Vietnam Rubber Group to raise natural rubber output under its own brand
|A worker collects latex from a rubber tree (Illustrative photo: VNA)|
The rate is expected to hit 92 percent by 2022.
The VRG has built a set of standards and introduced VRG-branded rubber products since 2018, bolstering consumption of its products along with Vietnam's rubber brand in the international market.
VRG-branded products reached 255,407 tonnes last year, accounting for 68 percent of the group’s total output, from just 20,790 tonnes recorded in 2018.
The VRG reported 21.17 trillion VND in revenue and 5.23 trillion VND in post-tax profit in 2020, year-on-year increases of 6.9 percent and 36.4 percent, respectively./.
CPI in February highest in 8 years
Vietnam's consumer price index (CPI) in February was up 1.52 percent over the previous month and 0.7 percent year on year, according to the General Statistics Office (GSO).
This is the highest February CPI growth recorded in the last eight years.
However, the index in the first two months decreased 0.14 percent year-on-year.
Compared to the previous month, an upturn was seen in the prices of ten out of 11 main groups of goods and services, with housing and construction materials taking the lead (4 percent). It was followed by food and catering services (1.61 percent); transport (1.55 percent); drinking and tobacco (0.9 percent); garment and textile, headwear and footwear (0.25 percent).
The price of education services remained stable compared to the previous month.
The GSO's Price Statistics Department explained that the CPI in February saw a strong rise due to the higher demand for food and foodstuffs for the Lunar New Year (Tet) festival.
The prices of medicine and medical supplies in January-February increased by 0.88 percent compared to the same period last year, the price of gas in the month climbed 3.05 percent year-on-year.
There were a number of reasons for the decrease in CPI in the last two months. The petrol and oil prices decreased by 15.78 percent year-on-year while the electricity price in January fell by 16.88 percent over the same period last year, making the average electricity price in the first two months of 2021 down by 9.95 percent.
Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for travel and tourism decreased compared to the same period last year. On average, in the last two months, the air ticket price dropped by 35.65 percent, train fares down 12.39 percent; and tour prices decreased by 4.99 percent.
At the same time, domestic gold price in February was up 0.25 percent over the previous month, while that of US dollar was around 23,145 VND per USD, down 0.17 percent month-on-month and 0.76 percent year-on-year.
GSO said the core inflation in February, which is CPI excluding grain food, fresh foodstuff, energy and the State-managed medical and educational services, increased by 0.48 percent from the previous month, and 0.79 percent compared to one year ago.
The two-month core inflation grew by 0.64 percent year-on-year.
The core inflation rates in February and the first two months of 2021 compared to the same periods last year were the lowest in the past five years./.
Vietnamese salangane nests headed for China
Vietnam’s bird-nest exports are expected to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars when the world’s largest market, China, opens up this year.
Chinese demand for bird's nest is growing, but Vietnamese firms need to take new measures to officially export to that country rather than involve in informal border trade, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) said.
Do Tu Quan, head of the Vietnam Swiftlet Farming Association, said Vietnamese exporters hope the two countries would quickly reach agreement and the first order to China could be delivered this quarter.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Phung Duc Tien said the industry has been developing rapidly in the country, mostly in the south, but the unofficial border trade has been resulting in low value and profits.
There are 20,000 nests farmed in 42 of the country's 63 provinces and cities with approximately 120 tonnes worth 450 million USD harvested annually, according to Tien.
But exports to China account for only 8 percent.
China banned import of bird's nests of unclear origin from Vietnam in 2011 following a fake product scandal.
It lifted the ban in 2015 and replaced it with tough rules aimed at improving safety and traceability.
Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand have all completed legal procedures to export bird's nest to China, but Vietnam cannot export officially due to several reasons, including the lack of quality standards for the product and export standards.
In recent years the MARD has sought to promote exports to foreign markets, including China.
Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, negotiations to export the product to China have mainly been conducted through online meetings but are almost complete, deputy director of MARD’s department of livestock breeding Nguyen Van Trong said.
Local bird's nests eligible for exports could meet a third of the demand in China, opening up huge opportunities, Trong said.
The Vietnamese swift-breeding industry began to thrive in 2010, with its production accounting for 3 percent of the global output.
While bird's nests are a speciality with high economic value and one of the 10 most expensive dishes in the world, their production in the country remains far below traditional agricultural products, and they have yet to be classified as a key national product./.
Vietnam lures 5.46 billion USD in foreign investment
As much as 5.46 billion USD worth of foreign direct investment (FDI) was injected into Vietnam as of February 20, equivalent to 84.4 percent of the figure recorded in the same time last year, according to the Ministry of Planning and Investment.
As many as 126 foreign projects were granted investment licences with total registered capital of 3.31 billion USD, a year-on-year fall of 33.9 percent.
Meanwhile, 115 existing projects adjusted their investment capital with a total additional sum of 1.61 billion USD, or 2.5 times higher than the same time last year.
Capital contributions and shares purchases by foreign investors stood at 543.1 million USD, down 34.4 percent.
Japan topped the list of 46 countries and territories landing investment in Vietnam, with 1.64 billion USD, equivalent to nearly 30 percent of the total. Singapore came second with 1.07 billion USD, and the Republic of Korea third with 1.05 billion USD.
The ministry said the southern province of Can Tho lured the lion's share of FDI with 1.31 billion USD, accounting for 24.2 percent of the total. Hai Phong city was the runner-up since it attracted nearly 918 million USD, or 16.8 percent. Bac Giang came third with nearly 573 million USD (10.5 percent)./.
Credit market share of private banks rise
Private banks have posted significant growth in credit market share in the past five years.
According to statistics from Viet Dragon Securities Company (VDSC), 26 listed banks by the end of 2020 increased their total credit market share to 71.3 percent from 65.4 percent at the end of 2015.
Of which, the group of private banks, whose credit market share is more than 2 percent each, posted a 3.5 percent growth in credit market share in the period, VDSC statistics showed.
Among those banks, MBBank ranked first with an increase of 90 basis points, followed by Techcombank and VPBank with rises of 86 and 78 basis points, respectively.
The three banks also had compound annual credit growth of more than 20 percent while their capital adequacy ratios also topped the list.
Sacombank was the only bank to lose credit market share with a reduction of 2 basis points.
VDSC's statistics also showed banks made a strong shift to corporate bonds in 2020 so as to spur credit growth in the year when loan demand was affected adversely. The contribution rate of corporate bonds to banks' credit growth in 2020 ranged from 20-38 percent.
According to VDSC, Vietnam’s economy has been heavily dependent on credit. Therefore, to maintain the country's GDP growth rate of 6-8 percent in the coming years as projected, VDSC estimated the credit growth of the banking industry to stay at double digits.
VDSC forecast credit growth of the banking industry this year would be 13.1 percent on average. Major private banks, including Techcombank, MBBank, VPBank and ACB, are expected to maintain their credit growth higher than the industry's average rate.
The State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) targeted a credit growth rate of 12 percent this year, equivalent to the growth of 12.13 percent last year. However, it said the goal is not a fixed figure, as it might adjust it if necessary.
According to SBV Deputy Governor Dao Minh Tu, in case the COVID-19 pandemic is totally controlled, and the economy needs fast recovery, leading to increased credit demand, the SBV will expand credit to support businesses and economic recovery. Vice versa, if there are signs that the economy needs tighter control to curb inflation, the credit growth will be slashed.
The support for businesses during the post-pandemic period was defined as one of the major tasks of the banking sector in 2021, Tu noted./.
E-commerce continues to thrive amid pandemic
Revenues posted by e-commerce platforms for January were up 30 percent year-on-year despite there being fewer promotions than in previous years, figures from the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) and the platforms reveal.
