Vietnam’s trade surplus hits record high despite COVID-19
Vietnam posted a record trade surplus of 20.1 billion USD in the first 11 months of this year despite the adverse impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global economy, according to the General Statistics Office.
In November alone, export turnover was 24.8 billion USD, down 9 percent from the previous month, but up 8.8 percent compared with the same month last year.
Thirty-one groups of commodities joined the billion-dollar export product club, including 10 groups posting more than 10 billion USD.
The US remained the largest export market of Vietnamese goods in the 11 months, followed by China, the EU, ASEAN, the Republic of Korea and Japan./.
Vietnam, RoK step up cooperation in trade, industry, energy
Vietnam and the Republic of Korea (RoK) have signed an action plan to complete the target of raising their bilateral trade to 100 billion USD by 2023.
The signing took place during the 10th meeting of the Vietnam-RoK Joint Committee on Energy, Industry and Trade Cooperation on December 10-12.
Under the action plan, the two sides will work to attract more Korean firms to Vietnam, and facilitate Vietnamese enterprises’ exports such as garments-textiles, footwear, timber and agro-fishery products, and processed food to the RoK.
Vietnamese Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh and Korean Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Sung Yunmo reached consensus on activities to promote technological transfer, improve personnel quality, and intensify investment and trade connectivity, particularly in automobile, mechanics, electronics and garment-textile.
They also agreed to boost Korean investments in liquefied natural gas (LNG) power projects and renewable energy as well as cooperation in scientific research in service of Vietnam’s energy development.
The two sides discussed solutions to expand and facilitate the bilateral trade ties, push up with market opening for farm produce, and handle technical issues that affect their import-export.
On this occasion, the ministers also co-chaired the 4th Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Vietnam-RoK Free Trade Agreement (VKFTA), during which they exchanged views on cooperation in customs, product origin, animal and plant quarantine, commercial technical barriers and trade remedies, among others, thus helping iron out snags and create a legal corridor for the implementation of the deal./.
Meeting seeks to develop Vietnam’s agriculture amid COVID-19
A plenary meeting of the International Support Group (ISG), themed “Vietnam agriculture and rural development in the context of COVID-19: Opportunities and Challenges”, took place in Hanoi on December 11.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Le Quoc Doanh said apart from the COVID-19 impacts, agriculture sector and rural residents are also hit by climate change, natural disasters and epidemics.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) worked closely with ministries, agencies, localities and international community to adopt timely and effective measures.
As a result, farm produce export was estimated at 37.42 billion USD in 11 months of this year, up 2.4 percent annually.
He called on the domestic agriculture sector to take comprehensive and flexible measures to ensure food security, maintain growth and export, improve livelihoods and income of rural residents, and propel sustainable development, during which international support is needed.
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative Caitlin Wiesen said her organisation is assisting Vietnam in overcoming disaster and COVID-19 consequences via technological transfer and product quality improvement. She added that UNDP could help Vietnam’s agriculture mitigate risks via insurance and support for small and medium-sized enterprises, and cooperatives.
Participants discussed the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic on the economy, farming households and businesses, the disruption of farm produce supply chain, environment risks, national and global food security.
They also offered policy recommendations and solutions to the pandemic in the field of agriculture and rural development, debated the building of international cooperation programmes to restore farming production and trade, and link up with the global supply chain amid the pandemic.
At the event, the MARD adopted a joint declaration reflecting commitment to promoting the sustainable development of Vietnam’s agriculture and rural areas, contributing to fulfilling the Government’s dual goals of fighting the pandemic and developing the economy.
Following the event, the ministry will work with each partner to materialise the joint declaration, Doanh said./.
HCM City forum spotlights linkage, investment opportunities for SMEs
A forum on the linkage and investment opportunities for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) was held in Ho Chi Minh City on December 9 as part of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) Linkages for Small and Medium Enterprises (USAID LinkSME) project.
The event was organised by the USAID in collaboration with the municipal Department of Industry and Trade, the HCM City Export Processing and Industrial Zones Authority (HEPZA), and the Saigon Hi-Tech Park.
Addressing the event, Deputy Director of the HCM City Department of Industry and Trade Nguyen Phuong Dong said the department has provided local SMEs with a wide range of supports to boost the growth of supporting industries.
HCM City has made relentless efforts to develop local land bank and infrastructure with three industrial parks set up exclusively for SMEs and supporting industry, said Tran Viet Ha from HEPZA.
HEPZA has also worked hard to bridge the local SMEs with new partners and markets, he continued, adding it has also cooperated with the municipal Department of Industry and Trade to diversify supporting industry support programmes, covering from administrative services, access to funding to preferential incentives and consultation.
