Home » Business » BUSINESS IN BRIEF 29/11

Toyota VN expands its operation

Toyota Motor Viet Nam Company launched its new authorised service centre, the Toyota Hiroshima Vinh Phuc Ltd Company (Toyota Hiroshima Vinh Phuc) on Saturday in Vinh Phuc Province to provide services of maintenance, body repair and painting.

The Toyota Hiroshima Vinh Phuc had $10 million and was built on a total area of 9.000 sq.m, including a 2,100-sq.m area service which would serve 39,000 units of auto per year.

So far, the Toyota Viet Nam has a head office in Vinh Phuc, two branches in Ha Noi and HCM City, 24 official sale agencies, seven branches of sale agency and three authorised service centres.

Foreign investment sees November surge

Newly-registered foreign investment totalled US$1.7 billion nationwide in November, an increase of 8 per cent over the same period last year, according to figures released by the Ministry of Planning and Investment’s Foreign Investment Agency.

Disbursements of foreign direct investment (FDI) reached only $900 million during the month, however, representing a slump of 5 per cent from the same month last year.

In the period between January and November, the country attracted nearly $12.2 billion in newly-registered FDI, and disbursements sank by 2 per cent to a total of $9.9 billion.

Over half of new FDI during the period went to 980 newly-licensed projects, worth a combined total of $7.25 billion – a figure equivalent to only 61 per cent of that in the same period last year. However, capital added to existing projects surged by 42 per cent over last year to $4.9 billion.

Major new foreign-invested projects include the Japan-invested Tokyu Binh Duong urban area, worth $1.2 billion; an expansion of Wintex Viet Nam’s touchscreen production facility, worth $870 million; and Samsung Viet Nam’s new factory in Bac Ninh Province, capitalised at $830 million.

Japan remained leading source of foreign investment, accounting for over $5 billion or 42 per cent of total registered FDI. It was followed by Singapore, South Korea, Samoa and the British Virgin Islands.

The southern province of Binh Duong was the top FDI destination ($2.3 billion), following by HCM City ($1.14 billion), the southern province of Dong Nai ($1.12 billion) and the northern port city of Hai Phong ($1.1 billion).

Processing and manufacturing industries attracted $8.5 billion in capital, accounting for over 70 per cent of total FDI. Real estate ranked second, attracting $1.8 billion or 15 per cent of the total. Other sectors attracting significant amounts of FDI included telecommunications, retail, wholesale distribution, logistics, hospitality and healthcare.

FPT has profit of VND1.9 trillion in the first 10 months

The Corporation for Financing and Promoting Technology (FPT) gained a total revenue of VND19.7 trillion (US$93 million) in the first 10 months of this year, reaching 75.6 per cent of its yearly plan. Despite the progress, represents a 2.4 per cent drop on the total of the same period last year.

It earned a pre-tax profit of VND1.9 trillion (US$90 million) and an after-tax profit of VND1.2 trillion ($57 million).

During the 10 months, FPT experienced growth in trading services and exporting software.

The growth rate reached 30 per cent in revenue from telecoms, online and information technology services, and 35 per cent in software export value against the same period last year.

Hong Kong firms eye Can Tho

A seminar was opened yesterday in Can Tho City by the Can Tho People’s Committee and the Chinese Manufacturers Association in Hong Kong (CMA) to increase investment and trade promotion between local enterprises and Hong Kong partners.

The CMA representative said the association was ready to have exchanges of market information and international trading co-operation with enterprises in Viet Nam as well as in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta region to develop new markets.

According to the Viet Nam Trade Promotion Agency, Hong Kong had 692 projects with a total investment of $11.96 billion in Viet Nam, including 33 projects in the Cuu Long Delta region with a total registered capital of $569.9 million.

Energy giants fuel oil discussions

Vietnamese companies are taking part in the OSEA 2012 exhibition and conference, the largest oil&gas event in the Asia-Pacific region, being held this year in Singapore.

Company representatives will seek partners and update the latest technology and business trends during the conference, which opened today.

Petro Viet Nam Marine Shipyard, Viet Nam Oil&Gas Group, Vung Tau Oil&Gas Joint Stock Co., PetroVietnam Drilling, Well Services Corporation, PetroVietnam Technical Services Corporation and Romona work with more than 1,400 exhibitors from 45 countries and territories.

The exhibition organised by Singapore Exhibition Services will end on Friday . The previous exhibition attracted more than 25,000 visitors.

