Thứ Ba, 19 tháng 9, 2017

Big dreams for the banana industry

Banana prices have seen sharp increases in the last 30 years, with an estimated market value of $15 billion per annum.

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Though prices fluctuate all the time, in general they are on the rise, from $300 per ton in 1980s to $1,100 per ton in 2012.
At Hoang Anh Gia Lai shareholders’ meeting, president Doan Nguyen Duc said one hectare of bananas brings revenue of VND1.9 billion, much higher than that brought by sugar cane. It is estimated that the group earns VND2.3 billion from fruit, and bananas account for a large proportion.
However, despite the great potential, Vietnam still cannot develop an effective banana industry.
Banana have one of the largest fruit growing areas in Vietnam, accounting for 19 percent of total fruit-tree cultivation, and the highest output, about 1.4 million tons a year. However, banana has never been considered a key fruit tree and has never been included in local fruit development plans.
The link between farmers and enterprises is loose: farmers don’t have information about the market, while enterprises have to collect products from many different sources with no clear origin.
Banana have one of the largest fruit growing areas in Vietnam, accounting for 19 percent of total fruit-tree cultivation, and the highest output, about 1.4 million tons a year. However, banana has never been considered a key fruit tree and has never been included in local fruit development plans.
Several days ago, 20 tons of bananas from Hung Yen received customs clearance at Vladivostok port in Russia. Globally, the company which imported Vietnam’s bananas noted that bananas have good prices while the quality is not inferior to any product from other countries. He said that many companies had contacted Global to buy Vietnam’s bananas.
The demand for bananas in Russia’s eastern areas is very high, while some Russian companies said they can pay 70 percent or 100 percent of the value of consignments in advance.
The Manila Times last year quoted experts saying that Vietnam may become a big rival for the Philippines’ banana industry. However, Vietnam will need to industrialize banana production. It needs to start the process by developing varieties favoured in international markets instead of some traditional varieties. 
An expert said that it is necessary to improve varieties to create products with high yield which can be preserved for long shipping time. 
It is estimated that 30 percent of bananas going to the EU market are refused because of the lack of aesthetics. Therefore, there must be officers in charge of ensuring quality control in all phases of the production chain, including cultivation, harvesting, cleaning, labeling and packing.
Hand&Hand, a farm produce company from South Korea, is developing a banana farm in Can Tho. It plans to have a farm with an area of 300 hectares at least in Vietnam by 2022.
 Thanh Mai, VNN  

Vietnam spends $174 million on auto import per month

 Vietnam spends $174 million on auto import per month, Vietnam not export various sand, Shares maintain upward trend, Rubber exports surge in first eight months, Investment promotion forum held in Brussels

Vietnam spends an average of US$174 million on importing 8,186 automobiles a month, according to the General Department of Vietnam Customs.

During the first eight months this year, the country imported 65,485 CBU (completely built up) automobiles with the total value of $1.39 billion, down 5 percent in volume and 12.8 percent in value over the same period last year.
The year on year decrease partly showed the gloomy auto market for the last months. Despite implementing a slew of discount programs, automakers have seen dropping sales because of new tax policies.
Specifically, import tariff rates of less than nine seater vehicles from ASEAN to Vietnam will reduce from 30 percent to 0 percent by 2018. Therefore, consumers have been waiting for further price drop.

Vietnam not export various sand

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc ordered the Ministry of Construction to study how much Cambodia’s ban to export sand affect the country’s construction material market.

Before, newspapers in Cambodia released the government announced a ban on exporting sand permanently for environmental issues while Malaysia had imposed a ban on exports in 1997.
The Ministry was assigned to study on the matter and report to the PM as well as to adopt measures to keep the market’s stability.
Vietnam will maintain its decision not to export sand.

Shares maintain upward trend

Shares on the two stock exchanges opened this week’s trading with gains as investors demonstrated their rising confidence in the market outlook.

On the HCM Stock Exchange, the VN-Index edged up 0.25 percent to close on September 18 at 807.87 points. The key market index rose 0.6 percent over last week and 21.5 percent since the beginning of this year.

On the Hanoi Stock Exchange, the HNX-Index ended up 0.62 percent at 105.13 points.

The northern market index increased 0.54 percent from the previous week while growing 31.2 percent compared to the end of last year.

The overall market breadth was positive with 271 stocks on the two exchanges advancing, 182 declining and 279 remaining unchanged.

Large-cap stocks continued to lead the market upturn as 20 of the top 30 largest stocks by market value and liquidity on the HCM City’s bourse gained value and 10 slumped.

Stocks that made gains include industry leaders such as Vinamilk (VNM), brewer Sabeco (SAB), real estate giant VinGroup (VIC), lender BIDV (BID), Vietinbank (CTG), steelmakers Hoa Phat Group (HPG) and Hoa Sen Group (HSG), IT group FPT (FPT), mobile phone retailer Mobile World Group (MWG) and private equity Masan Group (MSN).

Rises in global oil prices also supported oil stocks, with major companies such as PetroVietnam Drilling and Well Services (PVD), PetroVietnam Technical Services (PVS), PetroVietnam Coating (PVB) and PetroVietnam Drilling Mud (PVC) gaining between 1.2-6.8 percent each.

Oil prices rose for a fifth straight session last week with the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) future increasing 4.9 percent to 49.8 USD per barrel while Brent crude closed with a 3.3 percent rise to 55.5 USD per barrel on September 15.

“This bullish session sent more positive signals than in the earlier weeks with higher capital spreading and a recovery in the market liquidity,” said Tran Duc Anh, a stock analyst at Bao Viet Securities Co.

Anh said investor sentiments have improved with greater purchasing demands even in high price zones.

A total of 254 million shares worth nearly 4.6 trillion VND (202.6 million USD) were traded in the two markets, up 35.5 percent in volume and 15 percent in value compared to last week’s average daily trading volume and value in the two markets.

