Over $73.2 mln to develop hi-tech agriculture projects in Binh Phuoc

More than 1.7 trillion VND (73.2 million USD) will be invested in three high-tech agriculture projects in the southern province of Binh Phuoc, under an agreement inked between the provincial People’s Committee and its partners on August 26.

Accordingly, a joint-venture will be set up between Netherlands-based Royal De Heus Animal Nutrition and local Hung Nhon Group, which will land some 1.15 trillion VND to construct a high-quality chicken farming for export. The project is designed to raise 10 million chickens each year and ship 5,000 aboard each day.

Meanwhile, a total of 500 billion USD will be splashed out in a 100-hectare high-tech beef cattle farming zone. The project, developed by Hung Nhon Group and T&T 159 Livestock Production Joint Stock Company in Hoa Binh province, is expected to create jobs for 15,000 local labourers.

An area for planting, gathering, purchasing, preserving and packaging fruits will be constructed by Hung Nhon Group and Chanh Thu Fruit Import & Export Company at the total cost of 100 billion VND. The project will provide some 20,000 tonnes of high-quality fruits for both domestic and foreign markets every year, and generate jobs for 200 local workers.

According to agricultural counselor at the Dutch Embassy in Hanoi Willem Schoustra, fertile soil and minimum impact of harsh weather conditions have made Binh Phuoc province an ideal place to branch out cultivating area of cashew, rubber and pepper, orchards, as well as safe husbandry farms.

Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Huynh Anh Minh spoke highly of the three agricultural projects, saying they are encouraged to form specialized farming areas in the province.

He asked relevant sides to put forth the implementation of the project so as to affirm the position of local agricultural products.

Chu Lai port welcomes biggest-ever container ship

Chu Lai port, in coordination with the Maritime Administration and Quang Nam Border Guard Force, have recently welcomed SITC HEBEI, the largest and longest container ship to ever berth at the port, with goods it brought from the Republic of Korea.

The Hong Kong-flagged ship is 172 metres in length and has a deadweight tonnage of 22,000 tonnes.

In 2016, Chu Lai Logistics, which operates the port, worked with SITC, one of Asia’s leading logistics and shipping company, to launch a two-way international container shipping route from the Republic of Korea to the Chu Lai port.

Since then SITC carriers have been docking at the port at an average rate of once or twice a week.

In future bigger SITC carriers will dock at the port at a frequency of approximately once a week.

Chu Lai Logistics will also begin to operate more international routes and work with large global cargo lines to push for more trade through the Chu Lai Port to meet the needs of businesses in central Vietnam and the Central Highlands besides southern Laos and northern Cambodia.

Chu Lai Logistics has been investing to expand its scale and improve its logistics service quality to offer greater efficiency to customers and improved transport services to producers, especially agricultural goods for exports.

Enterprises see sustainable development goals as key to growth

Sustainable development remains a key focus for Vietnamese enterprises in the years to come, according to a recent survey conducted by the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI).

According to the ministry, the country’s business sector is to play an important role in whether Vietnam will be able to realise its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the areas of socio-economic development and environmental protection.

There has been a greater awareness in the business community on the importance of attaining sustainable development. Moving toward green and clean production has been identified by many as a strategic objective as Vietnamese enterprises strive to integrate into the global economy.

As the country becomes part of numerous free trade deals, most notable among which are the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), pressure has been mounting on businesses to meet and exceed market demand for environmentally-friendly products, corporate social responsibility and sustainable development.

“Unlike traditional trade deals which typically focus on commercial activities, the CPTPP and the EVFTA place great emphasis on protection of the environment and labour ethics with detailed guidelines and strong mechanisms to ensure they will be respected,” said Vu Xuan Hung, deputy head of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (VCCI) legal department.

Economic growth and SDGs are not mutually exclusive as enterprises are free to choose which SDGs to incorporate in their business operations. In addition, experts have pointed out that in many markets there has been a growing awareness among consumers, especially those of younger generations, on how goods and services were produced.

Enterprises that are perceived as sustainable and socially responsible also enjoy a greater degree of trust and loyalty from their customers, shareholders, workers and investors. Their brands are also valued higher and are preferable as partners by domestic and international businesses.

VCCI has started a Corporate Sustainability Index to rank Vietnamese enterprises on economy, society, environment, and stability in development and labour strategies since 2015. The index has just released its fourth edition in May this year.

