Shrimp industry confident of reaching 2020 export target: Minister
Vietnam’s brackish-water shrimp industry is confident of achieving its export target of more than 3.5 billion USD this year despite the host of difficulties posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong said.
The Ministry held a meeting in Soc Trang province on May 8 to launch development tasks for the sector in 2020, attended by officials from eight coastal provinces in the Mekong Delta – the largest agricultural hub in Vietnam – and a number of business associations.
Minister Cuong pointed out that the brackish-water shrimp industry has faced numerous challenges this year as the COVID-19 pandemic has not only threatened people’s health and lives around the world but also seriously affected global supply chains, including in Vietnam. Drought, saltwater intrusion, and shrimp disease count among other problems facing shrimp farmers.
He highlighted, however, certain opportunities for the industry, noting that the National Assembly is set to ratify the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) soon, under which tariffs on agricultural products, including shrimp, will be reduced sharply.
Other participants at the meeting said that State agencies, the agriculture ministry, and localities with large aquaculture areas need to take drastic action to cope with saltwater intrusion and shrimp disease, strictly deal with production facilities that violate quality regulations, and apply advanced farming technologies and sustainably production models.
It is also necessary to explore new export markets given the effect of the COVID-19 outbreak, they said.
The industry plans to farm shrimp on 730,000 ha of brackish water this year, harvest 830,000 tonnes, and earn 3.5 billion USD from exports, up 2-3 percent against 2019.
As of the end of April, the shrimp farming area in coastal localities was just over 480,000 ha, down some 15 percent against last April and equal to 71 percent of the annual plan. Output was estimated at more than 168,000 tonnes.
Shrimp exports approximated 600 million USD in the first quarter./.
FDI to Da Nang surges despite COVID-19
Foreign direct investment (FDI) disbursement in the central city of Da Nang has neared 1.8 trillion VND (76.54 million USD) since the start of 2020, a year-on-year surge of 92.1 percent despite the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the city’s statistics office.
Da Nang’s total development investment was estimated at over 7 trillion VND in the first quarter, down 8.1 percent compared to the same period last year.
The FDI sector has seen a rise in investment attraction thanks to the implementation of several big projects, notably the Sunshine aerospace components manufacturing facility launched by the Universal Alloy Corporation Vietnam, and the Japan-invested Mikazuki Spa & Hotel Report project.
To date, the city has welcomed 844 FDI projects totalling 3.47 billion USD.
Meanwhile, Da Nang has attracted four state-owned projects with a combined capital of over 8.61 trillion VND since the start of the year, bringing the total to 335 projects and 112.6 trillion VND in investment.
The Thai economy would improve once businesses reopen and employ people, and tourism resumes, with measures in place to give visitors confidence in their safety, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said on May 8.
Thailand’s cross-border trade down 7.6 percent in Q1
The Thai economy would improve once businesses reopen and employ people, and tourism resumes, with measures in place to give visitors confidence in their safety, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said on May 8.
He made the statement when answering questions about the next step in relaxing the nationwide lockdown imposed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease.
“If workplaces reopen, there will be employment and salaries… If factories reopen and employ people, rehabilitation will start,” the PM said.
“Tourism, tourist destinations and hotels will be improved so that tourists will have confidence and return to Thailand. We will take special care of public health,” he added.
He said that during relaxation of disease control measures, resumption of activities would be gradual. Otherwise, things would get out of control.
He pledged that the government will do its best to take care of everyone, as far as it can, with existing laws and budgets and it will use money efficiently, calling on the people to stay patient and helpful.
“We do not know how long the COVID-19 pandemic will last. The key is to make our country a safe place as soon as possible,” Gen Prayut said.
As of May 8, Thailand had a total of 3,000 COVID-19 patients in 68 out of 77 provinces, including 55 deaths. The capital city of Bangkok had the highest number of 1,699 cases, followed by the southern region with 716 patients, the central delta with 380 patients, the northeast with 111 patients and northern region with 94 patients. The country has successfully cured 2,784 COVID-19 patients, accounting for 92.8 percent./.
Vietnam vows to remove obstacles facing Australian exporters amid COVID-19
Vietnam will make an all-out effort to remove difficulties facing Australian enterprises when exporting to Vietnam during the COVID-19 crisis, Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh told Australian Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Simon Birmingham during phone talks on the morning of May 8.
The two ministers agreed on ways to work together to restore supply chains and cooperation within multilateral frameworks disrupted by COVID-19 after the pandemic has been brought under control.
They discussed ways to put each among the other’s top 10 trading partners and provide broader access for agricultural, forestry and fishery products.
They agreed to soon resume maritime transport and flights between the two countries and coordinate to diversify supply chains so they are less dependent on certain suppliers, while promoting investment and technology transfer in energy, mining, metallurgy, and support industries.
Minister Anh said that, at present, one of the most effective measures to cushion the blow from COVID-19 is to enhance bilateral cooperation in utilising existing free trade agreements.
He suggested the two countries further strengthen concerted efforts in trade promotions and partnerships between the Trade Remedies Authority of Vietnam and the Australian Anti-dumping Commission to improve the effectiveness of support for business communities and prevent unnecessary clashes in the area of trade.
