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Vietnam rated as key market for DHL growth

Leaders of DHL Global Forwarding on Tuesday emphasized that Vietnam was an important market for its business growth, especially in the future and would continue the company’s heavy investment in this market.

Roger Crook, chief executive officer of DHL Global Forwarding, Freight, who just returned to Vietnam for a business trip to review DHL business in Vietnam, recognized the importance of this market for DHL business.

“We see Vietnam having strong growth… our business (here) is very successful. We are growing by a double-digit rate,” Crook told reporters before leaving Vietnam today. “I’m visiting certain markets around the world every year and I chose Vietnam as one of the key markets to visit this year.”

Crook told the Daily that the DHL business in Vietnam had been beefed up by both increasing imports and exports, particularly in the oil and gas, technology, retail and others, offering the company more opportunities to expand operations.

“Obviously, there’s a lot of … multinationals having invested and continuing to invest. We see now even some multinational companies moving their factories from China to Vietnam,” Crook said.

Sam Ang, DHL Global Forwarding CEO for South East Asia, seconded Crook’s point that foreign companies were diversifying their factory locations and moving factories to Vietnam because they did not want to place “all eggs in one basket”, and enjoyed competitive cost advantage and the Free Trade Agreement between China and ASEAN.

“Vietnam still has a very good competitive cost advantage in the region,” Ang said.

According to the Vietnam Customs, the country saw its goods exports in the first 10 months of this year jump by 18.9% year-on-year to US$93.8 billion and imports by 6.7% to nearly US$93.7 billion. The import and export volumes of foreign-invested enterprises in the period exceeded US$101 billion, up 29.9% and accounting for 54% of the country’s total.

Crook said the company would invest more to maintain its leading market position and expand the market share in Vietnam, and the investment would depend on gross domestic growth of the country.

Clement Blanc, acting country manager of DHL Global Forwarding Vietnam, said much investment would also go to improving services and fast-growing sectors.

Blanc noted Vietnam’s exports to Europe were challenging due to a crisis in the euro zone countries but faring well intra-Asia. The Vietnamese market is widening in terms of trade volumes and this supports DHL expansion.

In October last year, DHL Global Forwarding opened a new US$300,000 operation in Hanoi to back its business growth and DHL’s range of overland freight services linking China and Southeast Asia with Vietnam as a vital hub.

IFC urges Vietnam’s listed firms to improve governance

A new report by IFC, a member of the World Bank, called on Vietnamese companies to strengthen corporate governance to enhance competitiveness and attract local and foreign capital.

The Corporate Governance Scorecard for Vietnam 2012 report reviewed the corporate governance practices of the top 100 companies listed on the Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh stock exchanges.

The results showed that the average corporate governance score dropped 2.2 percentage points to 42.5 per cent from last year.

“That’s why I’m disappointed,” IFC corporate governance consultant Anne Molyneux, said while she launched the report in Ho Chi Minh City November 23.

The results indicated that Vietnamese companies needed to step up their efforts in the push for better governance as they expanded their businesses amid a tough economy, she added.

The report found that existing corporate governance rules and regulations in Vietnam are often insufficiently implemented.

IFC urged companies to further raise their awareness of the importance of good governance practices, such as paying more attention to protecting the rights of shareholders and stakeholders, improving the company’s disclosure and transparency, and making the board accountable for risk oversight.

Molyneux also pointed out some corporate governance issues in Vietnam, such as poor or inaccurate financial reporting, weak financial oversight, non-compliance with laws and regulations, inadequate companies policies, poor shareholder treatment, cross shareholdings and concentration of shareholdings.

This is the third IFC corporate governance scorecard produced in partnership with the State Securities Commission of Vietnam (SSC) and the governments of Canada, Finland, Ireland, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Switzerland.

The SSC acknowledged the scorecard results and warned that next year’s results were likely to be lower than this year because 2012 saw more scandals than 2011, said Bui Hoang Hai, from SSC’s Department of Issue Management.

Vietnam’s scorecard results over the three years are 43.9 per cent (2009), 44,7 per cent (2010) and 42.5 per cent (2011). To compare, Malaysia’s results during the past three years were 52, 55.6 and 57.2 per cent, respectively; Thailand 78, 80 and 77 per cent and the Philippines 72, 73 and 77 per cent.

Vietnam, Holland enhance energy cooperation

Holland wants to increase cooperation with Vietnam in five prioritized sectors, especially energy, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Lilianne Ploumen said on November 28.