Viet Nam is the third largest country that produces oil and gas in Southeast Asia.

However, oil production has fallen from 400,000 barrels per day in 2004 and 326,000 barrels per day in 2011.

John Westwood, a globally renowned commentator on the energy industries and group chairman of energy business advisory firm Douglas-Westwood Ltd., said the large demands on oil and gas in the country would make Viet Nam turn from an oil exporter into an importer by 2014, even though the country had expanded oil and gas production activities.

Economy expected to prosper in 2013

The country’s economy would be better next year thanks to continuous export growth and the Government’s financial measures to raise demand, economists predicted.

Director of the Banking Development Institute Nguyen Thi Kim Thanh said that the country’s impressive export growth this year would help its economy get back on the right track.

The country could capitalise on the export growth to increase total demand, which would lead to an inventory reduction and a rise in money circulation, Thanh said.

Despite the global economic crisis that continues to suppress demand in most large export markets, Viet Nam still earned an export turnover of US$104.2 billion in the first 11 months of 2012, up 18.4 per cent over the same period last year.

Together with this growth, a predicted increase in investment could also contribute to raising the country’s total demand, Thanh said.

Vice chairman of the National Committee on Financial Supervision Ha Huy Tuan said that the Government must speed up the construction of infrastructure to reduce inventory in the construction industry. It was estimated that roughly VND60-80 trillion ($2.8-3.8 billion) worth of bonds could be issued to build infrastructure projects.

A rise in investment demand would quicken the rebound of the economy, Tuan said.

Banking expert Nguyen Tri Hieu also anticipated that the domestic economy would see improvements next year when the Government’s efforts to restructure the banking industry and supervise securities and gold markets, as well as rising public investment, would see effects.

As the Government aimed for GDP growth of between 5-8 per cent next year, inflation would be roughly 8-10 per cent so that the interest rate would not be cut further and might even inch up, Hieu said.

Mini-apartment sector at risk

After warming up the real estate market, the ‘mini-apartment’ sector is currently facing a slump as housing prices in other sectors go down.

The price of a mini apartment averages around VND20 million (USD960) per square metre, topping off at VND30-35 million per square metre. In comparison with other sectors of the real estate market, these prices are not extraordinarily low. This has led to buyers choosing to purchase larger homes.

To cope with the slump, many investors have rented out their apartments, posted advertisements or sold off. Vicland Real Estate Trading Floor offers an apartment in Me Tri Thuong urban area at VND950 million for a 45.5 square metre apartment, fully furnished. They reduced the price to VND20 million on November 20. The price for such apartments in Bui Xuong Trach were reduced to VND780-930 million.

Compounding the problem is the number of current residents trying to sell their homes. A resident in My Dinh urban area offered their apartment for VND700 million, including the furniture. A mini apartment in Dong Ngac was also offered for just VND600 million.

The average price have been slashed in half compared to last year.

Hai, an investor said he contributed capital to build mini apartment block but the sector is now in difficulty. He is trying to recover capital by sitting on empty apartments, valued at VND300 million each, but customers are dwindling.

According to Decree 71, households and individuals will be permitted to build mini apartment buildings meeting a minimum required floor space of just 30 square metre. However, enterprises will be restricted to constructing apartments with a minimum floor area of 45 square metre.

Mini-apartments built by individuals often not up to codes, such as fire safety, public services and construction standards. Meanwhile the enterprises who could afford to build such housing often do not offer small apartments.

Nguyen Van Duc, representative of Dat Lanh Real Estate Company said the decree is not fair and the people can benefit more if enterprises were allowed to build 30 square metre apartments.

The Ho Chi Minh City Real Estate Association agreed that the Government should allow enterprises to build 25-70 square metre apartments for bachelors and small families.

Contractors rapped on slow motorway construction progress

Minister of Transport Dinh La Thang has urged a faster pace on construction of the Noi Bai – Lao Cai motorway and wants to sack incompetent contractors.

After inspecting the construction process on November 24, the minister demanded the firms responsible for the sluggish pace of construction be dispensed with.

Contractors started to work on Noi Bai – Lao Cai motorway in 2009 and are expected to finish the job in 2013. However, the project met many difficulties in dealing with site clearance.

The minister gave his opinions on the major contractors’ efforts to overcome obstacles and their proposals of the project.

However, he pointed out that the construction progress of some contractors was still behind schedule, especially in Yen Bai Province. For example, Keangnam Construction Company had only completed 10% of their scheduled work. The minister had to transfer some of the work to other contractors because of unacceptable progress.