Robert Green, US Deputy Consul General in HCM City urged Vietnamese SMEs to be more flexible to make the most of opportunities from the global shift of supply chains while trade promotion agencies must engage in fostering connection between the SMEs and large corporations that lead supply chains./.
Fine logistics services facilitate Vietnam-EU trade: experts
Optimising quality of logistics services is a requisite measures to boost Vietnam-EU trade amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, experts said at the online business matching forum held on December 9.
Director of the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT)’s Trade Promotion Agency Vu Ba Phu said Vietnam and the EU have enjoyed fruitful trade ties in the past time, particularly the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement, which was signed in August, serves as a boon for trade development between the two sides.
However, the two-way trade faced formidable challenges due to pandemic, including expensive logistics services, and the EU’s changes of administrative procedures in import-export and international goods management process.
In this context, Phu said logistics firms of both sides need to discuss cooperative opportunities, take advantage of each other’s resources to optimise logistics services so as to better serve export and import enterprises.
The MoIT’s competent agencies are working to create favourable conditions for import and export firms as well as logistics businesses, he stressed, adding Vietnam encourages local firms to invest heavily in uniform logistics infrastructure, enhance connectivity of transport vehicles, and improve capacity to provide logistics services through digitalisation.
Meanwhile, deputy head of the MoIT’s Foreign Trade Agency Tran Thanh Hai suggested EU firms plow into logistics infrastructure in Vietnam, participate in carrying out technology application in the field, and bolster training of logistics human resources and cooperation in urban logistics, circular logistics and green logistics.
Deputy General Secretary of the Vietnam Logistics Business Association Nguyen Tuong, for his part, laid stress on several challenges of Vietnamese logistics firms, including digital transformation, service quality, management skills, and human resources.
Senior Manager Supply Chain Solutions Asia of the Holland International Distribution Council (HIDC) Sjaak de Klein said HIDC stands ready to give consultation on supply chain for Vietnamese logistics firms.
Sharing logistics risk management while cooperating with EU enterprises, President of Club FrancoRisk Gilbert Canameras said as risks increase when the world changes, businesses should be well equipped with risk forecast systems./.
Vietnam, Venezuela beef up economic, trade cooperation
The Embassy of Vietnam in Venezuela together with the Venezuela-Vietnam Chamber of Commerce (CAVENVIET) organised a webinar on December 10 to launch an office to connect the two countries’ businesses and bolster bilateral trade and investment.
It will also mark the 31st anniversary of Vietnam-Venezuela diplomatic ties and help the countries promote each other’s advantages.
Addressing the event, Vietnamese Ambassador Le Viet Duyen said the countries’ friendship and cooperation have been flourishing in all spheres after 31 years of diplomatic relations, with major achievements seen in politics, diplomacy, and culture.
Regarding economy and trade, Venezuela is a potential market that may help Vietnam reach its goal of expanding and diversifying markets.
Meanwhile, Venezuela boasts various famous products of high quality that can satisfy market demand in Vietnam, he added.
The diplomat underlined that Vietnam is capable of meeting Venezuela’s demand, especially for pharmaceuticals, garments and textiles, food, and consumer goods.
For his part, CAVENVIET President Oswaldo Hernandez said Venezuela could be a supplier of machinery, electrical devices, biochemical products, and wood and wooden products, which posted value of 4.7 million USD last year.
He also pledged that the agency will frequently update market information, policies, and regulations on investment to support Vietnamese firms and foster economic, trade, investment, and tourism cooperation in the time to come.
Vietnam shipped goods worth about 9.11 million USD to Venezuela in the first nine months of this year.
Two-way trade, however, remained modest compared to potential, standing at just 26.7 million USD in 2019./.
ASEAN holds potential for Vietnam’s shrimp exports
ASEAN, Vietnam’s eighth-largest importer of shrimp, is likely to expand its market share of such exports, the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) has said.
The bloc is an important export market for Vietnam’s fisheries sector thanks to incentives from the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) and several other agreements.
Thanks to Vietnam’s control over the COVID-19 pandemic, the sector has maintained stability in shrimp farming, processing, and export.
However, Vietnamese shrimp exports face fierce competition from Indonesia in the US and the EU, and from India in Japan.
As a result, many firms in the field have chosen to expand their exports to ASEAN in a bid to reduce reliance on certain specific markets.
According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, ASEAN member states are close to Vietnam geographically and have similarities in terms of culture and consumption behaviour.