At her meeting with visiting Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai in Holland on November 28, the Dutch minister said Vietnam, from an assistance recipient, has become Holland’s development partner with potentials, creating sustainable benefits for both sides.

Deputy PM Hai said he hopes Minister Ploumen will continue to promote cooperation projects in climate change, water resource management, agriculture, energy, oil and gas, seaport and logistics, while creating favorable conditions for Dutch businesses to expand their operation and investment in Vietnam.

Later on, the Deputy PM attended the Vietnam-Holland CEO conference on energy cooperation.

Addressing a large audience, which included representatives from the world’s leading groups such as Shell, Global Energy and Winel Industry Group, Deputy PM Hai said while Vietnam has diverse sources of energy, it considers oil and gas, coal and power industries the main pillars of the nation’s energy security.

Vietnam welcomes outside partners to participate in the sustainable development of the energy sector, on the basis of long-term, effective and mutually- beneficial cooperation, he said.

Participants from both countries presented their plans and needs in energy cooperation. The National Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam) called for investors in oil and gas exploration and exploitation, oil processing, renewable energy development and energy saving.

Holland, in recent years, has emerged to become one of the EU leading investors in Vietnam .

By the end of October, the country had 172 projects worth $5.88 billion, ranking 11th out of 96 countries and territories investing in Vietnam.

Prominent among Holland’s projects in Vietnam are the $2.1 billion Mong Duong thermal power plant and the $410 million Phu My 3 power plant.

Vietnam aims for regional top five in tax facilitation

Vietnam will strive to be named in the top five countries in Southeast Asia in terms of tax facilitation by 2015 and the top four by 2020.

The information was released by Bui Van Nam, General Director of the General Department of Taxation at a press conference to launch the Declaration of the Taxation Sector in Hanoi on November 29.

The country is currently ranked 138th in the world and 9th in Southeast Asia in terms of tax facilitation by the 2013 Doing Business Report jointly issued by the World Bank and the International Financial Corporation (IFC).

The jump in the rankings will be one of the important assessments in successfully implementing the Declaration, Nam said.

To reach this goal, the taxation sector has made great efforts in reforming administrative procedures to facilitate taxpayers, Nam said, adding that it has simplified more than 350 tax administative procedures at all levels.

The sector is renovating its management method to gradually access to international practice on tax policies as well as speeding up the tax declaration via the Internet.

First direct air route to Indonesia launched

Vietnam Airlines’ first flight carrying 143 passengers landed at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta, Indonesia, on December 2.

This is the first direct air route between Vietnam and Indonesia and the second new international route Vietnam Airlines has introduced this year.

Airbus A31 planes will service the route on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. Flights depart from HCM City at 10am, arriving in Jakarta at 13pm, and leave Jakarta for HCM City at 13:45pm.

A ceremony welcoming the airline’s first flight to Jakarta was held at the Soekarno-Hatta airport. Its attendees included Vietnamese Ambassador to Indonesia Nguyen Xuan Thuy, representatives from Indonesia’s Aviation and Customs Departments, the State Company Pusa Angkara, and other partners of the airline.

Ambassador Thuy stressed the significance of opening the direct air route between HCM City and Jakarta in particular and between Vietnam and Indonesia in general.  The route not only meets  passengers’ increasing demands for travel between the two attractive tourism destinations, but also contributes to strengthening bilateral relations, promoting the ASEAN integration process, and working towards an ASEAN Community by 2015.

Vietnam Airlines Chief Indonesian Representative Nghiem Van Khanh said the new HCM City–Jakarta route means Vietnam’s international air network now includes 28 destinations. The national flag carrier acknowledged the occasion with a promotion offering return tickets for VND2.905.000, a 22 percent saving compared to standard prices on the HCM City–Jakarta route. Vietnam Airlines is also selling tickets on the HCM City–Jakarta–Bali route for VND7.085.000. The specials exclude taxation and other fees and apply to passengers who purchase tickets from October 22 to December 31 for departures between December 2 2012 and March 30 2013.

Vietnam Airlines capitalises on new Phu Quoc airport

The national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines will begin patroning Duong To commune’s new Phu Quoc Island airport from December 2, ending its use of Duong Dong town’s older facility.

The airline now operates 76 ATR72 flights to the island, including 56 on the Ho Chi Minh City-Phu Quoc route, four on the Ho Chi Minh City-Rach Gia-Phu Quoc route, and the remaining seven on the Phu Quoc-Can Tho route.

Vietnam Airlines will soon launch the new air route linking Hanoi and Phu Quoc, flying five times per week using Airbus A321s. The Airbuses will also service some additional flights from Ho Chi Minh City.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has approved beginning Phu Quoc International Airport‘s operations in the southern province of Kien Giang.

