President attends Vietnam-India Business Forum
The Government of Vietnam will create favourable conditions for foreign investors including those from India, State President Truong Tan Sang emphasised at Vietnam-India Business Forum held in New Delhi on October 12.
At the gathering, representatives of Indian businesses said that since Vietnam and India established strategic partnership in July 2007, bilateral economic cooperation has increased dramatically. Two-way import-export revenue between the two countries reached US$2.7 billion last year and was estimated at US$1.8 billion in the first six months of 2011.
Businesses highlighted the signing of cooperative documents by both governments during President Sang’s visit to India. Especially, both countries agreed to increase trade turnover to US$7 billion by 2015.
India is keen to import steel, coal, rubber and chemicals from Vietnam and export cattle feed, pharmaceuticals, fabric cotton, machines and metals to Vietnam.
Regarding Indian businesses’ wish to invest in the health care and oil and gas sectors, Mr Sang emphasised that apart from public hospitals, there have been a lot of private hospitals, drug stores and foreign-run medical stations in Vietnam. The Government of Vietnam wants foreign investors including those from India to build hospitals in Vietnam. Vietnam also highlighted joint efforts by Indian companies in exploiting oil and gas for mutual benefits. In fact, India has cooperated in probing and exploiting some oil fields in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone. In future, Vietnam will continue to promote cooperation with India in the field.
President Sang said Vietnam Airlines and Indian Airlines have already agreed to open a direct air route between the two countries with a view to promoting trade exchanges, culture and tourism between the two countries. President Sang asked the two airlines to open the air route in the third quarter of next year.
At the forum, the State President answered queries from Indian businesses on the East Sea issue, policies to attract foreign investment in building infrastructure and other important matters of mutual concern.
The same day, President Sang received leaders from some India economic groups which plan to expand cooperation with Vietnam.
Later in the evening, Indian President Pratibha Devisingh gave a banquet in honour of President Sang and his wife.
Firms raise capital through bond issues
Facing difficulties in accessing bank loans at reasonable interest rates, many businesses are seeking to raise capital by issuing corporate bonds.
Compared to raising capital by issuing stock, bond issues would not dilute existing share values or affect ownership or control of the enterprises, Quynh added.
In recent days, three more listed companies have announced information concerning bond issue plans worth trillions of dong.
Sai Gon Thuong Tin Real Estate Co (SCR) plans to issued bonds worth VND99 billion (US$4.7 million) with a term of 18 months and a floating coupon rate which would be adjusted monthly. Interest for the first month would be 17 per cent per year.
Sai Gon-Ha Noi Securities Co (SHS) plans a three-tranche bond issue worth a combined VND350 billion ($16.7 million) with a coupon rate of 20 per cent, while Agribank Securities Co (AGR) also expects to issue five-year bonds worth VND3 trillion (142.8 million) with floating interest rates.
Last month, Khang Dien House Trading and Investment Co (KDH) successfully issued VND50 billion ($2.4 million) worth of bonds at a fixed interest rate of 21.5 per cent. Song Da Urban and Industrial Zone Development and Investment Co (SJS) also raised VND700 billion ($33.3 million) by selling bonds with a coupon rate of up to 22 per cent.
The fact that companies are willing to seek funding with such high yields is a clear sign that enterprises are desperate for capital.
“This method is suitable to medium-sized and large enterprises with a high degree of transparency,” Quynh said.
Southern hub endeavours to lure Japan’s Kansai investors
A senior official from Ho Chi Minh City has called on Japanese investors, particularly those from the Kansai region, to explore and do business in the City.
Le Thanh Hai, Secretary of the Ho Chi Minh City Party Committee , also pledged to create the best possible conditions for Japanese businesses to effectively invest in the City. For instance, he said, HCM City will allocate specific areas for Japanese industrial zones.
He was heading a high-level delegation, including representatives of more than 30 HCM City businesses during their visit to Osaka.
Mr Hai highlighted the significant growth in ties between Vietnam and Japan in general and between Osaka and HCM City in particular and said HCM City encourages the development of support industries and human resources. He also pointed out some shortcomings of the City, such as poor infrastructure and a shortage of highly skilled workers.
Meanwhile, Kansai investors expressed their wish that the HCM City leadership will pay more attention to public administration reforms, provide open and clear land policies, and help to remove investors’ obstacles in a timely manner. They are especially concerned about the shortage of electricity and water in the City.
Kankeiren will have an economic exchange meeting in Danang on November 20.
Vietnam to create favourable conditions for Czech businesses
Vietnamese government is committed to creating favourable conditions for Czech investors to do business in Vietnam.