“It’s highly probable that the current upward trend will be maintained in the short term, with the largest increases from the stocks with supportive information and positive third-quarter results,” Anh wrote in a market report on September 18.

Reference exchange rate revised up

The State Bank of Vietnam set the daily reference exchange rate for VND/USD at 22,443 VND on September 19, up 4 VND from the previous day.

With the current trading band of /- 3 percent, the ceiling rate applied to commercial banks during the day is 23,115 VND/USD, and the floor rate 21,771 VND/USD.

The opening hour rates at major commercial banks stayed the same as on September 18.

At the three major banks – Vietcombank, BIDV and Vietinbank, the buying rate is listed at 22,690 VND/USD and selling rate at 22,760 VND/USD, unchanged for several working days.

Vietnam-China investment promotion forum held in Beijing

The China-Vietnam investment promotion forum took place in Beijing, China, on September 18.

The event was jointly hosted by the China-ASEAN Business Council (CABC), a delegation from Vietnam’s northern mountainous province of Tuyen Quang, and the Vietnamese Embassy in China.

Addressing the forum, CABC President Xu Ningning affirmed that China is currently the biggest trade partner of Vietnam, which is the biggest trade partner of China in ASEAN.

In the first eight months of this year, China was the fourth biggest investor in Vietnam, with 176 projects worth 1.27 billion USD, tripling the amount of the first half of 2016.

He attributed the investment increase to enhanced political relations, incentives and potential of the two economies, noting Vietnam offers cheap labour force, investment incentives and favourable traffic network.

Commercial Counsellor of Vietnam in China Bui Huy Hoang echoed the CABC President’s view on the growing trade and investment cooperation between Vietnam and China in recent years.

He said two-way trade reached 71.9 billion USD in the first eight months this year, up 20.1 percent year on year, of which Vietnam shipped 27.6 billion USD worth of goods to China, a rise of 16.8 percent.

The target of reaching 100 billion USD in bilateral trade this year is completely feasible, Hoang said, expressing his hope that the forum will help Chinese economic and financial institutions, associations and enterprises understanding more about Vietnam and its investment climate, thus increasing collaboration with Vietnamese partners.

Chairman of the Tuyen Quang People’s Council Nguyen Van Son briefed participants about the province’s socio-economic situation, saying that the province is home to numerous Chinese investment projects and those using Chinese technology.

Underlining cooperation potential between his province and Chinese investors, he pledged that Tuyen Quang will create all favourable conditions for foreign investors, particularly those from China, to implement their projects in the locality.-

Deputy PM hails Mitsubishi’s participation in thermal power plant

Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung has praised efforts made by Japanese investors, including Mitsubishi Corporation, in carrying out the Vung Ang 2 thermo power plant project located in the central province of Ha Tinh.

At a meeting with Yoshinori Katayama, Senior Vice President of Mitsubishi, an important shareholder of the project, in Hanoi on September 18, Deputy PM Dung asked the stakeholders to accelerate negotiations on the project in order to facilitate its implementation, ensuring interests of all related parties.

On this occasion, the official reiterated the request that all thermoelectric projects must meet both environmental and technological requirements.

The Government will create optimal conditions for investors to apply state-of-the-art technologies and protect the environment, he stressed.

Sharing the investors’ concerns over factors hindering the operation of the Vung Ang 2 thermo power plant project, Dung assigned the Ministry of Industry and Trade, and Ministry of Finance to team up with the Electricity of Vietnam (EVN) to seek solutions to the pending negotiations.

Yoshinori Katayama thanked the Vietnamese Government’s support for the stakeholders to fast-track the negotiation process, saying the concerned parties have reached consensus on major contents.

The Vung Ang 2 plant has a total capacity of 1,200 MW, with the first turbine to be put into operation in 2021 while the second will become operational one year later.
However, the project is facing some obstacles despite long negotiations among stakeholders.-

TH Group’s organic milk wins international award

The organic fresh milk product of locally-invested TH Group has won the prize of “best new product” at the 26th International Food Exhibition, or World Food Moscow 2017.

According to TH Group, which owns the TH True Milk brand, organic milk product was introduced to consumers from August 17. After launching in Vietnam less than a month and being introduced at World Food Moscow 2017, TH organic milk has quickly gained international appreciation.

This kind of milk is free of residues of pesticides, fertilisers, growth hormones, antibiotics and genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

World Food Moscow is an annual international event held in Russia from September 11 to 14. The event is an opportunity for foreign businesses to promote their goods and seek trading partners in the vast Russian market.

The fair is considered to be a large-scale exhibition of the world with the participation of more than 1,500 suppliers of agricultural products and food from 63 countries.

This is the third time TH Group has participated in this international exhibition. In 2015 and 2016, many of TH’s dairy products were awarded. The group won five gold prizes, three silver prizes and one bronze prize in the last two years’ event.

With international awards, TH True Milk not only asserted its own brand but also contributed to enhance the value of Vietnamese goods in the international market.

TH True Milk is a leading brand in Vietnam’s fresh milk market, launched in 2009. Organic milk product of TH Group represents the leading position of the group in the field of clean milk production on a large scale.

The group inked a deal with the authority of the Moscow region, Russia in October 2016 to invest 2.7 billion USD in hi-tech cattle farming and dairy production projects here.

It is expected that in October this year, TH Group will welcome the first cattle herd to its farm in Moscow and soon launch the brand TH True Milk in Russia.

Rubber exports surge in first eight months

Vietnam earned 1.38 billion USD from exporting more than 800,000 tonnes of rubber in the first eight months of 2017, year-on-year rise of 54.1 percent in value and 12.8 percent in volume.

Export turnover of rubber products in January-August rose 25.5 percent annually to 382.2 million USD.