The PM authorised the Ministry of Transport to decide when to close the former Phu Quoc Airport and inaugurate the newly-built Phu Quoc International Airport, honouring aviation safety and security regulations.

He asked Kien Giang province to cooperate with the Transport Ministry on completing infrastructure projects linked with the international airport to ensure its effective operation.

The Phu Quoc International Airport was built on 900 ha of land in Duong To Commune on the island district of Phu Quoc and with a total investment of VND16.2 trillion (US$771million).

It will serve domestic flights between Phu Quoc and Hanoi, HCM City, and other destinations, as well as connect the island district internationally in the interests of boosting investment and tourism.

Deputy PM attends Vietnam Business Forum 2012

It is necessary to take synchronized measures to curb inflation, stabilize macro economy and mobilize all sources to attract both domestic and foreign investors to develop socio-economic infrastructure.

Deputy Prime Minister Vu Van Ninh made the statement at the Vietnam Business Forum 2012 held in Hanoi on December 3.

Addressing the forum themed “Strengthening the dynamism of Vietnamese economy”, Deputy Prime Minister Vu Van Ninh said thanks to the Government’s drastic measures, Vietnam has maintained its economic growth at around 5.2 percent with inflation rate dropping to a single digit. A decrease in budget spending coupled with lowering interest rates helps promote the liquidation of the banking system. However, there remain challenges for the national economy’s sustainable development. The Vietnamese Government has directed relevant ministries to press ahead with the restructuring of commercial banks, especially weak banks as well as economic groups, state corporations, Minister Ninh said.

He said they should consider businesses’ reasonable and correct recommendations to perfect the investment environment.

At the forum, representatives from both local and foreign business associations said that business confidence has dropped remarkably in recent times. According to a survey from the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), nearly 8,200 private businesses and more than 15,000 foreign businesses decline to expand their operations in the near future.

VCCI President Vu Tien Loc said that apart from stabilizing the macro economy and creating a favourable investment environment for businesses to access credit sources, the government will help small and medium-sized enterprises improve their management skills and exploit human resources.

The forum was co-organised by the Ministry of Planning and Investment, the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation.

Viettel to expand its market in Cameroon

Vietnam ‘s military-run telecommunications group Viettel will expand its operations in Cameroon, its seventh foreign market for its mobile and telecommunications businesses.

Nguyen Manh Hung, Viettel’s deputy director, announced a business agreement signing ceremony will be held in the Central African nation on December 3.

Viettel is also currently operating in Laos, Cambodia, Mozambique, Haiti, Peru, and East Timor.

Viettel is aiming for 15–20 percent revenue and profit growth in 2012, or an total of around VND140,000 billion.

Last year, the group brought in US$40 million profit from foreign markets.In 2012 the figure will be doubled to US$80 million.

Shrimp exports to hit US$2.2 billion this year

Shrimp exports are expected to reach US$2.2 billion this year, down 8.3 percent against the same period in 2011.

As of September 2012, shrimp exports had earned US$1.62 billion, 2.9 percent less than last year’s figure.

China and Australia increased their Vietnamese shrimp import volumes in the third quarter. The shrimp sector continues to grapple with challenges including Japan’s shrimp product ethoxyqin level inspections and underwhelming exports to the three major EU, US, and Japanese markets. Vietnamese shrimp exporters also face increasingly fierce competition from Indian and Indonesian rivals.

Third quarter shrimp exports amounted to more than US$610 million (down 3.9 percent from the second quarter) and exports are expected to jump to US$650 million in the fourth quarter (an increase of 6.5 percent).

The Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) said that the raw shrimp supply will be sufficient this year but prices will still be higher because of processor demand.

VASEP hopes that shrimp exports to the US market will earn US$127 million in 2012.

The socio-economic portrait after 11 months

The socio-economic situation over the past 11 months has included a number of positive indicators but also revealed difficulties that need to be addressed in the near future.

Macroeconomic management has proven effective in stabilising the socio-economic trends, achieving major economic targets and ensuring social welfare and security in a difficult context for budget collection.  This will provide the Vietnamese Government with the momentum to improve the socio-economic situation next year—a pivotal year in the 2011–2015 socio-economic development plan.

Despite both domestic and global economic woes, 2012’s socio-economic situation has made remarkable progress in controlling inflation and the monetary market with stable exchange rates, credit interest rate reductions of 5–7 percent, foreign currency reserve increases, and overseas remittance transfers worth tens of billions of US$. Nearly 1.4 million new jobs were created and industrial production grew by 6.7 percent compared to the same period last year. Traffic accidents, fatalities, and casualties declined.

