Vietnamese shirmp sells well in US, China despite COVID-19
Vietnam’s shrimp exports to the United States and China witnessed a gradual increase during the first six months of the year despite the negative impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
According to figures released by the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), Vietnamese shrimp exports reached US$1.5 billion during the past six months, an increase of 5.7% from the same period last year.
These statistics can be viewed extremely positively as the COVID-19 epidemic is still developing in a complicated manner in a number of major markets across the world.
Moreover, the export of shrimp to the US and China is likely to continue growing during the final months of the year.
The export value to the US between January and June saw a rise of 29% to reach US$323.3 million. Indeed, the US remained the largest import market for local shrimp, making up 21.2% of the country’s total export value.
Vietnam’s efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic has allowed its shrimp to become more competitive within the US market.
Most notably, recent months have seen Vietnamese shrimp exporters overtake their competitors from India and Ecuador, largely due to both countries failing to return to normal production as they are still struggling with the outbreak.
However, India has remained the US’s largest shrimp supplier for several years, accounting for 40% of total shrimp imports to this market.
Elsewhere, the country’s shrimp exports to China during June enjoyed an increase of 23% to US$57.7 million.
This is largely due to China’s major shrimp suppliers facing difficulties following the northern neighbour suspending its imports from three Ecuadorian companies after the detection of COVID-19 traces on product packaging.
Furthermore, Indian shrimp suppliers are also facing numerous challenges as their shipments to China have faced delays in customs clearance at Chinese ports due to the COVID-19.
In contrast, shrimp exports to both Japan and the EU endured slumps during the reviewed period. June saw shrimp exports to Japan drop by 3.7%, despite positive growth of 1.9% to US$278.2 million in the past six months.
Meanwhile, exports to the EU hit US$200 million, representing a fall of 7% compared to the same period last year.
The VASEP noted that Vietnamese shrimp prices tend to increase during the second half of the year. At present, inventories in key markets such as Japan, the US, and the EU are not as high as in previous months. Therefore, Vietnamese shrimp exports are expected to continue to record positive growth.
Vietnamese durian given push in Australia
A programme introducing Vietnamese durian and promoting its consumption is taking place in Australia from July 20 to 31.
“Vietnamese durian week” is being jointly organised by the Vietnamese Commercial Affairs Office in Australia and the New South Wales-based ASEAN company, which has imported 7 tonnes of frozen durian from Vietnam.
The program aims to introduce other high-quality farm produce from Vietnam to Australia, in order to expand markets for a range of key Vietnamese agricultural products.
Frozen durian products, which are mainly imported from Asian countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, China, and Vietnam, are increasingly finding favour among Australian consumers.
Vietnam’s durian plantation area has increased rapidly over the last decade, to 47,000 ha in 2018, with output of 478,600 tonnes.
Vietnam is actively seeking markets for exports and improving the value of the fruit.
Hanoi capital moves to reboot economy post COVID-19
Hanoi is aiming to lead the country’s economic recovery efforts in the post-novel coronavirus (COVID-19) landscape, with the Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP) at 1.3-fold higher than the country’s GDP growth rate.
The capital has demonstrated its strong resolve to achieve the target by accelerating administrative reforms, improving the business climate, and boosting general competitiveness.
According to economists, the capital leads the way in terms of the percentage of businesses per capita and has become an attractive investment destination chosen by a large number of multinational corporations. Indeed, several transnational corporations have developed plans to move their representative offices from Singapore and Thailand to Vietnam.
Statistics indicate that despite the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hanoi’s GRDP during the first half of the year grew by 3.39% with more than 12,600 newly-established enterprises, while FDI attraction managed to reach US$4 billion.
Hanoi Mayor Nguyen Duc Chung stated that to support businesses in the post-pandemic period, the capital has offered tax breaks and extended the deadline for tax payment with a sum of over VND17.500 billion, making up 45% of the country’s total.
Since January 1, Hanoi has been striving to make relentless efforts to improve its business environment, by simplifying 154 administrative procedures for firms and raising the ratio of online public services to 100% by June 30.
The aim is to get all businesses to use e-invoices by this September, said Mayor Chung, adding that a total of 249 public services have been posted on the national public service portal.
In addition, Hanoi remains an ideal investment destination for businesses as its competitiveness index ranked ninth among 63 cities and provinces across the country in both 2018 and 2019, the market access index moved up 53 places compared to 2015, and the public administration reform index ranked second over the course of three consecutive years.
Vu Tien Loc, Chairman of Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), said that both Hanoi and Quang Ninh have developed into the vanguard in terms of the implementation of public-private partnership projects and administrative reforms, along with carrying out steps to build an e-government.