China continued to be Vietnam’s top export market with 867 million USD, 62.7 percent of the country’s total rubber export turnover in the period.

Malaysia came second with 75.4 million USD and the Republic of Korea was third with 56.7 million USD.

Vietnam remained as the world’s third largest rubber exporter with an estimated export turnover of nearly 4.36 billion USD in 2016.

Former Finnish PM talks innovation-based economic development

Former Finnish Prime Minister Esko Aho delivered a presentation in Hanoi on September 18 about Finland’s experience in economic development based on innovation.

As part of the Vietnam-Finland Innovation Partnership Programme Phase 2 to improve the capacity of Vietnamese policymakers, the event was a follow-up to a presentation made by Prof. Goran Roos in late August.

Opening the event, Minister of Science and Technology Chu Ngoc Anh said to serve demand for renovation, managers and science-technology policymakers should improve science-technology policies in tandem with sustainable economic development in Vietnam.

In his speech, Aho underscored the need to change ideas about knowledge, master future technology and devise strategies for innovation.

In the afternoon the same day, Aho and leaders of the Ministry of Science and Technology discussed science-technology development policies used for economic development.

Aho is also former Chairman of the Finnish Innovation Fund under the Parliament of Finland and former Vice President of Nokia Corporation. He was part of an experts’ group to build the EU’s innovation policies and chaired a group to propose Finland’s innovation strategy for 2008.

In recent years, Finland has been among the world’s top 10 countries in terms of the Global Innovation Index and Global Competitiveness Index. The country was also ranked high in indexes scoring the efficiency of public organisations, tertiary education, corporate innovation and public-private partnership.

Investment promotion forum held in Brussels

A forum was held in Brussels, Belgium on September 18 to promote economic ties between Vietnam and Belgium and other European nations, with more than 100 business representatives in attendance.

Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue, who chaired the event, detailed Vietam’s socio-economic development plans and highlighted the country’s role in connecting European firms with the Asia–Pacific market.

The Vietnamese Government pledges to continue building a transparent, and friendly investment environment for investors, Hue said.

Hue encouraged Belgian and European firms to hasten the signing and ratification of the Vietnam – EU Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), which is expected to create opportunities for enterprises of both sides, adding that they should invest in the sectors of common interest, particularly manufacturing, hi-tech, infrastructure, environment, finance – banking, agro-forestry-fishery, food processing, energy, ICT, and pharmaceuticals.

The Deputy PM called on investors to study opportunities to become strategic partners of Vietnamese state-owned enterprises during the equitisation and divestment process.

“Nothing can get in the way of boosting relations between Vietnam and Belgium and the EU in general in a stronger manner”, he said.

Belgian and European enterprises expressed their impression at the socio-economic achievements Vietnam has made over the years.

They also showed interest in investment opportunities in Vietnam, and noted the country’s important position in business links between the EU and Asia – Pacific.

They also made recommendations to improve the Vietnamese investment climate, including strengthening dialogues between the Government and enterprises.

Most participants lauded the potential role of EVFTA in creating a legal framework and opportunities for both sides’ firms.
The same day, the Vietnamese official had separate meetings with leaders of a number of groups, namely the Beverage AB InBev Group and the steel wire transformation and coatings Bekaert S.A Group of Belgium and Pharma Group Vietnam.

During the meetings, he informed the groups of Vietnam’s policies on developing sectors relevant to them, and encouraged them to connect with Vietnamese firms to expand operations in the country.

The groups praised the measures Vietnam has taken to create a favourable business environment for foreign investors.
They also reiterated their support for putting the EVFTA into effect soon and will convey this message to the governments of EU member states.

Thai Nguyen lures 63 projects in nine months

The northern province of Thai Nguyen attracted 63 projects in the first nine months of the year, including 53 domestic projects valued at 4.8 trillion VND (211.2 million USD) and 10 foreign direct investment (FDI) ones worth 9.3 million USD.

The province is home to a total 837 projects with total registered capital exceeding 305 trillion VND (13.4 billion USD), including 120 FDI projects valued at 7.2 billion USD.

Thai Nguyen has become popular for both domestic and foreign investors, with FDI enterprises producing spare parts for the high-tech Samsung complex in the locality.

The province granted investment certificates for 15 residential projects in the nine-month period. Large projects include the Green House project, Tan Duc JSC residential area project, Vinaconex 3 residential area project in Pho Yen town and TNG social house project in Thai Nguyen city.

Notable agricultural projects include the Thai Binh Nguyen farm project in Dong Hy district and a pig farm project in Vo Nhai district.

Regarding industry, trade, services and tourism, the province granted business registration certificates to 33 projects, the most remarkable of which are Song Cong wastewater treatment complex in Song Cong city, WOOJINQPD VINA plant in Diem Thuy industrial zone (Phu Binh district) and Golden Tech Vina plant in Song Cong city.

Hoang Thai Cuong, Director of the provincial Department of Planning and Investment, said that projects which were recently put into operation have made significant contributions to socio-economic development, creating jobs for local labourers and giving a makeover to the province’s urban areas.

The department is working with other departments, branches and localities in building transparent processes for the granting of investment registration certificates, he added.

He also stressed that the province will end inefficient and polluting projects.

Vietinbank to pay VND2.6 trillion in dividend to stakeholders
The Vietnam Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Industry and Trade (Vietinbank) has announced that it will pay cash dividends to the shareholders of 2016.

The payment rate will be 7 per cent, meaning that for each share, the shareholders will receive VND700 (31 US cents). At this rate, the bank will pay dividend worth VND2.6 trillion for 3.72 billion shares held by the stakeholders.

Of the total dividend, the State Bank of Viet Nam, which is holding 64.46 per cent of the bank’s charter capital, as of June 30, 2017, will receive VND1.68 trillion. The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, the bank’s strategic investor, will get VND514 billion, thanks to its ownership of 19.73 per cent of Vietinbank’s charter capital.