The Deputy PM highlighted Mr Kocourex’s visit to Vietnam which has proved the Czech government’s keen interest in cooperation between the two ministries and governments.
Mr Ninh said that both countries have great potential for cooperation, especially in the field of trade and industry. However, current cooperation between the two sides remains modest.
He also emphasized that in recent times, Vietnam has made great efforts to take measures to reduce the impact of the global economic crisis on its economy and achieved initial results.
At present, Vietnam gives priority to developing infrastructure and reducing poverty. Therefore, Vietnam hopes to receive cooperation and support from the Czech Republic in the future, especially in terms of technical assistance from Czech experts in mechanics and industry.
For his part, Minister Martin Kocourex thanked the Deputy PM for receiving the Czech delegation. He emphasized that during the visit more than 50 Czech businesses want to seek investment opportunities in Vietnam. He proposed that the two governments continue to create favourable conditions to promote cooperation and investment among businesses effectively.
The Czech Republic is willing to cooperate and support Vietnam in the fields which the European country has advantages and will continue to provide Official Development Assistance (ODA) to Vietnam, he said.
Steel exports increase sharply
Of the figure, about 285,600 tonnes of steel ingot have been shipped abroad while the consumption volume of the product has reduced sharply in the domestic market.
According to Cuong, the steel export revenue in the past nine months reached US$1.3 billion. The increasing volume in steel exports shows a positive sign for the local steel industry, in which the supply currently doubles the demand, he said.
VSA is cooperating with businesses to boost steel export turnover to explore the opportunity arising from the increasing demand for steel in the global market. At present, Vietnamese steel is selling well in many countries, including the US, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia.
Vietnam-EU Joint Commission convenes in Brussels
The eighth session of the Vietnam-EU Joint Commission took place in Brussels, Belgium, on October 10, discussing a new period in bilateral ties.
In a joint press release, the two sides pledged to fulfil necessary measures as soon as possible to sign a new Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA).
At the session, the EU side reaffirmed its commitment to support Vietnam’s socio-economic development plan as well as its reform process.
The two sides also discussed ways to eradicate trade and investment barriers and explored possibilities for the start of negotiations on a mutually beneficial and comprehensive free trade agreement.
The EU encouraged Vietnam to continue liberalising its economy amid an unstable global economic situation.
Both sides reaffirmed the importance of anti-protectionism and implementing their pledge to the World Trade Organisation.
Vietnam and the EU reviewed progress reached within the framework of a cooperative sub-committee of the commission on institutional construction, administrative reform, state management and human rights issues. They emphasised the significance of the dialogue on human rights between Vietnam and the EU as an important cooperative channel.
Both sides agreed to promote cooperation in other fields, including security, nuclear power, chemistry, biology, infectious diseases, climate change and postgraduate education.
They also recognised the results of the discussion of the sub-committee on scientific and technological cooperation and agreed to hold the next meeting of the sub-committee in November.
The two sides discussed regional and international issues and the EU affirmed its willingness to closely cooperate with Vietnam to foster cooperation between the EU and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
The Vietnam-EU Joint Commission organises biannual sessions to prepare high-level discussions within the framework of a cooperative agreement between the European Commission (EC) and Vietnam that was signed on July 17, 1995.
This was the first time the commission met since the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement was initialled in October, 2010.
Rubber price to remain high in rest of year
Rubber price towards the year-end will still be above US$4,000 per ton despite continuous drops in price caused by the lower demand in China as Vietnam’s biggest rubber importer, according to Vietnam Rubber Association (VRA).
Indonesia, the world’s second rubber producer, has also followed suit. However, this country has yet to announce the amount of rubber reduction next year.
“The current rubber price is US$4,100 per ton and it is likely to be maintained at this level in the near future,” Hoa said.
Any moves of Thailand and Indonesia, the world’s two biggest rubber exporters, in adjusting the annual production output will have an impact on the global price, according VRA.
If Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia reduce rubber outputs to stabilize the price, Vietnam, the fourth biggest rubber exporter, will also do the same, Hoa added.
HCM City’s hotels dominate nation’s top-ten listTwo more banks get nod to sell gold depositsSouthern Bank and Viet A Bank were expected to get permission from the central bank on Tuesday to sell gold deposits, days after five other banks had successfully performed the mandate to cool down the gold fever.
As such seven lenders along with the bullion trader Saigon Jewelry Holding Co. (SJC) would be authorized to sell gold with an aim to stabilize the market.
A bank executive revealed that the seven banks held a large amount of gold, as much as 80% of all local banks’ total gold stock. Nonetheless, the selling number of 10 tons of gold by the seven banks is just a modest figure compared to more than 100 tons of gold mobilized at domestic credit institutions.