The VCCI Chairman also underscored the importance of improving the provincial competitiveness index to accelerate administrative reforms and facilitate the operations of local firms.
The business community therefore anticipates that the capital will enjoy breakthroughs in administrative reforms in order to provide a fresh impetus for businesses to recover in a swift manner.
Mac Quoc Anh, Vice Chairman and Secretary General of the Hanoi Small and Medium sized Enterprises Association, also underlined the need for Hanoi to simplify administrative procedures and increase transparency and fairness when it comes to serving people and businesses.
Nguyen Van, vice chairman of Hanoi Support Industries Business Association, pointed out that the municipal administration should pay greater attention to the development of the support industry in a bid to help domestic enterprises get involved in the global value chain, including the supply of components for large corporations.
Vietnam likely to export 6.7 million tonnes of rice this year
Rice was one of the few commodities to withstand the negative impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic in the first half of the year, with both rice export volume and value increasing by 5.6% and 19.3% to 3.54 million tonnes and US$1.73 billion, respectively.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) projected that Vietnamese rice firms would have an opportunity to increase their output and export prices in the near future.
Furthermore, the impending enforcement of the European Union-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) in August is expected to offer fresh impetus for Vietnamese rice to penetrate into the demanding markets.
The Import-Export Department under the MoIT recently published a list of local rice export businesses as of July 15, with the total number of eligible rice traders in the country rising to 192.
According to the MoIT, Vietnam’s trade activities with China via the northern border gates during the first half of the year have remained stagnant since February as a result of the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic, affecting the export of major Vietnamese farm produce to this market.
The agro-forestry-fisheries exports have decreased 4.4% year on year to US$11.7 billion.
Trade surplus hits US$6 billion over six months
The first half of July alone witnessed the nation’s total export turnover reach US$10.91 billion. Three commodity categories grossing turnover of over US$1 billion each include phones and components (over US$1.76 billion), computers, electronic products and components (US$1.7 billion), and garment and textiles (approximately US$1.42 billion).
The July figure brought the country’s six-and-a-half-month export turnover to US$133.68 billion, an increase of 4.4% from a year earlier.
Experts believe this positive trade surplus will help contribute to improving the payment balance, increasing foreign exchange reserves, and stabilising the exchange rate of the domestic currency (VND) against the US dollar (USD).
According to experts, to remove production hurdles and accelerate economic growth in the second half of the year, the industry and trade sector should strive to organise additional online trade exchanges in an effort to expand the market for agricultural products.
With regard to industrial production, the Ministry of Industry and Trade should encourage domestic support industry firms to strengthen their connectivity with local enterprises that manufacture complete products to meet domestic demand.
The ministry should place a firm focus on diversifying export markets, abide by requirements relating to the rules of origin and geographical indications set by importers, they say.
Simultaneously, businesses have been advised to take full advantage of impending new generation free trade agreements, including the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership and the European Union-Free Trade Agreement as a way of boosting exports.
VIB’s H1 pre-tax profit suprasses the yearly target
Vietnam International Bank (VIB)’s pre-tax profit exceeded 52 per cent of its business plan, reaching over VND2.35 trillion (US$101 million) in the first half of this year, according to the bank’s financial report published on Tuesday.
In the period, total operating income of VIB stood at more than VND4.81 trillion. with fee income hitting VND1 trillion, accounting for 21 per cent of total operating income.
Operating expenses (OPEX) reached nearly VND2.04 trillion while its cost to income ratio (CIR) stabilised by 42 per cent.
As of June 30, 2020, the bank’s total assets surpassed VND202 trillion. Its total credit saw a year-on-year increase of 6 per cent to over VND140 trillion of which retail loans rose by 8 per cent year-on-year.
According to the report, Non Performing Loan (NPL) ratio of VIB was at 1.96 per cent in the six-month period.
“With strict and flexible risk management, the bank has maintained prudential ratios and safety ratios, capital adequacy (CAR) ratio of Basel II at 10 per cent, compared to at least level 8 per cent stipulated by the State Bank of Viet Nam (SBV),” the bank said in a statement.
Following the Prime Minister’s guidelines and the direction of the SBV, from the first quarter of 2020, VIB has actively supported to reduce interest rates between 0.5 per cent and 2 per cent for customers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
As of June 30, 2020, about 8,800 customers were granted over VND9.2 trillion of outstanding loans to counter the shock after the disease.
The bank also supported VND10.5 billion worth of medical masks and protective clothing to prevent COVID-19 in response to the campaign of the SBV.