To bolster consumption during the pandemic, supermarkets and cafés have offered take-out and pushed ahead with online shopping via social networks like Facebook and Zalo and their own websites.
Online customers of Co.opmart Ha Dong, for instance, were 20-25 percent higher in number compared to January last year.
The Big C supermarket chain rolled out promotions for online shoppers and offered free delivery for purchases of 200,000 VND or more. Upon its launch, bookings via telephone surged 200 percent year-on-year.
VinMart also introduced an online shopping feature in its VinID app.
As of February 17, revenues of companies and retailers in Hanoi had risen 7-10 percent compared to the previous Lunar New Year (Tet) holiday, according to the city's Department of Industry and Trade.
Online shopping turnover increased 20-25 percent and made up 5-7 percent of sales. The number of customers using online payments also went up, by about 15 percent compared to the same period last year.
Order numbers on some e-commerce platforms rose remarkably as Tet approached. Tiki, in particular, recorded a year-on-year surge of 50 percent in transaction numbers in January.
Necessities such as rice, dried food, canned food, and powdered milk also debuted on e-commerce platforms, a move that helps consumers avoid going to crowded places.
For their part, retailers have stepped up telephone bookings and delivery and boosted inventories by 30-40 percent compared to normal.
The expansion of e-commerce platforms is part of a scenario proposed by the MoIT in response to the pandemic, said Dang Hoang Hai, Director General of the ministry's Vietnam e-Commerce and Digital Economy Agency.
The ministry has also partnered with logistics and e-commerce platforms to hasten the shipment of orders to support consumers, he added./.
Logistics services to make up 5-6 percent of GDP by 2025
Vietnam is planning to raise the contribution of logistics services to its gross domestic product (GDP) to 5-6 percent by 2025, according to a recent decision signed by the Prime Minister.
Logistics services are expected to grow 15-20 percent within the next five years and the country will secure 50th position or higher in the Logistics Performance Index.
The PM's Decision No 221/QD-TTg, which took effect on February 22, amended and supplemented a decision issued on February 14, 2017 that approved the action plan for improving the competitiveness of and developing Vietnam's logistics services to 2025.
It also supplements the roadmap for carrying out the action plan.
From 2023, relevant agencies are set to review the action plan's implementation and prepare the foundation for building a strategy for logistics services development in 2025-2035, with a vision to 2045.
In 2024, they will continue taking measures to promote the competitiveness of and develop such services in Vietnam while preparing a development strategy for 2025-2035.
Implementation of the action plan will be assessed in 2025 and the strategy for 2025-2035 carried out from the same year./.
Japan's Dentsu company praises Vietnamese engineers
Director of Japan's Dentsu company Iri Kazuaki has said that Vietnamese engineers have made important contributions to its operations over recent years.
Dentsu specialises in technical design for important infrastructure in Japan, such as optical cable systems, cable television, 5G data transmission networks, mobile information, and railway communications systems.
Ten Vietnamese engineers are currently working for the company in Japan and 85 others at its branches in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
Kazuaki lauded the Vietnamese engineers for being diligent and careful with a good basic knowledge. After a certain period in the workplace, they are able to perform many roles.
Many experienced Vietnamese engineers in Japan could be responsible for providing technical guidance or instructions on site.
Five of the 10 Vietnamese engineers have earned Japanese national certificates on electrical engineering, while the remainders are expected to join a competition to earn them.
According to Kazuaki, the company plans to recruit 400 Vietnamese engineers over the next five years.
Figures from Japan's Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare showed that Japan was home to the largest number of Vietnamese citizens living and working abroad last year, with more than 443,000, followed by those from China, with over 419,000, and the Philippines with more than 184,000./.
Domestic property market sees recovery: ministry
The Ministry of Construction (MoC) believes the domestic real estate market has overcome the most difficult period due to positive developments in the market as well as the whole economy in the fourth quarter of 2020.
