HCM City announces guidelines for issuing apartment ownership certificates
|Apartment buildings in the Thu Thiem new urban area in HCM City’s District 2. City authorities have come up with guidelines to speed up the issue of land use and home ownership certificates to buyers. — Photo nld.com.vn|
They divide apartment projects in the city into two categories for collecting land use fees for issuance of ownership certificates.
For apartments with a compound, the entire project area is identified as ‘residential land’ and subject to fees for issuance of certificates for land use rights, house ownership and other land-related assets.
For those without compounds that come with public areas such as parks, schools, hospitals, and main roads connecting to public roads outside the apartment building, only the area of land used for apartment construction is considered ‘residential land.’
For the public areas, the city will organise bids to select investors.
The construction of technical works such as electricity and water supply, drainage, lighting, telecommunications systems must be done by the developer and handed over to the city. No land-use fees will be collected.
The Department of Natural Resources and Environment has been assigned to work with the departments of planning and architecture, construction, and other agencies to classify land areas in each project (both already completed and upcoming) subject to fees for issuance of ownership certificates.
The Department of Construction will be responsible for monitoring compliance with construction norms and penalising violators.
A number of apartments have been built in violation of approved plans and designs in HCM and Ha Noi, delaying the issuance of land use and home ownership certificates, according to city authorities.
Many developers have even mortgaged their buildings to get loans for other projects, meaning buyers have been unable to get ownership certificates, according to the Department of Construction.
Vo Van Hoan, vice chairman of the People’s Committee, said the city would continue to review apartment projects in the city and work out solutions for delays in the issuance of ownership certificates.
He urged agencies to carefully review investors’ financial capacity before licensing their projects. Investors found to have committed violations must be severely sanctioned, he added.
The lack of certificates means apartment buyers cannot mortgage their property or use it as collateral for bank loans or complete inheritance procedures.
This often causes them to sell their apartments at below their real value.
Experts said legal provisions related to investment, construction and land use are riddled with inconsistencies.
HCM City and Ha Noi have seen a rising number of disputes between buyers and apartment developers in recent years, especially with relation to construction progress, services fees, maintenance fees, construction quality, the use of common areas, ownership certificates, and appointment of building managers.
The Government has ordered the cities to resolve the disputes.
PM orders inspection of land rent hike at industrial parks
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has asked the Ministry of Planning and Investment to coordinate with the relevant agencies to look into the soaring land rents at industrial parks and work out a solution over the issue.
The land rents at industrial parks have reportedly increased sharply by three to four and even 10 times in the past few years.
Together with the impact of Covid-19, the high land rents have put enterprises in a difficult situation. Moreover, some localities have asked firms to pay land rents annually and have not issued land use rights certificates, so firms have no mortgages to borrow bank loans.
During the second Covid-19 wave, the land rents at industrial parks in HCMC, Binh Duong, Dong Nai and Long An increased by 20%-30%.
According to a recent report by property service provider CB Richard Ellis (CBRE) Vietnam, the industrial property market in the southern region has posted a growth in the price and occupancy rate. The industrial land rents have risen 20%-30% against the third quarter last year.
The occupancy rate in the southern key industrial region reached 84.5%, while the rates in Binh Duong, Dong Nai and Long An were over 80% and in HCMC, 90%.
In the January-September period of this year, ecommerce companies reported a higher demand for the expansion of the distribution network. Therefore, new storehouse rents have gone up 5%-10% year-on-year.
The land rents at some industrial parks in HCMC have doubled, from US$150 to US$300 per square meter on average. In Dong Nai, the rent increased from US$100 to US$155 per square meter, while Long An recorded a surge from US$110 to US$200.
CBRE Vietnam deputy general director Pham Ngoc Thien Thanh said the land rent hike and the Covid-19 waves had caused multiple difficulties for enterprises. Investors of some industrial parks have supported them by reducing land rents and infrastructure maintenance fees, extending payment deadlines and even exempting firms setting up their factories during the pandemic from paying land rents.
However, the support would be in the short term and for certain sectors.
In some northern localities, the land rents have been lower than in the southern region but also posted growth. For example, the rent in Hanoi has increased from US$150 to some US$260 per square meter, while that in Bac Giang Province has doubled from US$55 to US$110.
Tourism on Ly Son experiences a gloomy 2020
Ly Son Island district in central Quang Ngai province had secured a reputation as something of a “tourism haven” by welcoming thousands of domestic and foreign visitors in recent years. 2020, however, has been a tough year for the island’s tourism sector, given COVID-19 and recent storms and flooding.
Many accommodation providers opened at the beginning of the year in order to meet growing tourism demand. Many of these, however, are facing problems due to the impact of COVID-19.
Islanders were also hit by nearly 10 major storms this year that caused significant losses and damaged infrastructure for the tourism sector.
Ly Son targeted welcoming 290,000 visitors in 2020, with revenue to stand at nearly 19 million USD. But disease and natural disasters put such plans completely out of reach.
It has, in fact, welcomed just 65,000 visitors this year.
Based on its existing advantages, Ly Son will introduce appropriate measures to promote its tourism sector./.