The region boasts a population of 636 million and a combined GDP of 2.76 trillion USD, so it has abundant space for Vietnamese exports, including shrimp.
In the first 10 months of 2020, Vietnam exported 37.5 million USD worth of shrimp products to the bloc, an annual decline of 14.2 percent. Singapore and Cambodia were its top importers in the region./.
Russia’s doors open for Vietnamese products: Official
The Russian market has opened its doors for Vietnamese goods, Robert Kurilo, chief representative of the Russian Export Centre (REC) in Vietnam, has said.
In an interview with the Cong Thuong (Industry and Trade) newspaper, he said that numerous Vietnamese products have the chance and the potential to enter Russia, including black garlic, coffee, and green tea, which are often purchased by Russian tourists as souvenirs.
Other goods of potential are paper straws, organic products, and those based on sustainable consumption, he noted.
With better quality, varieties, and packaging, Vietnamese products have significantly improved and now attract more customers.
Products are currently being promoted in Russia via various channels, such as trade promotions arranged by the Ministry of Industry and Trade, relevant agencies and businesses, along with tourism activities.
Russian tourist arrivals to Vietnam are on the rise annually, so the country should capitalise on this to introduce different goods.
A host of Vietnamese products are popular among Russian consumers, such as shrimp, coffee, and dried fruit. There are, however, no official outlets for such goods in Russia, he emphasised, and showrooms should be established.
A showroom was set up by the REC in Ho Chi Minh City three years ago to exhibit food and beverages from Russia and link with Vietnamese consumers, which posted good results, Kurilo said.
Given that 90 percent of tariffs will be cut over the next decade under the Vietnam-Eurasian Economic Union Free Trade Agreement, trade between Vietnam and Europe and Russia in particular is expected to expand at a steady pace.
He warned, however, that Vietnamese products will nonetheless face numerous challenges in competing with those from elsewhere.
Vietnam needs to pay attention to, invest in, and build more major brands to gain a foothold in international markets.
The REC is forging partnerships with business councils to help Vietnamese businesses seek partners and bolster exports to the Russian market, Kurilo said./.
ADB approves 500 million USD loan for Indonesia to expand financial inclusion
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) recently approved a 500 million USD policy-based loan to support the Indonesian Government’s efforts to expand financial access among micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) and marginalised groups such as women and youth.
The loan is part of the Promoting Innovative Financial Inclusion Programme which aims at helping the government better target and track financial inclusion, improve the payments infrastructure, and strengthen the regulatory framework for digital financial services, data privacy, consumer protection, and financial literacy.
The programme will also help build a more inclusive financial services sector, which will reduce poverty and inequality and support Indonesia’s long-term sustainable development.
ADB’s programme supports the government’s goal of increasing the number of Indonesians using financial products or services offered by formal financial institutions to 90 percent by 2022, up from 76 percent in 2019.
ADB has been supporting financial inclusion in Indonesia through lending and technical assistance since 2002, when it helped develop the microfinance sector to expand access to finance for MSMEs./.
Automobile sales inches up 9 percent in November
Sales of automobiles in November went up 9 percent against the previous month to 36,359 vehicles, according to Vietnam Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (VAMA) said on December 10.
As many as 7,122 commercial cars were sold in the month, down 5 percent month-on-month, while sales of passenger and special-use vehicles topped 28,755 and 482 units, rising 13 percent and 25 percent as compared to September, respectively.
November sales included 23,509 locally-assembled vehicles, up 15 percnet; and 12,850 imported units, increasing 0.7 percent.
During January-November, 248,768 vehicles were sold, a year-on-year fall of 14 percent.
Experts said the figures do not reflect overall consumption in the automobile market as they exclude sales of manufacturers that are not VAMA members such as Audi, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, Subaru, Volkswagen, Volvo, and Huyndai Thanh Cong.
With 11,023 sold vehicles, Huyndai Thanh Cong’s TC Motor became the best-selling car brand in Vietnam in November, followed by Toyota with 9,444 units, Kia 6,260 units, Mazda 4,369 units and Mitsubishi 4,033 units.
Experts expect the auto market will become more robust as compared to the situation at the outset of the year since customers are said to scramble to buy cars before the end of 2020 to enjoy the 50 percent reduction in registration fees.
However, they said the COVID-19 pandemic makes it hard to raise this year’s sales to 322,322 units recorded in 2019./.
Singapore’s economy to expand 5.5 percent: MAS
Singapore’s economy will grow by 5.5 percent next year, putting an end to the nation’s worst recession ever, according to a survey of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).