The industrial property segment can be considered a bright spot of the domestic market for many reasons such as the European Union – Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) coming into effect and plans for the relocation of many multinational corporations to Vietnam, according to the ministry.
Meanwhile, Vietnam’s successful disease control is also an important factor to attract more foreign investment.
Those factors would set a good foundation for the real estate market to develop stably in 2021, a representative of the ministry said.
In the fourth quarter of 2020, most businesses in the real estate sector started operating again.
Although the market still faces many difficulties, real estate developers have offered solutions to attract customers like changing areas for developing property projects to catch up with trends of shifting FDI inflows and urbanisation in localities outside big cities, according to the ministry./.
Bac Lieu working hard to fight illegal fishing
The Mekong Delta province of Bac Lieu has adopted a wide range of measures to raise awareness and legal understanding among local fishermen about preventing and fighting illegal fishing.
The provincial fisheries industry has witnessed strong development over recent years, contributing significantly to increasing incomes for fishermen. But legal violations in fishing activities remain common.
According to Tran Xi Khuol, Deputy Director of the provincial Department of Fisheries, fishing has been considered a key economic sector of Bac Lieu for many years.
But problems linger, such as illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, especially fishing without permits, a lack of safety equipment on fishing vessels, and fishing reports not being submitted in line with regulations.
Though patrols have been carried out regularly, violations have not been handled thoroughly, Khuol said.
The main cause of the situation is that fishermen do not fully understand the 2017 Law on Fisheries, he believed.
Local authorities have promoted communications activities to raise public awareness about the law, relevant legal documents, and technical measures, helping local fishermen comply with the law and contributing to preserving, managing, and utilising aquatic resources sustainably.
The provincial People's Committee has so far organised 18 programmes on legal matters for 1,086 ship owners and fishermen.
The province has also supported local fishermen in building large-capacity vessels and upgrading equipment and logistics services, while creating favourable conditions for them to maintain operations in traditional fishing grounds.
Bac Lieu has 1,142 registered fishing boats, including 485 with a minimum length of 15 metres.
As of October 8, 2020, it had issued 720 fishing permits under the 2017 Law on Fisheries, including 453 offshore fishing permits and 267 onshore fishing permits. It also has 350 fishing vessels equipped with cruise control devices, or 72.2 percent of the total.
In the first nine months of 2020, nearly 1,200 vessels and three shipbuilding yards were inspected, with 11 administrative violations detected./.
Ca Mau province looks to develop vibrant blue economy
Endowed with a 254-km coastline and an abundance of aquatic resources, the southernmost province of Ca Mau has viewed sea-based economic development as an inexorable trend to help it create breakthroughs in socio-economic development.
Priority on infrastructure development
Due attention has been given to developing infrastructure in order to develop the blue economy in an effective and sustainable manner that is commensurate with the province's advantages and potential.
Ca Mau plans to continue calling for investment in infrastructure at the 10,802-ha Nam Can Economic Zone, which is envisaged to become a sea-based economic zone with sound logistics services to meet regional and international distribution demand.
It is also encouraging investment to build Song Doc and Nam Can towns into third-tier urban areas by 2025.
Along with developing fifth-tier urban areas in coastal districts such as Dam Doi, Ngoc Hien, Phu Tan, Tran Van Thoi, and U Minh, the province will invest in engineering and shipbuilding industries at the Song Doc, Khanh Hoi, and Rach Goc estuaries, while carrying out construction of the Tan Thuan, Rach Goc, and Cai Doi Vam industrial clusters.
Socio-economic infrastructure in coastal communes, districts, and islands are being completed, providing the conditions necessary for blue economic development.
The province has given top priority to investment in important economic sectors such as aquaculture, tourism and services, renewable energy, and the maritime economy.
It is also improving local fisheries infrastructure to enhance logistics services, and calling for investment in logistics centres in Hoa Trung, Nam Can, Song Doc, and Hon Khoai.