The dividend is scheduled to be paid on October 17. The last day for the investors to register for reception of the dividend is September 28.

The dividend is subject to individual income tax of 5 per cent, and the dividend that the shareholders will receive is already taxed.

Vietbank named among Top 100 APEC Brands
Vietnam Thuong Tin Commercial Bank (Vietbank) has won an award for being among the Top 100 APEC Brands from Viet Nam Integration magazine.

The award has been instituted to honour outstanding entrepreneurs, businesses and brands in the country for building and promoting their brands and improving their product and service quality to strengthen the competitiveness of Vietnamese brands in the Asia-Pacific region and globally.

The inaugural awards attracted the participation of many enterprises, who had to meet several criteria set by the magazine to make it to the list of the top 100 APEC brands.

Ho Phan Hai Trieu, deputy director of Vietbank, said the lender has been trying to create products that meet customers’ needs, accelerate investment in technology and improve service quality.

The award is the best recognition for Vietbank's transformational efforts, he added.

Vinamed buys out Mediplast in all-stock deal
The Viet Nam Medical Equipment Corporation (VINAMED) has acquired the Medical Plastic Joint Stock Company in an all-stock deal.

It has issued one share for every three shares held by Mediplast’s stockholders.

Following the acquisition, Mediplast executives will hold key positions at Vinamed.

The company will continue to manufacture and import medical equipment for distribution in Viet Nam.

Over the years Mediplast acquired the capacity to produce a diverse range of products but was plagued by a shortage of resources and managerial skills and lacked relationships with international partners.

Vinamed on the other hand has deep pockets, extensive international relations, good management and a large customer base, making it a win-win deal.

First int’l agro-forestry-fishery exhibition to be held in VN
The first International Agriculture–Forestry–Fishery Exhibition (Growtech 2017) will take place in Ha Noi from November 30 to December 2, the organisers have announced.

Jointly organised under the chairmanship of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, with the Ministry of Science and Technology and Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, this is the first Growtech event to be held in the country.

The exhibition is the largest and only specialised display of machinery, equipment and technology for farming, harvesting and preserving, bringing together major domestic and international enterprises operating and doing business in related fields.

The exhibition offers opportunities for farmers, fishermen and workers in the forestry sector to experience the latest technology and activities in all three fields of agriculture, forestry and fishery.

Besides displaying and demonstrating important innovation activities, Growtech also contributes to trade promotion in the three fields in Viet Nam.

In the context of globalization, Viet Nam's increasingly active participation in free trade agreements is opening up more great opportunities for domestic businesses.

Growtech was organised with the desire to develop a prestigious connection among industry players and to promote trade activities in the agriculture, forestry and fishery sectors.

Furthermore, the exhibition aims to lead to more national development, with Viet Nam becoming a leading exporter of commodities, agricultural products and food and staying among the top-five exporters with a gradually increasing growth rate in the three sectors.

Up to date, the exhibition has attracted the registration of 150 enterprises with more than 300 booths from businesses from all provinces and cities in Viet Nam, and 10 countries and territories with notable businesses from the UK, Italy, Czech Republic, Israel, Indonesia, Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan, among others.

Hosted at the international ICE exhibition centre, it is expected to have around 450 booths and attract more than 10,000 visitors, delegates and specialists from more than 20 countries and territories, including Viet Nam.

During 30 years of renewal (1986 - 2016), Viet Nam’s agriculture has achieved rapid and stable growth, with a positive shift in agricultural structuring.

From 2016 to 2020, the agriculture-forestry-fishery industry in Viet Nam increased its added value with sustainable development; applied scientific and technical achievements to improve capacity, productivity and quality; promoted commodity production moving towards a modern market economy; and increased its competitiveness and maintained rapid development efficiently and safely to become one of the key leaders of national exports.

Animal husbandry, fish processing, aquaculture, environmental protection and biodiversity conservation are some of the areas that are closely linked to the new national rural development strategy.

International livestock expo set to take place next year
The seventh international livestock, dairy, meat processing and aquaculture exposition will bring thousands of people to HCM City in March next year.

More than 8,000 trade visitors are expected to participate and interact with 250 international brands from 30 countries. The exposition, Ildex Viet Nam 2018, is organised by Minh Vi Exhibition and Advertisement Services Co., Ltd. (VEAS) in collaboration with VNU Exhibitions Asia Pacific Co., Ltd. It will take place on March 14-16.

The event is expected to see an increase in both visitors and exhibitors compared to those of 2016, when there were 7,000 visitors and 202 exhibitors.

The area for the exhibition also grows from 6,000 sq.m. at the previous event to 7,500 sq.m. this time.

The show be divided into areas of focus that include animal breeding and genetics, meat processing, animal equipment, farming, feed milling, animal health, animal feed, feed additives and animal nutrition.

The exhibition will also present five country pavilions representing the Netherlands, France, the US, South Korea and China.

The livestock and aquaculture industry is one of the primary economic sectors of our country. In the first half of 2017, it is expected to contribute 0.43 percentage points to the growth rate of the entire economy, according to the Department of Statistics. Officials at the kick-off conference in Hà Nội yesterday said technology will play an important role in the industry’s future.

“Applying new technologies in breeding and aquaculture not only helps to develop the quality of products but also helps to reduce pollution and saving costs,” said Nguyễn Xuân Dương, deputy director of the Department of Livestock production under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. However, application of these technologies still has many limitations and the industry is currently inefficiently developing its potentials.”

“I also believe that through this exhibition, businesses and companies will have opportunities to compare our proficiency with our competitors as well as find new partners for collaboration,” he added. “Business could also get chances to become an import agent or distributor for many international partners,” he added.