The pace of growth can be even higher if successful vaccine deployment worldwide can effectively contain the COVID-19 pandemic, economists said.
Analysts said other factors that could impact Singapore’s growth trajectory next year would include the upswing of the electronics cycle and the pace of recovery in other regional economies such as Malaysia, Indonesia and China.
The prospect of reopening borders to international travel was also seen as a potential upside.
The forecast comes after Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said last month growth will rebound between 4 percent and 6 percent next year – the most since 2011 when the economy grew 6.3 percent.
However, the MTI expects the economy to shrink 6 percent to 6.5 percent this year.
The unemployment rate is forecasted to be 3.7 percent at the end of the year, up from their previous prediction of 3.5 percent.
Meanwhile, private residential property prices are projected to pick up in the October-to-December period./.
Indonesia targets coal output of 550 million tonnes in 2021
Indonesia has set its coal production target at 550 million tonnes for 2021, a figure unchanged from this year, due to the raging COVID-19 pandemic.
Coal business director Sujatmiko at the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources (EMR) told reporters at the 2020 Coal and Mineral Virtual Expo on December 10 that the target takes into account economic recovery, following the COVID-19 pandemic, for both the domestic and export markets.
Sujatmiko added that coal production had reached 513.6 million tonnes as of December 10 or 93 percent of this year’s target. The Indonesian government remains determined to meet this year’s coal production target, despite the lower demand.
The Indonesian Coal Mining Association (APBI) previously said it expected coal demand to really start recovering in the second half of 2021, assuming that most of the world successfully distributes a COVID-19 vaccine by that time.
Earlier this month, Indonesian President Joko Widodo ordered his cabinet ministers to set a target to reduce exports of unprocessed coal and accelerate plans to develop derivative industries for processing the fuel./.
Malaysia Plan to create new sectors, hasten high growth industries
The 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP) will focus on creating a number of new economic sectors and accelerating the development of high growth industries, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Economy) Mustapa Mohamed said at a forum held on December 10.
He said the industries include aerospace, advanced electrical and electronics (E&E), halal, creative, biomass and smart farming.
These industries are identified based on their prospects in generating high value-added activities and products, advanced technology adoption, R&D (research and development) and innovation, high-skilled employment as well as contribution to achieving the green agenda.
“The successful implementation of these measures will enhance competitiveness and resilience of the economy, and position Malaysia as an important player in the global supply chain, for complex and high value-added products and services,” Mustapa stressed.
Mustapa said the 12MP would concentrate on attracting quality investment which promotes the development of complex products and services, create high-skilled and high-paying jobs, encourage higher use of domestic inputs, and improve development in underserved areas.
The country, he said, needed to move up the value chain, adopt technology and innovation to enhance economic growth, develop an inclusive society to ensure social justice, and boost environmental sustainability./.
Cargill announces 28-million-USD animal nutrition plant in Dong Nai
Cargill on December 9 announced plans to expand its business in Vietnam with a 28 million USD investment in a new animal nutrition plant in Dong Nai province on the occasion of its 25th year of operation in Vietnam.
The facility will be equipped with state-of-the-art technology, focusing on specialty nutrition and premix products to serve Vietnamese livestock and aquaculture farmers with a broad range of animal nutrition offerings.
“The last 25 years has been an amazing journey for Cargill in Vietnam. We are committed to the development of Vietnam’s agriculture sector and we are optimistic about the future for Cargill and for the farmers and communities across the country,” said John Fering, managing director, Cargill animal nutrition in Thailand and Vietnam.
“We will continue to make investments that advance Vietnamese communities, create a brighter future for Vietnam’s future generations and help us deliver for Vietnamese customers, through quality animal nutrition and health innovations,” said Fering.
For its outstanding contribution to the development of Vietnam’s livestock production in the past 25 years, Cargill Vietnam received the Certificate of Merit from the Vietnamese Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development in a ceremony in Hanoi on the same day.
Cargill established its business in Vietnam in 1995 as one of the first American companies investing after the normalisation of the Vietnam – US relationship. Cargill has grown into one of the most trusted animal nutrition and agricultural commodity companies in Vietnam.
Over the past 25 years, the company has invested in the country and made a positive impact on the development of Vietnam’s agriculture sector, improving farmer livelihoods and enriching communities. To date, Cargill has invested more than 160 million USD in Vietnam to build eleven animal nutrition plants, one grain and oilseed warehouse and two aqua technology application centers for fish and shrimp.
The company has raised over 5.5 million USD for corporate responsibility projects, notably building schools and providing quality educational facilities to serve more than 15,000 students per year.