Minister Birmingham, for his part, said Australia hopes that, as ASEAN Chair, Vietnam will work alongside other economies in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) to soon complete preparations for the signing of the trade deal this year.
He thanked the Ministry of Industry and Trade for its timely support and close coordination in deepening bilateral trade relations.
He agreed to speak with the Australian Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Environment about Minister Anh’s proposal to fast-track procedures for giving Vietnam approval to export farm produce, fishery products, and fresh fruit, including passion fruit and rambutan, to Australia.
Vietnam and Australia lifted ties to a strategic partnership in March 2018.
Two-way trade exceeded 2 billion USD in the first quarter of this year, up 13.4 percent year-on-year. Vietnam’s exports to Australia totalled 924.4 million USD, an increase of 11.65 percent, while imports were worth nearly 1.1 billion USD, up 15 percent./.
Work on construction of FLC 72-storey tower starts in Hai Phong
A groundbreaking ceremony for a complex of hotel, shopping mall and offices for rent invested by Property developer FLC Group was held in the northern port city of Hai Phong on May 8.
Covering an area of 13,486 sq.m in Ngo Quyen district, the 72-storey has a total investment of over 3.47 trillion VND (over 148.2 million USD).
FLC Diamond 72 Tower consists of nearly 350 five-star hotel rooms and high-class rooms; a high-class apartment, grade-A offices for rent and a series of high-end facilities such as 1,200-seat international convention centre, a shopping centre and food courts, pools, entertainment areas.
According to Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Nguyen Van Tung, with modern architectural solutions, this is will be the most modern complex of hotel, shopping mall and offices in the city and the region.
Huong Tran Kieu Dung, Vice Chairwoman of FLC’s board of directors, said this will be one of the three tallest towers in Vietnam with a unique and modern architecture designed by global top consultancy units.
The FLC Group is working to accelerate research and complete legal procedures so as to implemnt other projects in the city, she added./.
Indonesia allows baby lobster exports
Indonesia will start exporting baby lobsters after a previous ban aimed at conserving the wild population of the crustacean was lifted by the fisheries ministry.
Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries of Indonesia Edhy Prabowo on May 4 signed a decree allowing the resumption of exports of non-pigmented post-larval lobsters of the genus Puerulus (commonly known as whip lobsters) and of baby lobsters of the genus Panulirus.
The fisheries ministry has issued new requirements to regulate exports, including setting an annual quota and limiting the sites from where the lobsters can be harvested by small-scale and traditional fishermen using “passive” gear. Juvenile lobsters that are either spawning or smaller than 8 centimeters (3 inches) or weigh less than 200 grams (7 ounces) may not be exported.
In addition, baby lobsters must be shipped by air under strict supervision and quarantine. The export must be based on the volume of wild lobsters caught. Baby lobster exports will be subject to export and revenue taxes. The value of baby lobsters will be determined by relevant ministries.
According to Edhy Prabowo, the lifting of the baby lobster export ban aims to maintain the sustainability of the national aquatic resources, increase the welfare of the community and encourage businesses to participate in technology investment cooperation in breeding baby lobsters for export. Especially, the government will manage and earn foreign currencies.
Edhy’s predecessor, Susi Pudjiastuti, had imposed the export ban in 2016 in an effort to replenish Indonesia’s lobster stocks./.
Duyen Hai 3 thermal power expansion plant put into operation
The State council for acceptance testing of construction works has permitted Electricity of Vietnam (EVN) to put the Duyen Hai 3 thermal power plant expansion project in the Mekong Delta’s Tra Vinh province into commerical operation.
A council delegation led by Deputy Minister of Construction Le Quang Hung checked the acceptance of the project on May 6 and 7.
He recognised parties’ efforts in managing quality, adding that the plant operated stably during a trial period.
The expansion project is significant in ensuring electricity for socioeconomic development in the southern region in particular and the country in general.
Investment totalled more than 22.7 trillion VND (973.4 million USD).
Construction of the plant began in December 2014./.
Australian company dispatches first shipment of live cattle to Vietnam
Australian Cattle Enterprises (ACE) – a Darwin-based concern in the live export industry – loaded 4,500 steers and bulls onto a livestock carrier on May 7 for its first consignment to Vietnam.
Speaking to Australia’s ABC Rural as the shipment was being prepared, ACE Founder and Managing Director Patrick Underwood said it was “a really proud moment”.
The ship was originally to leave Townville Port on April 30 but was delayed for a week at the behest of the Vietnamese importer, he said, who was experiencing slower sales and a social distancing period.
COVID-19 had caused some “nervous moments” for the new Australian company.
Underwood said finding staff, including veterinarians, to work on ships during the pandemic has been challenging for the entire live export trade but he was pleased to receive support from the wider industry as well as the Australian Government.
The cattle were all sourced from Queensland and are being exported to Vietnam’s largest importer of Australian livestock – Hoa Phat.
The company has two shipments planned for May and another two for June, while a third out of Darwin will also have buffaloes on board, he said./.
