development in each country.

Citi and Development Bank of Japan team up to finance Vietnam Airlines’ fleet expansion.

Citi and Development Bank of Japan yesterday announced the closing event for the facility agreement with Vietnam Airlines to provide aircraft financing loans for the purchase of two Airbus A321s from Airbus.

An Export Credit Agency facility of $110 million has been arranged and financed by Citi and Development Bank of Japan (DBJ) with the support of European Export Credit Agencies and fronted by EULER HERMES, the German export credit agency. The two aircraft were delivered in June and August this year.

“This finance package will enable Vietnam Airlines to accomplish its fleet expansion plan which aims to enhance our operating efficiency on both domestic and international routes,” said Pham Ngoc Minh, president and chief executive officer of Vietnam Airlines.

“We strongly believe that this credit facility agreement between Vietnam Airlines and Citibank will pay for way for our long-lasting partnership in the future and enable Vietnam Airlines to complete its realization of the development strategy, becoming one of the Asia’s carriers of choice by 2020,” Minh added.

Vietnam Airlines has been successful in sustaining high load factor and keeping it in a rising trend over the years. Along the line with Vietnam Airlines’ development process, Citi has had a long-standing and multi-faceted relationship with Vietnam Airlines, including being the sole arranger for its first USExim-backed financing for Boeing aircrafts in 2003.

“For the third time with Vietnam Airlines, Citi is very proud to be the Joint Co- Arranger for the ECA Facility of $110 million. This critical deal will surely help the company expand and increase the capacity of Vietnam Airlines fleet, in an effort to better meet the demand of passenger and cargo transport,” said Brett Krause, managing director and Vietnam Citi country officer.

For DBJ, this transaction is the first time this bank works together with Citi. “DBJ believes that this transaction will lead to long-term partnership with Citi as well as Vietnam Airlines,” Masao Masuda, DBJ’s acting head of global aviation team, said.

Eleven nations receive permits to import produce

Eleven countries have received permission to export vegetables and fruit to Viet Nam, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).

They are the US, France, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Thailand, South Korea, Chile, Cambodia, South Africa, and India.

Two other countries, namely Laos and China, are temporarily allowed to export vegetables and fruit to the Vietnamese market till the end of this year.

The ministry has asked foreign exporters to strictly follow Vietnamese regulations on product quality to ensure food hygiene and safety for local consumers.

Ministry flags $650,000 for trade promotions

Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang has approved 24 projects for the third phase of the National Trade Promotion Programme, which will run until the end of this year.

The third phase, with estimated funding of VND13.68 billion (US$650,000), aims to step up export and domestic trade promotion activities, especially in rural, mountainous, border and island areas.

The work will cover a range of promotion activities including overseas trade exhibitions and domestic and international conferences on export commodities.

With the third phase, the National Trade Promotion Programme 2012 will have a total of 114 projects costing VND93.08 billion ($4.43 million).

CT Group champions new golf course

CT Group has officially drawn the curtains to unveil its distinctive new golf course in the western area of the southern hub.

Designed by Lee Schmidt and Brian Curley, who were named Asian Golf Monthly’s ‘Best Golf Course Architects’ last year, the $43.2 million CT Sphinx Golf Club & Residences is being promoted as the most beautiful golf course in Vietnam.

Covering a 200 ha land on the bank of Thay River in Tan Thong Hoi commune, Ho Chi Minh City’s Cu Chi district, the complex comprises a 36-hole golf course with an 18-hole professional –caliber course and an 18-hole golf-course for general golfers and 200 luxury villas.

A 10,000sqm Club House inside CT Sphinx Golf Club and Residences will provide restaurants along the river; a business centre for large meetings; luxury boutiques, golf shops, a coffee-bar-wine lounge, gym and entertainment areas for children.

With much of the infrastructure already completed, the project’s first 18 holes in the golf course is expected to be gone into operation by the end of next year and the full project finished in 2014.

CT Group is offering three types of villas for sale, measuring 360sqm, 480sqm and 840sqm. Prices have not been set, but a representative from CT Group suggested that that 360sqm villas would be offer at around $388,000- $390,000 per unit.

Tran Kim Chung, chairman of CT Group said: “I believe that our business at CT Sphinx Golf Course and Residences will be very successful. Ho Chi Minh City currently is facing up with the lack of a 36-hole golf course for professional golfers and the project has its own prime location.”

Chung said that the city is now mainly served by the 36-hole Thu Duc golf complex in district 9, which has 2,000 members who face difficulties booking tee times. “Our golf-course is only 35 minutes driving from the city’s centre and around 40 minutes going by canoes from Thao Dien in District 2 will solve the problem,” said Chung.

The firm is offering many promotions for people who would like to purchase a villa in the project or a membership card for the golf course.

The CT Sphinx Golf Course & Residences was acquired from Korea-backed GS Engineering & Construction Corp last year by CT Group for $24 million. After the acquisition, CT Group has been in involved in other M&A activities, including the acquisition of the 18-story Thien Loc Tower in Ho Chi Minh City’s Go Vap district.

Established in 1992, CT Group currently has 36 member companies and is developer of a number of property projects in the southern hub such the CT Plaza, CT Léman and Beehome.

Amway Vietnam receives BSI certificates

Amway Vietnam has received ISO 14001:2004 and OHSAS 18001:2007 certificates from British Standards Institution (BSI) for its manufacturing plant located in Amata Industrial Park in Dong Nai on October 24th 2012.

These certificates, focusing on environment management, occupational health and safety, make Amway Vietnam the first direct selling, or multi-level marketing, company in Vietnam certified for international standards.

Amway Vietnam was appreciated by BSI for manufacturing, marketing and distributing consumer products such as cosmetics, home care, personal care and nutrition supplements in tablet form.