MSN to pay cash dividend of 10 per cent
Masan Group Corporation (HOSE: MSN) has set December 18 as the record date for paying dividends for 2019 in the form of cash and December 30 as the payment date.
It will pay a 10 per cent dividend, equivalent to VND1,000 per share.
Shareholders whose shares have been deposited will receive the dividend at depository members where the shares have been deposited.
Those whose shared have not been deposited will get the dividend at the company’s headquarters (eighth floor, Central Plaza, 17 Le Duan, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1).
With a free float of over 1.17 billion shares, MSN will pay over VND1.17 trillion (US$50.28 million) in dividends to its shareholders.
MSN targets net revenues of VND75-85 trillion ($3.2-3.64 billion) this year, a year-on-year increase of 101- 128 per cent, while net profit is expected to top VND1- 3 trillion ($42.9 – 128.7 million).
The company achieved double-digit growth in revenues and operating profits across its consumer-related business segments in the first nine months of the year.
Its consolidated net revenues increased by 110.8 per cent to VND55.618 trillion ($2.39 billion) from VND26.378 trillion ($1.13 billion) in the same period last year, primarily due to the consolidation of newly acquired businesses and supported by organic growth across all segments.
Its net profit after tax post-minority interest (NPAT post-MI) was VND852 billion ($36.7 million) in Q3 and VND969 billion ($41.8 million) in the first nine months
Its chairman, Dr Nguyen Dang Quang, said: “I believe our integrated consumer retail strategy is starting to bear fruit as we hit our first strategic milestone in Q4, with VinComerce to break even. This is just the very beginning of what we envision: an online- offline consumer retail champion.”
Indonesia raises crude palm oil export tariffs
Indonesia, the world’s largest palm oil producer, will begin raising export tariffs on crude palm oil (CPO) in order to support its Government’s compulsory bio-fuel programme.
Accordingly, the country applies progressive export levies of 55-255 USD for each CPO tonne depending on reference prices.
Indonesian Coordinating Deputy Economic Minister for Food and Agriculture Musdhalifah Machmud said the policy will be revised monthly to suit economic conditions.
The credit rating agency Fitch Ratings said on December 14 that the export levy increase will raise bio diesel consumption next year to offset subsidy burden.
According to the Indonesian Palm Oil Association, CPO export will annually decline by 18 percent this year to 24.92 million tonnes, mostly due to falling demand from the European Union, China and India./.
Thailand responds to being put on US currency watch list
The central bank of Thailand (BoT) said on December 17 it did not see a big impact on foreign trade and investment from being put on a US currency watch list.
The bank also held that such assessment would not impede its ability to conduct macroeconomic policies to safeguard domestic stability.
The comment came after Washington put Thailand on its watch list of countries suspected of taking measures to weaken their currencies against the dollar.
Besides Thailand, China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Germany, Italy, Singapore, Taiwan (China), Malaysia and India are also on the list.
Assistant governor Chantavarn Sucharitakul said in a statement that the BoT had conducted two-way intervention only to ride out baht volatility and had no intention to do use the exchange rate to gain an unfair trade advantage and competitiveness over trading partners.
The BoT has been in close dialogue with the US administration to foster an understanding of Thailand’s macroeconomic and financial conditions, and had also reiterated its commitment to exchange rate flexibility, she said.
The Thai baht rose 0.6 percent to 29.82 per US dollar, breaching the psychological 30 level and at the strongest since May 2013./.
Vietnam-China trade believed to have ground to reach new height
If Vietnam and China can further optimise their neighbourliness as well as the huge trade potential under the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), bilateral trade will reach a new height, an official said at an online business matching event on December 17.
The remark was made by Le Hoang Tai, Deputy Director of the Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Trade Promotion Agency, during the conference held within the 2020 China-ASEAN Expo (CAEXPO) framework.
He noted that trade between Vietnam and China has been rising rapidly in recent years, which has greatly contributed to each country’s economic growth.
Even amid the COVID-19 pandemic, they have still recorded strong increases in bilateral trade.
Data from the ministry show that the two countries’ trade reached 117.09 billion USD during January-November, including 43.145 billion USD of Vietnam’s exports to (up 16 percent year on year) and 73.945 billion USD of imports from China (up 7.9 percent).
Tai attributed this outcome to the strong resolve of both countries’ governments and business circles, including contributions by the CAEXPO, which have created conditions for localities and enterprises of Vietnam to introduce their potential and foster bilateral trade.
To help Vietnamese and Chinese firms reinforce trade links, the Trade Promotion Agency has worked actively to provide market information and help them take part in major fairs and exhibitions of the two countries and seek partners.
With utmost efforts and cooperation goodwill, the two sides’ businesses will surely reap success, and bilateral economic and trade partnerships will enjoy breakthrough development, he added.
Yang Yanyan from the CAEXPO Secretariat said 2020 marks the 70th founding anniversary of China-Vietnam diplomatic ties, and their economic and trade links have continued to be intensified.
Vietnam now ranks seventh in the world and first in ASEAN among trading partners of China, according to her./.