Comprehensive development of the blue economy promoted
Known as one of Vietnam's four key fishing grounds and with abundant and diverse aquatic resources, of which many have high economic values, Ca Mau has sharpened its focus on developing fisheries exploitation, which is a spearhead economic sector.
The province targets catching 800,000 tonnes of fish and seafood by 2030.
Along with developing a strong fishing fleet of more than 4,500 vessels, the province will also re-arrange seafood production based on expanding cooperatives and collectives to benefit fishing families and the sustainable protection of the ecosystem.
Ca Mau will fund the upgrading of infrastructure at fishing ports and storm shelters, as well as complete a fishing vessel information system to give timely warnings to fishermen in case of incidents at sea or to facilitate search and rescue efforts.
It will work to create concentrated aquaculture areas that produce high-quality aquatic species, apply state-of-the-art technologies into production, and develop a traceability system for products.
Relevant authorities will expand monitoring systems in concentrated aquaculture areas, to provide environmental and disease warnings to farmers.
The province will also work to create jobs for 25,000 local people living in coastal resettlement areas./.
Tien Giang invests 650,000 USD in irrigation projects along coastal districts
The Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang has invested 15 billion VND (650,000 USD) in 70 in-field irrigation projects on 27,000ha of farming land in the coastal districts of Go Cong Dong and Go Cong Tay during the 2020 – 21 dry season.
The projects include building or upgrading in-field irrigation canals and ditches that ensure water and help to prevent saltwater intrusion in the dry season.
The projects have protected more than 18,000ha of rice, 6,000ha of vegetables and 3,000ha of other crops from water shortage and saltwater intrusion in the winter – spring crop.
They have also helped to secure daily-use water for 38,000 households in coastal areas.
In Go Cong Dong, apart from investing in in-field irrigation canals and ditches, local authorities have built four new sluices for taking irrigation water since the beginning of the dry season.
The district has organised the collection of rubbish and water hyacinths on in-field irrigation canals and ditches so that irrigation water can flow easily into each field.
The district has taken measures to restructure agricultural production to suit each area, according to local authorities.
In the winter – spring crop, farmers in Go Cong Dong have expanded cultivation of vegetables and other crops on 1,500ha.
Go Cong Dong and Go Cong Tay districts normally face severe saltwater intrusion in the dry season and face shortage of irrigation water at the end of the winter – spring crop.
The two districts have also expanded advocacy activities about the impact of saltwater intrusion to the public.
Local authorities in the two districts have encouraged farmers to dredge irrigation ditches in orchards to preserve fresh water for irrigation.
Ngo Van Dung, head of the Go Cong Tay Bureau of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the district has invested in irrigation projects and taken measures to cope with saltwater intrusion and drought.
Besides investing in in-field irrigation canals and ditches, the district has built 124 temporary dams to preserve irrigation water for the dry season, he said.
In the ongoing winter – spring crop, the two districts have solved the shortage of irrigation water for growing rice and other crops as more irrigation projects have been built and the winter – spring crop rice was planted earlier than normal.
Farmers are having a bumper harvest of winter – spring rice, getting a yield of 6.5 tonnes per hectares, up 1.2 tonnes against the last winter – spring crop, according to local authorities.
Profits from growing vegetables are two to three times higher than from rice, said local authorities./.
Investors confident in Vietnam's innovative startup ecosystem
Investors are confident in the potential of Vietnam’s innovative startup ecosystem, and believe the country will become a big investment market in the region and the world, according to head of the Vietnam representative office of Genesia Ventures, an investment fund of Japan, Hoang Thi Kim Dung.
According to a report published by Do Ventures – a venture capital fund that focuses on making investments in tech startups in Vietnam and Southeast Asia – in 2020, Vietnam’s innovative startup ecosystem ranked third in Southeast Asia, after Singapore and Indonesia.