To ensure the construction schedule, the minister ordered the main contractor to fire weak and incompetent sub-contractors and take advantage of the recent good weather to boost progress.

Thang requested that Yen Bai’s provincial authorities quickly granted permission to the companies to exploit local quarries, deal with ground clearance issues and provide resettlement areas for locals.

50,000-DWT ships to reach Hiep Phuoc port

Cargo ships of 50,000-70,000 DWT will be able to visit Hiep Phuoc port complex in HCMC’s outlying district of Nha Be in 2014, instead of anchoring off Vung Tau’s coast like now.

Work started on the Soai Rap River dredging project’s second phase last Saturday, which is aimed at allowing bigger ships to call at Hiep Phuoc port and creating a waterway in the Soai Rap River which is shorter and easier to navigate than in the Long Tau River.

Speaking to the Daily, Le Hoang Minh, head of the dredging project of the Soai Rap River, said the project would cover a stretch of 54 kilometers of the river, running from Can Gio estuary to Saigon Premier Container Terminal (SPCT) in Hiep Phuoc Industrial Park, Nha Be District.

“As some parts of the Long Tau River are shallow and the river meanders, the city’s seaport system can handle ships of below 30,000 DWT. After the dredging project is complete, the Soai Rap River will have a depth of 9.5 meters and a width of 120-160 meters. Then ships of 70,000 DWT can easily access Hiep Phuoc port, and the route will be 31 kilometers shorter,” Minh said.

The VND2.8 trillion project is also financed by Belgium’s official development assistance amounting to 76 million euros.

The project’s second phase is being executed by a consortium consisting of Belgium-based Dredging International NV and Maritime Building Construction Consultation Joint Stock Company (CMB).

Within 14 months, the consortium will dredge over 11.5 million cubic meters of sludge, and install and replace maritime signaling devices along the river.

VND2 trillion for SMEs

The Agency for Enterprise Development has presented to the Government a scheme of establishing a development fund for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with chartered capital of VND2 trillion to offer practical support to SMEs.

Speaking at a seminar on support for SMEs held last week in HCMC, Bui Thi Thu Thuy from the agency said that it was analyzing some issues required by the Government so that the scheme could be completed and approved soon.

The chartered capital will be provided by the central bank over three years, with the first two years supplied with VND500 billion each. In addition to the budget, trust funds from local and foreign organizations such as the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank as well as individuals will go to SMEs via the fund, according to the Ministry of Planning and Investment.

The fund will not offer loans directly but authorize Vietnam Development Bank (VDB) and capable commercial banks to loan money to SMEs.

To apply for the loans, enterprises have to have equity in projects and production plans which account for at least 20% of total capital needed and be able to pay back loans in the required term. Besides, the loan cannot exceed VND30 billion and has a maximum term of seven years, and the interest rate will not be more than 90% of the commercial rate at a certain point of time.

Thuy said that support policies for SMEs had many limitations which prevented them from access to loans. Specifically, there have been 437 projects of 300 SMEs provided with loans from the credit guarantee fund via VDB in the 2006-2012 period with a total amount of VND19 trillion due to stringent requirements.

Lan Do field’s first gas extracted

Three investors in the offshore Block 06.1 gas project have celebrated the extraction of the first gas from the Lan Do field in the block.

Block 06.1, which consists of Lan Tay and Lan Do natural gas fields, is located off the coast of Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province. Lan Do came on stream in October 2012 after two years of execution.

Lan Do development, the last phase of the Nam Con Son Project, is aimed at extending the block’s production plateau and remain the largest gas producer in the country.

Lan Do has two vertical sub-sea wells in a water depth of 185 meters and tied back to Lan Tay Platform via 28 kilometers of 12-inch flow line and umbilical, enabling gas treatment and transportation from the existing Lan Tay infrastructure. The project was delivered without any lost time incidents, on time, and within budget.

“Lan Do is the first offshore field development project in the past 10 years for the team in Vietnam, and the first ever for TNK-BP Group. We are honored to mark this significant milestone for our operations in Vietnam, and to remain a substantial gas producer in the country,” Hugh McIntosh, general director of TNK Vietnam, said in a statement.

The three investors – Indian National Oil Company ONGC, PetroVietnam Exploration and Production Corporation, and TNK Vietnam – also marked 10 years of safe operations with more than 27 million safe man-hours recorded.

Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh, speaking in a statement, highly valued the contributions to the gas industry of Vietnam by the Block 06.1 investors.

“Block 06.1 is a key project in the energy sector and it is your pride to have achieved 10 years of safe operations in this major offshore project, reflecting the professionalism and safety compliance by the Operator team,” Anh said.

Discoveries of the two gas fields in 1992 and 1993 were the foundation to this first foreign invested gas project, which is jointly owned by TNK Vietnam with 35%, ONGC 45%, and PVEP 20%.

Since production started in Lan Tay Platform in November 2002, Block 06.1 has produced 37 billion cubic meters of gas and 13 million barrels of condensate to meet around 22% of Vietnam’s electricity generation needs.

The project has successfully gone through three phases of Lan Tay development, capacity increase to 16 million cubic meters per day, and Lan Do development.

Da Nang debuts FDI club to engage business leaders

The central city has opened a foreign direct investment club in a bid to connect investors. The club has attracted 80 members from foreign-invested projects operating in Da Nang.

Chairman of the club Lam Quang Minh said the club would create chances for investors to share experiences about conducting business in the city.

The club will hold talks with the city’s administration on environmental investment and priority policies.

The city has attracted 236 foreign-invested projects with US$3.45 billion so far. Since early this year, 165 of Da Nang’s foreign-invested enterprises have created over 38,000 jobs with an average monthly income of VND2.8 million ($133).

HCM City nears double-digit growth

HCM City’s economic output is expected to rise by 9.2 per cent this year to VND595.37 trillion (US$28.3 billion), according to the municipal People’s Committee.

In a report tabled at the opening session of the city Party Committee yesterday, Chairman Le Hoang Quan said the services sector would expand by 10.2 per cent; industrial and construction sector by 8 per cent; and agriculture, forestry and fisheries by 5.1 per cent.

Retail growth will be 17.3 per cent, and exports, $30.2 billion, a year-on-year increase of 7.4 per cent.

After the city authorities improved the market and price management, prices rose by less than 5.5 per cent this year, well below the targeted 7 per cent.

The city’s tourism sector saw solid growth, contributing significantly to the restructuring of the economy and maintaining its top position in the country.

The city welcomed some 3.8 million foreign visitors, a year-on-year increase of 8 per cent, and reported total revenues of VND74.8 trillion for the city’s tourism sector, a 21 per cent increase.

It took measures to combat difficulties and attain stable growth, thus abetting the nation’s efforts to bring inflation under control, Quan said.

Though economic growth this year GDP has fallen from last year’s 10.3 per cent, the 9.2 per cent growth rate reflects the great efforts by the city.

The rate is 1.77 times that of the nation’s, and has come at a time of global turmoil, the report said.

In 2013 the city aims to improve the quality of growth, restructure and stabilise the economy, reduce inflation further, and boost GDP growth, Quan said.

The city will focus on six breakthrough programmes to ensure sustainable development of its economy and create the impetus for successful implementation of its 2011 – 15 socio-economic plans.

It targets GDP growth of 9.5-10 per cent next year, thus achieving per capita income of $4,000.

Moribund markets remain bleak

The market’s downward trend on low volumes showed no sign of abating yesterday as stocks continued to plunge on both exchanges.

The benchmark VN-Index on the HCM City Stock Exchange slid to 377.90 points, off 1 per cent from Friday’s close, with twice as many losers as gainers.

Blue chips led the fall as the top 30 shares on the bourse lost more than 1 per cent to stand at 445.62 points. Among the top 30, only real estate firm Hoang Anh Gia Lai Co (HAG), confectionery company Kinh Do Corp (KDC) and Sacombank (STB) rose slightly from 0.3-1 per cent.

Investment dried up as the trading value dropped 23 per cent from Friday’s value, totalling just VND260.3 billion (US$12.5 million).

Only two codes had trades of more than 1 million shares, including Bac Giang Exploitable and Processing (BGM), with 1.78 million shares traded, and wood processor Duc Long Gia Lai Group (DLG) with 1.26 million shares exchanged. Both shares closed flat at VND4,700 and VND3,500 a share respectively.

According to market insiders, money stays out of the market because investors see no signs of recovery, particularly since the Government asked State-owned corporations to divest capital from non-core businesses.

Late last week, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung approved the scheme to restructure Electricity of Viet Nam (EVN). Following that the corporation will withdraw its investment in companies whose business is not in line with EVN’s.