Cambodia’s wet season rice yield expected to reach 8.5 million tonnes
Despite recent flash flood threats, Cambodia’s rainy-season rice production is expected to reach 8.5 million tonnes this year, a 4 percent increase from 2019, Cambodian news agency AKP reported.
Veng Sakhon, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, shared the update following a recent monitoring discussion of rice yield data with provincial departments.
The average harvest is about 3,122 tonnes per hectare, which is an increase from about 3,095 tonnes per hectare last year, he added.
According to the minister, about 89 percent or 57,557 hectares of the total rice paddies in the 19 provinces affected by the recent flash floods has been rehabilitated so far.
The ministry has also handed out thousands of tonnes of rice seeds to farmers to cultivate on their rehabilitated paddies.
Figures from the Cambodia Rice Federation show that for the 11 months of 2020, Cambodia’s rice exports increased by nearly 17 percent with total volume of 601,045 tonnes worth 415 million USD, a 12 percent increase year-on-year./.
Malaysia to adopt smart farming
Malaysia plans to review its approach to agriculture by modernising the sector and adopting smart farming to boost farmers’ income and advance the sector.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Economy) Mustapa Mohamed said the sector remained important to the economy, even more so as the COVID-19 pandemic brought new perspectives on food security and jobs creation.
In the next three to four years, the government plans to transform the Federal Land Development Authority (FELDA) by diversifying the income streams of its settlers, which is currently dependent on oil palm and rubber planting, he said during a dialogue session with World Bank Group country manager for Malaysia, Firas Raad.
Citing an example, Mustapa said cattle breeding may be one of the potential areas to be considered.
Mustapa said Malaysia could be building an agriculture sector that is more responsive to the country’s contemporary food economy, including developing the capacity to supply more high-value foods that the region and Malaysia consume – including fragrant rice varieties.
Statistics show that as of 2019, agriculture accounted for about 11 percent of employment and 7.1 percent of Malaysia’s gross domestic product (GDP).
According to the WB’s representative, Malaysia’s economy is expected to grow by 6.7 percent in 2021./.
50 top Vietnamese brands honoured
Fifty leading brands of Vietnam in 2020 was honoured during a ceremony held in HCM City by Forbes Vietnam on December 17.
Most of the honoured firms have operated for at least more than a decade, including Minh Long I, Vinamilk, Viettel Group, The gioi di dong (Mobile World), VPBank, PNJ, Nutifood and Saigontourist, among others.
During a workshop on brand building amid COVID-19 on the same day, participants said that in 2020, the pandemic has dealt a blow to all sectors, including how firms approach their customers. Along with uncertainties, it also acts as a catalyst for faster digital economic development, requiring enterprises to change their mindset in brand building in the new context.
Nguyen Anh Dung, Executive Director of Retail Measurement Services at Nielsen Vietnam advised firms to identify different groups of consumers as the internet and smart hand-held devices have changed buying behaviours, especially of young people.
Marketing via social networking sites has become more popular in the global market, he added.
Social corporate responsibility also has a great role to play in brand building, said Nguyen Ha Thanh, Public Relations Manager of Viettel Group, adding that it should be considered in firms’ decision-making./.
ACV to invest over 4.3 billion USD in Long Thanh int’l airport
The Airports Corporation of Vietnam (ACV) will invest over 99 trillion VND (4.3 billion USD) in the third component project of the first stage of the Long Thanh international airport in the southern province of Dong Nai.
The decision was made in Resolution No.04 adopted by ACV’s extraordinary shareholders’ meeting held recently in Ho Chi Minh City, with over 99.8 percent approval.
Of the total capital, more than 36.1 trillion VND will be sourced from ACV and the remainder from loans and other legitimate sources.
The project on the first stage of the Long Thanh international airport was approved by the Prime Minister on November 11 this year. The project has four components, covering the offices of State management agencies, works serving flight management, essential airport facilities, and other supporting works.
ACV will invest in the first runway, taxiways, a terminal, an aircraft parking space, and other major infrastructure at the airport.
The airport will be built in three phases over three decades, and is expected to become the country’s largest airport.
In the first phase, one runway with a length of 4,000m, taxiways, an apron, and a passenger terminal with other auxiliary works sprawling 373,000 sq.m will be built to serve 25 million passengers and 1.2 million tonnes of cargo each year.
The airport is expected to have four runways, four passenger terminals, and other auxiliary works to ensure a capacity of 100 million passengers and 5 million tonnes of cargo a year by 2040.
Covering a total area of more than 5,580ha, the airport will straddle six communes in Long Thanh district. It is expected to cost 336.63 trillion VND (14.47 billion USD), with the first phase needing over 109 trillion VND (4.66 billion USD).
Around 4,800 households and 26 organisations are expected to be relocated to make way for it.
Located 40km to the east of Ho Chi Minh City, the Long Thanh airport is expected to relieve overloading at Tan Son Nhat international airport in the city, now the country’s largest airport./.
Measures sought to boost Vietnam-Egypt economic cooperation
The Vietnamese Embassy in Egypt, in collaboration with the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce, held a workshop on economic and trade potential between the two countries on December 17, aiming at paving the way for both countries’ businesses to fully tap their potential.