Indonesia-Australia comprehensive economic deal to take effect from July 5
The Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IA-CEPA) will enter into force from July as Indonesia has completed its domestic ratification processes.
Australian Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Simon Birmingham said in an official statement that after his discussions earlier this week with his Indonesian counterpart Agus Suparmanto, the two sides agreed to make the deal effective from July 5.
Birmingham said the landmark agreement would enhance export opportunities and deliver significant benefits for Australian farmers, businesses and investors.
Securing a trade agreement with Indonesia has been a longstanding objective of the Australian government, to further strengthen the strategic partnership between the two nations and further expand the choices available for Australian exporters, he said.
The minister added that this is the most comprehensive bilateral trade agreement Indonesia has ever signed, and will give a competitive edge to Australian exporters, particularly at a time when many are doing it tough as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Indonesia and Australia started the IA-CEPA discussions in 2010 and the deal was finally signed in Jakarta last year after several postponements.
The IA-CEPA becoming effective will mean that 99 percent of Australian goods (by value) will enter Indonesia duty-free or under significantly improved preferential arrangements.
The pact will help improve access for Australian livestock farmers to the Indonesian market of 260 million people, while Australian universities and health providers will also benefit from easier entry into Southeast Asia’s biggest economy.
Meanwhile, greater access to the Australian market is expected to spur Indonesia’s automotive and textile industries, and boost exports of wood, electronics and medicine./.
PM: HCM City must regain position as economic locomotive of country
Ho Chi Minh City must regain the position as the locomotive of the national economy, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said at a video conference with key officials of the southern hub on May 8.
While lauding the city for its drastic efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and new business models, the Government leader said the local economic growth of 1.03 percent in the first quarter of the year is too low.
He affirmed the city’s important role and position in the national economic and asked it to make greater efforts in socio-economic development.
The PM appreciated the resolve of the city’s Party organisation, administration and people to strive for a growth rate of over 6 percent in 2020, saying that if HCM City is able to achieve this target, the national economy could grow 5 percent, the highest in the region.
PM Phuc also urged the city to accelerate the disbursement public investment capital, saying that its low disbursement could be a bottleneck in socio-economic development.
Highlighting the advantage as a safe destination for investment of Vietnam and HCM City in particular, the PM asked the city to seize the golden opportunity to attract investment, especially hi-tech investment projects.
Touching upon outstanding problems in the city, PM Phuc pointed to its dropping position in PCI (Provincial Competitiveness Index) rankings. Other issues that need prompt attention included serious traffic congestion, air pollution, flooding, and threats to social order such as robbery and burglary.
Regarding directions and tasks for the time ahead, he required the city to quickly take measures to address difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and improve its competitive capacity and business environment.
The Government leader also set the orientation for the southern hub to become a modern, smart and green city.
The municipal People’s Committee reported that the main tasks for the city will be continuing to fight the COVID-19 pandemic while implementing a plan to support enterprises until the end of the year. The plan focuses on helping enterprises maintain production and business activities while ensuring safety, cut production costs, renovate technology and restore production after the pandemic.
Phu Tho strives to further bolster competitiveness
Northern Phu Tho province has moved up nine places in the Provincial Competitiveness Index (PCI) over the last five years, and is set to do more to further raise its position.
In the 2019 rankings revealed recently by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) and the US Agency for International Development (USAID), Phu Tho ranked 26th among Vietnam’s 63 cities and provinces and third among the 14 northern mountainous provinces.
It has jumped nine places since coming in at 35th in 2015, primarily thanks to local efforts to improve the investment climate.
To rise further in the rankings, the provincial People’s Committee has requested relevant State agencies to press on with simplifying administrative procedures so as to create more favourable conditions for businesses, organisations, and individuals in all economic sectors and to ensure equality for all.
In particular, it asked agencies to raise awareness and a sense of responsibility among officials and public servants while stepping up online payments and the provision of online public services to the third and fourth levels.
The Chair of the Provincial People’s Committee told district-level authorities to promptly review existing administrative procedures, suggest methods for handling them in the fastest manner possible, and identify and eliminate outdated and unfeasible regulations that hamper business operations and development.
Local authorities also directed departments and sectors to monitor each PCI sub-index within their domain and conduct monthly and quarterly performance assessments. They were also asked to rectify “single window” units, strictly deal with any public servants who intentionally cause difficulties for businesses and individuals, and appoint staff with sufficient capabilities and a high sense of responsibility.
Provincial authorities said they will regularly publish new investment policies and sector plans to ensure equal access to information among the investors.
Leaders of the province and its departments, sectors, and localities will frequently take part in dialogues with businesses so as to quickly remove any obstacles in their operations.
Hotlines will also be set up at all State agencies in Phu Tho to receive feedback from organisations, businesses, and individuals on public servants’ performance in completing administrative procedures.
According to the PCI report, the quality of provincial economic governance in Vietnam reached its highest level for 15 years in 2019.
With 73.4 points, the northern province of Quang Ninh led the country for the third consecutive year, followed by the Mekong Delta provinces of Dong Thap (72.1 points) and Vinh Long (71.3 points), and then northern Bac Ninh province (70.79 points).