The SDGs forms the backbone of Vietnam’s socio-economic development plan for 2016-20. It is crucial for Vietnam to integrate its SDGs in its strategy to pursue growth, according to Dao Dinh Tan, deputy chief of the Science, Resources and Environment under the MPI.

The UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network and German independent foundation Bertelsmann Stiftung in July ranked Vietnam at 54 in a report, which assessed the implementation of 17 SDGs in 162 countries and territories with the country moving up three places compared to last year.

Vietnam attends fair in Mozambique

Vietnamese businesses are displaying their products at the 55th Maputo International Fair (FACIM) that opened in Mozambique on August 26.

Participating Vietnamese firms include those from the Ministry of National Defence, Sunhouse JSC, Long Hung Ltd., Co., and Movitel – a joint venture between Vietnam’s Viettel Military Industry and Telecoms Group and SPI and Invespar companies of Mozambique.

Vietnamese products such as coffee, tea, footwear, confectionery, household utensils and wooden furniture have drawn visitors’ attention.

Ambassador Le Huy Hoang and other representatives of the Vietnamese Embassy in Mozambique used the occasion to introduce the production, processing and packaging of Vietnamese agricultural products and consumer goods to local enterprises and people.

They also touched upon regulations and procedures to connect businesses from the two countries.

Ambassador Hoang and Joao Feleciano Dichone Machava, Director of Industry and Trade of Mozambique’s Tete province, discussed cooperation in timber production and processing, and the development of several agricultural products between Vietnamese localities and Tete.

FACIM is the largest annual fair in Mozambique, aiming to promote cooperation in production, investment and trade between the African nation and other countries.

This year’s event accommodates more than 2,000 booths set up by businesses from 22 countries, including France, Germany, China, the Republic of Korea, India, Brazil, Argentina, Egypt, Turkey, South Africa, Thailand and Vietnam.

Fair facilitates trade cooperation between Vietnam and China

Up to 260 businesses from Vietnam and China will take part in the 2019 China (Guangdong) – Vietnam Import and Export Fair, slated to be held at the Hanoi International Centre for Exhibition in the capital city from August 28-30.

The fair aims to facilitate the trade and investment cooperation among Vietnamese enterprises and those from China’s Guangdong Province, Hong Kong and Macao, the event’s organising board said, adding that it will be a good chance for Vietnamese enterprises to explore new markets, expand their export networks and introduce their products to the world.

The event – the first ever of its kind in Vietnam – will showcase machinery, electric equipment, electronics, LED and lighting technology, construction materials and furniture in addition, hi-tech products and accessories as well as garment, consumer goods and food into around 300 booths, the Vietnam National Trade Fair and Advertising Company (Vinexad) said in a statement.

A business conference will also be held featuring representatives from the two countries’ ministries and more than 100 Guangdong companies currently operating in Vietnam.

More than 3,000 potential buyers will also join a business matching programme intended to open up new opportunities.

Vietnam steps up work to help longan enter Australian market

The Vietnam Trade Office in Australia is working to help Vietnamese longan exporters to obtain an import licence from the Australian Government as soon as possible.

The information was released at a Vietnam – Australia business connection conference held in Sydney last weekend, which gathered leaders of 7 Vietnamese localities – Tuyen Quang, Hai Duong, Quang Binh, Khanh Hoa, Dak Lak, Dong Thap, and Can Tho – and representatives from over 40 Australian firms, investment funds, and business associations.

Nguyen Phu Hoa, head of the office, said following the Australian Department of Agriculture’s recent announcement of import requirements for fresh longan from Vietnam, his office has held discussions with Vietnamese localities that grow the fruit and businesses from both sides.

Vietnam has so far exported lychee, mango, and dragon fruit to the Australian market.

According to Hoa, the office will support exporters of Vietnamese farm produce in completing related paperwork and liaison between agencies and businesses of the two countries, while carrying out a series of activities to promote Vietnamese longan in the Oceania country.

The official unveiled that the office has built new plans to provide practical aid for Vietnam’s export, which include the establishment of a customer support hotline for consumers of Vietnamese products in Australia and a Vietnamese club that offers information to Australian firms.