Speaking at the conference, Nino Gruettke, managing director of VNU Exhibitions Asia Pacific Co., Ltd said that Viet Nam’s rising population, income levels, changing cultural preferences and new trade agreements had opened the door to significant growth in the meat industry.

“The livestock market in Asia is growing rapidly and this trend is expected to continue in the foreseeable future,” the director said. “The important countries in Asia which have the rapid economic growth rate that global investors keep an eye on are the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia and Viet Nam.”

He also noted that the global business trend now was how to integrate livestock and agribusiness together and drive business with IT, automation and Internet systems. Growing populations meanwhile demand agribusiness innovate quickly to keep up with demand.

“This is the important point that all product business have to realise and find the solutions to increase the productivity and feed the world in the limited space,” he said.

HCM City set to host medical supplies expo
More than 400 businesses from 25 countries and territories will take part in the 12th International Exhibition on Products and Supplies for Medical, Pharmaceutical, Hospital and Rehabilitation – Pharmed and Healthcare Viet Nam (Pharmed and Healthcare Viet Nam 2017) that opens in HCM City on September 20.

At the four-day event exhibitors will display their latest pharmaceutical products, drug manufacturing and packaging machinery, medical equipment and supplies, beauty products and services, medical environment treatment equipment and supplies in over 600 booths.

The annual exhibition is aimed at creating a platform for companies and specialists to exchange knowledge and seek business opportunities.

It has now become the most anticipated annual event in the field of health, and attracts exhibitors from countries and territories including the UK, Australia, Canada, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Russia, the Czech Republic, Sweden, South Korea, Japan, India, China, and Malaysia.

The exhibition will focus on five main themes: pharmex, including pharmaceuticals, ingredients for drug manufacturing and packaging machinery and eastern medicine; medex, where displays will include hospital equipment and diagnostic, surgery, emergency, physiotherapy, orthopaedic, ophthalmic, dental, and medical consumables; hospex covering medical examination and treatment; analytex; and beauty care.

According to the organisers, for the first time a free screening and diagnostic programme will be run by doctors from HCM City’s District 2 Hospital and University Medical Centre.

It will focus on cardio-vascular diseases and diabetes, especially cardio-vascular disease screening for adults and congenital cardio-vascular diseases in disadvantaged children.

Pharmed and Healthcare Viet Nam 2017 will be organised by the Ministry of Health, ADPEX Joint Stock Company, Central Health Communication and Education Centre, Viet Nam Pharmaceutical Companies Association and Viet Nam Medical Products Import – Export Joint Stock Company.

Last year it had attracted over 10,500 visitors.

It will be held at the Sai Gon Exhibition and Convention Centre, District 7.

New direct air route links Hanoi, China’s Jiangxi province

A flight connecting Hanoi and Nanchang, capital of east China's Jiangxi province, has just been launched at Noi Bai International Airport.

The route is hoped to boost economic and tourism cooperation between the two localities.

The direct route helps shorten the air travel time between the two cities to three hours from six hours previously.

Run by Chinese low cost carrier Lucky Air, the flight operates every Wednesday and Sunday.

Prior to the direct route, flights from Nanchang to Vietnam stop over in other Chinese cities such as Xiamen and Wuhan.

Korean firms prep for new TP decree

In the face of regulatory changes regarding transfer pricing in Vietnam, multinational corporations from the Republic of Korea are proactively preparing to ensure compliance with the new tax law.

Accounting for approximately 26% of all foreign direct investment (FDI) in Vietnam last year, Korean investment – which started in the 1990s – has transitioned from labour-intensive manufacturing to high value-added sectors such as power, real estate, and retail.

According to Ha Do, senior partner at KPMG in Vietnam, Korean investors are starting to pay greater attention to tax regulations with regards to corporate income tax (CIT), and are increasingly concerned about investment incentives and the health of the economic environment.

Korean subsidiaries and multinationals investing in Vietnam, whose transactions are often under scrutiny from the tax authorities when it comes to transfer pricing (TP) arrangements, are familiarising themselves with the details of Decree No.20/2017/ND-CP, which provides guidance on transfer pricing management of intra-group service charges, interest, payments for intangibles, and capital expenditures, among other transactions.

“Along with the increased FDI, there is a rise in two-way trade, which naturally creates related-party transactions between the parent companies, affiliates, and subsidiaries.

Determining appropriate arm’s length transfer prices of these transactions for tax purposes will not just be the job of the businesses themselves, but also the tax authorities in both jurisdictions,” said Hoang Thuy Duong, partner in charge of Integrated International Tax at KPMG in Vietnam, on the sidelines of a briefing on TP and customs for Korean businesses in Vietnam in early September.

Duong pointed out new TP reporting and documentation requirements, which are now more complex and in line with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) recommendations against base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS).

A TP documentation package, which should now include a master file, local file, and a country-by-country report, is to be prepared before Vietnam’s annual CIT finalisation deadline. Should a TP audit be required, such a package is to be submitted within 15 working days upon request by the tax authorities.

Jung Goo Kang, vice president of the electronics and technology firm Elentec Co., Ltd. – which owns subsidiaries in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City and is a main supplier for Samsung Vietnam – has experience in logging both Korean and Vietnamese TP audits.

He told VIR that while the transfer pricing rules are the same in theory, the local regulations are more complicated in the sense that tax authorities in different countries do not follow the guidelines in precisely the same way.

“Many of our Korean clients in Vietnam are concerned about double taxation and the uncertainty that follows due to differing views and audit practices maintained by the Vietnamese and Korean tax authorities,” said Seung Mok Baek, a partner specialising in TP at KPMG in South Korea. “TP audits conducted in Vietnam recently have been quite aggressive, and in many cases huge amounts of additional taxes were due as a result of these audits.”  