It is believed that these lenders, having large stocks of gold and experience of trading bullion as well as strictly adhering to the banking industry’s regulations, have been chosen by the central bank as gold sellers for now.
Meanwhile, other banks which have attracted gold from depositors are still not allowed to trade with others. This means they have to wait for the next orders from the central bank to see how they could use the gold deposits and whether they could sell gold or make use of it to ensure their assets’ balance.
Many lenders that are not allowed to sell gold deposits have been found to further raise gold deposit interest rates, seeing an annual rate rise to 2.2% for over one-month term deposits at Vietnam Tin Nghia Commercial Bank and other banks.
The move is aimed at improving Vietnam dong liquidity as numerous depositors have rushed to withdraw money from their current accounts since the middle of last month, said some unofficial sources.
The price of gold has recently been on the downtrend with SJC selling the bullion at a high of VND43.9 million per tael, up around VND600,000 per tael against Monday afternoon.
The differential between local and world gold prices is still modest, hovering around VND400,000, which is much lower than the previous week.
PwC: local businesses still confident of growth
A recent survey of PricewaterhouseCoopers Vietnam (PwC) showed that Vietnamese businesses were the most confident in Asia in terms of corporate expansion prospects.
The survey was conducted between May and June, interviewing 375 senior managers in the financial industry, PwC customers and combining viewpoints of PwC experts.
According to the survey, up to 50% of entrepreneurs believed that their companies would post more than 10% growth within the next 12 months, while only 37% of respondents elsewhere in other Asian nations are that confident.
Some 35% of local enterprises say that their businesses would grow around 5-10% in the next year, while in other countries, 39% of respondents hold view of this medium growth prospects.
Only 5% in Vietnam expected a growth rate of under 5% and no one said they would incur losses.
Stephen Gaskill, who took charge of the survey, said the positive numbers stressed Vietnam’s attraction to foreign investors.
The survey was made when most Vietnamese enterprises were complaining about difficulties of high lending rates and stockpiles given macro uncertainties. PwC, however, does not mention results of past surveys, but Vietnamese companies in previous years often charted a much brighter growth prospect.
Minister of Planning and Investment Bui Quang Vinh earlier this month reported around 48,700 enterprises being dissolved in the January-September period. Of which, over 5,800 firms had announced insolvency, 11,400 had stopped operation and 31,400 had stopped paying taxes but had yet to announce insolvency.
Foreign direct investment (FDI) capital was registered at US$9.89 billion, equivalent to 72% from the same period last year. The number has fallen way behind this year’s FDI attraction target of US$20 billion.
Seaports loosing money because of rulesThe Viet Nam Seaports Association has asked the Government to come up with a solution to deal with financial losses which have led to a weakening of the domestic seaport logistics industry.
Ho Kim Lan, general secretary of the association, said the cost of handling a container was at least US$60-70 per unit but at some sea ports, Vietnamese logistics service providers were only permitted to charge $30 for a 20-foot unit and $50 for a 40-foot unit.
A reduction in storage fees had also led to losses at sea port companies, he said.
“If the situation continues, the Vietnamese companies will be forced to sell their businesses to foreign firms or partake in joint ventures because the logistics industry needs significant investment,” said Lan.
In fact, the warehouse system operated by domestic logistics companies could not meet demand while at the same time, foreign companies had invested in logistics at Viet Nam’s seaports, said Tran Huy Hien, general secretary of the Viet Nam Freight Forwarders Association (Viffas).
Currently only 10 per cent of Vietnamese logistics companies held 25 per cent of the logistics market. Almost all of them had been forced to join with foreign partners to take advantage of their networks, warehouses and global technology, he said.
Viet Nam’s logistics companies were only able to meet basic service needs due to their short delivery routes, and poor technology and equipment. Transportation was often delayed and the client had to hire many agents to get customs clearance for their goods, a representative of NYK LINE Viet Nam Shipping told HCM City Legal Affairs Newspaper.
Viet Nam’s logistics industry was weaker day by day due to fierce competition with foreign companies, said Hien. International forwarding services had been investing in Viet Nam since last year and gradually begun to dominate the market.
Around 60 per cent of the country’s commercial value came from logistics services, which made up between 15-20 per cent of the GDP, Hien said.
SBV increases forex by VNÐ10 per dollarThe State Bank of Viet Nam has today slightly devalued the Vietnamese dong against the US dollar to VND20,678 per dollar on the inter-bank market, compared to yesterday’s exchange rate of VND20,668.
This is the fifth increase announced by the central bank since last Wednesday and is the highest exchange rate seen since May, which has seen the domestic currency depreciate by VND50 against last month’s rate of VND20,628.