Based on data collected from enterprise surveys, the PCI is “the common voice” of the business community regarding the level of reform in various fields./.
Tourists to Hanoi reduce by 98.4 percent in April
The number of tourists to Hanoi dropped 98.4 percent year on year to just 35,500 in April, it was reported at a meeting of the municipal People’s Committee on May 6.
Among the visitors, there were around 8,500 international guests, down 98.6 percent, while domestic travelers numbered 27,000, down 98.3 percent.
As a result, the tourism sector’s revenue also fell 98.3 percent to only 143 billion VND (6.1 million USD).
The strong reduction in April contributed to a decrease of 59.2 percent in the number of tourists visiting Hanoi in the first four months of this year, to 3.89 million. Of the figure, over 964,000 were international visitors, down 58.2 percent year on year, and 2.92 million were domestic tourists, down 59.5 percent.
The sector earned 15.83 trillion VND in the period, down 53.2 percent from the same period last year.
Director of the Tourism Department Tran Duc Hai said 1,200 local accommodation facilities had to suspend operation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Before the national holidays on April 30 and May 1, 1,364 travel agents stopped operation, affecting over 35,000 employees.
However, the department believes there is a good prospect for growth as the sector gradually resumes operation.
“The department has defined its main task of stimulating domestic tourism from now to the end of the year,” director Hai said.
According to him, the sector will focus on the local strength of cultural tourism, while developing sustainable tourism products involving agriculture and trade villages.
Travel demand of Hanoians has started increasing again since the social distancing order was lifted in late April, and many tourist sites in the capital city have re-opened after long closure in an effort to help contain the spread of the COVID-19./.
MoIT, VCCI cooperate to support firms in post-COVID-19 period
The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) and the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) on May 7 signed a cooperation agreement to support businesses after the COVID-19 pandemic is pushed back.
Accordingly, the two sides would build a comprehensive cooperation programme with three key actions including completing laws, institutions and international treaties in the industry and trade sector; ensuring equality in accessing resources and business opportunities; and creating a favourable environment for start-ups and innovation firms.
The programme also provides specific actions in sectors under the MoIT’s management such as domestic and international trade, competition, market management, energy and global economic integration.
The programme clarifies rights and duties of each side in implementing activities.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh said VCCI has been a prestigious organisation which has consulted the Government in economic development while protecting rights of Vietnam’s business community to further integrate into the world’s economy.
“The coordination of VCCI with the Ministry of Industry and Trade has been an important foundation to bring support policies to businesses. VCCI has also been an important information channel for ministries and sectors,” Anh said.
VCCI Chairman Vu Tien Loc said MoIT has been one of the pioneers in implementing policy reform that have big effects on the business community. The ministry’s sharp cut in business conditions under its management has promoted import-export activities in the past few years.
In addition, MoIT has made great efforts in expanding markets and negotiations of FTAs to support firms’ development. The ministry has always listened to ideas from enterprises through VCCI to better serve the business community.
“Vietnam has a lot of opportunities in the context of deep international integration. In addition to preparation in infrastructure, institution and trade promotion, local firms should be active in accessing big multinational groups and economic centres to join in restructuring global value chains. MoIT should closely cooperate with VCCI as well as the business community to implement the task,” he added./.
PM instructs enhancing power saving
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has called on the whole country to save at least 2 percent of total power consumption each year under his recently-signed Directive No.20/CT-TTg on saving electricity from 2020-2025.
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has called on the whole country to save at least 2 percent of total power consumption each year under his recently-signed Directive No.20/CT-TTg on saving electricity from 2020-2025.
The PM required ministries, ministry-level agencies, Government agencies, people’s committees of centrally-run cities and provinces, businesses and mass organisations to take five measures.
Administrative agencies must work with electricity suppliers to save 5 percent of the total consumption each year, build and effectively follow regulations on the use, repair and maintenance of electricity equipment, and raise staff awareness of power saving. The agencies are encouraged to install rooftop solar power systems.
Public lighting operators were required to save 20 percent of the total electricity consumption during the period. Power saving technology must be used in public lighting.
Hospitality providers, office centres and apartment buildings were asked to cut 50 percent of outdoor advertising lighting capacity at night.
Households were suggested to use equipment with energy saving labels, economically and effectively use power, and install solar panels on roofs.
Major energy consumption establishments must save at least 2 percent of power per product unit each year.
People’s committees of centrally-run cities and provinces must add criteria for economical and effective energy use into their annual and periodic socio-economic development plans
Vietnam Electricity will be responsible for optimising power plants and electricity transmission networks, and working closely with the National Centre for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting to update forecasts about weather and water resources./.
Indonesia’s central bank allowed to buy gov’t bonds worth over 16 billion USD
Indonesia’s central bank has obtained permission to purchase about 42,000 billion rupiah (166.33 billion USD) worth of government bonds in the primary market in 2020, said Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati.
She told House of Representatives Commission XI overseeing financial affairs that the BI may absorb 25 percent of government bonds issued in the year.
Earlier, the Indonesian government said it will upsize the bond issuance to finance the 2020 budget deficit.