At the event, local businesses showed their interest in Vietnam’s farm produce, including cashew nuts, pepper and coffee, as well as electronic products and computer components.
As Alexandria is a famous port city, its enterprises wanted to cooperate with Vietnam in maritime transportation and logistics.
Nguyen Duy Hung, First Secretary at the Vietnamese Embassy, delivered a speech on the potential for economic and trade cooperation between the two countries.
He also answered Egyptian firms’ questions on Vietnam’s policies and incentives.
Deputy head of the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce Ahmed Hassan suggested the two nations intensify collaboration in logistics, aquaculture, agriculture and garment and textiles.
Along with bilateral cooperation, they can switch to a tripartite cooperation model, which uses materials and spare parts from Vietnam to make products in the Suez Canal Economic Zone for export to third countries, said Hassan.
Egypt wants to expand the export of cotton and fresh fruits to Vietnam, he stated, proposing Vietnamese businesses export IT software and hardware, mobile phones and spare parts to his country.
Earlier, within the framework of his working visit to Alexandria – the second largest city of Egypt, Vietnamese Ambassador Tran Thanh Cong met with the city’s Governor Mohammed Taher El-Sherif, during which they shared the view that bilateral trade cooperation still fails to match existing potential.
They expressed hope for promoting collaboration in numerous fields through the opening of a direct air route between the two countries and the twinning between Alexandria and a Vietnamese locality.
They also stressed the need to speed up the organisation of activities, forums and seminars to connect both sides’ enterprises.
The Vietnamese working delegation also worked with the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce to discuss measures to boost two-way trade amidst the COVID-19 pandemic./.
Importers to reduce purchases for Tet as lower demand feared
Companies that import fruits and foods expect lower demand during Tet (Lunar New Year) next February due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and plan to reduce imports.
A company in Binh Thuan province said it has decided to cut fruit imports between now and Tet by 50 percent compared to the same period last year despite abundant global supply and steady prices.
“The demand for imported fruits always exists during Tet, but will definitely decrease this time. So not only our company but also many others will tweak their plans. This year we will focus on importing a few popular and easy to sell fruits such as apples, pears and grapes.”
But Pham Thien Hoang, Director of Pham Hoang Trang Company (which owns GreenSpace Store), expressed a different opinion, saying Tet is the season for consuming fresh fruits such as apples and cherries in the high-end segment.
But their prices have increased significantly this year because the cost of harvesting the fruits in major exporting countries of the fruits such as the US, Australia, and New Zealand have gone up by two to three times due to the impact of COVID-19, and there is a lack of international flights.
Fresh fruit imports are expected to reduce this Tet, while the supply of imported nuts such as pistachios, almonds, walnuts, and pecans will surge, he said.
“These are healthy and nutritious foods. Their prices are not too high at about 300,000 – 400,000 VND per kilogramme and imported from many countries. In addition, natural dried fruits such as grapes, plums, and apricots are also imported to serve the market in replace sugar-coated fruits,” he told Nguoi lao dộng (Labourers) newspaper.
Nguyen Thanh Hung, owner of a company that imports feng shui gifts and organic and processed foods from Russia, said, “The COVID-19 pandemic has made things stagnant so we do not dare import as much as in previous years.”
The transport cost has increased but his company accepted lower returns to keep prices unchanged, he said.
But market research company Ipsos said despite a turbulent year due to the pandemic people’s budgets for Tet are almost the same as last year.
They are somewhat higher in the high-income group, mostly the same in the middle-income group and down by 15 percent in the low-income group.
Travel abroad this year would be minimal, and so nearly 50 percent would stick to the tradition of going home to celebrate Tet, it said.
This would increase consumption of food and drinks (confectionery, dried fruits, nuts) but reduce that of tobacco, alcohol, confectionery, and instant foods, it said.
Traditional gift products would be bought as usual.
According to other market research companies, while consumers will still spend during Tet, demand will surely reduce from previous years./.
EVN plans to launch competitive retail electricity market next year
The Vietnam Electricity (EVN) is eyeing the operation of a competitive retail electricity market in 2021 following its official run of a competitive wholesale market since 2019.
The development of a competitive electricity market is a long-term plan for Vietnam’s electricity sector as mandated in the 2004 Electricity Law.
The details of the plan were specified in the Prime Minister’s Decision 63/QD-TTg in 2013, which laid out the conditions and structure of the new market. The marketplace was set to be developed in three distinct parts – the power generation market, the wholesale market and finally the retail market.
EVN put into operation the competitive generation market in 2012, attracting 32 electricity plants capable of generating 9,200 MW in total at first. The number of participating plants has reached 99 now, whose accumulated capacity reaches 27,000 MW./.
Export target of $41 billion within reach for agricultural sector
Though COVID-19 has hampered exports, the agricultural sector remains confident of achieving this year’s export target of more than US$41 billion.
The coronavirus outbreak has created obstacles to production and trade, while severe natural disasters such as drought and saltwater intrusion, especially in the Mekong Delta, along with plant and animal diseases posed further challenges to the sector this year.