On the Ha Noi Stock Exchange, the HNX-Index also gave up 0.53 per cent to finish yesterday’s session at 50.96 points on a turnover of just VND112 billion ($5.4 million).

Sai Gon-Ha Noi Bank (SHB) was the most active code on trades totalling 3.27 million shares, closing unchanged at VND4,800 a share.

“Although there is still a possibility of a further retreat, we believe the short term investment opportunities are coming soon,” Bao Viet Securities Co analysts said.

They reported important bottom-forming signals, following a long and deep decline. Thus they advised investors to balance the proportion of stocks that was enough to take advantage of a market rally while still managing risk if the market showed further decline in the current phase.

Agro-forestry and seafood exports keep rising

Viet Nam’s agricultural, forestry and seafood export turnover in November reached US$2.4 billion, bringing the total export turnover in the recent 11 months to US$25 billion, posting a year-on-year increase of 9.9%.

The agricultural export turnover attained US$13.6 billion, seafood US$5.6 billion and forestry US$4.4 billion.

The export of coffee, rubber, cashew and cassava saw sharply increases in terms of volume, standing at 42%, 32%, 26.4% and 56% respectively.

Viet Nam still maintains the position as the largest cashew nuts exporter in the world. In November, the country exported 7,000 tons of cashew, worth US$53 million. The total export volume of this item is expected to achieve 110,000 tons, valuing US$750 million, down 8.9% in volume and up 6.1% in value.

Viet Nam pocketed US$3.4 billion from rice export in the 11 months with the turnover of 7.4 million tons.

The US is the largest importer of Viet Nam’s seafood, accounting for 19.6%, followed Japan 17.6% and the Republic of Korea 8.1%.

In term of timber and wood products, the export turnover in November reached US$430 million, raising the total value in 11 months to nearly US$4.2 billion, up 18.9%.

IIP in Hanoi up 5.1 percent

Hanoi’s Index of Industrial Production (IIP) in November rose by 1.4 percent from the previous month and 3.6 percent from the same month last year. The index for the Jan-Nov period surged 5.1 percent from a year ago.

In this, the mining industry dropped 1.3 percent, processing industry soared 4.7 percent, electricity and fuel production and distribution increased 11.3 percent, water supply, garbage and sewage treatment rose 16 percent.

On the opposite side, a number of sectors had decreasing IIP such as food production and processing (down 2.7 percent), garments (down 17.9 percent) and production of paper and products from paper (down 3.8 percent).

Currently, enterprises are actively intensifying production to prepare commodities to meet increasing demand over festivals at the end of the year and lunar new year.

Vietnam-Laos joint venture wins int’l prize

Star Telecom – Unitel, a joint venture between Lao Asia Telecom and the Vietnam Military Telecommunications Group (Viettel), has won the World Communications Awards 2012 (WCA 2012).

The announcement was made at a press conference in Vientiane, Laos on November 26. The WCA 2012 is one of the most prestigious telecommunications prizes launched by the UK’s Total Telecom magazine since 1999.

Laos’ Vice Minister of Post and Telecommunications Thansamay Kommasit said this is the first time representatives from the Lao telecoms sector has received an international prize.

Unitel has spared no effort to secure its firm position as the largest telecoms network, sharing 44 percent of the mobile market, earning nearly US$160 million in revenue and achieving a growth rate of 40-50 percent.

Vietnam persists in reforming financial system: PM

Despite the instability of the financial market in Vietnam and the world, the Vietnamese Government’s persists in reforming the financial system and maintaining a steady growth rate fuelled by sustainable development.

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung made the statement at the East Asian Financial Stability Conference in Hanoi on November 27.

It is the first international conference on financial stability and macro-economic supervision hosted by Vietnam.

The event, themed “Financial stability frameworks and supervision in changing environments”, attracted nearly 400 delegates including financial experts, authorities from the world’s leading banks, and international financial representatives from 14 economies in East Asia and around the world.

In his opening speech, PM Dung said the conference serves as a forum for managers and policymakers to share experiences, exchange research results, and propose initiatives and recommendations to promote stability and sustainable development in Vietnam in particular and the world in general.

The event will also contribute to strengthening cooperative relations between supervisory agencies within East Asia and other regions around the globe, he said.

PM Dung affirmed East Asia’s key role as a driving force behind the global process of economic development.