“Korean firms experienced difficulties in solving double taxation issues through the Vietnamese local appeals process and Vietnam-Korea mutual agreement procedures (MAP) – mainly used as an international ‘appeals’ process for the relief of double taxation occurring due to TP adjustments in recent years in the contracting states,” Baek added.

In the opinion of Gil Won Kang, partner in charge of Global Transfer Pricing Services at KPMG in the Republic of Korea, since the introduction of BEPS, Korean firms in Vietnam are increasingly concerned about double taxation following TP tax audits.

It is his hope that the Vietnamese tax authorities will take the concerns of foreign investors seriously through implementation of an APA (Advance Pricing Agreement, mainly used as a proactive measure to eliminate uncertainties regarding TP in future tax years) and MAP procedures.

“As the new regulations have only come into force in 2017, it might take some time for the capacity building of tax officers. This is a complicated matter,” Duong added.

Exports to China on sharp rise in 8 months

Exports to China jumped 45% to US$18.73 billion in the first eight months of this year, accounting for 14% of Vietnam’s total export revenue, according to the General Department of Vietnam Customs.

Six groups of products brought a total export value of more than US$10.5 billion. Computers, electronics and components topped among export products with US$4.04 billion, up 100% against that in the same period last year, followed by fruits and vegetables with US$1.79 billion (up 62%), telephones and components with US$1.35 billion (up 137%), fibres with US$1.3 billion (up 26%), machines, equipment and tools with US$1.07 billion (up 58.5%), and cameras, film cameras and components with US$1.04 billion (up 42%).

It’s noteworthy that paper and paper products saw the highest growth of 811% to US$22.25 million.

Besides, other products enjoyed high export growth of over 100% like steel (up 116%), electric wires and cables (up 136%), clinker and cement (up 155%).

However, some products suffered a decline such as coffee (down 24% to US$56 million), tea (down 36% to US$9 million), and crude oil (down 23% to US$685 million).

Thien Long's ball-pen business expands overseas

By focusing on localisation through distribution channels and research and development (R&D), Thien Long Group Corporation (Thien Long) has gained significant market share in Myanmar and now targets to expand its business in other foreign markets.

After seven years of working on penetrating the local stationery market, Thien Long achieved a solid standing in seven states and seven administrative divisions of Myanmar, attaining an estimated turnover of $2.8 million in 2017, a 57 per cent increase against 2016 revenue.

Two leading product lines that Thien Long planned to export to Southeast Asian countries are Flexoffice and Colokit. The stationery market in Myanmar amounts to roughly 50 per cent of the group’s total export revenue.

The key for Thien Long to conquer targeted markets is concentrating on local distribution channels and the implementation of research and development (R&D) in the targeted country.

With 30 years of experience in the stationery field, variables Thien Long included in their equation of success have three main components: selecting appropriate products, seeking compatible business partners, and supporting distributors and business partners.

Thien Long’s R&D strategy was specifically designated for each country. Take Laos and Cambodia for example. By living side-by-side with them instead of as expatriates, Thien Long’s R&D team managed to grasp an understanding of local consumption dynamics, gaining a decisive edge over competition.

Tran Huynh, business development manager at Thien Long, shared, “We cooperated with distributors to set up and develop our business through trading and marketing. Had we partnered up with more distributors at the beginning, the group would have achieved over 50 per cent of market share.”

The group’s next target is to attack the Asia-Pacific and Africa which appear to be the two most prospective markets in the next decade. Thien Long’s long-term objective is to continuously improve product quality to accomplish more and set a foothold in new markets.

$1-billion Hemaraj IP may open ahead of schedule

The construction of WHA Hemaraj Industrial Park (IP) invested by WHA Group from Thailand is expected to be started by the end of this month, instead of the late October in the initial plan, thanks to preferential policies as well as great support from provincial authorities.

Covering a total estimated area of 3,200 hectares, the $1-billion project’s construction will take place in seven stages with 500 hectares each.

“Local authorities committed to provide favourable conditions to the investor during the construction process so that the IP can welcome its first projects in early 2018,” Le Ngoc Hoa, Deputy Chairman of the Nghe An Provincial People’s Committee.

“WHA Group is one of more than 60 Thai firms that visited Nghe An in August to seek investment opportunities. According to the initial plan, the investor was to kick off the construction at the end of October, however, the province has been supporting them to complete the necessary procedures to start even sooner, as soon as by the end of this month,” Hoa added.

Hermaraj IP is one of the outstanding examples of projects where construction was pushed forward thanks to the provincial authorities’ support. Earlier in September 2015, a joint venture between Sembcorp from Singapore and Becamex IDC held the ground-breaking ceremony of Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Park (VSIP), covering an area of 750 hectares.

To date, the investor has completed the construction of synchronous infrastructure for 1A phase with an area of 100ha.

“Over 90 investors from numerous countries and territories have visited the VSIP to explore investment opportunities and a dozen of them committed to pour about VND400 billion ($17.6 million) into the park. As of early September, some firms received land and started the construction of their own plants in the park,” said Nguyen Chi Toan, a VSIP representative.

In order to prove the above commitment, Hoa mentioned Australian company Mavin’s project. Notably, Mavin had plans to organise the inauguration ceremony for Mavin Austfeed Nghe An livestock feed factory in February 2017.

The preparation time for the event coincided with the Lunar New Year holiday, however, on the fourth day of the Lunar New Year, representatives of the provincial authorities arranged time to solve the investor’s remaining problems so that the inauguration ceremony could be held on time.

David John Whitehead, chairman of Mavin, said that the group built factories in seven provinces and has warehouses in 19 cities and provinces across the country. However, Nghe An is the only province which now has four projects with the total investment capital of around $80 million, showing Mavin’s satisfaction with the province’s policies to lure in investment capital.