Vietnam's national innovation startup ecosystem is likely to earn a berth in the top 15 emerging ones in the Asia-Pacific region by 2030, the report said.
The Prime Minister in 2016 approved a project to support the national innovative startup ecosystem through 2025 under Decision No. 844/ QD-TTg (Project 844), which was designed to promote and support the formation and development of startup projects or startup enterprises and urgently complete the legal system to support innovative startups.
To further promote the development of Vietnam’s innovative startup ecosystem in an intensive manner, recently the PM has approved the amending and supplementing of a number of articles in Decision No 844/QD-TTg.
Vietnam hopes to establish international cooperation programmes with partners in at least five prestigious innovative startup ecosystems in the world by 2025, and attract more foreign resources to support domestic innovation startups.
According to statistics from the Project 844's office, there are nearly 100 venture capital funds in Vietnam, including about 20 domestic funds. Each investment fund has different networks and strengths, so startups need to thoroughly research and group potential investors in accordance with their development orientation and goals./.
Vietnam offers investment opportunities to Indian businesses
Vietnam's growing importance in the global supply chain has created strong potential for the nation's relationship with India to flourish, especially in terms of the small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) sector.
During the event, Pankaj Gupta, chairman of the IIA, pointed out that some large Indian firms such as Adani Group, Mahindra, SRF Chemicals Ltd, and Suzlon Energy Ltd have shown a keen interest in investing in the Vietnamese market.
According to speakers, Indian businesses are greatly interesting in exploring investment opportunities in the fields of energy, mineral exploration, agrochemicals, production of sugar, tea, coffee, information technology, and automotive components.
Alongside the participation in several free trade agreements (FTAs), in addition to factors such as rapid economic growth, improved infrastructure, political stability, cheap labour costs, and a young workforce, Vietnam has plenty of investment incentives to offer to foreign firms looking to do business locally, participants noted.
Experts also pointed out that there are numerous challenges posed for foreign enterprises that operate in the field of oil and gas exploration, all of which are currently subject to a high corporate tax rate of between 32% and 50%.Other issues such as a language barrier, a shortage of ATMs, and a lack of other reliable transaction systems, can also hinder financiers.
Vietnamese Ambassador to India Pham Sanh Chau underscored the importance of domestic political stability, the local business climate, and growing bilateral relations, as well as the opening of direct flights which has facilitated trade activities between the two countries in recent times.
He emphasised that both sides have great potential for development co-operation in such fields as support industries, and the manufacturing of auto parts, motorcycles, materials, textiles, footwear, and home appliances.
According to the Foreign Investment Agency of Vietnam, as of December, 2020, India has invested in approximately 300 valid projects in Vietnam with roughly US$900 million of capital, ranking 26th among foreign investors in the country.
Hanoi police summon suspect of foreign sexual assaults
The Hanoi police have summoned an individual suspected of carrying out sexual assaults against foreign women in the capital.
The guy known as D lives in Ba Dinh district, said the police.
Foreign victims of the assaults were invited to the police station to identify the suspect.
K.M.C, an Irish woman, said that she was sexually assaulted by two men while walking down Dang Thai Mai street in Tay Ho district on February 20. She confirmed D was one of the two youngsters who attacked her that night.
However, D pleaded not guilty to the crime.
The police said they are investigating 25 other young people believed to be closely tied to the case.
The Irish woman is the victim of the recent sexual assaults in Hanoi.
VN has learned that a group of young men aged 15-20 were said to have carried out sexual assaults against foreign women living in Tay Ho district of Hanoi capital in recent times.
They normally drove unmarked motorcycles past the women walking down streets such as To Ngoc Van, Quang Na, Quang Ba and Dang Thai Mai and committed violent sexual assaults on sensitive parts.
A victim even said the suspects strangled her, threw stones at her and snatched her belongings.
Tay Ho district is known as a place where a lot of foreigners rent properties to work and live in Hanoi.