He also informed the conference that the SunRice Australia, which consumes 5 percent of Vietnam’s total rice exports, has completed its assistance plan for Vietnam under a sustainable rice production programme. The plan aims to help Vietnamese rice meet international standards, thus allowing the group to purchase more Japonica and Indica rice from Vietnam in the next 10 years.

At the conference, Tom Robb, CEO of The Robb Group, an Australian company that specialises in corporate and capital advisory services, said better-than-ever cooperation opportunities are opening up for Vietnamese and Australian enterprises.

Graham Kinder, Vice President of the Australia Vietnam Business Council, said strong collaboration has been recorded between localities of both nations across all fields from trade to culture and education.

Ride-hailing firm Grab plans major investment in Vietnam

Singapore-based ride-hailing firm Grab is set to invest “several hundred million dollars” in Vietnam where the company sees its next major growth market, just weeks after it unveiled a 2 billion USD plan in Indonesia.

The proposed investment is the latest example of a top-notch regional brand deepening its commitment to Vietnam, one of Asia’s fastest growing economies. It also shows the eagerness of Grab, which has raised billions of dollars from investors, to put its cash to work.

Grab President Ming Maa said the company is paying attention to the Vietnamese market. Like Indonesia, many middle-class and young consumers in Vietnam are using apps and websites to access services, Maa said.

He added that Grab plans to invest over several hundred million dollars into growing its Vietnam business. However, he did not reveal specific details on the investment.
Grab and rival Indonesia-based Go-Jek are evolving from ride-hailing app operators to become one-stop shops for services as varied as payments, food delivery, logistics and hotel bookings in Southeast Asia.

Grab, with its app on more than 160 million mobile devices across eight countries, has said its Indonesia investment aims to build a next-generation transport network and transform how critical services such as healthcare are delivered.

Vietnam ranks third or fourth among Grab’s top markets, said Maa. In 2018, Grab partnered with Vietnamese fintech firm Moca in 2018 to launch a digital wallet.

The same year, Grab formed a joint venture with Credit Saison, a Japanese credit card company, to offer loans and credit analysis to consumers and micro-entrepreneurs across Southeast Asia.

The company, which has over 4.5 million drivers in the region, aims to double its revenue to 2 billion USD this year. Grab was Vietnam’s most downloaded ride-sharing app from January to July this year, according to market data and analytics firm App Annie.

Mooncakes likely to be better, choices wider this Mid-Autumn Festival

For this Mid-Autumn Festival many mooncake brands are increasing their output and varieties and focusing on environment-friendly packaging.

Many have announced an increase in output of 5 – 30 per cent compared to last year’s.

Thanh Long Bakery is offering more than 10 new flavours to target youths such as avocado, sesame and garlic and almond and coffee, Sai Gon Giai Phong (Liberated Sai Gon) newspaper reported.

Bibica Corporation is reducing the sugar and fat content in its mooncakes and using more natural ingredients such as lotus seeds and sesame in place of jam.

Hemant Rupani, CEO of Mondelez Kinh Do Viet Nam, which is offering two new mooncake lines, said the brand’s “Rich portfolio of 83 kinds of products can satisfy consumers’ diverse demands, from premium to classic, mid-level mooncakes, and special needs.”

The company also announced that this year it is using recyclable and reusable paper bags to cut plastic waste in addition to offering vegan and low-sugar mooncakes.

Nguyen Thi Ngoc Thuy, head of Thanh Long Bakery, said that more cardboard is now used in packaging to reduce waste.

Prices have also increased from same period last year, ranging between 5 to 7 per cent per box.

According to Tran Huu Linh, general head of the Viet Nam Directorate of Market Surveillance, authorities would closely monitor the mooncake market during the Mid-Autumn Festival, keeping an eye on production facilities and storage of ingredients and collecting samples for testing.

ASEAN members agree to promote circular economy

International representatives from the government and private sectors across Southeast Asia vowed to co-operate to address the resource constraints through the circular economy with a focus on “resource maximisation, waste separation and proper disposal” in the manufacturing and consumption cycle at a symposium in Bangkok on Aug 26.

The circular economy refers to an economic system that seeks to combat pollution and achieve sustainable development by reusing and recycling used products.

More than 1,500 delegates participated in the 10th annual Sustainable Development Symposium titled “Circular Economy: The Collaboration for Action”, organised by Thailand’s Siam Cement Group (SCG).