Most key agricultural exports posted declines in the early months of 2020.
Facing that fact, the agricultural sector has conducted policies flexibly to fulfil export targets, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong said.
Thanks to that, agro-forestry-fishery exports are forecast to surpass the goal of $41 billion this year. Exports to nearly 200 markets, including large markets such as the US, the EU, Japan, and China, earned Viet Nam second place in Southeast Asia and 15th in the world in terms of agro-forestry-fishery exports, he said.
The sector has also managed to pave the way for different fruits to enter new markets, like fresh lychee to Japan and pomelo to Chile.
Notably, he said, rice continues to record strong increases in exports. The Mekong Delta, the largest agricultural hub in Viet Nam, reaped a bumper rice harvest despite the historic drought, thanks to crop rescheduling. Surging food demand amid COVID-19 also provided Viet Nam with the opportunity to boost rice exports.
Strong demand from a host of markets fuelled rising export prices for Vietnamese husked rice, which are now about $500 per tonne. Free trade deals, especially the EU-Viet Nam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), have also opened up opportunities for the commodity.
Deputy Minister Phung Duc Tien said as soon as Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc approved the EVFTA implementation plan, the ministry built an action programme for the agricultural sector.
As a result, from the first month the trade pact took effect, in August, shipments of agro-forestry-fishery products to the EU grew 15-17 per cent against a year earlier, he said, adding that the sector has maintained its focus on traditional markets like China, the US, and Japan.
Wood product exports have accounted for some 30 per cent of the agricultural sector’s total overseas shipments but were not immune from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chairman of the Viet Nam Timber and Forest Product Association (VIFOREST), Do Xuan Lap, said businesses have strived to seek new ways in the face of the pandemic’s complex developments.
Not only selling products directly to consumers or promoting goods at fairs, enterprises have also swiftly moved to online platforms such as Alibaba and Amazon. They have also tried to become more interconnected and cut dependence on external partners, according to Lap.
He expects forestry products will see the strongest export growth among all commodities in the agricultural sector this year, with revenue topping $12.6 billion, up 11.5 per cent year-on-year.
EVFTA brings first success, promomising more fruits
Since its entry into force on August 1, the European Union (EU) – Viet Nam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) has brought first successes, reflected by the strong growth of Viet Nam’s exports to the EU in recent months and opened significant opportunities for sustainable development in bilateral trade.
Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Quoc Khanh said at a roundtable seminar held by the Delegation of the European Union to Viet Nam on Wednesday that the EVFTA was the spotlight in the relationship between Viet Nam and EU. Four months was not a long period of time but enough to look back at the impacts of the trade deal, Khanh said.
These are positive signs showing the EVFTA has been opening up important opportunities for the sustainable development of bilateral trade relations. The EVFTA should continue to offer important opportunities for the sustainable development of bilateral trade relations.
The first month EVFTA came into effect, Viet Nam’s exports to the EU increased by just about seven per cent then 9 per cent in the second month and 15 per cent in the third month, meaning an average increase of 10-11 per cent in the three-month period. This was a considerable increase compared to other trade deals which saw just around 2-3 per cent of enterprises to be able to take advantage of the preferential tariffs in the first years.
Viet Nam’s imports from the EU were estimated to reach US$13.2 billion in January-November, representing a rise of 4.3 per cent against the same period last year. The average increase in Viet Nam’s imports from the EU in the three-month period when the EVFTA was in force was 11.5 per cent.
“EVFTA brings first fruits and is opening significant opportunities for the sustainable development in trade between the two sides,” Khanh said.
Not only trade but also investment of the EU into Viet Nam increased. Statistics of the Foreign Investment Agency under the Ministry of Planning and Investment showed that EU poured around $752 million worth of investment in Viet Nam in the first three quarters of this year, $100 million and 180 projects higher than before the EVFTA was in force.
Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Vietnam, Ambassador Giorgio Aliberti, said: “Recently, some Vietnamese products have immediately enjoyed the benefits of the EVFTA, such as agricultural, fisheries, and footwear products. The EVFTA is a new and very comprehensive agreement that covers many sectors and industries. However, it is still a challenge to fully understand the standards and requirements set out in the agreement.”
Nguyen Thi Thu Trang, Director of the WTO and Integration Centre under the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), said a recent VCCI survey carried out on import-export companies about their undertanding of FTAs found that enterprises understood issues related to their operation fields in the EVFTA much better than other trade deals.
In addition, enterprises were expecting the positive impacts of EVFTA more than other trade deals, demonstrating that the Government’s efforts in promoting communication for the trade deal.
EVFTA also provided opportunity for Viet Nam to hasten institutional reforms toward international standards and make the business environment more transparent and predictable.
Since the EVFTA came into force, three decrees, two decisions and one circular were issued while one decision was abolished in an effort to complete the legal framework and environment for the successful implementation of the EVFTA.
Luong Hoang Thai, Director of the Multilateral Trade Policy Department, said that still more amendments were needed to improve the legal framework and the institutions to implement the EVFTA efficiently.