There is no denying that country’s achievements exceed those of 2011. The consumer price index (CPI) was at 18 percent this time last year but only 6.52 percent at the end of November. The figure defies the predictions of domestic and foreign economic organizations, indicating the Government’s effective economic management.

Last year’s export surplus numbered approximately US$9 billion but export-import ratios were balanced by late November.

The exchange rates between US dollars and Vietnam Dong have been kept within the permissible fluctuation band since the middle of 2011, helping to stabilise the monetary market. Lending interest rates have remained at 15 percent/year over the past few months compared to 20 percent last year.

The disbursement of investment capital resources including ODA funding was accelerated while social welfare policies were properly implemented, allocating thousands of billions of VND to social policy beneficiaries and those living in areas struck by natural disasters.

Despite the initial successes of macroeconomic management in 2012, the new year will also usher in a number of daunting challenges. These potentially include unsteady macroeconomic stability, a high risk of runaway inflation, rising bad debts, delayed restructuring of the banking system, sluggish industrial production recovery, and difficulties in agricultural production caused by epidemics and natural disasters.

Dealing with outstanding debts from capital construction investment is imperative, as is balancing budgetary revenues and outlays to keep overspending under 4.8 percent.

The Government has devised nine solutions to 2013’s emerging issues, focusing on resolving bad debts and large inventories, restoring production, saving the property market, and streamlining the disbursement of ODA funding and FDI capital.

The Government will also prioritise stronger measures for stimulating agricultural production and exports, advancing administrative reform, and combating smuggling and trade fraud (including preventing illegally imported consumer goods of unclear origins and not subject to the usual quarantine inspections for food hygiene and safety).

The Government wants to control price hikes and inflation, guard social welfare by caring for the poor and social beneficiaries, practicing thrift, and eliminating waste.

If the issues related to businesses’ capital access, excess inventories, bad debts, and the banking system restructure are tackled successfully, social confidence will be consolidated and 2013’s socio-economic situation improved.

Vietnam’s socio-economic targets for 2013 include maintaining the economic growth rate at 5.5 percent and the CPI at 8 percent, holding overspending at less than 4.8 percent, and creating 1.6 million new jobs.

HCM City enjoys steady growth

Ho Chi Minh City currently enjoys an export growth rate of 9.7 percent and an industrial value higher than the national average.

The HCM City People’s Committee held a conference on December 1 to discuss socio-economic development over the past 11 months and decide on detailed plans for the remainder of the year.

Delegates reported that 33 out of 57 sectors recorded higher growth than during the same period last year, including 29 sectors whose impressive growth surpassed the national average.

They noted the consumer price index (CPI) had seen a year-on-year increase of only 3.9 percent – almost half the 6.52 percent national average – greatly contributing to successfully containinginflation

They also raised concerns about the rising number of traffic accidents and the increasing incidence of crimes threatening social security, especially considering the nation’s traditional lunar New Year Festival is drawing near.

Property developers still keen on Vietnam

Property developers from Japan, Malaysia and Singapore still eye Vietnam’s real estate market with interest, despite global difficulties and the whirlwind of disinvestment in many FDI projects, as they still believe a recovery is imminent.

With the property market decidedly cold, Becamex Tokyu Co Ltd earlier this month broke ground at the site of the Sora Gardens 1 apartments, the first project of the joint venture’s Tokyu Binh Duong Garden City.

Sora Garden 1 is a 24-storey building, one of three luxury apartment blocks to be built in the development which lies 30km to the north of HCM City. The 1,500 apartments will range in size from 70sq.m to 100sq.m, while the luxury houses and apartments are aimed at middle to high-income customers.

Becamex Tokyu began work on the US$1.2 billion project in March this year, marking the first time a Japanese firm has been involved in a Vietnamese urban development.

According to Toshiyuki Hoshino, general director of Becamex Tokyu, this is his group’s first venture into the local real estate market. Through the project, the group will transfer its technology and experiences of urban development to the local market, he added.

“The domestic property market is currently in strife but remains a young market with high development potential,” Hoshino told Vnexpress online newspaper, adding that his firm was deploying its long-term business strategy in Vietnam.

“Many investors have fled the market but my company is committed to long-term urban development and believes the rapid population and urbanisation growth will lead to a roaring property market recovery,” he said.