Deirdre Boyd, the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Thailand, said: “Accelerating natural resource extraction is placing a profound burden on the global environment.”

The circular economy promotes responsible consumption and production, which is the object of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, and could have positive impacts on many of the other sustainable development goals, she said.

“[With] the reuse and recycling of materials throughout the economy, the circular economy will help reduce waste and unsustainable environmental extraction.”

She told Viet Nam News: “The evolution in our understanding of the limits of our planets’ scarce resources means we now have to place this issue at the core of our plans going forward.”

Businesses around the world are striving to come up with innovation to facilitate the transition from the linear economy to the circular economy, she said.

“We still have gaps in policy and regulations, and we need massive shifts in consumer attitude and behaviour.

“We also need the private sector to embody the Sustainable Development Goals agenda. Without the private sector, it would be impossible to create global impacts.”

Roongrote Rangsiyopash, president and CEO of SCG, said: “The increase in global population will inevitably have an impact on the surrounding environment, including the depletion of natural resources, marine debris and intensified global warming, among others.”

With an ever-growing population the world is expected to reach an estimated 9.7 billion in 2050, resulting in rising consumption demands despite finite resources, he said.

Last year they contributed 28 million tonnes of waste, and without proper waste management and disposal practices, wastes would leak into the oceans, triggering a loss of marine bio-diversity, as recently evidenced by the death of the dugong calf Mariam, he said.

“The concept of the circular economy is a solution to help alleviate these problems as it promotes the regenerative model of make-use-return.

He told Viet Nam News: “The concept also includes the approaches of resource maximisation, waste separation and proper disposal to preserve natural resources for the next generations.”

He said government-driven infrastructure development, stringent regulations and strict waste management would not be enough to achieve a circular economy.

Collaboration by all sectors is crucial to make the circular economy a reality, he said.

Speaking at a breakout session, Pham Hoang Hai, partnership development head of the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Viet Nam Business Council for Sustainable Development, said: “The development of the circular economy in Viet Nam is an indispensable need and must be implemented.”

Vietnamese businesses have become more aware of the circular economy, especially in the context of global economic integration with commitments on ecological and environmental safety standards through free trade agreements, he said.

A number of projects by scientists and Vietnamese and foreign organisations have been implemented in Viet Nam to recycle plastic waste and usher in green production and green consumption, he said.

But the circular economy is still a new concept for many Vietnamese businesses, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, he added.

The Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade is in the process of drafting a National Action Programme on Sustainable Production and Consumption, which he said would be implemented in 2021-30.

The symposium served as a platform for exchange of ideas, experiences and knowledge.

It was first held in 2010, and has since been held every year.

The annual event has allowed the sharing of knowledge between many people ranging from youth to key opinion leaders in more than 20 countries.

Vietnamese agricultural brands honoured

The Viet Nam General Council of Agriculture and Rural Development on Sunday held a ceremony to honour Viet Nam’s gold farming brands 2019.

This is the fifth time the ceremony has been held. This honour is to acknowledge the great contribution of businesses and entrepreneurs in agricultural economic development and new rural development.

After nearly four months of support from local authorities, the organising committee has awarded 75 brands of good quality agricultural products and famous brands out of more than 500 agricultural products of 63 provinces and cities nationwide.

As many as 20 excellent enterprises and entrepreneurs in agricultural and rural development have also been honoured.

Ho Xuan Hung, chairman of Viet Nam General Council of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the programme has contributed to improving brand value for many Vietnamese agricultural products. Through this recognition, many brands and products are trusted by consumers, receiving and bringing product value and great income to businesses and farmers.

Some awarded brands this year include VinEco Agricultural Production and Investment Development Co., Ltd, garlic products of Kinh Mon district, Hai Duong Province; Hanvet Veterinary Pharmaceutical & Material Joint Stock Company; Golden Stork Company Limited; Long Viet Fertiliser Joint Stock Company.

Speaking about investing in clean agriculture, Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao, deputy general director of VinEco Agricultural Production and Investment Development Co Ltd, said VinEco has a number of programmes to support farmers and cooperatives to promote Vietnamese agricultural production.