On December 12, Cargill will complete its 100th school, Van Thanh Primary School in Yen Thanh district, Nghe An province, as part of the company’s Vietnam School Building Project which was created in 1996 to support the local community through education.
Quang Ninh aims for per capita GRDP of 10,000 USD in 2025
The People’s Council of the northern coastal province of Quang Ninh has set overall goals and 16 specific economic, social and environmental targets for the 2021-2025 period at its 21st session, which concluded on December 9.
The overall goal is to turn Quang Ninh into a province with modern services and industry, one of the dynamic and comprehensive development hubs in the northern region.
The specific targets include an annual GRDP growth of 10 percent and per capita GRDP surpassing 10,000 USD by 2025. The poverty rate will be reduced by an average 0.08 percent each year.
Also in 2025, industry-construction is to account for 49-50 percent of the province’s economy, services 46-47 percent and agro-forestry-fisheries 3-5 percent.
Quang Ninh will strive to maintain its place among the top localities in terms of provincial competitiveness index, administrative reform index, and Provincial Governance and Public Administration Performance Index.
By the end of 2023, Quang Ninh is to have all its communes and districts meet new-style rural area standards.
The provincial People’s Council outlined five key groups of tasks and solutions to realise the set targets. Accordingly, the province will accelerate the implementation of the three strategic breakthroughs, mobilise all resources, and diversify forms of investment for rapid and sustainable socio-economic development.
Quang Ninh will push the renewal of growth model, economic restructuring and the shift from “brown” (coal-based) to “green” economy..
In 2021, the province looks to achieve a growth rate of more than 10 percent.
Also at the session, the provincial People’s Council adopted a resolution on measures to stimulate tourism demand in 2021, under which entrance and sightseeing fees at Ha Long Bay, Quang Ninh museum and the Yen Tu historical relic and landscape site will be reduced for the entire year, and public buses running from Van Don airport to Uong Bi will receive 100 percent subsidy./.
Conference seeks to enhance productivity in ASEAN
A three-day conference on ASEAN-APO cooperation in enhancing productivity opened in Hanoi on December 9 to raise mutual understanding between ASEAN and the Asian Productivity Organisation (APO), towards fulfilling the United Nations sustainable development goals.
The conference is held by the Directorate for Standards, Metrology and Quality under Vietnam’s Ministry of Science and Technology.
Speaking at the event, Minister of Science and Technology Huynh Thanh Dat said the Vietnamese Government highlights ASEAN’s role in reshaping the world following the COVID-19 pandemic and adjusting the global production and supply chain.
With ASEAN’s existing competitiveness, digital transformation capacity and high-quality human resources, cooperation initiatives on productivity between ASEAN and APO allow parties concerned to tap new opportunities and cooperation areas with specific projects, helping member economies become more productive, competitive and resilient to uncertainties in the world, he said.
He called on small, medium-sized and micro enterprises to adopt smart and creative measures to improve their productivity and competitiveness, especially those working in industrial production, agriculture and services.
The minister affirmed that the Ministry of Science and Technology will offer all possible support to the Directorate for Standards, Metrology and Quality – Vietnam’s permanent representative at APO, to fulfill its role as Chair of the ASEAN Consultative Committee on Standards and Quality (ACCSQ), contributing to successfully realising an initiative on smart production 2020.
Japanese Ambassador to Vietnam Yamada Takio said the Japanese Government is always ready to assist Vietnam and ASEAN member states in improving labour productivity.
The event will last till December 11./.
HDBank to offer L/C confirmation service through ADB’s TFP
HDBank is offering confirmation for letters of credit issued by foreign banks within the framework of the Asian Development Bank (ADB)’s Trade Finance Programme, becoming one of the few banks in Vietnam to provide the service through the ADB programme.
It will bring added value to customers at its more than 300 transaction offices and reaffirm its reputation in the domestic and foreign markets.
HDBank joined ADB’s Trade Finance Programme in 2016 as an L/C issuer, and in the four years since, its credit limit has increased three fold.
With a new and important role in global trade finance, HDBank provides export customers with a payment guarantee solution as against a normal L/C, thereby minimising their risks in international trade at reasonable cost.
This is also an opportunity for corporate customers across the country to borrow from HDBank, and it is the best support for global trade activities.
In addition to ADB’s reputation, HDBank’s strong financial capacity ensures safety for international trading activities, providing peace of mind to the parties involved.