Pharma firms aiming for GMP certificates
Despite strict requirements, international pharma giants like Novartis, AstraZeneca, and Pfizer are rushing to complete all necessary procedures to receive the most sought-after GMP recognition for their manufacturing sites, signalling a hotter tender market in the months to come.
The Drug Administration of Vietnam (DAV) on July 10 announced Dispatch No.10364/QLD-CL on the list of manufacturing sites that multinational corporations (MNCs) want to be recognised with a GMP qualification. Many of which still need to submit supplementation documents.
Specifically, in Annex 3 of the dispatch, Merck Sharp & Dohme’s (MSD) site, Schering-Plough Labo NV, is requested to supplement some documents to clarify that the facility has productions of suspension dosage form, and small volume emulsions, among others.
Meanwhile, the Ho Chi Minh City representative office of GlaxoSmithKline Pte., Ltd. (GSK), which seeks GMP recognition for the manufacturing site Catalent Belgium SA, is asked to supplement the updated, valid, and legalised GMP certificate. GSK must also further explain the site’s production scale of biological drugs which are not named in its overall records.
Similarly, Pfizer Ltd.’s (Thailand) proposed manufacturing site, Pfizer Manufacturing Belgium NV, is required to explain its production of immunosuppressive drugs and human- or animal-derived substances.
In this race, Zuellig Pharma Pte. Ltd. is seeking GMP qualification for its manufacturing site ZambonSwitzerland Ltd. and should submit supplements and reports on regular check-ups on product quality of sterile drugs.
Other mammoth names in this list include the Ho Chi Minh City representative office of Novartis Pharma Services AG, AstraZeneca Singapore Pte., Ltd., DKSH Singapore Pte., Ltd., and Sanofi-Aventis Singapore Pte., Ltd., among many others.
In particular, Novartis is requested to submit the updated, valid, and legalised GMP certificate for the manufacturing site Glaxo Operations UK Ltd. Meanwhile, similar procedures are required to be performed by AstraZeneca Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.
According to some MNCs’ representatives, it is not easy for them to fulfil the requirements of the GMP certification, but they are striving to follow these as there is no other choice to join the local drug tenders.
Sanofi, Novartis, GSK, Pfizer, and MSD are also the names in the previous Dispatch No.3518 governing the list of manufacturing sites that were required to make further clarification to receive PIC/S-GMP and EU-GMP acknowledgements. Now, they are seeking for other sites, reflecting their ambition to boost presence in the local lucrative pharmaceutical market.
Branded and imported drugs often remain too expensive for Vietnamese, thus bringing about huge profit for MNCs active in the local market. In the DAV’s July 14 announcement about the tender winners, Novartis, Sanofi, AstraZeneca, MSD, Pfizer, and GE Healthcare were named.
According to the DAV’s statistics, such drugs make up an average of 26 per cent of total health insurance spending. The rate is 47 per cent at central hospitals, and 26 per cent at provincial ones.
The Ministry of Health is to issue a new tender circular in line with the government’s direction to increase local access to quality medicines and to reduce prices, focusing on brand-name drugs, hoping that once issued, more locals will benefit from this and a more competitive tender market will form in the future.
Circular No.15/2019/TT-BYT dated July 2019 regulating drug tenders at public hospitals
Group 1 includes drugs satisfying one of the three following criteria:
* Drugs manufactured entirely by a manufacturing line satisfying EU-GMP requirements or equivalent requirements in a country that is considered a stringent regulatory authority (SRA);
* Drugs on the list of proprietary drugs or reference biological drugs as announced by the Ministry of Health (MoH), except for proprietary drugs on the list of drugs eligible for price negotiation issued by the MoH and with announced price negotiation results; or
* Drugs manufactured entirely in Vietnam that satisfy all following requirements:
– Manufactured drugs satisfying EU-GMP requirements or equivalent requirements that are certified by the DAV to satisfy EU-GMP requirements or equivalent requirements;
– Drugs with granted certificates of free sale by the national drug authority of a country that is considered SRA as specified in Clause 8 of Article 50 of this circular;
– Drugs sold in Vietnam and drugs with granted certificates of free sale by a country that is considered SRA shall have the same dosage form, production process, quality criterion, verification method; active ingredients, excipients shall have the same quality criterion, production facility and production place as specified in Clause 8 of Article 50 of this circular.
Group 2 includes drugs satisfying one of the two following criteria:
* Drugs made entirely by a manufacturing line satisfying EU-GMP requirements or equivalent requirements with granted certificates by the DAV.