VinEco’s agricultural products are standardised with product specifications and standards from seeding, cultivation process to harvesting, transportation and consumption; ensuring strict control of residue content of products, Thao added.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Le Quoc Doanh said this programme will contribute to improving brand value for agricultural products, enhancing the reputation of businessmen and enterprises in the domestic and international markets.

The event also helps the business community of the agricultural sector and farmers understand more about the important role of building and developing brands in production and business activities, especially export activities towards a sustainable agricultural production.

Local gold price hits seven-year peak amid trade tensions

Gold is showing its mettle as a safe haven asset as bullion prices continued to hit new peaks on both domestic and global markets.

Gold is striding toward US$1,600 an ounce on global markets as the US-China trade war is worsening, boosting demand for traditional safe-haven assets.

Bullion futures rallied 1.8 per cent to hit $1,555 an ounce on the Comex on Monday morning, the highest since 2013, but gradually decreased in the afternoon to $1,540 at 2.50pm (local time).

Spot prices also declined from the day high of $1,555 per ounce to $1,529 in the afternoon.

Prices of the yellow metal have surged more than 20 per cent this year as Washington and Beijing have squared off.

In the domestic market, gold prices extended last week’s gains and climbed more than VND43 million ($1,848) per tael, or 1.2 ounces, on Monday after global gold prices hit a six-year peak.

This is the first time the domestic gold price has reached VND43 million per tael since August 2012.

In the morning trade, most gold firms increased their selling prices to VND43 million per tael or higher. Sai Gon Jewelry Joint Stock Company (SJC) quoted their buying/selling prices of VND42.6 million and VND43 million, up VND500,000 and VND600,000 per tael compared to last week, respectively.

SJC gold – the national gold brand – quoted by other businesses including Bao Tin Minh Chau Jewellery and Gemstone, Doji and Phu Quy were between VND42.2 million to VND42.6 million for buying, and VND43 million and VND43.2 million for selling, up VND500,000-VND600,000 per tael.

The prices dropped slightly in the afternoon following the slowdown in the global markets.

SJC decreased their selling price to VND42.77 million per tael while prices quoted by Bao Tin Minh Chau Jewellery and Gemstone, Doji and Phu Quy were between VND42.80 million and VND42.85 million per tael.

The difference between the heat this year and seven years ago is that gold price in 2012 was about VND2 million higher than the world price, but at present, the domestic and world gold price is nearly equal.

Experts have predicted gold will continue to soar as investors seek havens from trade tensions and further Fed easing.

“Upside target [is] $1,576 [an ounce for gold] I think in this move, and then if this thing really gets going, that green arrow would point you to $1,708,” Todd Gordon, a gold price analyst at TradingAnalysis, told Kitco News.

The stock market went on a roller coaster ride after US President Donald Trump threatened retaliation tariffs on China. Observers have feared that the escalation in the US-China trade war will hurt the outlook for global growth.

The State Bank of Viet Nam decreased its benchmark rate to VND23,114 per US dollar, down VND13 from Friday. The USD/VND exchange rate has been stable in recent days, with the buying/selling price of one US dollar at Vietcombank is VND23,150/VND23,270.

Commercial banks raise deposit rates

Several commercial banks have raised deposit rates for long-term tenors to over 8%, or 8.5% for tenors of 12 months or longer, to attract more depositors due to the rising corporate demand for loans in the remaining months of the year, Motthegioi news site reported.

An Binh Commercial Joint Stock Bank (ABBank) has hiked the annual interest rate for Vietnamese dong savings by 0.7 percentage point for six-month savings and 0.8 point for tenors of 12 months at 7.5% and 8.5%, respectively, against the previous rates .

Saigon-Hanoi Bank (SHB) has quoted a spike in deposit rates for some tenors, with six-month deposits enjoying a rate of 7.8% per year. Also, the respective maximum rates for nine-month, 12-month and 13-month tenors are 8%, 8.1% and 8.2%.

With its upward adjustment, SHB is one of the banks offering the highest deposit rates on the local market.

Since August 20, Eximbank has raised its deposit rates for tenors of 13, 15, 24 and 36 months from 8% to 8.3% or 8.4% per year. Customers with 13-month deposits of at least VND100 million can enjoy the highest rate of 8.4%.

Orient Commercial Joint Stock Bank (OCB) is in the deposit rate race as well, offering the highest 36-month rate of 8%, up 0.3 point against its previous rate, while Vietnam International Bank (VIB) applies rates of 8.2%, 8.3% and 8.6% to six-month, 12-month and 18-month deposits, respectively, for customers with VND100-million deposits.