Indonesia also widened the budget deficit to a record-high 5.07 percent of GDP while the country’s finance ministry looked for other sources to improve the national budget.
On May 6, Indonesian President Joko Widodo asked ministers to concentrate on efforts to control COVID-19 and its impact on the economy during a cabinet meeting.
He also ordered ministers to ensure economic stimulus went to sectors that had suffered the greatest contraction./.
Malaysia: Over half a million jobs lost after seven weeks of movement restrictions
The number of unemployed people reached 520,000 in Malaysia after seven weeks of the enforcement of the Movement Control Order (MCO) to cope with the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic, forcing the government to restart the economy.
The information was revealed by Malaysian Minister of Economic Affairs Mustapa Mohamed during a TV interview on May 7.
He added that the government has already received advice from the Health Ministry, and decided that it is time to look at the economy.
According to the country’s central bank, if no action is taken, the number of the unemployed could reach 1.8 million.
The Malaysian government had allowed almost all economic sectors and business activities to resume business operations starting from May 4. However, the decision to reopen the economy did not mean every business would operate at full capacity immediately.
The MCO was enforced on March 18, resulting in the suspension of most trading activities. The country is projected to lose 2.4 billion ringgit (557.81 million USD) per day if the restrictions go on.
Malaysia reported 39 new COVID-19 cases on May 7, raising the national tally to 6,467. Of the number, there were 4,776 recoveries and 107 fatalities./.
Press teleconference talks Vietnam-China relations
The Chinese Embassy in Vietnam held a press teleconference in Hanoi on May 7 to discuss bilateral ties and international cooperation in the fight against COVID-19.
Speaking at the event, Minister-Counselor at the Chinese Embassy in Vietnam Yin Haihong said 2020 is a special year in bilateral relations as the two countries are celebrating the 70th founding anniversary of diplomatic ties.
On January 16, Vietnamese Party General Secretary and President Nguyen Phu Trong held phone talks with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, dung which they agreed to enhance political trust and promote traditional solidarity and friendliness between the two nations for the sake of their people and for peace, cooperation and development in the region and the world, Yin said, adding that the two leaders also consented to properly settle existing problems in bilateral relations.
She said amid the COVID-19 pandemic, senior leaders of the two nations informed each other about the outcomes of fighting the disease in each country and discussed cooperation in coping with its new developments.
According to the official, cooperation in epidemic prevention and control has become a spotlight in Vietnam – China ties.
As China was at the most difficult time to struggle with the pandemic, the Vietnamese Government donated medical supplies worth 500,000 USD to China at the earliest time, she said, adding that the Vietnam Red Cross Society also presented medical equipment worth 100,000 USD to the Chinese people.
Vietnamese provinces bordering China also granted medical supplies to Chinese counterparts. In particular, two Chinese COVID-19 patients were successfully treated in Vietnam for free and the considerate care of Vietnamese medical staff impressed the Chinese people, she said.
Yin added that considering seriousness and demand of several countries, China sent teams of medical staff to share experience and offer medical supplies to them, including Vietnam.
About farm produce stuck at some border gates, Yin said the two countries’ authorities discussed measures to promptly deal with the issue.
Answering questions about ways to cut trade deficit between Vietnam and China, she said the two countries are striving to boost trade and investment, contributing to their sustainable trade.
The diplomat also mentioned measures to overcome economic impacts after the epidemic is pushed back and intensify two-way trade in the near future./.
Philippines GDP falls for first time since 1998
The Philippines’ GDP shrunk 0.2 percent in the first three months of 2020, recording the first contraction since the fourth quarter of 1998, announced the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) on May 7.
The latest reading compares with the 6.7 percent increase recorded in Q4 2019, and 5.7 percent in the first quarter last year.
Speaking in an online briefing, PSA head Claire Dennis Mapa said that the main contributors to the decline were manufacturing, transportation and storage, and accommodation and food service activities.
Among the major economic sectors, agriculture, forestry, and fishing, and industry contracted by 0.4 percent and 3.0 percent, respectively.
On the other hand, services posted a growth of 1.4 percent during the period.
In the same briefing, Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary of the Philippines Karl Kendrick Chua said containing the spread of COVID-19 and saving lives through the imposition of the enhanced community quarantine has come at great cost to the Philippine economy.
He added that a negative GDP growth was last seen in 1998, when the full year economic performance contracted by 0.5 percent during the Asian Financial Crisis, coupled with the El Nino situation./.
Teleconference seeks to boost Vietnam-India trade
A teleconference, themed “Vietnam-India: Promoting trade in farm produce and processed food”, was held on May 7 to discuss business potentials during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking at the event, Director of the Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Trade Promotion Agency Vu Ba Phu described India as a huge market in the Central South Asia region with a population of nearly 1.4 billion and the potential of consuming Vietnamese farm produce such as tea, pepper, rubber, confectioneries, tra fish, cereals. However, India’s imports of Vietnamese products remain modest compared to its purchasing power, he said.
Phu called on the Indian Importers Chambers of Commerce and Industry (IICCI) to continue partnering with the Indian Government to open up the market for several Vietnamese farm produce such as longan, litchi and rambutan, among others.