* Drugs manufactured entirely by a manufacturing line in a country that is a member state of Pharmaceutical Inspection Co-operation Scheme (PIC/s) and International Conference on Harmonisation (ICH), satisfying PIC/s-GMP requirements with granted certificates by the national drug authority of such country and the DAV.
Group 3 includes drugs manufactured by a manufacturing line satisfying GMP requirements with granted certificates by the DAV with evidence of bioequivalence announced by the DAV.
Group 4 includes drugs manufactured entirely by a manufacturing line in Vietnam satisfying WHO-GMP requirements with granted certificates by the DAV.
Group 5 includes drugs manufactured by a manufacturing line satisfying WHO-GMP requirements with granted certificates by the DAV which are not included in provisions specified in Clauses 1, 2, 3 and 4 of this article.
$350 million Quang Tri domestic airport added to planning
Quang Tri Domestic Airport will be constructed under the public-private partnership (PPP) model with the total investment capital of VND8.01 trillion ($348.26 million).
The capital for the airport project will be mobilised from the state budget and private enterprises.
The Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam has required the Ministry of Transport to approve the planning of Quang Tri Airport in the period of 2020-2030.
According to the plan, the airport will include a 10,000-square-metre terminal that can handle 1 million passengers a year. In addition, it has a land fund to serve for expansion. There will be four places in the aircraft parking area, with land set aside if there is a need to build another taxiway.
The project contributes to completing the province’s transport infrastructure, creating motivation for socio-economic development while simultaneously promoting the tourism sector of the province. There is currently no airport in Quang Tri and visitors must fly to Quang Binh or Hue and then travel by road for two or three hours to reach the province.
According to Decision No.236/QD-TTg of the prime minister approving the adjustment of the planning on air transport in 2020-2030, Quang Tri is one of 28 domestic airports which will be put into operation during the period. At present, Vietnam has 11 domestic airports, including Buon Ma Thuot in Dak Lak, Rach Gia in Kien Giang, and Phu Cat in Binh Dinh. In addition, Na San Airport was closed with plans for reconstruction.
The airport is about 93km from Dong Hoi National Highway 1 and 88km from Phu Bai International Airport in Thua Thien-Hue province.
Investment continues to flow into Cambodia’s footwear industry
Investment has continued to flow into Cambodia’s footwear industry as the COVID-19 pandemic runs rampant around the globe, reported the Phnom Penh Post.
The paper said the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) issued a final certificate of registration for Mann Long Shoes Co Ltd’s 10.3 million USD footwear factory in Kampong Cham province.
Located along National Road 6 in Phdav Chum commune’s Chheu Teal village in Cheung Prey district, the project is expected to create jobs for 3,379 workers.
Vice President of the Cambodian Chamber of Commerce said the country offers the potential for high investment returns on footwear plants, notwithstanding the EU’s possible withdrawal of tariff preferences on its exports to the European market.
Cambodia’s market will balloon even further, especially with Eurasia, as well as China and the Republic of Korea once free trade agreements with them come into effect, he said.
In early July, the CDC approved three projects worth over 14.4 million USD, which are expected to generate 625 jobs.
Coastal resorts move to diversify tourist segment
Resorts along the coastline of the Da Nang central province are now under pressure when resume operation after a period of suspension due to the COVID-19 crisis since their main customers are from foreign countries. However, positive signals have been seen in the inbound segment with increasing number of domestic customers.
Besides, MICE (Meeting, Incentives, Conferencing, Exhibitions) tourism is also expected to raise the room booking rates and take full advantages of the resort facility. Companies and travel agencies across the country have recently booked rooms for hundreds of customers in the coming time.
Having forecast the inbound sector entering its low season from September, the city has mapped out plans to sustain the stable operation of local tourist accommodations, while preparing to the coming back of foreign visitors after the pandemic.
Besides efforts to explore the domestic and foreign markets, until the year end, the city will conduct numerous professional training courses to improve the man power in the tourism sector./.
Indonesia: Food, beverage sectors contribute largest to H1 exports
The food and beverage, and basic metal industries continued to make the largest contribution to Indonesia’s exports in the manufacturing sector, with 13.73 billion USD and 10.87 billion USD worth of exports, respectively, during the first half of 2020.
The food and beverage industry saw a high demand during the COVID-19 pandemic as people are looking to consume nutritious food to boost their immunity, Indonesian Industry Minister Agus Gumiwang Kartasasmita said in a statement on July 23.
In the basic metal industry, the improved added value of natural resources has augmented foreign exchange revenue from exports. Moreover, this has breathed new life into the industry to absorb workers, he remarked.