By the end of July, Singapore had more than 550 projects with a total accumulated capital of US$6.8 billion invested in HCM City. In real estate development alone, Keppel Land of Singapore boasts 18 licensed projects in Vietnam with a total capital of US$2 billion.

The group has partnered with Tien Phuoc and Phu Hung companies, as well as the HCM City People’s Committee to develop housing projects.

Like their Japanese and Singaporean counterparts, Malaysian investors are still interested in the Vietnamese market. In October, Saigon Thuong Tin Tan Thang Investment Real Estate Joint Stock Company (TTJSC) started marketing its large Celadon City project in HCM City’s Tan Phu district, over a year after the project got off the ground.

Chow Chee Fan, general director of TTJSC, said the local property market is still in difficulty but the company keeps investing to develop the project over the long term.

He said: “We are here for a long term investment, so whether the market is up or down we will continue the project development.”

Sumitomo Osaka Cement powers up battery

Sumitomo Osaka Cement Co Ltd (SOC) cut the ribbon on its first battery material plant in Yen My district, northern Hung Yen province on November 30.

The 5 billion JPY ( US$62.5 million ) plant is specialised in manufacturing cathode materials for lithium ion batteries, an essential material in the energy revolution.

“The new plant in Vietnam will provide a solid foundation to expand our lithium-ion battery cathode material business throughout the region and wider world,” said General Director of SOC Vietnam Yoshihiko Sumitani.

Located in a 56,000 sq.m. plot in the Thang Long Industrial Park II, the plant is designed to produce 2,000 tonnes of product per year. The productivity could be increased to 10,000 tonnes per year, depending on market demands.

Global rubber talks open in HCM City

The Global Rubber Conference 2012 opened in HCM City on December 1 with delegates aiming to get a better handle on current trends and future challenges facing the industry.

Phan Thi Thanh Minh, chief representative of the Ministry of Industry and Trade in the southern region, said the event offered an opportunity for everyone in the rubber industry to discuss commercial prospects and opportunities and have a better idea on the market pricing of rubber.

The two-day conference brings together both regulatory authorities and commercial players looking to exchange ideas and information, as also take advantage of networking opportunities.

It also means to deliver latest applications from global research and development programmes through a well-designed sponsorship programme and an exhibition.

Tran Ngoc Thuan, chairman of the Vietnam Rubber Association, said the conference will support the growth of the rubbery industry by delivering objective and accurate information to delegates.

He noted that Vietnam is the world’s fifth largest producer and fourth largest exporter of natural rubber after Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia .

In 2012, the area of rubber cultivation in Vietnam is expected to reach 850,000ha, accounting for 7 percent of the world’s total.

Vietnam ‘s rubber export is set to cross 1 million tonnes by the end of this year and the country is likely to become the third largest exporter of natural rubber in the world, Thuan noted.

He said the Vietnamese Government has approved and pledged support for a plan to develop the rubber industry sustainably in the coming years.

Under the plan, Vietnam will maintain an area of 800,000ha for rubber cultivation and an output of 1.2 million of tonnes of natural rubber every year. Thirty percent of the output will be used by the local processing industry and the rest will be exported, Thuan said.

More than 300 delegates from 25 countries and territories are attending the annual conference.

P&G expands its Pampers plant in Binh Duong

The US-headquartered Procter&Gamble (P&G) on November 30 broke ground for a project to expand its Pampers manufacturing plant in southern Binh Duong province’s Ben Cat district.

With an additional investment of US$80 million in the next three years, P&G Vietnam aims to boost production of the diapers brand for domestic consumption and for export. In 2009, P&G invested US$ 45 million to develop the first category of Pampers Baby Care plant at the Vietnam – Singapore Industrial Park No 2, using the latest technology for manufacturing diapers.

Emre Olocer, general director and CEO Vietnam, said, “With three consecutive years wiht the highest growth rate of global P&G, Vietnam is one of the priority investment markets of P&G.”

He said P&G’s investment in Vietnam has tripled to more than US$200 million this year and would continue to increase in the coming years.

SADC Group in Vietnam makes debut

The Vietnam-based Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Group launched in Hanoi on November 30.

Speaking at the launch ceremony, Mozambique Ambassador Gamiliel Munuamble said that establishing the SADC Group in foreign countries aims to further understanding about the SADC itself and contribute to building the community through mobilising international resources for the implementation of its projects and plans.

The group will help advance the SADC’s relations with the host country in areas like politics, socio-economics, and science-technology, he added.

Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Phuong Nga congratulated the SADC on the establishment of its group in Vietnam, expressing confidence that the group will make active contributions to encouraging multi-faceted cooperation between SADC members and Vietnam.