Over its three decades of development, HDBank has established extensive relationships with more than 400 banking institutions and strategic partners such as ICBC, JP Morgan Chase, ADB, KFW, Proparco, Commerzbank, ANZ, and MUFG.
HDBank is also a pioneer in bringing effective added value to customers around the globe by investing in and using modern technologies in its services and products, especially international payment services, digitising processes, meeting management requirements of international standards, and constantly improving operational efficiency with a commitment to bringing the maximum benefit to customers.
It has previously issued L/C on the blockchain technology platform, which created a new breakthrough on its journey of becoming a ‘Happy Digital Bank’.
It offers customers the most modern blockchain L/C today, with high security and rapid processing, which saves time and minimises paperwork and errors, and allows the parties involved to update their implementation status.
The bank was also the first in Vietnam to join the TradeAssets Trade Finance E-marketplace and connect with and process trade finance transactions on the blockchain application platform, and a pioneer in providing international money transfer query services via Swift GPI in major currencies.
It has successfully put into operation the Treasury – FIS Front Arena system to seamlessly meet the requirements of handling business transactions and managing currency trading risks./.
HCM City to focus on attracting FDI into technology-based sectors
Ho Chi Minh City will step up efforts to attract foreign direct investment by focusing on infrastructure and administrative procedures, with priority given to high-tech projects, a top city official has said.
Le Thanh Liem, Standing Vice Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee, said priority would be given to foreign investors in technology who have innovative and advanced management capabilities.
Besides, it is important to set up zones for support industries using the State budget to regulate land lease prices and attract investors to sectors targeted by the city and the central governments.
The city has sought the Government’s approval for a 380ha IP in Bình Chánh District, a specialised one prioritising innovative start-ups and producers and distributors in new industries.
Developing Asian economies to contract less than expected: ADB
Economic activity in developing Asian economies is forecast to contract by 0.4 percent this year, an improvement from the -0.7 percent gross domestic product (GDP) growth forecast in September, according to a report released by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
The outlook for 2021 remains unchanged, with the region’s growth projected to pick up to 6.8 percent as it moves toward recovery from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic
Most of developing Asia’s subregions are forecast to contract this year, except for East Asia with an upgraded growth forecast of 1.6 percent on the back of faster-than-expected recoveries in China and Taiwan (China). China’s growth outlook for 2021 is maintained at 7.7 percent.
Economic growth in Southeast Asia remains under pressure as COVID-19 outbreaks and containment measures continue, particularly in Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. The subregion’s growth forecast for 2020 is revised down to -4.4 percent from -3.8 percent in September. The subregion’s outlook for 2021 is also downgraded, with Southeast Asia now expected to grow 5.2 percent next year compared to the 5.5 percent growth forecast in September.
ADB Chief Economist Yasuyuki Sawada said: “A prolonged pandemic remains the primary risk, but recent developments on the vaccine front are tempering this.”
GSO hosts high-level forum on ASEAN Community Statistical System
The General Statistics Office (GSO), as ASEAN Chair in the field of statistics this year, hosted a High-level Forum on the ASEAN Community Statistical System (ACSS) and Vietnam’s statistical system in the form of video conference on December 10.
2020 marks a decade of ACSS, which was founded in 2011 and has since made every effort to provide relevant, timely, and comparable ASEAN statistics in support of evidence-based policy and decision making and to enhance the statistical capacity of member states and the ASEAN Secretariat.
In his remarks at the online forum, Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Tran Quoc Phuong said statistics play an increasingly important role in human lives, particularly at a time when the world is experiencing unpredictable uncertainty.
The Vietnamese Government and the Ministry of Planning and Investment have backed the GSO in accelerating international integration and expanding international cooperation in its field of endeavour. It helps Vietnam obtain updates on, share knowledge about, and access advanced statistical methods to improve the effectiveness of operations.
GSO Director General Nguyen Thi Huong said the office proposed the grouping to together improve the capacity of ACSS to better meet increasing demand for data.
She added that ACSS has popularised more than 700 statistical indexes on the website of the ASEAN Statistics Agency (ASEANstats).
The ACSS Committee informed that it has adopted a concept paper on the use of big data to improve ACSS’s official statistical data.
The ACSS Committee held its 10th session online on December 8 and 9 under the co-chair of the GSO Director General Nguyen Thi Huong and Director General of the Department of Economic Planning and Statistics of Brunei Hajah Mariah Haji Yahya.
Brunei will be chair of ACSS in 2021./.
Institutional and legal reform key to business growth: experts
Institutional and legal reforms will be the key factors in business development over the next five to 10 years in Vietnam, experts have said.