IICCI President Atul Kumar Saxena, who has nearly 40 years of experience in working with Vietnam, mentioned 10 major products that Vietnam could tap to export to not only India but also other countries such as rice, coffee, spices, cocoa and cashew nuts.
Apart from rice export, he suggested that Vietnam should use modern technology to process products of added value and improve business strategy to gain more successes in India.
Vietnamese firms shared their advantages and disadvantages in doing business in India while Indian counterparts also presented their opportunities and challenges in increasing their presence in Vietnam.
Participants highlighted the need to fully tap resources and conditions to facilitate trade, thus promptly tackling difficulties for the two countries’ farm produce businesses./.
Vietnam, US state bolster cooperation for economic recovery
It is now an important time for Vietnam and the West Virginia state of the US to cooperate in a joint effort on economic resumption and fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh has said.
The minister made the statement during a May 7 online talk with Carol Miller, US House member representing West Virginia’s 3rd congressional district.
The talks also involved Vietnamese Ambassador to the US Ha Kim Ngoc and representatives from the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT), Vietnam’s trade office in the US, and the Vietnam National Coal and Mineral Industries Group (Vinacomin).
Anh underlined the special significance of Vietnam-US ties while speaking highly of Miller’s role in promoting bilateral economic and trade relations in the US Congress and Government.
Vietnam and the US have devised an action plan elaborating various measures towards sustainable trade, including boosting cooperation with the US federal government and states, he said.
According to Anh, building strategic trust is among the leading factors that help bolster the Vietnam-US comprehensive partnership in general and bilateral economic and trade ties in particular, making contributions to peace, stability, cooperation, and development in Asia-Pacific.
The Vietnamese Government has given priority to improving the investment climate and creating optimal conditions for US projects, he confirmed.
He also suggested the signing of an agreement between the MoIT and West Virginia to foster collaboration, focusing on the three pillars of economics, trade, and energy, in a bid to build a legal framework and facilitate cooperation between the business communities of the two sides.
The US congresswoman appreciated the suggestion, and thanked the Vietnamese Government for facilitating long-term business activities by foreign investors in general and US businesses in particular.
She said that West Virginia and Vietnam share a common goal of enhancing trade connections, especially in fields where the state boasts strengths, such as energy, coal, and liquefied gas, among others.
She pledged to spare no effort in promoting the image of Vietnam in the US Congress and Government, thereby contributing to the two countries’ cooperation in a practical and effective manner.
The Vietnamese Embassy pledged to work as a bridge to promote the collaboration between Vietnam’s ministries, sectors and enterprises with US states.
Trade cooperation and investment between Vietnam and the US have been thriving, with two-way trade hitting 77.5 billion USD in 2019 and 19.5 billion USD in the first quarter of 2020, a year-on-year increase of 19.3 percent./.
RoK calls for policy coordination among East Asian nations to minimise COVID-19 economic impact
The Ministry of Economy and Finance of the Republic of Korea (RoK) on May 7 urged East Asian nations to step up policy coordination to minimise the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, reported Yonhap news agency.
Han Kyeong-ho, a senior ministry official who is a co-chairman of the Public Expenditure Management Network in Asia (PEMNA), made the remarks during a videoconference with senior economic officials from 14 nations in the region.
Han said fiscal policy has played a key role for the RoK to navigate the economic slowdown triggered by the pandemic.
He added that nations in the region must boost policy coordination to revive economic growth.
PEMNA has 14 members, including 10 from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, along with the RoK, China, Timor Leste and Mongolia./.
Phu Tho earmarks 2 trillion VND for rural development
The northern province of Phu Tho plans to mobilise 2 trillion VND (85.2 million USD) to build new-style rural areas this year.
It aims to have at least ten new rural communes by year’s-end, raising the total to 120.
The province is therefore speeding up production in association with agricultural restructuring and focusing on developing organic farm produce.
Local authorities will encourage people to contribute funds and effort to develop transport infrastructure, irrigation networks, and cultural works in rural areas.
The province will also pay greater attention to building production and consumption chains and promoting key products under the “One Commune, One Product” (OCOP) programme./.
Quang Ninh promotes online transactions during COVID-19
The northern province of Quang Ninh has been promoting the application of technology for online payments and administrative services among locals and businesses during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The move also aims to create a premise for building local e-government and pushing forward with smart city efforts.
The proportion of customers paying water bills online rose 30 percent in March compared to February.
Deputy director of the provincial clean water supply company Tran Manh said this is the highest rate to date and due to the implementation of the provincial People’s Committee’s decision on promoting online payments for public services.
Regarding electricity bills, the local power company said the proportion of online customers reached 64.24 percent in March and the figure continued to surge in April.
Meanwhile, the provincial customs department said it conducted 129 out of 150 online services in the first quarter of 2020./.
Thua Thien-Hue offers discount programme to attract tourists
The central province of Thua Thien-Hue has reduced entrance fees to local tourist sites by 50% to lure more visitors.
The decision was announced during an irregular meeting on May 8 and approved by the provincial people’s committee. According to the committee, the Covid-19 pandemic has badly affected the tourism sector in Thua Thien-Hue.