“Investing in Nghe An is a good choice for investors because the province does not only have an ideal geological location, but it also has synchronised infrastructure system, good human resources, and good policies for investors,” Whitehead added.

Furthermore, Hoa added that foreign investors, who want to complete procedures to be granted investment certificates just need to work with the Nghe An Centre for Investment Promotion and Development Consultancy through one-stop policy.
EVFTA signing expected in mid-2018 - Bernd Lange

European Parliament Committee on International Trade (INTA) chair Bernd Lange has said that much remains to be done in the next eight to nine months before the EU and Vietnam can sign a comprehensive free trade agreement on which official negotiations were closed in late 2015.

Speaking with the media in Hanoi last Friday, Lange said the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) could be signed in mid-2018 if the remaining issues are all solved.

The European Commission will send relevant documents to the European Parliament for review and ensure that the commitments in EVFTA are specific because they are the basis for members of the parliament to decide to whether adopt EVFTA or not.

According to Lange, Vietnam will have to solve three main issues before the signing of EVFTA. First, Vietnam has not ratified three of eight conventions of the International Labor Organization which ensure a healthy work environment and benefits for workers.

Second, Vietnam will have to link environmental protection with economic development. And finally, it should allow social organizations, non-governmental organizations and consulting teams to assist the Government in the process of implementing EVFTA.

Lange said these are international practices and regulations that have been widely accepted to ensure equal trade internationally and that the European Parliament will refer to these principles to make decisions.

At a meeting with Lange on September 14, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said Vietnam attached importance to cooperation with the EU. The signing of EVFTA will be a remarkable milestone and bring bilateral relations to a higher plane, he noted.

Phuc asked for continued support from INTA and Lange to facilitate the signing and ratification of EVFTA.
Phuc said Vietnamese ministries and negotiators would closely work with the EU and give top priority to completing procedures for the signing of the agreement.

The Minister of Trade and Industry and the EU trade commissioner signed a declaration on the official closure of negotiations on EVFTA on December 12, 2015, after three years of talks with 14 official sessions and many others at ministerial, delegation and technical-group levels.

The main contents include product based trade, origin rules, ports and facilitation for trade, food safety and hygiene methods and sanitation performance standard, technical barriers in trade, service trade, investment, trade protection, competition, government businesses, government purchases, intellectual property, sustainable development, cooperation and capacity building.

Right after the pact comes into effect, the EU will exempt Vietnam’s exports from about 85.6% of all tax lines, about 70.3% tax turnover. After seven years of implementation, the EU will eliminate 99.2% of import tax.

For textile, footwear and fishery (except canned tuna and fish balls) from Vietnam, the EU will erase all import taxes in seven years after the pact goes into force.

The EU will give Vietnam a significant tax quota for milled, unmilled and fragrance rice. The imported rice with this tax quota will not be taxed. With products made from rice, the EU will bring the import tax to 0% after seven years.

For honey, the EU will remove tax right after the agreement takes effect and no quota will be applied. All fresh greens, processed vegetables, fruits, bags, plastic products, ceramics and glass products, most taxes will be exempted as soon as the pact comes into force.

For EU exports, Vietnam will reduce import tax on cars and motorbikes to 0% after nine or 10 years but only motorbikes with cylinder capacity of more than 150cc will have a tax exempt route of seven years. Vietnam agreed to exempt import tax on wine, alcohol, beer, pork and chicken after 10 years.

On export taxes, Vietnam agreed to erase most export taxes for certain routes and keep certain tax brackets for important products, including oil and coal.

Regarding trade service and investment, Vietnam and the EU agreed to create an open investment environment, and trade activities of businesses from both sides convenient.

The areas where Vietnam will open for EU investors include specialist areas, financial services, communication services, transportation services, distribution services.

Dong Nai property market poses high risk

Dong Nai Province's real estate market holds potentially high risks despite the rapid growth being helped by improved traffic connectivity with HCMC, heard a seminar on the provincial property market on September 14.

Among HCMC’s neighboring provinces, Dong Nai has the better advantage as it is home to many important traffic intersections, with many axis routes cutting through it such as National Highway 1A, North-South Railway, HCMC – Long Thanh – Dau Giay, Ben Luc – Long Thanh and Dau Giay – Phan Thiet expressways, Phuoc Khanh Bridge connecting Can Gio to Nhon Trach, and Ben Thanh – Suoi Tien Metro Line which will link to Bien Hoa City.

Especially, Long Thanh International Airport project has made Dong Nai’s real estate market more attractive to HCMC investors as people tend to move to neighboring areas of HCMC.

At the seminar “Dong Nai real estate market: opportunities and risks” held by Dau Tu newspaper, it was announced that the province is home to nearly 300 property projects of domestic and foreign enterprises including those with investments of billions of U.S. dollars.

According to statistics of the market researcher Savills, Dong Nai as of 2016 had 55 housing projects supplying 30,200 apartments and land lots. However, the secondary market accounted for up to 90% with 27,600 products while the primary market provided only 2,600 products.

In general, investors focus on the land segment with long-term investment targets of five to seven years. Land prices remain low with VND4-4.5 million per square meter in Long Thanh and Nhon Trach districts and VND3.5 milion in Trang Bom and Giang Dien districts.

The market has shown signs of uncontrolled development as many local people have divided their farm land into lots to sell. Many areas of farmland of 3,000-4,000 square meters each had already been divided into smaller ones many years ago, said Nguyen Minh Khang, acting general director of LDG Group.

Due to this rampant development, numerous projects in the province without technical and social infrastructure facilities remain unsold.

Nguyen Thanh Lam, deputy director of Dong Nai Department of Construction cum chairman of the Dong Nai Real Estate Association, said the provincial housing market becomes active thanks to infrastructure development projects, especially Long Thanh International Airport project.

Industrial park and urban area development projects measuring up to 21,000 hectares around the airport have been suspended pending adjustment of zoning plans. The province has also halted the certification of farmland being split into small lots.