The group is one of the most dynamic African organizations, comprising 15 member nations. Its members South Africa, Angola, and Mozambique have already opened embassies in Vietnam.

Rice output estimated at 43.7 mln tones in 2012

Vietnam’s rice output for 2012 is expected to increase by 1.45 million tonnes over the last year’s figure, to reach 43.7 million tonnes, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Of which, the winter-spring harvest will yield an estimated 20.27 million tonnes, up 495,000 tonnes.

Following is the main crop (from late May to mid-November) with a total output estimated at 8.2 million tonnes. The yield of the summer-autumn crop is expected to be 11.7 million tonnes, while the autumn-winter crop will produce about 3.5 million tones.

The higher rice output this year was attributed to the application of supporting policies by local authorities, coupled with developing the so-called Grand Paddy Field model, according to the ministry’s Planning Department.

Northern provinces have basically completed harvesting the main crop, and are currently stepping up sowing and planting winter crops in spite of unfavourable weather conditions. Meanwhile, many localities in the Mekong Delta, the country’s rice granary, are speeding up sowing of the 2012-2013 winter-spring crop.

EuroCham launches Whitebook 2013

The European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (EuroCham) launched its fifth edition of the Whitebook of Trade/Investment Issues and Recommendations (Whitebook 2013) in HCM City on November 30.

The European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (EuroCham) launched its fifth edition of the Whitebook of Trade/Investment Issues and Recommendations (Whitebook 2013) in Ho Chi Minh City on November 30.

As in previous editions, Whitebook 2013 covers industries that the 800 member companies of EuroCham are involved in, including pharmaceuticals, consumption goods, energy, telecommunications, the automotive industry, tourism and banking.

The book reflects the major issues affecting European businesses operating in the country to the Vietnamese Government. It says that over the past year, the Vietnamese Government has been successful in controlling inflation. However, there remain many problems that need to be solved to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) from Europe.

The book reveals practical issues and proposals in areas of personnel training, transport delivery, information technology, pharmaceuticals, food-nutrition, and the tourism, restaurant and hotel sector.

EuroCham Executive Manager Paul Jewell said his chamber has confidence in recent developments, especially the beginning of negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Vietnam and the EU.

If the Vietnamese Government successfully addresses issues raised by the business community and a comprehensive FTA is reached, Vietnam will become a strong nation in the region.

FDI will continue increasing in both quality and quantity as European businesses recognize Vietnam as a gateway to the ASEAN market, he said.

8th Asia-Pacific New Market Forum held in Khanh Hoa

More than 60 representatives from a number of the Asia-Pacific region’s stock exchanges attended the 8th Asia-Pacific New Market Forum in the central Khanh Hoa province on November 30.

In his speech Deputy Finance Minister Tran Xuan Ha spoke highly of the forum’s important role in promoting stock exchange development and inspiring cooperation, and improving the investment environment in the region’s countries.

He said Vietnam is seeking solutions to forming its stock exchanges into effective and secure channels for mobilising business capital while simultaneously protecting investors’ benefits.

Participants agreed that local stock exchanges are facing daunting challenges arising from the global economic recession and other recent changes.

They shared their experiences in improving the quality of the securities market, especially on behalf of newly established exchanges.

They also discussed development policies, liquidity improvement mechanisms, and ways of accelerating applying business management techniques to operating stock exchanges.

Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) Director General Atsushi Saito noted stock exchanges are not only responsible for listing its products but also for ensuring their quality. The interdependence of ASEAN’s stock exchange network demonstrates the regional market’s successful collaboration, particularly when compared to that of other regions.

Ravi Narai—General Director of the National Stock Exchange of India—stressed technology’s crucial role in preventing technical risks and improving liquidity. However, the development of technical applications must coincide with careful scrutiny and continual monitoring to protect the exchanges’ smooth operation.

The Asia-Pacific New Market Forum is an initiative of the Korea Exchange (KRX). It launched in 2001.

Commendable tax payers unveiled

An award ceremony in Hanoi on November 30 has announced the 2012 list of Vietnam’s largest tax contributors.

Ha Huy Tuan, Vice Chairman of the National Financial Supervisory Commission, highlighted the efforts of businesses and the taxation sector in fulfilling their tasks despite the country’s economic difficulties.

The banking, telecommunications, construction – real estate sectors contributed the most tax to the State budget in 2012 with 20.95 percent, 19.93 percent, and 11.56 percent respectively.