With its position as the mother of industries – as its products have been used as raw materials for other sectors, such as automotive, maritime, and electronics – the basic metal industry has also served as the backbone for the country’s economy.
Indonesia is encouraging the metal industry to enter the era of the fourth Industrial Revolution through the application of digital technology. This is aimed at boosting productivity and quality. The fourth Industrial Revolution is not aimed at reducing workforce but instead to improve the added value of human resources, he said.
During the period from January to June, the export value of manufacturing products had touched 60.76 billion USD, or 79.52 percent of the total exports of 76.41 billion USD.
Cambodia surveys garment workers’ lives
Cambodia’s Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training (MLVT) is conducting a survey on garment workers’ living conditions and the impact of COVID-19 on them until July 31, local Khmer Times reported.
According to an announcement, MLVT has informed all owners or directors of enterprises and workers in the textile, garment and footwear sector and relevant authorities that the survey by the National Council on the Minimum Wage has been conducted on a random sample of employees selected in Phnom Penh and provinces.
When asked what he purpose of the survey is and what will be the government’s measures to further assist laid-off workers due to COVID-19, Labour Ministry spokesman Heng Sour declined to comment, saying that the survey is the ministry’s internal work conducted annually to submit to the National Council on the Minimum Wage.
According to figures from the MLVT, more than 410 factories have been suspended in Cambodia, affecting 240,000 workers.
Prime Minister Hun Sen announced in early July that 70,000 laid-off workers received monthly wage assistance from the government of 40 USD per person.
Losing a job means no revenue and 90 percent of workers have loan from banks, microfinance institutions or rural creditors, said Ath Thorn, president of workers union of the Cambodia Labour Confederation (CLC).
Thorn said so far buyers are still not placing new orders and the situation currently is still bad for the garment sector.
Another concern is that when the situation returns to normal and garment and textile suppliers in the world release their products to the market, Cambodia will face tough competition because the country will lose 20 percent of the Everything but Arms (EBA) trade tariff with the European Union (EU), he added.
Indian expert hails Vietnam’seconomic growth
The economic prospect of Vietnam is bright and the country’s economic growth story is like a “miracle”, S D Pradhan, deputy national security adviser of India, commented in a recent article run by Times of India newspaper.
In the article, the author held that despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Vietnam is forecast to be one of the fastest-growing economies in South East Asia. He cited the ADB’s Asian Development Outlook 2020 report published on April 3, 2020, that Vietnam’s economic growth will decline sharply to 4.8 percent in 2020 but bounce back up to 6.8 percent in 2021, provided the pandemic is contained.
A report by Standard Chartered forecasts that Vietnam’s GDP is on course for 7 percent growth through the 2020s – and will surpass the 10,000 USD per capita GDP mark in 2030. This is a remarkable growth story, he commented.
Vietnam has emerged as one of the favourite destinations for FDIs in Southeast Asia with FDI inward flow having increased year-on-year since 2011, reaching 19.5 billion USD in 2018, up from 17.1 billionUSD in 2017.
In addition, despite an average year-on-year minimum wage growth rate of 8.8 percent between 2015 and 2019, the manufacturing costs in Vietnam remain highly competitive.
The author asserted that socio-political stability combined with policymakers who continue to seek removal of restrictions on businesses by initiating reforms enabling foreign companies to open up businesses in the country have helped Vietnam attract significant business from abroad. It has increased infrastructure investment, promoted FDIs, increased education and R&D budgets, enhanced trade integration, and improved institutions and policies.
He noted that Vietnam took necessary measures to deal with the business crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which adversely effected business in the country.
However, S D Pradhan held that there would be a number of challenges for Vietnam to deal with, addingurgent efforts would be needed to develop the country as the manufacturing hub.
Corruption hinders fight against smuggling, trade fraud
Crimes relating to smuggling, trade fraud and counterfeit goods were still a big problem due to irresponsibility, loose management and corrupted State employees, said Deputy Prime Minister Truong Hoa Binh.
Binh, who is also head of the National Steering Committee 389 for Anti-smuggling, Counterfeit Goods and Trade Fraud, said at the committee’s meeting on July 23 that in the first half of this year, authorities, agencies and the committee did a good job in tackling corruption, particularly in cases relating to land management and public investment.
However, there remained a group of corrupt State employees who abetted and covered up crimes, he said, adding that they would be strictly punished.
Deputy Minister of Public Security Senior Lieutenant General Le Quy Vuong reported at the meeting that in the first half of this year, nearly 75,300 cases of smuggling, trade fraud and counterfeit goods were detected, down 12 percent compared with the same period last year.