In a short period of time, all figures about the number of tourists and revenues plummeted as transportation firms, hotels and restaurants closed. Some companies are on the brink of bankruptcy and thousands of people have lost jobs or reduced salaries.
In the first four months of 2020, the province welcomed 940,069 tourists, a drop of 50% compared to the same period last year. The number of overnight tourists stood at 426,911, decreased by 44.95%. The total revenues earned from the tourism industry dropped by 45% to over VND2trn (USD86m).
According to Thua Thien-Hue People’s Committee, accumulated losses in the first four months were over VND2.2trn. Direct losses from tourism businesses, excluding bank interest rates and depreciation loss, was over VND700bn.
The authorities have proposed various solutions to boost the market such as national tourism conference in late May, stimulus packages and promotion programmes for new products and services. The provincial authorities will launch its stimulus package in 2020 and introduce stimulus package from enterprises.
They will co-operate with the authorities in Danang and Quang Nam to build new central region tour packages. New festivals and events will be held to attract more visitors along with reducing the entrance fees to tourist spots from May 8 to July 31.
Ba Ria-Vung Tau to attract more FDI for development
The southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau has for many years been an ideal destination for foreign investors thanks to its natural advantages and comprehensively developed infrastructure in addition to attractive incentives.
The development strategy for 2020 continues to focus on completing the road system connecting the province with other localities in the region, including roads connecting the port system with Highway 51, industrial zones and logistics centers; developing the system of inland ports and warehouses around the Cai Mep-Thi Vai port; and promoting investment in railway lines connecting the Cai Mep-Thi Vai port and stations in provinces and cities in the southern key economic zone.
The province has many advantages for foreign investment, such as good infrastructure, developing port services, low labor costs, and high economic growth. In 2020, the province will invest strongly in the Cai Mep-Thi Vai port system and logistics centers in order to strengthen connections with European supply chains.
In addition, it will focus on promoting major projects that use advanced technology and are environment-friendly, with sectors including logistics, supporting industries, high-tech agriculture, and tourism being prioritised.
It will identify major global corporations for soliciting investment.
Activities to promote investment, trade and tourism will be undertaken together with partners such as Japan, South Korea, Australia, North America, Russia, and ASEAN.
With the effect of the ASEAN Trade in Services Agreement (ATISA) and the ASEAN Agreement on Electronic Commerce, the Southeast Asia third party logistics market is expected to grow at a compound annual rate (CAGR) of 5.5% over the next few years, reaching US$56 billion by 2025.
Another bright spot for FDI in Vietnam in general and Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province in particular is the signing of free trade agreements that will promote exports and create jobs.
Over the years, the province has issued appropriate policies to support businesses in participation in provincial and regional supply chains.
The province will also strengthen investment promotion activities at home and abroad./
PetroVietnam’s crude oil output in Jan-April exceeds set target
The Vietnam Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam)’s crude oil output exploited in the first four months of 2020 reached 7.2 million tonnes of oil equivalent, exceeding its set target by 7.7 percent, despite difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and a sharp decrease in oil prices.
In the period, the group’s electricity production hit 7.03 billion kWh, nitrogen output reached 601,600 tonnes, and petroleum production is estimated at 4.53 million tonnes, all surpassing its targets.
The consumption of petroleum products began to prosper in April as the volume of consumed petroleum of the group’s units in April increased by 3.6-17.6 percent against the previous month
Due to a significant reduction in the world’s oil prices, the group’s oil price during January-April was averaged at around 48 USD per barrel, much lower than the planned price of 65 USD per barrel. As a result, PetroVietnam’s revenue in the period reached only 203.9 trillion VND (8.83 billion USD), and its State budget contribution be 24.1 trillion VND (over 1 billion USD)./.
Tourism stimulus programme launched in Sa Pa
The People’s Committee of Sa Pa township in northern Lao Cai province has cooperated with the Sa Pa Tourism Association and the Fansipan Cable Car Service Co. Ltd. to kick off a tourism stimulus programme.
This is the first large-scale tourism stimulus programme in the North to help the local tourism industry resume after a period of suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This programme is scheduled to run in May and June.
Hotels, homestays, tour operators and tourism destinations in Sa Pa township would reduce service prices by between 30 percent and 60 percent.
To Ba Hieu, Vice Chairman of the Sa Pa Tourism Association, said those businesses have been asked to work together to attract tourists. Besides that, they must still implement strict measures on control and prevention of the pandemic.
Of which, there are businesses to cut room prices by 50 percent, such as Legend Hotel, Huong Sen, Retreat Sa Pa, Rong Sa Pa Hotel, Sa Pa Green hotel and Rex homestay.
The Sun World Fansipan Legend tourist resort has a discount of up to 60 percent on Fansipan cable car tickets for travellers of six northwestern provinces including Lao Cai, Lai Chau, Son La, Dien Bien, Yen Bai and Hoa Binh.
The Sa Pa tourism market has been mostly suspended due to the outbreak of COVID-19. The number of visitors to Sa Pa dropped by 50 percent in March and 100 percent in April./.