The SBV also announced the ceiling exchange rate for commercial banks was set at VNÐ20.885 per dollar. Commercial banks’ ceiling and floor exchange rates now would be allowed to trade within one per cent of the inter-bank rate.
Commercial banks have raised their exchange rates accordingly with Vietcombank, BIDV, Eximbank and ACB posting their selling rate this morning at VND20,885 per dollar.
Greater regional co-operation needed to boost Ha Noi trade
A trial co-operation programme between Ha Noi and neighbouring localities was critical to boosting trade and stabilising the regional market, a seminar heard last week.
The programme has helped improve organisation of the regional distribution system and facilitated the exploration of the range of food, agricultural and seafood products that are produced in key northern economic provinces.
Participants said that each locality had its own potential to develop specific industries and commerce. However, the potential would remain untapped if there was no effort to co-operate.
Nguyen Van Dong, deputy director of Ha Noi’s Department of Industry and Trade (DoIT) said there had been a supply shortage in recent years of several commodities such as cooking oil and high quality rice which were not produced in the city.
Thanks to the co-operation with neighbouring localities, Ha Noi had been able to satisfy consumer demands, he said.
He also said that as the administrative centre, Ha Noi must closely co-operate with neighbouring localities in order to develop supplies as well as the distribution system while ensuring growth in the entire Song Hong Delta Region.
Participants also said that the programme should be organised amongst businesses over the long term.
In the near future, Ha Noi would create more favourable conditions for key traders with significant experience, abundant capital, good warehouses and transportation and distribution systems to sign long-term contracts with farmers and manufacturers in other localities, Phu said.
Ha Noi’s DoIT would also help manufacturers in other localities access the capital’s market to more easily sell their products and set up their own distribution systems.
However, the co-operation faced several obstacles due to unstable supplies, bad weather and diseases, the seminar was told.
Because there was not an established wholesale market for foods and agriculture products in the region, trading had been done by small family-owned markets and small – and medium – sized enterprises. The region was also lacking a large corporation which could intervene to control fluctuations in the market, participants heard.
Vu Vinh Phu, chairman of the Ha Noi Supermarkets‘ Association, suggested that in order to enhance co-operation, provincial departments of Industry and Trade must guide their businesses to focus on core products while also providing more incentives to encourage companies to find markets in other provinces.
Most HCM City shops break price rules
HCM City authorities have been scrupulously implementing the Government’s Resolution 11 to curb inflation by regulating prices, but violations continue to occur.
A Ben Thanh market official admitted that only 70 per cent of goods had their prices indicated.
Overcharging, also prohibited, was another common offence, though at An Dong the indicated prices were only 5-10 per cent higher than the actual price.
In many shops in the city, goods do not have their prices marked, even if they are expensive items like imported milk powder, cosmetics, and garments.
The Department of Market Watch said in a report that in the first six months it had found 674 shops violating price regulations, including 580 which did not carry tags.
In the third quarter the number was a marginally lower 320 cases.
An official blamed this on the department’s personnel shortage and lack of deterrent punishments.
The Government’s decree No. 169/2004 prescribes a warning or fine of VND100,000-200,000 (US$4.8-9.6) for failing to indicate prices or marking them up in case prices are fixed by private firms; a fine of VND200,000-500,000 in case prices are set by the Government; VND5-20 million for colluding to set prices; and VND3-10 million for acts of speculation to increase or decrease prices.
These fines were not drastic enough to deter violations, the department’s report said, calling for harsher penalties including cancellation of business licences.
A hotline should be installed for customers to inform about violations, it added.
German investors like good lawsVisiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel said yesterday that a reliable legal framework was one of the essential conditions for German businesses to invest in Viet Nam.
Speaking at the Germany – Viet Nam Economic Forum in HCM City yesterday, she said German businesses also need a transparent administrative mechanism “without red tape and subsidies,” and good infrastructure.
She urged Viet Nam to continue with its open-door policy as well as a privatisation process.
Since investments by German companies would be for the long term and they had advanced technologies, they were in a good position to participate in Viet Nam’s modernisation process, she said, citing the example of HCM City’s underground project.
Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai highlighted the potential opportunities for bilateral co-operation.
“Viet Nam’s socio-economic development strategy in 2011-20 focuses on major targets with a stress on quality, effectiveness, sustainability, human-resource development and skilled labour,” he said.
Higher priority would be given to investment in projects that use high technology and are environmentally friendly.
Since adopting its renovation policy, Viet Nam had achieved average annual economic growth of 7 per cent in recent years.
The country had managed to contain its high inflation, stabilise the economy, and address businesses’ difficulties.