VPBank, BIDV and VietinBank have also entered the race, raising their interest rates for savings with certain tenors by 0.1-0.2 point per year.

Meanwhile, statistics from the State Bank of Vietnam show that annual interest rates for Vietnamese dong deposits are commonly fixed at 4.5%-5.4% for tenors below six months and 5.5%-7.5% for those of six months or longer.

SHB General Director Nguyen Van Le stated that commercial banks on the local market are enhancing capital mobilization, especially for long-term deposits, to meet the high demand of enterprises for capital for their operations for the rest of the year.

Bao Viet Securities Company (BVSC) attributed the higher interest rates to banks restructuring their funds to lower the percentage of short-term capital for medium- and long-term loans to 40% this year and 30% in 2022, as required by the central bank.

Road maintenance fee collection unchanged

Vehicle registration centers across the country were asked to inform vehicle owners of their duty to pay road maintenance fees as usual, regardless of the continued termination of the road maintenance fund.

A proposal from the supervising delegation of the National Assembly Standing Committee to terminate multiple funds, including the road maintenance fund, has recently sparked public concern, according to Vietnam Register (VR).

Consequently, many people misunderstood that car owners will not have to pay road maintenance fees once the road maintenance fund is terminated.

VR asserted that the closure of the fund will not affect prevailing regulations on road maintenance fee collections.

The collected fee has been submitted to the State budget since the beginning of 2017, in accordance with the Law on Fees and Surcharges, to create financial sources for the maintenance of the national road system, instead of being sent to the National Road Maintenance Fund, as was done during the 2013-2016 period.

The fund’s expenditures on road maintenance will now be backed by the State budget. The fund acts as an intermediary to receive and allocate funding for maintenance works.

The State, at present, has no plans to suspend fee collections for vehicles registered at registration centers nationwide. Thus, VR asked the registration centers to help vehicle owners understand that the road maintenance fee payment must continue.

The Ministry of Transport has since last year proposed the Government terminate the road maintenance fund due to its inefficient operation.

Export earnings from computers and electronics outpace apparel industry

As an indication of Vietnam’s entering the ranks of countries with more industrialized economies, Vietnam’s export earnings from computers, electronic products and their spare parts are now ranked second in revenues, with traditional textiles and garments falling behind to third place.

Preliminary data from the General Department of Vietnam Customs indicated that computers, electronics products and their spare parts brought in some US$4 billion in exports in the first half of this month, bringing the total, so far this year, to US$20.21 billion, an increase of US$2.74 billion from one year earlier.

This growth enabled the export earnings of the group to finish in second place, just behind those of phones and phone parts, which stood at US$30.33 billion during the same 8.5-month period.

Meanwhile, the exports of textiles and garments, which had long remained in second place, are currently ranked third.

Textiles and garments earned US$3.31 billion in exports in the first half of this month, raising the 8.5-month figure to US$19.91 billion, up US$1.89 billion against the year-ago period.

Many local textile and garment firms saw orders from importers falling by 30% in the first half of the year, according to Truong Van Cam, vice president and general secretary of the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association.

He noted that the low volume of orders were reported by many firms, even large ones, which was contrary to earlier predictions.

Many experts had forecast that the escalating trade war between the United States and China would help shift orders from China to Vietnam.

Also, Vietnam has engaged in multiple new-generation free trade agreements, such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the European Union-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), which were expected to boost local exports.

Seeking to explain the data, Cam said apparel importers might place orders in other countries with better contract terms, while the hoped-for benefits from free trade agreements with Vietnam remain unclear.

Some textile and garment firms said that they had suffered a slowdown in their growth in the first months of this year due to a shortage of employees and rising production costs, coupled with fewer orders.

Customs figures also revealed that the country had imported large amounts of computers, electronic products and spare parts, especially from China, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, and the United States.

In the year to mid-August, more than US$31.1 billion had been spent on the imports of computers, electronics products and spare parts, leading to a trade deficit of US$10.9 billion.

Rice exports to Philippines soar

Vietnam’s rice shipments to the Philippines have strongly surged over the past few months, rocketing some 220% in volume year-on-year.