ISO 14001:2004 certification proves Amway Vietnam is a responsible corporate citizen, caring for environment protection, while OHSAS 18001:2007 certification recognises the company’s efforts to create a safe, healthy and pleasant workplace.

“We are very honoured to receive these famous certificates. They are evidence that Amway Vietnam is a responsible corporate citizen, caring for environment protection, as well as staff’s occupational health and safety,” said How Kam Chiong, general director of Amway Vietnam.

“This marks another major milestone in our sustainable development and a remarkable affirmation for our long-term commitment in this potential market. This also expresses our ambition to become the most reputable and favourable brand for Vietnamese consumers,” he said.

Amway Vietnam’s plant in Dong Nai, one of two Amway’s factories in Asia, was officially commissioned in 2007. In the last five years, the manufacturing plant has produced over 20 million units of high-quality products in the nutrition, skin care, personal care and home care categories.

Modern technology key to enhanced agriculture

Hi-tech agriculture is the most effective way to make Vietnamese farm produce more competitive, improve farmers’ incomes and develop the sector in a sustainable manner, experts said at a conference in HCM City yesterday.

Tu Minh Thien, deputy director of the Management Board of Agricultural Hi-Tech Park, said agriculture was key to helping Viet Nam overcome the ongoing economic crisis.

While there have been some achievements in applying advanced technology in agriculture production, these have fallen short of expectations, he said.

He attributed this to the lack of well-trained human resources that made it difficult for hi-tech parks and enterprises to apply advanced technologies.

Enterprises were reluctant to invest in hi-tech agriculture because of the high risks and large investments involved, said Nguyen Hai An, director of the Hi-Tech Agriculture Business Incubation Centre.

The Government’s policies were not attractive enough to encourage investors to invest in the sector, An said.

Thien said application of advanced technology in processing and storing had been limited, so Viet Nam was confined, for the most part, to exporting raw products.

Ngo Quang Vinh, deputy director of the Southern Institute for Agricultural Science and Technology, said hi-tech agriculture needed the application of scientific research in cultivation and breeding to ensure high productivity and quality.

This, in turn, would enable the production of value-added and environmentally–friendly products, he said.

Thien said that: “In the wake of shrinking agricultural land due to rapid urbanisation, farmers and agricultural enterprises should shift from normal agricultural production methods to using machinery and applying other technologies to enhance productivity and quality of produce.”

By applying advanced technology in agricultural production, Vietnamese products would find it easier to access the world’s markets, Thien said, adding that this would be a key factor in raising the competitiveness of Vietnamese farm produce.

It has been a major policy of HCM City for more than a decade to promote hi-tech agricultural development, according to Thien.

After initial achievements of the Agricultural Hi-Tech Park in HCM City’s Cu Chi District, the HCM City People’s Committee approved the expansion of specialised hi-tech agricultural parks by over 397 hectares by 2015.

Specifically, the hi-tech agricultural park in Cu Chi District will be enlarged by 200ha to 290 ha, and a 100ha hi-tech livestock farm park will be established in Binh Chanh District.

A new 97ha fisheries park will be set up in the coastal district of Can Gio.

At present, 14 domestic businesses have registered for operations in the hi-tech park in Cu Chi District with a total investment capital of VND460 billion.

“Human resource training is an important factor in developing hi-tech agriculture in a sustainable manner,” Thien said.

“In the near future, the park will enhance international co-operation in research, human resources development, as well as trade and investment promotion to raise the efficiency of the sector,” he added.

RoK investors keen on Van Don Airport project

Investors from the Republic of Korea (RoK) have told leaders of the northern province of Quang Ninh of their interest in the Van Don International Airport project.

During a meeting on October 24, Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Nguyen Van Doc noted that the Van Don Economic Zone, including the Van Don International Airport , is a priority in Vietnam ’s development plan.

He said this is a key project of the country, which will spur socio-economic development in the entire Northern region. He also promised that the province will create favourable conditions for investors to implement the project on schedule.

Dolien Han, President of Jionus Company affirmed the commitment implement the project in the most effective way, making Van Don Airport one of the best airports in Vietnam .

Representatives of Jionus Company also presented the investors’ plan to carry out the projects.

In October, Jionus, RoK Airports Corporation and Posco E&C have signed a contract to establish a joint-venture in Vietnam for the project, with each side’s minimum capital contribution of 80 million USD.

The investors are expected to complete all project documents to submit to relevant provincial and central agencies in November.-

French businesses encouraged to invest in Vietnam

France is encouraging its small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to invest in Vietnam and other countries in Southeast Asia (SEA).

This was confirmed by the French Minister of Foreign Trade, Mrs Nicole Bricq, at a seminar held in Paris on October 25.

She said a French delegation will visit Vietnam and some other nations in April 2013 to explore the potential of the Southeast Asian market.

Participants in the seminar agreed that SEA is a favourable destination for business investment as it is abundant in high quality but cheap human resources.

Some considered Vietnam to be economically dynamic as a future dragon of ASEAN.

Marc Cagnard, Director of France’s trade promotion agency in Vietnam (Ubifrance Vietnam) said Vietnam is a great potential market for trade exchange based on its fast industrialization and strong consumer power.

He said some 300 French businesses are cooperating with 400 Vietnamese partners in the fields of industry, trade, science and technology farm production and food processing.

Nguyen Canh Cuong, a Commercial Counsellor at the Vietnamese Embassy in France said Ubifrance is helping Vietnam improve its investment environment so that it will soon become an attractive and reliable destination for foreign investors.

However, he said Vietnam is not yet placed at the top of the French listed of priorities in SEA.


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