Technologies were changing everything, especially in the era of Industry 4.0 and the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, requiring enterprises and management agencies to change to adapt, Thai said.
Local dragon fruit exports to China face hurdles
Vietnamese dragon fruit exports to China are anticipated to face numerous difficulties due to the cultivation area of dragon fruit in the northern neighbour set to grow in a rapid manner moving forward, according forecasts made by the Import-Export Department.
This comes after dragon fruit exports of all types in November endured a decline of 9% to US$82 million compared to the figures from the previous November.
During the past 11 months of the year, dragon fruit exports fell by 10.2% to US$1.08 billion against the same period from last year, of which white flesh dragon fruit remains the key export item, making up 66.6% of the total export volume.
The Import-Export Department therefore warned that China’s dragon fruit growing area has seen a 10-fold increase in recent years, thereby making it increasingly difficult for the country to boost dragon fruit exports to the Chinese market in the future.
Furthermore, dragon fruit exports of all kinds to the United States during the ten 10 months of the year witnessed a decline of 28.3% to US$21.1 million from the same period last year. Indeed, this period saw white flesh dragon fruit being the top fruit exported to the fastidious market, reaching a figure of US$7.5 million and representing an annual rise of 50.8%.
Moreover, the export value of red flesh dragon fruit to the US throughout the reviewed period also fell 36% to US$4.1 million in comparison to last year’s corresponding period, despite their superior taste in comparison to the fruit products from other countries.
Global demand for dragon fruit is growing by approximately 4% each year and is forecasted to continue rising over the coming years.
Local businesses have therefore been advised to comply with stringent requirements set by importers, with dragon fruit being cultivated in line with VietGAP’s standards in order to increase the competitive value of the fruit product in the international market.
Retailers adapting to new behaviours
With online retail thriving during the global pandemic, many retailers have increasingly adopted technologies to meet the new shopping trends.
At the end of November, South Korea-based convenience chain GS25 announced installation of facial payment Facepay into 25 of its 80 stores, before extending the service to the whole chain. Facepay has been developed by Wee Digital, a digital identity technology startup.
The installation of Facepay is part of GS25’s strategy to scale up its presence to open about 500 more stores by 2025, increasing its competitiveness with other convenience store operators in the country.
Both the founder of Wee Digital, Christian Nguyen, and Mai Thuy Nhan, CEO of GS25 Vietnam, believe that the payment technology of Wee Digital will bring an interesting experience for customers, especially young ones who use e-wallets such as ZaloPay, VNPAY, or MoMo.
“GS25 accounts for about 15 per cent market share in convenience stores in Vietnam. If we can keep up with the demands of young people, we believe that the number of stores will accelerate,” Nhan revealed.
Also at the end of November, Visa partnered with Sacombank in Vietnam to launch Tap To Phone with Rapid Seller Onboarding (RSO), which allows businesses to transform smartphones and tablets into contactless point-of-sale terminals using a simple mobile app.
Prudential Vietnam, Dai-ichi Life, and Tiki will be the first businesses in Vietnam to roll out Tap to Phone, with RSO making it faster and easier to become Tap to Phone-approved as the sign-up process is managed entirely online.
Nguyen Minh Tam, deputy general manager of Sacombank, noted that for retail businesses with a strong customer base and sales, such as insurance, e-commerce, and for small- and medium-sized enterprises and business households, these solutions will help increase sales to both existing and potential customers.
In October, One Mount Group launched VinShop, an e-commerce platform that connects local shop owners and suppliers. VinShop helps the owners of the grocery store have the opportunity to increase their income up to VND10 million ($435) a month. The app has now directly connected suppliers with more than 20,000 grocery store owners in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
Grocery store owners can access a variety of goods, prices, and attractive incentive programmes. VinShop supports 24/7 service and super-fast delivery every day of the week.
Many retail brands had already embarked on digital transformation and e-commerce initiatives even before the pandemic. In addition, social distancing measures pushed them to find ways to engage their consumers more actively and effectively online.
Ralf Matthaes, managing director of Infocus Mekong Research, said that today’s consumers are looking for convenience and cost savings above all else. “However, technology must ensure consumer privacy and security,” he explained.
“People love to shop, allowing them to smell, tough, taste, and feel their purchases. If technologies can offer a real shopping experience, then the sky’s the limit. Otherwise, such technologies may only appeal to certain categories and consumers, and hence just be an alternative route to market,” Matthaes added.
Richard Burrage, CEO of market research firm Cimigo Vietnam said that there are large opportunities for technology adoption in the retail industry. Reducing out of stock situations and holding less stock can be enabled by technology.
“In addition, retailers can grow margins by increased customer knowledge leveraging loyalty programmes. As a result, customers are served with the right offers at the right time. Also, the ability to serve customers through multiple channels both offline and online are enabled by technology so it can increase customer transaction values,” Burrage said.
Indeed, there are far more fundamental operational and logistical issues that need to be resolved with technology before virtual stores and facial payments. Improvements in service, customer knowledge, and experience will all be facilitated by technology. The latter are more for PR than they are for meeting consumer convenience needs.