He emphasised the inevitability of the trend requiring leaders, financial policymakers, and supervisory agencies to continue along their reform roadmaps, reinforce policy coordination, and monitor the financial market effectively to build safer and more sustainable financial systems in the East Asian region.

Dung highlighted Vietnam’s achievements recorded during its Doi Moi (Renewal) process. He outlined the restructuring orientations of Vietnam’s modernisation and industrialisation process in the interests of rapid and sustainable development.

The Government leader reiterated the focus of the financial market restructuring program comprises reforming the banking system, upgrading financial infrastructure, and renovating the mechanisms of financial stability and supervision in accordance with international standards.

He stressed the need to strengthen coordination in the region and the world, especially in relation to financial supervision. He also highlighted the role of international financial organisations in effectively coping with the challenges arising from international economic integration and globalisation.

During the two-day conference, delegates conducted debates with themes relating to maintaining policy caution and improving financial safety norms. They also discussed basic solutions to the problems of protecting market stability in East Asia and the world.

One of the conference’s goals is to establish a regular financial stability forum in East Asia.

The event was co-organised by the National Financial Monitoring Committee, the Office of the Government, the State Bank of Vietnam, and the Ministry of Finance.

Interest rates likely to go down

Leading economists believe lending interest rates should be maintained at 11 percent per year, and preferential loans granted to private businesses.

Dr. Tran Hoang Ngan, a member of the National Financial Supervisory Council, says that the current inflation rate indicates lower interest rates would be suitable.

The November inflation rate was estimated at 0.1-0.2 percent and is likely to remain under control for the rest of the year, he adds.

Other economists argue interest rates should be kept higher than the consumer price index (CPI) to encourage people to deposit funds in banks.

Dr. Ngan explains that positive interest rates aim to address three issues in addition to curbing inflation. These include boosting economic growth, increasing the employment rate, and stabilising the exchange rates.

Given the current situation, it is high time that the Ministry of Finance (MoF) and the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) were responsible for combating inflation, and the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) focused on preventing economic slowdowns and increasing credit growth, says the senior expert.

According to Dr. Ngan, the central bank should offer private businesses incentive loans to alleviate their severe capital shortage.

“If businesses do not take on bank loans, Vietnam will be a dependent economy, and it is a serious problem, he warns.

“We used to adjust the interest and deposit rates at 7-8 percent and the lending rates at 10-11 percent. It will be better if the lending rates are maintained at the same level in 2013,” he suggests.

He posits lower interest rates will stimulate the purchasing power, especially in the real estate sector, and help reduce business inventory levels.

Inflation is likely to rise slightly in 2013 because of upward global trends in oil and food prices, Ngan forecasts, adding that such increases will support the domestic agricultural sector.

He points to the fact that the Government has succeeded in reining in inflation this year, but food prices have fallen considerably, dealing a blow to agricultural production.

On the contrary, former SBV Governor Cao Sy Kiem warns reducing the current interest rates below 8–9 percent is not easy. The interest rates will drop if inflation diminishes in the near future. In this case, it is harder for banks to mobilise additional capital when deposit rates reduce continuously, and this will eventually fuel an interest race among banks.

Kiem is concerned about businesses’ capital shortages, caused by their high inventory levels and rising bad debts.

He stresses the need to harmonise the relationship between businesses and banks if the national economy gets out of the woods. He also suggests banks should restructure their bad debts and offer more loans to facilitate business operations.

Banks often increase deposit rates to lure more capital, but Kiem believes that the current reduction in rates has revealed the real ratio of supply and demand on the capital market.

Exports to Africa increase sharply

Africa is a major export market to Vietnam, making up 68 percent to the country’s total export value, according to the General Department of Vietnam Customs.

Of the African nations, Egypt recorded year-on-year growth of 28 percent to US$261.39 million. Key export items  include seafood (US$69.35 million), pepper (US$34.35 million), textiles (US$30 million), machinery and components (US$19.71 million), transport vehicle and spare parts (US$15.53 million), and coffee (US$13.40 million).

Vietnam’s exports to the Ivory Coast fetched US$210.82 million, a year-on-year increase of 54 percent.

Export revenue from Ghana and Algeria reached US$175.67 million and US$106.80 million, up 59 percent and 34 percent, respectively.

Export earnings from Angola and Nigeria also rose considerably, up 80 percent to US$102.14 million and 99 percent to US$101.43 million, respectively.

Conversely, export turnover to South Africa and Senegal experienced  sharp declines. The former was down 70 percent  to US$533.08 million, while the latter was down 53 percent to US$86.45 million against the same period last year.