Statistics from the General Department of Vietnam Customs indicate that the Philippines was the country’s largest rice importer in January-July, accounting for up to 37% of Vietnam’s total rice exports during the seven-month period. The Philippines spent some US$590 million to purchase 1.46 million tons of Vietnamese rice over the period, up 219% in volume and 171% in value against the year-ago period.

Overall, Vietnam shipped US$1.71 billion worth of 3.95 million tons of rice to foreign markets between January and July, up 0.7% in volume and down 14% in value, year-on-year.

in July, Vietnamese rice exports amounted to 598,620 tons, worth US$261.7 million, down 0.1% in volume and 1.4% in value against the previous month. The rice export price averaged out at US$437 per ton in July, inching down 1.3% month-on-month and 12.4% year-on-year.

Nguyen Thanh Phong, director of Tien Giang-based Van Loi Company, said the surge of rice exports to the Philippines is due to the country’s changes of import mechanisms.

President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte issued, on February 15, Republic Act 11203 liberalizing the import, export and trading of rice, and lifting quantitative restrictions on rice imports.

Rice imports from Southeast Asian countries, including Vietnam, are subject to a 35% tariff, in line with the act. This is the preferential tax rate offered by the Philippines for the ASEAN countries.

Despite the high increase in volume of Vietnam’s rice exports to the Philippines, the average rice export prices fell by 15% year-on-year to US$402.9 per ton over the past seven months, Phong said.

JNA Awards honor PNJ Chairwoman with Lifetime Achievement Award

The JNA Awards has named Ms. Cao Thi Ngoc Dung, Chairwoman of the Phu Nhuan Jewelry JSC (PNJ) in Vietnam as one of three recipients of its Lifetime Achievement Award.

A celebrated businesswoman and philanthropist, Ms. Dung is best known for founding the Phu Nhuan Jewelry Store – the predecessor of PNJ – in 1988, while she was still a State employee. Over the course of three decades, she grew the once State-owned company into a publicly-listed business entity.

Ms. Dung began her journey with the intention of reviving the traditional Vietnamese jewelry industry. Believing that “anything that can be made overseas could be made domestically,” she persevered and engaged in self-research by attending jewelry expos, visiting and studying large jewelry factories across Asia, and investing in state-of-the-art technology that would be essential in growing PNJ.

The JNA Awards marks another first in its eight-year history by conferring its highest honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award, to three recipients. These achievers have made invaluable contributions, not just to their respective enterprises, but to the entire jewelry and gemstone industry with their hard work, innovative ideas, and the advocacies they support.

The fruits of Ms. Dung’s efforts can be seen in the tremendous growth of PNJ. From an initial team of 20, the company currently employs nearly 7,000 people, 1,000 of whom are skilled artisans and goldsmiths. A designer, manufacturer, and retailer all rolled into one, PNJ has also been dubbed the “Tiffany of Vietnam”, with products carried in nearly 400 jewelry outlets in 55 cities and provinces around Vietnam. PNJ has also spawned a number of prominent jewelry and fashion brands in the country, such as PNJGold, PNJSilver, CAO Fine Jewelry, Jemma Accessories, PNJArt, and PNJWatch, among others. Ms. Dung has also successfully put her homeland in the global limelight, by exporting jewelry to 13 countries and territories.

The JNA Awards are supported by headline partners the Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group, the Shanghai Diamond Exchange, and DANAT, together with honored partners the KGK Group, China Gems and Jade Exchange, and Guangdong Land Holdings Limited.

BW Industrial Development offering favorable production sites

In anticipation of new FDI streams into Vietnam, the joint venture BW Industrial Development JSC (BW) was established by global equity fund Warburg Pincus and local partner Becamex IDC with initial capital of $200 million, to provide build-to-suit / ready-built factories for rent and logistics warehouses for-rent in many key industrial parks around the country.

BW provides investors with various solutions for a manufacturing site. Its ready-built factories are flexible in size (from 1,000 to over 10,000 sq m), helping investors to quickly set up production, while build-to-suit factories are tailor-made to fit companies’ business plan and budget and also balance design and functional elements.

According to Mr. Hiroaki Okamoto, CEO of Generation Pass (Genepa), one of the largest woodwork manufacturers in Japan, BW’s leasing rates at the Bau Bang Industrial Park (IP) in southern Binh Duong province, are very competitive and the IP’s compelling infrastructure makes it very convenient for them to meet business partners and customers in the province, which is an industrial development hub nearby Ho Chi Minh City.