The businesses who paid the most tax include Viettel, Vietnamobile, the Vietnam Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Industry and Trade, Vietnam National Coal, Mineral Industries, Holding Corporation Limited (Vinacomin), Vietnam National Oil and Gas Group (PVN), and VinGroup.

The state sector ranked first with tax payments amounting to 58.4 percent of total corporate tax. It was followed by the private sector’s 22 percent and the foreign-invested sector’s 19.6 percent.

This is the third consecutive year the list of the 1000 largest taxpayers has been publicly unveiled.

Seminar discusses promoting investment in Ninh Binh

Ninh Binh has been urged to attract investment for major projects and strive towards transforming the tourism sector into a spearhead industry by 2015.

At a seminar on integration and sustainable development in the northern province of Ninh Binh on November 30, Deputy PM Vu Van Ninh has acknowledged the province’s efforts in maintaining a relatively high economic growth rate of over 10 percent during 2012 and reducing the poverty rate below 9 percent amid the economic difficulties afflicting Vietnam and the world.

Ninh Binh is located on the North-South Railway and Highway 1A, two of Vietnam’s most important transport routes. The province’s ports augment its capacity for trade, culture, and science and technology exchanges. It is also blessed with a diverse range of mineral resources and beautiful natural landscapes.

The province must continue offering policies and mechanisms with the ability to attract both internal and external resources for modern infrastructure development and expanding its rural transport network, Ninh noted.

He added that Vietnam is committed to pursuing modern infrastructure, improving the investment environment, strengthening dialogues, and resolving difficulties for businesses.

Bui Van Thang, Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee, granted investment licenses to seven major projects capitalised at more than VND9,000 billion.  He also witnessed the signing of 5 Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) on investment cooperation and presented certificates of merit to 16 of the region’s successful projects.

Vietnam, Angola boost agricultural cooperation

Vietnam and Angola have agreed to boost bilateral cooperation in the growing of rubber, coffee and wet rice.

During the Vietnamese delegation’s recent working visit to Angola, State Minister of Angola Jode Amaru Tati highly valued Vietnam’s practical experience in developing the agricultural sector and expressed hope that the visit will contribute to further tightening ties of the friendship, solidarity and cooperation between the two countries.

The Vietnamese delegation conducted a survey into wet rice cultivation in Bie and Luanda provinces and exchanged experiences with local officials and people in building transport and irrigation systems as well as models of rice cultivation.

Both sides pledged to complete and submit a feasible study into wet rice cultivation in Luanda to the two governments as soon as possible.

Goods and services in strong show

Total retail sales of goods and services in the first 11 months of the year jumped 16.4 per cent on last year to reach VND2,118 trillion (US$100.8 billion), according to the General Statistics Office (GSO).

However, with price increases excluded, the rise was in fact only 6.4 per cent, representing the lowest gains since May.

The 16.4 per cent rise is also indicative of sluggish growth, as the total retail sales in previous years would routinely see rises of 20-22 per cent.

GSO expert Vu Manh Ha attributed the slowdown to decreasing demand in the wake of the global financial crisis. Many local consumers have tightened their belts to deal with the lower incomes brought about by reductions both in domestic production and exports.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade predicts the market will see complicated developments in the final months, with shrinking consumption a likely symptom. Therefore, the total retail sales growth for 2012 is estimated to close at 18-19 per cent.

In 2011, the total retail sales of goods and services reached VND2,004 trillion ($95.43 billion), up 24.2 per cent against 2010, or 4.7 per cent exclusive of price hikes. Meanwhile, in 2010, the total retail sales rose 24.5 per cent over the previous year, or 14 per cent with price increases excluded.

Industry still leading tax contributor

The industrial sector continued to be the leading tax contributor on the list of the 1,000 leading corporate taxpayers in Viet Nam, accounting for 66 per cent of total tax payments this year and including an additional 88 businesses from last year.

The so-called V1000 profile, released on Friday in Ha Noi by the Viet Nam Report Co in co-operation with the General Department of Taxation and online newspaper Viet Nam-Net, showed that the tax contribution made by the agriculture sector also sharply increased, with 17 new enterprises on the list in comparison with 2010 and 22 more than in 2009. The total paid by the service sector fell however.

In terms of corporate tax, industrial enterprises also accounted for the highest proportion with 61 per cent while agricultural firms made up 6.5 per cent.

Banking, telecommunications and real estate once again made a big tax contribution to the State Budget, accounting for 21, 20 and 12 per cent respectively out of the total 1,000 businesses.

According to the report, the economy and State Budget still depend on the financial and property sectors despite the downturn they are suffering.