Dr. Nguyen Dinh Cung, a member of the Economic Advisory Group to the Prime Minister, said during an online conference held on November 8 that Vietnam’s economy would see a number of changes with the introduction of new policies.
The government has identified several main areas of focus, including institutions, infrastructure, workforce and technology.
Cung said that institutional reform should change Vietnam’s resource allocation away from the “ask-give” principle to a market mechanism, which will improve efficiency of resource usage.
However, these changes require a shift in mindset of the political system, he added.
Adjustments of the Law on Land are key to resource allocation reform in order to help intended targets access land more easily, Cung said.
Institutional reform needs to remove “unreasonable barriers” to help businesses develop. And, rather than focusing on inspections, a risk management system should keep track of businesses’ compliance, Cung said, adding that businesses need to actively push for reforms that can help them grow.
Vietnam aims to become a developing country with medium to high income by 2030, and a high-income country with the developed industry by 2045, he said.
Dr. Vo Tri Thanh, director of the Institute for Brand and Competitiveness Strategies, said that global integration and political changes were providing opportunities for Vietnam to re-design its economic development strategies.
Global integration and free trade agreements have helped Vietnam improve its exports and expand its business activities. They have also created pressure to improve policies and the investment climate, and have motivated businesses to enhance product quality and services.
Lawyer Dinh Anh Tuyet, head of the Vietnam Business Lawyer Club, said that while FTAs bring many benefits, businesses need to be aware of protectionist policies and trade barriers, noting that products with high export turnover may have to deal with trade safeguard investigations.
Businesses also need to diversify their markets and sources of materials to divide risks, and pay attention to origin traceability and social corporate responsibilities.
The online conference was held by the Vietnam International Arbitration Centre./.
Cambodia closes some resorts, hotels to prevent COVID-19
Cambodian authorities on December 10 decided to close a number of resorts and hotels in Mondulkiri and Kratie provinces to prevent the spreading of COVID-19 pandemic.
Mondulkiri Governor Svay Sam Eang ordered the closure of Relax Hi Resort in Sen Monorom city after the visit by a COVID-19 patient.
In a letter to the owner of the resort, Sam Eang said a guest named Ith Komal, 35, who lives in Phnom Penh, went shopping at Zando on November 27. He tested positive for the virus on December 8.
The resort will stay closed until December 24.
Meanwhile, authorities of Kratie province also ordered Champa Pich hotel to close on the same day after tracing found that he stayed at the hotel on December 1.
All 62 staff of the hotel have been quarantined at the hotel before being tested for coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.
As of December 10, the Cambodia’s Ministry of Health reported 356 COVID-19 infections cases.
Earlier, at the 9th Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) Summit held via video conference on December 9, Cambodian PM Samdech Techo Hun Sen said that his country aims to vaccinate 10 million people against COVID-19 in the first phase. He also called on all parties to share experience in using COVID-19 vaccine.
Project supporting farmers in Gia Lai launched
Central Retail Vietnam in collaboration with the People’s Committee of K’Bang district in Gia Lai province has officially launched a project called ‘Livelihood for K’Bang Community’ at Big C Quy Nhon.
The project has attracted the participation of 48 farmer households in the district’s Dong commune, of which more than 30 percent are Ba Na ethnic minorities.
After a period of implementation, fresh vegetables from Gia Lai mountainous area for the first time are being sold at GO! and Big C supermarkets in the central region (Quy Nhon, Da Nang, Quang Ngai and Hue).
Le Thanh Son, Vice Chairman of the People’s Committee of K’Bang District, said: “The support from Central Retail Group has enabled vegetables produced by K’Bang farmers under the Livelihood for Community project to enter modern supermarkets. This is a major turning point, bringing a stable income source and improving the livelihoods of the people here.
“K’Bang District will continue to coordinate closely with Central Retail Group to be able to replicate and implement the project in a sustainable manner.”
Despite being directly affected by heavy storms in October, the project has helped farmers sell more than five tonnes of fresh vegetables worth more than 100 million VND (4,309 USD) in the first month of project. The products include tomatoes, cucumbers, bitter melons, string beans, and forest bamboo shoots.
Nguyen Thi Bich Van, communications director of Central Retail Vietnam, said: “This is the first Livelihood for Community project to be implemented in the Central Highlands with the desire to improve the lives of people in mountainous areas from the agricultural products they plant.”
Under the project, the retailer instructs farmers in harvesting and packaging of their products in accordance with the supermarket’s regulations and buys all the products to sell at its stores, helping to add more value to the products.
In the coming time, the products will also be sold at the retailer’s stores in the south, she said.