Vietnam records US$589 million trade surplus with the UK
Bilateral trade between Vietnam and the UK reached US$657.35 million during January, representing an annual increase of 78.57%, according to the European-American Market Department.
The department reported that Vietnamese exports to the European market stood at US$598 million, marking a rise of 84.61% compared to the same period from last year.
The trade surplus of goods to the UK throughout January hit US$598 million, recording an increase of 113.7% on-year.
Among products that recorded impressive export growth, telephones and components topped the list with a boost of 371.6%, followed by machinery, equipment and tools, and spare parts, up 110%, and computers and electronic components, up 91%.
Notably, local agricultural products also maintained steady growth, with exports of vegetables and fruits increasing by 148% from the same period last year.
Meanwhile, the main import items from the UK were metal products, (excluding steel), pesticides, raw materials, and textile materials.
The Department attributed the impressive trade growth to the enforcement of the Vietnam-UK Free Trade Agreement (UKVFTA) which first came into effect on January 1, despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On February 26, the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) reported that January witnessed the total export value of aquatic products reach US$606 million, an annual rise of 23.4%.
Of the figure, tra fish recorded an increase of 21.7%, with white-leg shrimp seeing an increase of US$32.5.
Key export markets for Vietnamese aquatic items included the United States, up 25.6%, Russia, up 72%, and Australia, up 105%.
Banks launch bailout packages for coronavirus affected firms
With the third wave of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic causing numerous challenges for local businesses, several banks such as BIDV, Vietcombank, VietinBank, and Agribank have devised solutions aimed at supporting Vietnamese companies, especially small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
The Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV) has launched a short-term preferential credit package worth VND10,000 billion which will run from February 24 to September 30 in support of those affected by the latest COVID-19 outbreak.
This comes after BIDV also deployed preferential short-term and medium-long-term credit measures worth over VND100,000 billion for SMEs, while also supporting them in digital transformation.
Meanwhile, the Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam (Vietcombank) reduced interest rates to loans from February 22, 2020, to May 22, 2020, for 105,000 existing clients with credit package worth VND350,000 billion.
Nghiem Xuan Thanh, chairman of Vietcombank’s Board of Directors, said the financial institution will continue to provide businesses with support to help them weather the COVID-19 crisis.
For his part, Le Duc Tho, chairman of VietinBank’s Board of Directors, revealed that his bank is devising suitable solutions for each group of affected clients, by adjusting the lending term and service costs in order to help them restore production and business as soon as possible.
Moreover, the Vietnam Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Agribank) has pledged to offer additional credit packages aimed at bolstering production of businesses, especially those operating in priority areas over the year ahead.
Huynh Ngoc Huy, chairman of LienVietPostBank’s Board of Directors, said the bank will deploy appropriate credit packages and soft loans specifically for firms, along with developing more advanced utilities on the digital banking platform in order to provide clients with enjoyable experiences.
With regard to the real estate sector, Nguyen Tuan Anh, director general of the Department of Credit for Economic Sectors under the State Bank of Vietnam, has stated that SBV will continue to reduce lending rates to help property firms and individuals purchase houses with the aim of developing the local real estate market.
The Vietnamese economy is projected to enjoy a rapid recovery over the course of the coming year by many international organisations, with an anticipated growth rate of between 6.7% and 6.8%. Due to this, SBV is keen to keep interest rates at a stable level to support the macro-economy and boost businesses amid the complicated developments of COVID-19.
Startups driving health innovations
The pandemic has sped up digital transformation in healthcare, prompting numerous innovative startups to step up their game to fill the gaps in the market.
General director Bui Trieu Anh Tuan noted that MedPro has partnered with nearly 30 hospitals to provide services like online booking, cashless payment system, and smart medical cards. Its partners include leading hospitals in many localities such as Ho Chi Minh City, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Dong Nai, and Can Tho and this year, the startup will expand its coverage to Hanoi, Haiphong, Danang, Binh Dinh, and Binh Duong, with a potential customer base of two million people.