“Although the Lunar New Year may see less activity than last year, retail sales will grow by between 12 to 18 per cent in 2021 over 2020. Social selling, online platforms, minimarkets, and stores which integrate on- and offline experiences will be the ones to watch for high growth,” Burrage added.
Japan remains Danang’s largest investor
Japan took the lead in pledged investment in Danang as of this November, with 213 projects worth over US$917 million in registered capital, accounting for 25% of the total number of foreign-invested projects and over 23% of foreign capital in this central coastal city.
These projects are mostly in the fields of production, information and technology, processing and manufacturing industries, said a representative of the Danang Investment Promotion Agency (IPA Danang), after IPA Danang and the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Danang jointly held an event on December 16 to introduce Vietnamese law to Japanese investors.
Findings of the Saigon Times indicated that many Japanese companies with various business scales have eyed investments in the city.
For instance, Daiwa Vietnam Co., Ltd began construction on a sports equipment factory worth US$40 million at the Hoa Khanh Industrial Park in the city on December 15.
Earlier, on October 13, DHPIZA introduced a plot of land at the Danang Industrial Park to Japan’s Fujikin Group to develop the Fujikin Danang Research and Development Center project, which requires US$35 million in investment. The project is aimed at developing hi-tech products such as AI-powered drones and robots.
Moreover, this year, Long Hau JSC signed a contract to lease a factory to Hatsuta Automatic Safety Solutions Company, a Japanese manufacturer and assembler of fire-fighting and pressure measurement devices.
At a recent meeting, a number of Japanese investors revealed that many companies in Japan are interested in the investment environment in Danang, which is calling for investments in hi-tech, environmental and educational projects. They suggested the central city should increase the number of high-quality employees so Japanese firms can prioritize choosing the city as an investment destination.
Walmart buys Vietnamese goods from FDI firms rather than Vietnamese suppliers
Despite expecting to buy goods directly from Vietnamese firms, Walmart, an American multinational retailer, has encountered difficulties in finding Vietnamese suppliers. Over 95% of exporters from Vietnam joining the Walmart retail chain are foreign direct investment (FDI) firms.
Vince Tran, senior manager II of the development division at WMGS Vietnam Services Company, a representative of Walmart in Vietnam, told a review conference on December 17 that Walmart has made inquiries about thousands of types of Vietnamese goods, but has only bought hundreds of them, mainly from FDI firms.
The retailer is planning to increase the amount of Vietnamese goods at its Walmart supermarket chains, Vince Tran said. However, there has been some difficulty in placing Vietnamese products on Walmart’s shelves as many Vietnamese firms do not have the relevant strength required.
Vietnamese firms have failed to understand the United States’ demand and have yet to develop suitable products for the American market, Vince Tran told the conference reviewing the launch of a project encouraging Vietnamese firms to join foreign retail chains in five years.
Walmart requires firms to introduce their own products and assess the potential of these items, Tran said, adding that the retailer needs more proactive connection channels to be able to work with Vietnamese firms directly.
Speaking at the conference held by the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Ta Hoang Linh, head of the European- American Markets Department at the ministry, said that Vietnamese firms must make a big change and showcase their determination to join the foreign supermarket chain.
Addressing the conference, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Do Thang Hai said that the ministry will continue to issue effective policies to support and encourage Vietnamese enterprises to join direct export channels, Tuoi Tre Online reported.
Ministry embarks on building ecosystem to help enterprises to expand exports
The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) organized the Vietnam Export Promotion Forum 2020 on trade promotion for sustainable export development in the implementation context of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), and new-generation FTAs, on December 16 in Hanoi.
At the forum, the MoIT pledged to support enterprises to build solutions to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic, combined with branding. The ministry will also establish a trade promotion ecosystem including partners, such as product development consultants, market development strategies, manufacturers, investors, exporters, importers, and logistics service providers, to create favorable conditions for enterprises to develop exports. Meanwhile, many enterprises said that the MoIT should improve the efficiency of Vietnamese representative missions and overseas trade counselors and help enterprises to take advantage of opportunities to develop the export market.
Mr. Do Thang Hai, Deputy Minister of the MoIT, said that export turnover would exceed US$254 billion, and import over $234 billion this year. The trade surplus would be over $20 billion. There are 31 items with an export turnover of over $1 billion. It is a premise for Vietnamese enterprises to increase their export capacity in the coming time, especially when FTAs have been implemented.
On the same day, the MoIT said that the Council of the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) had just issued a decision to allocate Vietnam’s rice import quotas for each member of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) in the year 2021. However, of the five countries prioritized for allocation in 2021, for the time being, the EEC has just allocated to two countries, namely Armenia with 400 tons of rice and Belarus with 9,600 tons.
Confectionery orders placed for Tet holidays
Ho Chi Minh City confectionery market is ready for Tet season and orders have been placed by companies and organizations as gifts for Tet holiday ( the Lunar New Year), which will fall on February 12.
The municipal Department of Industry and Trade said that to prepare for the upcoming festive season, a large quantity of sweets will be sold in the market to serve consumer demand.