In addition to this project, Central Retail Group has implemented seven other Livelihood for Community projects in Son Ha, Van Ho, Binh Dinh, A Luoi, Sa Pa, Muong Khuong and Bac Kan.
Launched in 2017, the Livelihood for Community project aims to support the livelihoods of farmers, fishermen and poor households with incomes under 5 million VND (215.4 USD) per month in coastal, and rural and remote areas.
Over the past year, the project has helped to consume nearly 800 tonnes of agricultural products through GO! and Big C supermarket chains, improving the lives of more than 500 farmer households participating in the projects./.
Citizens support for Government’s COVID-19 policies: survey
The Government’s relief package of 62 trillion VND (2.6 billion USD) for those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic has been largely considered appropriate, timely and well-targeted, a citizens’ survey released on December 8 revealed.
About 83 percent of respondents assessed that the financial support was distributed in a timely manner, while 85 percent thought the application procedures for the financial support were simple.
The report, conducted by the Australian government’s Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Mekong Development Research Institute in September, interviewed 1,335 respondents in 63 provinces and cities about the Government’s response to the pandemic in Vietnam.
All of those surveyed were from various backgrounds and randomly selected from the 2019 Provincial Governance and Public Administration Performance Index (PAPI) sample.
Respondents showed strong support for the national lockdown in April and closely followed social distancing measures. About 88 percent of them thought the Government had imposed the social distancing order in April in a timely manner while nearly 90 percent said they followed the order.
Some 8.8 percent of the respondents said the social distancing order was imposed early. Most of those people were unskilled workers, non-farm workers and poor people, who were the hardest hit by the pandemic during the lockdown, said Dr Nguyen Viet Cuong, deputy head of the Mekong Development Research Institute.
About 89 percent of those interviewed supported the Government’s strong measures and priority for saving lives, even if the economy will sustain more damage and recover slowly. That consensus level was higher than the average global rate of 67 percent.
More than 96 percent of respondents rated the response from the National Steering Committee on COVID-19 Prevention and Control as good or very good, while nearly 94 percent had the same rating for their provincial governments’ responses.
Researchers from the Mekong Development Research Institute said it was very important to provide support to the most affected people, since people with job and income losses are less likely to support the Government’s response and those receiving aid are more likely to agree to the Government’s response.
They emphasised the importance of improving the quality of governance and public administration, which can increase confidence and trust from citizens in the Government, and subsequently their support for the Government during the pandemic.
David Gottlieb, economic and development co-operation counsellor from the Australian Embassy in Vietnam, said: “I have been extremely impressed by Vietnam’s determination to control COVID-19 this year. But it isn’t my impressions that really matter for public policy. It is the impressions of the people for whom those policies are designed that matter. This survey shows clearly that the commitment to contain the pandemic is shared throughout the whole community – this is a testament to the efforts of all of those involved.”
At the report launching ceremony on Tuesday, UNDP Resident Representative Caitlin Wiesen praised Vietnam’s successful response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It largely depended on swift and effective Government action combined with the trust and willingness of citizens to comply with the Government’s preventive and protective measures. I believe that lessons learnt from this success in terms of transparency, accountability and social cohesion will help the Government deal with future crises and address the key challenges that citizens have highlighted as top concerns over the past four years – poverty, environment and corruption in PAPI reports”./.
HCMC plans VND4-trillion relief package for Covid-19-hit firms
The HCMC government is working on the second relief package worth VND4 trillion (US$173.9 million) to support enterprises encountering difficulties triggered by Covid-19, said municipal chairman Nguyen Thanh Phong.
At the 23rd sitting of the HCMC People’s Council last week, deputy Pham Quoc Bao highlighted the severe impact of the pandemic on local residents and enterprises, asking the municipal government for solutions and policies to help them overcome difficulties, the local media reported.
In response, chairman Phong said the city would make a list of enterprises that were facing difficulties caused by Covid-19, especially small and medium ones.
The second package, which has been set up in consultation with enterprises and development research institutes, is expected to be introduced soon.
Specifically, zero-interest loans will be offered for enterprises in the lodging, catering, tourism, transport, textile-garment, leather-footwear, wood processing and food processing sectors as well as those experiencing a drop in revenue.
The city will continue working out prompt solutions to support disadvantaged people amid the pandemic, Phong added.
The city had earlier introduced the first relief package, providing enterprises with VND611 billion and extending enterprises’ deadlines to pay taxes worth VND8.8 trillion as well as the deadlines of household businesses to pay value-added and personal income taxes and land rents.
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