It also revealed that the tax contribution of State-owned enterprises has remained stable as they paid more than half of the amount to the State. Private businesses accounted for 41 per cent of the total while the foreign direct investment sector saw a decrease in the number of enterprises listed.

Five big cities and provinces including Ha Noi, HCM City, Binh Duong, Dong Nai and Ba Ria-Vung Tau continued to top the list. Businesses in Ha Noi and HCM City contributed to three quarters of the total corporate tax.

This has been the third year a list has been announced recognising the contribution of 1,000 businesses in the context of the economic slowdown. The tax contribution of the businesses was VND54 trillion, accounting for 8 per cent of total enterprises operating in Viet Nam.

At a ceremony unveiling the list, Tran Duy Khuong, chief editor of Lao Dong (Labour) newspaper said they would announce the top 50 best workplaces in Viet Nam in June.

Internal problems hold back investors

Viet Nam has many problems that prevent it attracting FDI from Europe, according to Whitebook 2013 put out by the European Chamber of Commerce in Viet Nam.

The chamber launched the fifth edition of the Whitebook of Trade/Investment Issues and Recommendations in HCM City last Friday.

The edition covers industries that its 800 member companies are involved in, including pharmaceuticals, consumer goods, energy, telecommunications, the automotive industry, tourism and banking.

The book talks of major issues affecting European businesses operating in Vietnam. It says that over the past year, the Government has had great success in controlling inflation but there remained many problems that needed to be solved to attract foreign direct investment from Europe.

The book reveals practical issues and proposals in areas of personnel training, transport delivery, information technology, pharmaceuticals, food-nutrition, and the tourism, restaurant and hotel sector.

Chamber executive manager Paul Jewell said his organisation had faith in recent developments, especially the beginning of negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement between Viet Nam and the EU.

If the Government addressed issues raised by the business community and a comprehensive FTA was reached, Viet Nam would become a strong nation in the region, he said.

FDI would continue increasing as European businesses recognised Viet Nam as a gateway to the ASEAN market, Jewell said.

Ministry plans export of deadly puffer-fish

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has asked for the Prime Minister’s approval to extend a pilot project on puffer-fish exports through 2015.

In 2010 the Government approved the pilot project on the exploitation, processing and export of puffer fish.

Under the project, fishermen and seafood processors in the provinces of Khanh Hoa, Phu Yen and Kien Giang, where waters are rich in puffer fish, have been selected to become the first exporters on a pilot basis under the supervision of the ministry.

After two years of implementation, the three provinces have exported 70 tonnes of puffer fish to South Korea.

With South Korea continuing to have high demand for puffer fish, the ministry and three provinces have asked the government to extend the programme through 2015.

The ministry said it planned to add Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province to the project.

Under the three-year plan of the ministry, each province is expected to export an estimated 200-500 tonnes of processed puffer fish to South Korea.

According to the ministry, the fish has a potential health risk since it contains toxins that can be harmful to customers, but it has high commercial value if safely processed and cleared of all toxins.

Puffer fish are used in food and pharmaceutical products in Japan, South Korea and other markets.

The ministry said strict control and supervision would ensure safety and hygiene.

There are an estimated 40 different varieties of puffer fish in Viet Nam, with a potential catch of about 37,300 tonnes per year, according to the ministry.

Eighth Asia-Pacific market forum opens

More than 60 leading figures from the Asia-Pacific region’s stock exchanges attended the 8th Asia-Pacific New Market Forum in Khanh Hoa central province last Friday.

Addressing the event, Deputy Minister of Finance Tran Xuan Ha said the forum played an important role in promoting development of the regional stock market and improving the region’s investment environment.

He said Viet Nam was seeking solutions to turn its stock exchanges into effective and secure channels for mobilising business capital, while simultaneously protecting investors’ benefits.

Participants agreed that the regional stock exchanges were facing daunting challenges arising from the global economic recession and other recent changes.

They shared their experiences of improving the quality of the securities market, especially newly established exchanges.

Other items on the agenda included development policies, liquidity improvement mechanisms, and the application of business administration techniques to operating stock exchanges.

Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) Director General Atsushi Saito noted that stock exchanges were responsible for not only listing products but also for ensuring the products’ quality.

Meanwhile, Ravi Narain, General Director of the National Stock Exchange of India, stressed technology’s crucial role in improving liquidity. However, the development of technical applications must proceed with careful scrutiny and continual monitoring to prevent technical risks and ensure the exchanges’ operate smoothly.

Launched in 2001, the Asia-Pacific New Market Forum is an initiative of the Korea Exchange (KRX).

(Vietnam Net)

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