Agro-forestry and aquaculture exports earn US$25 billion

The November export turnover of agro-forestry and aquatic products is estimated to hit US$2.4 billion, pushing 2012’s total earnings to US$25 billion or a 10 percent increase against 2011.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, among of farm products, coffee and cassava enjoyed sharp increase in terms of both value and volume.

The exports of cassava and cassava-based products exceeded 3.8 million tonnes during the past eleven months, earning US$1.2 billion.

Rice and rubber were the only key export commodities to see increases in export volume but reductions in value during the past eleven months.

Other products including tea, cashew nuts, and pepper maintained stable growth.

Wood and timber products are expected to reach US$4.2 billion, up nearly 19 percent compared to the same period last year.

Aquatic products rose dramatically with a total value of US$5.6 billion in eleven months.

Tokyo hosts Joint Japan-Vietnam Economic Seminar

Vietnam highly values its long-term friendship and sustainable economic cooperation with Japan.

Minister of Planning and Investment Bui Quang Vinh emphasised this at the sixth Joint Japan-Vietnam Economic Seminar in Tokyo on November 27.

He voiced his faith in the potential for developing support industry and Public Private Partnerships (PPP) through the investment activities of Japanese businesses.

Mitsuru Okada, former General Director of Panasonic Vietnam Co Ltd, described Vietnam as a worthy partner of Japan in politics, economics, and culture.

He stressed the importance of the support industry to Vietnam and the numerous opportunities for attracting Japanese businesses working in the field.

Okada believes the preferential conditions the Vietnamese Government has granted to Japanese investors will contribute to boosting the support industry’s development.

Hanoi hosts int’l conference on dairy products

Vietnamese consumers are still not fully aware of the importance of milk and the techniques for effectively including dairy products as part of a normal diet, says an international conference in Hanoi on November 27.

According to the Vietnam National Nutrition Institute, many Vietnamese consumers cannot identify the differences between the varieties of dairy products on the market.

Domestic and foreign experts related general information about the dairy industry. They also highlighted the rising trend of milk use in both the Vietnamese and overseas markets.

TH Milk Group used the conference to introduce three new fresh milk products that will be launched on the local market for the first time.

Thai Huong, Chairwoman of the TH Milk Group, said the new products include essential supplements such as collagen, phytosterol, and canxium – important for both children and adults.

She revealed her firm is employing advanced cattle breeding and dairy production as it seeks to improve milk quality in the interests of better health for Vietnamese consumers.

RoK firms eye Vietnamese market

Ho Chi Minh City has hosted a seminar themed “Bilateral free trade agreement between Vietnam and the Republic of Korea (RoK)” on November 27.

An official representing the General Consulate of Korea in HCM City told the seminar that Vietnam’s seafood and textile sector will enjoy a reduction in tariffs when the bilateral agreement is finally signed by the two countries.

Vietnam’s seafood and textile export turnover to the RoK reached US$412 million and US$748 million, respectively, over the first ten months of 2012, up 8 percent and 18 percent against 2011.

The RoK is currently the fourth largest investor in Vietnam with 2,823 projects worth US$23 billion. In 2011 alone, the RoK invested more than US$7.9 billion in Vietnam.

Vietnam-Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations were official launched by the Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade and the RoK’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Vietnam Business Forum 2012 introduced

The Vietnam Business Forum (VBF) Consortium on November 26 introduced the VBF 2012 and the new interface of the Forum’s website.

President of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry Vu Tien Loc said VBF provides a platform for policy dialogue between the government and Vietnamese and foreign business communities with the aim of building a favourable business environment to attract more investments and foster the sustainable economic development in Vietnam.

He spoke of the transfer of coordination function of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), an arm of the World Bank, to the VBF Consortium as a move to enable the business sector to play a bigger role for the Forum’s sustainable development.

The VBF Consortium, which currently consists of 15 foreign and local business associations and chambers of commerce, is managed by a board of directors co-led by Loc and the former European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam Alain Cany. The operation mechanism of the forum remains unchanged, Loc said.

On the occasion, Cany briefed on new achievements of VBF since the transfer, citing the newly established working group on automobile industry, the strengthening of current working groups in various fields, and improvements in the quality and quantity of dialogues with representative of state agencies.

The Forum’s official website at www.vbf.org.vn has also been upgraded to give more access to the forum’s information, said Cany.