Thailand’s consumer confidence lowest in 21 years
Thailand’s consumer confidence slumped to a 21-year low in April as the public remained worried about the poor economy, unemployment and future income because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC) reported on May 8 that the consumer confidence index (CCI) fell to 47.2 last month from 50.3 in March. This was the 14th straight monthly decline and the lowest level since October 1999.
Thanavath Phonvichai, President of the UTCC, said economic conditions are at a critical level and consumer spending is unlikely to recover for at least 3-6 months until the pandemic is under control, all business sectors are allowed to reopen and the government’s stimulus measures produce concrete results for the economy.
He said the lower confidence stems from consumers’ expectation that the economy will fall into a depression with weakened domestic purchasing power, tourism, exports and employment.
The farm sector remains stunted by drought, while farm prices are still relatively low, Thanavath said.
The university estimates that the pandemic will cause damage of up to 1.5 trillion THB (46.8 billion USD) in the first half of the year, including 700 billion THB in lost tourism revenue, 300 billion THB from lower private consumption and the rest from lower exports and border trade.
The recent easing of measures for certain businesses by the government is estimated to result in up to 3 billion THB in added spending per day, Thanavath said.
Starting on May 3, the government allowed outdoor markets, barbershops and pet groomers to start reopening after new daily coronavirus cases dropped into the single digits.
The curfew and a ban on alcohol sales will remain until the end of May.
Thanavath said that if the government goes through with further easing on May 17, an additional 6-8 billion THB in daily spending is expected./.
Online shopping traffic drops in first quarter
Online shopping in the first quarter of this year has dropped compared to the same period last year, according to a research by iPrice Group.
Despite the drop in traffic, some product categories saw surges in demand, including for gym equipment, computer equipment, condoms, vitamin and gaming consoles.
iPrice Group’s report shows that Tiki has returned to the top two among Vietnamese e-commerce platforms after two quarters of being surpassed by Sendo.
Tiki saw 23.99 million hits per month in the first three months of the year, a slight decrease of 500,000 visits per month compared to the fourth quarter last year but remained stable compared to rivals Lazada Vietnam and Sendo.
Traffic to Lazada Vietnam and Sendo in the first quarter decreased by 7.3 million visits per month and 9.6 million visits per month, respectively. These two ranked behind Tiki.
Topping the tables nationwide is still Shopee Vietnam with 43.16 million website visits per month.
It also increased by 5.2 million website visits per month compared to the previous quarter. This is also the third consecutive quarter of Shopee’s growth in website traffic./.
PM calls for greater efforts to achieve growth of over 5 percent this year
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has called for greater efforts to restart the national economy with the aim of achieving a GDP growth rate of over 5 percent and keeping inflation under 4 percent this year.
PM Phuc announced the targets at a meeting with businesses on May 9 that was connected to 93 venues in provinces and cities across the country as well as ministries and sectors. It was also broadcast live by Vietnam Television (VTV).
To that end, the PM ordered focusing on attracting investment from domestic economic sectors, firstly the private sector, and foreign direct investment (FDI), stepping up exports, promoting public capital disbursement, and encouraging domestic consumption.
The resolve is needed to overcome weaknesses and spur development, thus reaching the set targets, the government leader stressed.
He urged businesses, including the banking sector, to join hands in bolstering national development, saying the meeting must have concrete outcomes and reflect the spirit of removing difficulties faced by enterprises.
Authorities need to stop troubling businesses and citizens with red-tape and administrative procedure hassles, he requested.
On this occasion, the PM tasked businesses with promoting patriotism and law respect, sharing difficulties with the Government, staying united, cooperative, dynamic and creative, and maintaining determination.
Local businesses need to contribute to the country’s growth so that the national economy could develop in accordance with the V shape but not the U or W shapes, said PM Phuc.
He highlighted the goal of turning Vietnam into a prosperous nation in 2045 set in draft documents to be submitted to the 13th National Party Congress, and expressed his hope that there will be Vietnamese firms in the list of the world’s 500 biggest enterprises by that time.
Vietnam has huge, sustainable growth potential for the long term, he said, adding that the country is among economies considered safe in the post-COVID-19 period, with tens of free trade agreements with the world’s 38 biggest markets.
The leader asked domestic businesses to optimize opportunities generated by the transform of value chains during which Vietnam has been regarded as the centre.
Vietnam grew 3.82 percent in the first quarter of this year, the lowest over the past decade, he said, but noting that it was the highest among the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
The PM reiterated the duo target of fighting the pandemic and maintaining economic activities, along with administrative reform and restructuring.
The country has reported no new COVID-19 within the community over the past 23 days, he said, attributing the result to public support and sound, drastic, prompt and synchronous decisions and policies adopted by the Party and State to contain the acute respiratory disease.
The meeting looked into the implementation of policies that have been rolled out to assist domestic enterprises in operation and epidemic prevention and control.
Initiatives and proposals raised by enterprises, experts and people regarding necessary solutions to help businesses recover and develop after the pandemic passes were collected for the issuance of an action plan or a resolution of the Government to restart the national economy./.
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