Averagely, prices of candies range from VND200,000 (US$8.59) for common-end segment to VND2 million ($85.9). Locally-produced products are gradually gaining a firm foothold in the domestic confectionery market.
Interestingly, enterprises said that consumer demand of confectionery will not decline in spite of Covid-19. Companies have launched new products for Tet holidays in the middle of November with eye-catching packaging.
Sweet orders have been placed by companies and organizations. Locally-produced products account for 80 percent to 90 percent while 20 percent are imported kinds from the South Korea, Thailand, Indonesia and Japan in supermarkets Co.opmart, Co.opXtra, BigC, Lotte Mart.
Vietnamese companies have introduced various kinds of sweets to compete with their foreign peers. For instance, Bibica company launched Goody package while Mondelez Kinh Do has made Orion, Cosy, Lu, Oreo, Solite, Ritz, AFC at different prices. For the low-end segment, Hai Ha, Hai Chau, Minh Ngọc companies also launched their own cakes.
Noticeably, this year saw the re-appearance of Kido Corporation’s vanicream biscuits and chocolate cream biscuits. A representative of Kido Corporation said the new products have been sold in its 12,000 stores in markets in December and 45,000 retailers across the country later.
Confectionery are also sold in stores in traditional markets in addition to supermarkets and social network.
However, prices of sweets in stores in traditional markets and social network are lower ranging from VND100,000 – VND300,000 a tray of mut (traditional fruit candies).
Mut is sold per kilogram in plastic bags without clear indications of origins in traditional markets.
Vietnam authorizes online gold trading
It is the first time that a traditional gold trading enterprise in Vietnam is allowed to conduct online gold trading.
Vietnam has first online gold trading service and local people can purchase and sell gold bars on DOJI Gold & Gems Group’s website, or eGold, through using electronic devices such as computers, tablets or smartphones.
It is the first time that a traditional gold trading enterprise in Vietnam conducts online gold trading. All gold transactions are real transactions, with real money and physical gold, according to a representative from DOJI Gold & Gems Group.
For making a gold transaction online, the trader has to open an account at a TPBank. Besides, after placing buying order, the client can receive physical gold directly at DOJI’s transaction offices in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hai Phong, Danang, Can Tho.
The aforementioned transactions also apply to all gold jewelry items and SJC gold bars at DOJI’s system.
The introduction of the online gold transaction is aimed at facilitating the trade of this precious metal amid the current fluctuations in gold prices and gold remains a safe haven for investors during the Covid-19 period.
From the beginning of the year until now, the domestic gold price has increased by about 30%, far exceeding the profitability of other investment channels such as stocks, real estate, deposits and dollars. The company expected customers can catch up with all gold price fluctuations, buy and sell with the best convenience, increase investment opportunities and profit.
In the domestic market, DOJI is one of the two largest gold bar retailers together with 100-per-cent state-owned Saigon Jewelry Company Limited (SJC).
On average, each year, the revenue of these two retailers is up to billions of dollars, of which gold bars make up the majority of the revenue structure. DOJI recorded more than VND90 trillion (US$3.8 billion) of consolidated revenue. In the first six months of 2020, the retailer’s profit was VND45 billion ($1.9 million), down 6% against the same period of 2019.
In 2020, DOJI completed the acquisition of Diamond World jewelry retail chain with a revenue of trillions of dong per year owing 100 stores in 34 provinces and cities.
Vietcombank becomes largest cap company in Vietnam stock market
This is the first time that the state-run bank claims the first spot in the stock market in terms of market capitalization.
With share prices of VND99,900 (US$4.33) and 97,800 (US$4.24) apiece during December 14-15, Vietcombank has become the largest firm in Vietnam’s stock market with its market capitalization at VND370.51 trillion (US$16.04 billion).
This is the first time that the state-run bank claims the first spot in the stock market in terms of market capitalization.
In 2019, Vietcombank posted the highest profit among banks in Vietnam at over VND23 trillion (US$1 billion), 3.5 times higher than in 2015 and was also the largest taxpayer in the banking system.
To date, Vietcombank has expanded to 116 branches nationwide and was the first bank in Vietnam setting up a representative office in the US with approval from the Federal Reserve, as well as being granted an approval from Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc to open a branch in Australia.
Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, Vietcombank remains a spotlight in the banking sector with a credit growth of nearly 10% in the 11-month period and kept bat debt under 1%. Recently, the lender has received the approval from the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) to expand its credit growth limit to 14%.
On December 15, Vietcombank announced its decision to cut its interest rates for the fifth time this year by one percentage point to support the business community overcoming severe impacts from Covid-19. The decision would result in the bank foregoing a profit of VND300 billion (US$13 million), taking the total figure to VND3.7 trillion (US$160 million) in the five rates cuts.
The move, however, does not stop Vietcombank from gaining the highest profit among banks in Vietnam, stated Vietcombank’s Chairman Nghiem Xuan Thanh.
The SBV remains the largest shareholder of Vietcombank with a 74.8% stake, followed by Japan-based Mizuho Bank at 15% and Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC Private Limited (2.55%).
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