Trade prospect between Vietnam and Brazil

Brazil has established an Honorary Consulate in Vietnam as part of activities to tighten trade ties with the Southeast Asian nation.

Over the past 20 years, the two-way trade turnover between Vietnam and Brazil has grown considerably. In the first ten months of 2012, it jumped to nearly US$1.5 billion, representing a 121.7 percent increase compared to the same period last year, according to the General Statistics Office.

In October alone, Vietnam exported goods worth US$80.1 million to Brazil, raising its total turnover since early this year to US$587.9 million. Major exports to Brazil included footwear (US$213.2 million), seafood (US$57.6 million), machinery, equipment and components (US$46.2 million), and garments and textiles (US$31.8 million).

Vietnam imported US$97.4 million worth of Brazilian goods in October, raising its ten-month import turnover to US$909.6 million. Key import items included cattle feed and materials (US$142.1 million), cotton (US$116 million), and raw materials for garments, textiles, and footwear production (nearly US$50 million).

Despite the impact of the global financial crisis on its economy, Brazil’s trade exchange with Vietnam has remained stable.

In the first nine months of 2012, two-way trade turnover exceeded US$1.3 billion up 24.1 percent against the same period last year. Vietnam’s export turnover reached US$597 million (up 23 percent) while its import turnover totaled US$709 million (up 23.2 percent).

Statistics show two-way trade turnover grow from US$16 million in 1989 to US$42.9 million in 2002, then to over US$1 billion in 2010, and US$1.233 billion in 2011.

Brazil currently ranks 73rd among 92 nations and territories investing in Vietnam with a total investment capital of US$2.6 million (primarily in the field of rubber processing).

Footwear was the largest earner with revenue in the last ten months hitting US$213.2 million, or 36.8 percent of total export earnings from Brazil. Next came seafood products (mostly tra and basa fish) accounting for nearly 10 percent of the total.

Vietnam and Brazil have so far signed a number of agreements, laying a legal foundation for economic, trade, and investment cooperation to grow and flourish in the long run.

According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Vietnam’s exports to Brazil remain modest considering the latter’s middle-income status and population of 192 million. Last year, Vietnam recorded a US$245 million trade surplus with Brazil, US$494 million in export turnover and US$245 million in imports. In the past ten months of 2012, Vietnam achieved US$321.7 million trade surplus.

The Vietnam trade office in Brazil has urged Vietnamese businesses to seek additional partners and claim a larger share of the lucrative market. The newly established Brazilian Honorary Consulate in Vietnam has proposed businesses of both countries regularly exchange information and find potential partners.

Experts are optimistic about the trade prospect between Vietnam and Brazil in the remaining months of the year. Bilateral trade turnover is predicted to reach US$2 billion by 2013.

Nearly 2.4 million visitors to Thua Thien-Hue

The central province of Thua Thien-Hue has hosted almost 2.4 million tourists so far in 2012, up 25 percent against the same period last year.

There have been 803,000 foreign nationals from China, Thailand, Italy, Spain, the UK, the US, Canada and Australia alone, showing a year-on-year increase of 26 percent.

Since the beginning of the year, the province has organised more than 30 major programmes as part of the 2012 National Tourism Year for the North Central region to attract tourists, 11 of which are culture, sports and tourism specific programmes at both national and international levels.

The programmes have focussed on traditional festivals, such as the Hue Festival 2012 and Buddhist Festival, as well as beach tours around Tam Giang lagoon, Thuan An beach and Lang Co bay.

The recent Hue Festival 2012 attracted 180,000 visitors, including 80,000 foreign nationals, about 50 percent more than in 2010.

The number of sea travellers to Hue has also risen sharply. This year, Thua Thien-Hue plans to welcome 25 cruise ships, bringing 40,000 new arrivals, mainly from China, Spain, the UK, the US and Canada.

Tourism Advisory Board makes its debut

The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) organised the inaugural meeting of the Tourism Advisory Board (TAB) in Hanoi on November 27.

The TAB is responsible for enhancing Vietnam’s competitiveness, boosting trade development, and providing a forum for tourism industry leaders to discuss relevant issues of trade, environment, education, and training.

VNAT General Director Nguyen Van Tuan explained the board consists of 20 experts selected for the scope of their influence on the industry.

The board members include directors of hotels, travel agencies, and transportation businesses; presidents of tourism associations; and representatives of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry as well as the European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam.

The next plenary session will be held in early 2013.

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