Similarly, Zoop Care is a platform facilitating communications and collaboration between healthcare providers and consumers. The company is actively expanding its operations in Vietnam to contribute to higher quality and more cost-effective healthcare.
Lucy Duong, COO of Zoop Care, said that during market research, the team noticed that it was common for service providers to sort tasks manually with great difficulties. Daily administrative tasks such as appointment scheduling or patient registration are mostly done on paper, with no effective archiving method in use. In addition, multiple mediums are often employed to contact and manage customers. This disconnected approach prevents them from optimising their operations.
"We developed Zoop Care as a broadly centralised platform to detangle all knotted ends. It serves as an all-encompassing solution, enabling seamless communication with customers," she said, noting that Zoop Care is designed with many useful features, such as online booking, automatic reminders, smart calendar, treatment reminders, automatic response collection, and real-time reporting.
Meanwhile, eDoctor provides a virtual space to connect patients and doctors during social distancing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Deputy CEO Alain Huynh said that the potential for digital healthcare is huge as the healthcare market will double in the next 7-10 years. Digital healthcare makes up less than 1 per cent of the total market size currently, a figure which is projected to skyrocket.
"So we have great room for players in many sub-sectors such as pharmaceuticals, diagnostics, medical technologies, retail, wellness, and telemedicine which are all at the forefront of digital innovation," Huynh said. "Customer behaviour and the market may change forever if lockdown and social distancing remain the major measures to fight the coronavirus. The right solution at the right time will give startups the greatest competitive edge."
A report by Fitch Solutions identified great promise in digital healthcare. Internet access is widespread and the country has seen rapid development in 4G and 5G. Building on these foundations, the government is driving a digitalisation agenda in hospitals and clinics. As a result, Vietnam has seen a growing number of foreign players showing eagerness to invest in these startups to capitalise on the market potential.
Medix Global is looking to forge collaborations with local partners, especially in the fields of cancer, cardiovascular, and diabetes, through the company's investment arm, Medix Ventures.
Medix chief executive and founder Sigal Atzmon said, "Since our launch in July, Medix has already seen significant demand for our services as customers look for support on their medical journey. With this in mind, we are looking for innovative companies in Vietnam or international companies looking to expand into Vietnam that can combine data-driven solutions in the healthcare space. This will increase the efficiency and technologies necessary to bridge gaps and provide better access to quality care."
She said that Medix would focus on providing personalised support by tapping into innovative services that improve not only the individual's experience but that also benefit Vietnam's healthcare landscape.
Long An international port to be expanded
Dong Tam Group (DTG) has announced that it is completing the remaining legal procedures for expanding the Long An international port in the Mekong Delta province of Long An, enabling its berths No. 8 and No.9 to receive 100,000DWT ships.
As scheduled, the project will be completed in 2023, lifting the total length of the wharf system to 2,368m, enabling the handling of over 80 million tonnes of goods per year.
DTG also has a plan to build a terminal serving ships transporting gas, oil and other liquids, turning the Long An international port into a multi-purpose seaport.
The Long An international port covers an area of 147 ha, including 7 wharves with a total length of 1,670m, which are capable of receiving 30,000-70,000 DWT ships, and four barge berths that are able to accommodate barges of 2,000 tonnes. It boasts experience and other favourable factors in handling super-sized and super-weight items which require complicated cargo handling process.
In 2020, the port signed strategic cooperation agreements with partners in the Mekong Delta region, helping businesses reduce costs, improve competitiveness and maximise operation efficiency.
Previously, on January 22, a strategic cooperation agreement was signed between representatives of the port and those from units specialising in developing major wind power projects in Vietnam./.
Source: VNA/VNS/VOV/VIR/SGT/Nhan Dan/Hanoitimes
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