This year actual FDI inflows in the first nine months were US$8.2 billion, a year-on-year increase of 2 per cent.
German investment in Viet Nam remained modest at $850 million in 167 projects, just fifth among EU economies and 24th overall.
Germany will provide Viet Nam with financial assistance totalling US$598 million for development of infrastructure and human resources, the German Embassy in Ha Noi has announced.
A co-operation agreement was signed on Monday, witnessed by visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, creating the foundation for German assistance to eight bilateral development projects in Viet Nam, a press release from the embassy said.
The assistance would be focused on environmental protection, adaptation to climate change, urban development, energy, job training and healthcare.
With the assistance, Germany will retain its status as one of the major donors to Viet Nam.
Bilateral trade had topped $4.1 billion last year.
“This economic forum is an important event in the German chancellor’s working visit to Viet Nam and it also serves as a chance for Viet Nam to deliver its messages on trade and investment and its strategic development orientation to German investors and companies,” Hai said.
Viet Nam appreciated the economic co-operation extended by Germany, he stressed.
Stores told to stock up ahead of Tet
Capital businesses taking part in the annual Tet price-stabilisation programme have been asked to stock up with VND475 billion (US$22.8 million) worth of essential goods in anticipation of the upcoming holiday season.
Estimates from the municipal Industry and Trade Department indicate that capital businesses expect to earn VND24 trillion ($1.2 billion) in retail and services revenue during the Lunar New Year – which will fall in late January 2012 – an increase of 20 per cent compared to other months.
Demand for all types of food, including pork, poultry and frozen seafood, is expected to surge well beyond normal levels during the holiday festivities. Vegetable consumption alone is expected to reach 90,000 tonnes, a 15,000 tonne increase over normal levels.
Deputy director of the department Nguyen Van Dong told a meeting last week with related departments that it would provide favourable conditions for businesses to search for goods in other provinces to ensure low prices, which would help stabilise prices, while conducting regular inspections at supermarkets and price stabilisation shops to prevent speculation.
Goods listed for the stockpile include rice, cooking oil, pork, eggs and sugar, among other essentials. Items part of the stabilisation plan will be priced at 10 per cent lower than those on the market.
The department asked programme participants to be active in stockpiling double their normal amount to ensure enough goods at the city’s 561 price stabilisation shops.
Head of the depar-tment’s Trade Management Office Ho Quoc Khanh said there would not be a shortage of goods during the holiday because the weather had been fav-ourable for production.
The department also asked district-level People’s Committees, market management boards, supermarkets and enterprises to submit reports about their holiday goods preparation before the beginning of next month.
This year, the price stabilisation network will also be expanded to rural areas.
More needed to cool gold market
Economists said authorities stabilise the gold market instead of increasing gold supply sources under the circular 32/2011/TT-NHNN issued recently by the central bank.
The circular permits commercial banks and credit institutions to transfer part of the gold deposited in their vaults into Vietnamese dong in an effort to create a larger gold supply to cool down the domestic gold market.
It is expected to help close the gap between domestic and global gold prices.
Nguyen Cong Tuong, head of sales department of SJC, said by the end of October 10, the company had sold a total of 55,000 taels, of which 20,000 taels were sold on the first day of the circular’s implementation.
Asia Commercial Bank said it had also sold 4-5 tonnes of gold.
After many days of selling a large quantity of gold, the domestic price decreased and the gap between the domestic and world price on October 10 was only VND300,000 (US$14.42) for each tael.
This was seen as an appropriate gap in gold price.
However, this wasn’t enough to stabilize the gold market. The domestic gold price on October 11 was back on the increase and VND1.9 million ($91.3) higher than the world price per tael, if calculated on the bank exchange rate.
On October 11, although the world gold price did not increase remarkably compared to the day before and traded at $1,660 per ounce, the domestic price was VND43.45 million ($2,088) and VND43.75 million ($2,103) per tael, an increase of VND460,000 ($22) per tael.
Dr. Le Xuan Nghia, deputy chairman of the National Financial Supervisory Committee, suggested that the State Bank of Viet Nam allow some commercial banks to issue gold certificates that could be traded in the market.
Nguyen Van Trinh, deputy rector of University of Economics and Law, said there should be a national gold trading floor managed by the central bank so that people can purchase gold certificates and gold accounts.
As a result, the demand for gold investment is expected to decrease, and there will be no opportunities for gold speculation and price hikes.
The State will also limit gold imports and reduce pressure on the foreign currency market, he said.
The central bank has asked commercial banks to make a weekly report on outstanding gold loans and the number of customers as well as the purposes for lending.
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