Criminal investigations and legal proceedings were launched in 1,128 cases involving 1,346 suspects. The numbers of cases and suspects reduced 14 percent and 13 percent respectively compared with the same period last year.
Cracking down on smuggling, trade fraud and counterfeit goods helped add nearly 11.3 trillion VND (490 million USD) to the State budget.
As many as 23,465 crimes were reported in the last six months, a year-on-year reduction of 8.4 percent, Vuong said, adding that cybercrimes were more and more complicated and hidden.
He said the public was very concerned over violations relating to speculation, smuggling and producing fake medical products during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly bidding and purchasing of medical equipment serving disease prevention and control.
Nguyen Van Can, General Director of the General Department of Vietnam Customs, said that early this month, customs officers found 50,000 Chinese bikes and electronic bikes labelled as Made-in-Vietnam products for export to the US.
Notably, customs also found a company that illegally falsified certificate of origin (C/O) and issued it to 30 exporting companies with the value of exported goods worth 600 billion VND (26 million USD) while the company was not authorised to grant C/O.
“This kind of trade fraud is seen for the first time in Vietnam,” Can said, adding that customs and economic police were working together and would soon launch legal proceedings in the case.
Singapore’s financial district vulnerable to rising sea levels: CBRE
Prime office real estate in Singapore’s central business district (CBD) is highly susceptible to the risk of flooding as sea levels rise due to global warming, property consultants CBRE said in a report on July 23.
It said 51 buildings with about 20.8 million square feet (1.9 million sq.m) of office space are in high flood risk areas, assuming that average global temperatures would rise 1.5 degree Celsius between 2030 and 2052 as a UN panel has estimated.
The city-state’s Marina Bay area with soaring office towers worth billions of USD is the most vulnerable, CBRE said.
Much of Singapore’s financial district, where numerous multi-national companies and banks have offices, is built on reclaimed land and is less than 5 metres above sea level.
Assuming global temperatures rise by 4 degrees Celsius by the year 2100, an additional 4 million square feet of office area across 13 buildings in the CBD may be under threat, CBRE added.
It further noted that Singapore is vulnerable to prolonged heat waves, increased flash floods and rising sea levels as a result of climate change.
While the government has adopted several preemptive policies to mitigate the impact, the measures do not completely eradicate the risks.
Protecting Singapore against rising sea levels could cost 100 billion SGD (72 billion USD) or more over 100 years, according to the Singaporean government.
In 2019, the government said it would spend 400 million SGD to upgrade and maintain the country’s drains and strengthen its flood resilience.
Mobile internet subscribers in Cambodia down due to COVID-19
Cambodia had 14.8 million mobile internet subscribers, accounting for 90 percent of the population, by May, down 2.36 percent from one year ago, the Telecommunication Regulator of Cambodia (TRC) said in a report released on July 20.
On the contrary, the number of fixed internet subscribers rose 33 percent to 249,132 in May, or 1.51 percent of the population.
The TRC spokesperson Im Vutha attributed the drop in mobile internet subscribers to the absence of tourists and foreign investors in Cambodia as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, the rise in fixed internet users was thanks to increasing online business and learning activities, he said.
The report said there are currently six providers of mobile internet services and 37 providers of fixed services.
The number of Facebook users in the country was estimated at 10.9 million as of May.
Minister for Economy and Finance Aun Pornmoniroth recently affirmed that the digital economy is forming in Cambodia and has given birth to new services such as digital payment, online entertainment and e-commerce.
Over 396 million USD raised from G-bonds
The State Treasury raised over 9.2 trillion VND (over 396.1 million USD) through a Government bond auction on the Hanoi Stock Exchange (HNX) on July 23.
A total of 11.5 trillion VND worth of bonds was up for auction, including 5-year bonds valued at 1 trillion VND, 10-year bonds at 6 trillion VND, 15-year bonds at 3 trillion VND, 20-year bonds at 1 trillion VND, and 30-year bonds at 500 billion VND.
The five-year bonds were sold for a total of 1.4 trillion VND with an annual interest rate of 1.75 percent, 0.17 percent lower than that of the previous auction on July 15.
Close to 4.3 trillion VND was mobilised from the 10-year bonds with an annual interest rate of 2.8 percent, up 0.02 percent from the previous auction.
Sales of the 15-year bonds totalled over 2.15 trillion VND, with an interest rate of 3.01 percent per annum, up 0.02 percent from the July 15 auction. A later auxiliary auction mobilised 32 more billion VND.
The 20-year bonds raised 1 trillion VND at an interest rate of 3.34 percent per annum, equivalent to that of the previous auction.