The reason why a manufacturing leader like Genepa chose the Bau Bang IP is because they have trust in BW thanks to its reliable shareholder background as well as dedicated customer service with a range of support for tenants, from licensing to actual operations.

“When choosing a manufacturing site for rent, the first thing we need is flexibility and stability,” said Mr. Alexander Christopher Falter, Vietnam Managing Director of Ecco, a famous Danish shoe maker. “And then, of course, having a competitive price, good maintenance, punctual service, and a safe working environment. We visited a great many IPs in southern Vietnam before visiting Bau Bang, where we found ready-built factories with modern and contemporary designs that perfectly fit our requirements. In particular, with their active support it only took four months from the date we received our business license until we officially began production.”

Vietnamese longan conquers Australia market

The Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources has recently announced the conditions for importing fresh longan from Vietnam to Australia, according to the Vietnam Trade Office in Australia.

This means that Vietnamese longan has been allowed to export to Australia, becoming the fourth fruit allowed to export to Australia after litchi, mango and dragon fruit.

Before importing longan into Australia, importers are suggested to have a valid import permit issued by the Australian Department of Agriculture. Import permits are granted once all import conditions are met.

Prior to export, longan must be proven to be originated, produced and exported according to the required system of operational procedures to maintain and verify the phytosanitary status of the goods. Longan must have undergone the mandatory risk management measures.

To demonstrate compliance with the requirement, the Phytosanitary certificate must present the following additional declarations: “The fruit in this consignment have been produced in Vietnam in accordance with the conditions governing entry of fresh longan fruit to Australia and in accordance with the “Export of Fresh Fruits from Vietnam to Australia” Work Plan” and “Irradiated at a minimum of 400Gy.”

Exported longan must not contain pollutants (for example, loose stem and leaf material, seeds, soil, animal matter/parts or other extraneous material) and any other foreign matters. Goods for export must meet at least one of the secure packaging options to make consignments insect proof and secure.

Packaged fresh longan must be labelled with sufficient identification information for the purposes of traceability, including product of Vietnam for Australia, fruit type, packinghouse code (PHC), treatment facility code (TFC) and treatment identification numbers (TIN).

Associated packaging and conveyances must not be contaminated by quarantine pests or regulated articles. Accordingly, all wooden material associated with the consignment used in packaging and transport of fresh produce must comply with the non-commodity information requirements policy.

Packaging must be synthetic or highly processed if of plant origin. No unprocessed plant material such as straw may be included in the packaging.

For sea freight transportation, containers must have been inspected by the Vietnamese functional plant protection agency prior to loading to ensure pest freedom and that the vents are covered to prevent entry of pests.

Vietnamese and Australian agencies have been working regularly to bring Vietnamese longan to the Australian market. The fruit has entered selective markets, such as the US, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the EU, all meeting standards related to free of pest, safety, uniformity, quality and availability throughout the year.

Hanoi promotes tourism in Australian market

A meeting took place in Hanoi, on August 28, aiming to connect 32 Australian tourism businesses and 150 delegates from State management agencies, associations and businesses in the field of tourism service across the country.

The programme was organised by the Hanoi Tourism Department to connect domestic tourism enterprises with international travel enterprises, creating opportunities for businesses of the two sides to meet, cooperate and exchange experiences on tourism development.

This is also a bridge for Vietnamese enterprises to work, directly exchange and sign cooperation agreements with Australian partners.

Earlier this week, from August 19 to 23, Hanoi Tourism Department in collaboration with Vietnam Airlines organised a programme to bring Australian tourism enterprises to survey destinations in Hanoi and Quang Ninh.

Over the years, Australia is one of ten key tourism markets for Hanoi. In the first seven months of 2019, international tourists to Hanoi reached 3.73 million, of which Australian tourists reached over 109,000.

In order to further promote promotional activities between the two markets, Director of Hanoi Tourism Department Tran Duc Hai affirmed that Hanoi Tourism Department will continue to support the best conditions for Australian travel agencies and tourists to Hanoi. He also expressed his hope that Australian businesses would have many more programmes to attract tourists to Hanoi and Vietnam.