The 30-year bonds were sold for 350 billion VND with an interest rate of 3.5 percent per annum, equivalent to that of the previous auction.
The State Treasury has raised close to 145.6 trillion VND (6.27 billion USD) from G-bonds so far this year.
Forum talks business restructuring for post-COVID-19 recovery
The e-magazine “Doanh nhan Vietnam” (Vietnam Entrepreneur) held a forum in Hanoi on July 23 to discuss business restructuring amid challenges caused by COVID-19.
The forum looked into competitiveness and business models in face of challenges caused by the pandemic, orientations for enterprises to overcome the crisis and suggested ways to improve their managerial capacity and productivity.
Director of the Institute for Brand and Competitiveness Strategy Dr. Vo Tri Thanh said among 126,000 surveyed enterprises, 86 percent of them said they have been considerably hit by COVID-19.
He added that the Government offered a 62 trillion VND (2.69 billion USD) social welfare package, directed reducing interest rates, extending the deadline for payments of debts, taxes and land lease.
In order to boost public investment, the Government has taken measures to speed up the disbursement of unspent capital in 2019 and planned capital in 2020 which amounts to 700 trillion VND, Thanh said, adding that the progress, however, remains slow.
Economist Dr. Can Van Luc, for his part, said the COVID-19 pandemic pulled down the six-month gross domestic product (GDP) to a 10-year low. The number of firms that suspended operations rose by 38.2 percent, more than doubling that of the same period last year.
Pointing out new business trends during and after the pandemic, he said investors have paid attention to safer assets like gold. At the same time, more firms joined merger and acquisition deals, amounting to 54 percent, equivalent to that before the pandemic.
Restructuring of supply chains and technological application to change working methods are also new trends.
According to a Nielsen survey, 63 percent of Vietnamese respondents said they will go shopping online more frequently after the pandemic while 86 percent are satisfied with the use of digital channels.
Thanh proposed that the Government should continue allowing the extension of tax and fee payments, as well as consider issuing new economic stimulus packages for next year.
He also advised firms to seek business opportunities, stay creative to offer new products amid the fourth industrial revolution, and improve branding and the sense of social responsibility.
PM directs suspension of wildlife import
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on July 23 issued Directive 29/CT-TTg on urgent measures to tighten the management of wildlife.
The directive stresses Vietnam’s consistent view on tightening the enforcement of national and international laws on wildlife in order to realize its relevant international commitments.
In line with the stance, the PM directs suspending the import of wildlife, be dead or alive, their eggs, larvas, parts, derivatives (except aquatic animals used for the production and processing of food and animal feed as specified in legal regulations, parts of wild animals already processed to be used as materials for drug production or final products) until new instructions are made.
For wildlife already licensed by foreign CITES authorities to export to Vietnam, the customs agency at the border gate must require the wildlife be return to the place of export.
The PM also orders ministries to review legal documents with a view to amending and supplementing punishments on the act of illegally consuming wildlife.
Localities are required to abolish wildlife markets or trading sites, keep a tight management of and strictly handle acts of illegally poaching, buying, selling, transporting, slaughtering, consuming, storing, advertising and abusing wildlife, especially animal, bird and reptile species in the natural environment.
The document also urges officials, State employees and their families not to join in illegally hunting, catching, buying, selling, transporting, slaughtering, consuming, storing and advertising wildlife.
Besides, the PM instructs ministries and local authorities to enhance their supervision of the raising of wildlife, and intensify the fight against violations of wildlife-related regulations and laws./.
Business networking event helps link manufacturers with local suppliers
The Vietnam Association for Supporting Industries (VASI) and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) teamed up to organise the Manufacturing Match Making Event 2020 in Hanoi on July 23.
Supported by the USAID Linkages for Small and Medium Enterprises Project (LinkSME), the event was held at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic is taking a heavy toll on all social and economic matters around the world. Vietnam is no exception, as its supply chains in the manufacturing industry has been badly disrupted by the outbreak.
In her opening remarks, VASI Secretary General Truong Thi Chi Binh said the event provides a platform to enhance links between manufacturers and small and medium-sized Vietnamese suppliers.
VASI will support these local firms to climb up the global supply chains, she said, adding that she expects many deals will be inked following the event.
The shifting of supply chains worldwide from the impact of COVID-19 offers plenty of opportunities for Vietnamese SMEs to gain access to and take part in global supply chains, Deputy Director of USAID LinkSME Duong Thi Kim Lien said.
The event gathered together more than 100 manufacturers in Vietnam, including major players such as automakers Vinfast, Truong Hai, Ford Vietnam, and Mitsubishi Motors Vietnam, as well as Panasonic Vietnam and Samsung Vietnam, who met with domestic suppliers of various parts and components.
On July 24, 50 Vietnamese companies will accompany VASI on a tour to two major manufacturers in metalworking and electronics, to learn from their experience in participating in global supply chains.
High-tech farming brings good profits to former graphic designer
Despite hardships along the way, perseverance has brought a young man success in developing a high-tech farming project in his hometown in Binh Dinh province.
Huynh Bao Diep, 32, from Tang at Ho town, Hoai An district, had a stable job in HCM City in graphic design after graduating from university.
Though he had what many graduates would call a dream job, he quit and moved back to his hometown to work as a farmer, Dan Tri online newspaper reported.
Diep said that he heard someone in Quang Ngai province has succeeded in growing lilies – a flower thought to grow in only temperate climatic gardens.
He decided to go to Da Lat city, Lam Dong province, the most famous flower growing place in Vietnam, to learn how to grow lilies.
In 2012, Diep asked his parents for 20 million VND to invest in growing lilies to sell for Tet (Lunar New Year) festival.
Though he had some experience from learning growing lilies in Da Lat city for a few months, he failed in his hometown.
Undeterred, he went back to Da Lat to try again. He went to prestigious gardeners to find answers for his past failures.
“I failed by trying to apply the process of growing flowers in Da Lat city to my hometown while the climate in the two places was completely different,” Diep said.
“It takes 80 days to grow lilies in Da Lat, while in the hot weather in Hoai An district, it’s shorted to 60 days and the care must be different also.”
After research, in 2014, he planted 700 lily pots to sell at Tet and gained initial success.
Diep earned 100 million VND from that crop after deducting all expenses.
Then he rented more land to scale up by building a net house for farming. But success has not come to him yet.
Lilies are very sensitive to the weather and they need suitable care, depending on the climate of each region, to help plants grow well.
After facing many failures, Diep gained more experience and skill to care for lilies.
In 2016, he expanded production with 4,000 pots of lilies to earn money to build a greenhouse.
That year, the lilies grew very well but floods destroyed everything he had work for.
He once again tried to rise up from the ashes to continue his business.
In recent years, growing lilies has brought profits to him. He has expanded production and gone to high-tech farming on 5ha.
Currently, besides growing lilies for Tet, Diep also plants baby cucumber, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, watermelon and cherry tomatoes via a drip irrigation method.
Since the end of 2018, some of his products have been sold in local markets and other provinces.
To reach long-term development, Diep is preparing procedures to register for product protection and an origin-tracing stamp.
The origin-tracing stamp will enhance consumers’ trust in products, Diep said.
“In addition to reliable quality, my products attract many customers as the transportation cost from Binh Dinh province to northern provinces is lower than buying goods from the south. Moreover, short-distance transport also helps the products be better preserved,” he said.
Diep built a greenhouse system on 2,000sq.m to grow cantaloupe melons and other fruits and vegetables.
For cantaloupe melons alone, on 1,000sq.m, he harvests four times per year. The profits made up nearly 60 percent of the total takings.
By the end of this year, he plans to build a store to sell his products in Tang Bat Ho town and link with other retail shops to boost consumption in the province and Da Nang city.
“When I left HCM City to return to my hometown to do farming, many said it was crazy,” Diep said.
“They said I did not have any knowledge about agriculture and high-tech farming. At that time, everyone thought I would definitely fail, but the reality was different.”
“The road ahead is still long, but I am confident I will gain good results. If you love your job, are dedicated to your job and with the right amount of effort and determination, everything is possible,” Diep said.
550 OCOP products introduced in capital city
A fair introducing products meeting standards of the “One Commune – One Product” (OCOP) programme kicked off in Hà Nội’s Tây Hồ District late last week, displaying 550 OCOP products and more than 2,000 other goods and specialties of 27 provinces and cities nationwide across 150 stalls.
This is the second time the municipal People’s Committee and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) have organised such an event, which runs until Monday.
According to Chu Phú Mỹ, head of the municipal Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, following the display, similar events introducing OCOP goods closely related to the civilisation of the Red River Delta area, the central and Central Highlands regions, and the southern delta will be held in Hà Nội in August, September, and November, respectively.
The OCOP was initiated by MARD in 2008, following the model of Japan’s “One Village, One Product” and Thailand’s “One Town, One Product”. It is an economic development programme for rural areas focusing on increasing internal power and values, which is also meant to help with the national target programme on new-style rural area building.
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