Lam categorized real estate projects in Dong Nai into three groups. The first group comprises of land resources in urban areas in Bien Hoa City, Long Thanh, Trang Bom and Long Khanh districts, which have been almost exhausted.

In the second group, projects with an area of 200-300 hectares each are located in localities with poor infrastructure, mainly land plots. These projects are only suitable for investors with medium-term investment targets from five to seven years.

The third group includes projects in areas without essential infrastructure facilities, and are only suitable for investors with over-10-year investment targets, he said.

Hau Giang calls for investment in seven key projects

The Mekong Delta province of Hau Giang is calling for nearly 300 million USD of investment in seven key projects, provincial officials said.

The province announced at a press conference on September 19 that it will hold an investment promotion conference in late September to announce priority projects and local incentives.

Director of the provincial Department of Information and Communication Pham Van Tuu said the projects include a rice processing for export project accompanied by a rice farming area, a ecotourism site at the Lung Ngoc Hoang nature reserve, and infrastructure construction for several industrial parks and a high-tech agricultural zone.

Hau Giang plans to offer exemption and reduction of corporate income tax for between 2-4 years and a 50 percent reduction for the next 4-9 years, with the preferential tax rates ranging from 10-17 percent.

In the framework of the investment promotion conference there will be such activities as a fair and exhibitions, and seminars on the local potential for investment and development.

Currently, there are 4,200 enterprises with a total registered capital of 45 trillion VND (2 billion USD) in Hau Giang. The province has so far attracted 40 foreign and domestic investors, who have poured capital worth 760 million USD and 66.4 trillion VND, respectively, in the local industrial zones and complexes.


Da Nang chairman faces punishment over land mismanagement

The Central Inspection Committee has announced violations by the chairman of the Da Nang People’s Committee, Huynh Duc Tho

​Da Nang chairman faces punishment over land mismanagement
Chairman of the Da Nang People’s Committee Huynh Duc Tho (R) and Secretary of the municipal Party Committee Nguyen Xuan Anh. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Along with Secretary of the municipal Party Committee Nguyen Xuan Anh, Chairman of the Da Nang People’s Committee Huynh Duc Tho has been held accountable for multiple land management violations so serious that they now await disciplinary actions from the Party.
In a recent announcement, the Central Inspection Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam publicized multiple offenses committed by the two leaders of the central hub.
Tho, who is also Deputy Secretary of the Da Nang Party Committee, is responsible for the wrongdoings of the Party Committee’s standing board in the current 2015-2020 tenure.
Such violations include a series of oversights in the management of land and urban order, as well as in some other matters related to personnel.
The chairman’s offenses were so serious that he would be penalized, inspectors said on Monday.
Born in 1962, Tho was voted Chairman of the Da Nang administration for the 2011-16 tenure in January 2015, taking over from Van Huu Chien, who had retired.
In June 2016, Tho was reelected for the 2016-21 tenure.
Meanwhile, Anh, as the head of the Party Committee, has to be held chiefly accountable for all the offenses the standing board of the 2015-2020 term has committed, namely rotating and appointing officials against the Party’s regulations.
The board made several unauthorized decisions, including allowing businesses to use and implement projects on public land.
The lax management and supervision of the standing board regarding land and urban order has resulted in various negatives, upsetting local residents.
Secretary Anh was also responsible for several personal violations, including using invalid degrees, and accepting cars and houses as gifts from local businesses.
He would also be disciplined as his violations were so severe, inspectors said.
 ​Da Nang chairman faces punishment over land mismanagement
Secretary of the municipal Party Committee Nguyen Xuan Anh walks out of the 45 Nguyen Thai Hoc house, whose address was removed. The house now shares the same address as the 43 Nguyen Thai Hoc residence.

The official obtained his master’s degree and PhD in business administration following a study program at the United States’ California Southern University between 2001 and 2006, the inspectors said.
In October 2007, the Southern California University for Professional Studies (SCUPS) was renamed California Southern University, whose degrees are not recognized by the Vietnamese Ministry of Education and Training, meaning that Anh’s master’s and PhD degrees are not valid in Vietnam, they added.
Controversial appointment of officials
Under the leadership of Secretary Anh, the Da Nang Party Committee has been rapped for several controversial decisions regarding the city’s personnel, according to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper’s findings.
In February, the Party Committee’s standing board transferred the position of Nguyen Thanh Quang, 53, from head of the Party Committee’s propaganda board to Secretary of the Party Committee of Thanh Khe District.
The decision went against previous directives of the Politburo, which stated that Quang should be an official in a downtown district, and Thank Khe is not one.
In March 6, Dang Viet Dung, vice-chairman of the municipal administration, was set to take over from Quang as head of the propaganda board.
This appointment raised questions as Dung has a PhD in engineering and a master’s degree in irrigation.
 ​Da Nang chairman faces punishment over land mismanagement
The three houses at 43, 45, and 47 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street used by the family of Nguyen Xuan Anh
Coincidental assets
In 2016, the office of the Da Nang Party Committee received a Toyota Avalon, worth about VND1.3 billion (US$ 57,194) from Minh Hung Phat, a local company, which was later used for Secretary Anh’s commute to work.
Following fierce reactions from the media and public, as well as in accordance with a directive from Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, the automobile was returned to Minh Hung Phat in March 2017.
Anh and his wife and children are living in a residence at 43 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street, a property that was sold to his parents by the municipal People’s Committee in 1993.
During a meeting in 2015, Anh asserted that he had no other property aside from the 43 Nguyen Thai Hoc house, stressing that he would resign if that was not the truth.
However, the official was later found to be using two houses next to his parents’ home, which are the 45 and 47 Nguyen Thai Hoc addresses.
The 45 Nguyen Thai Hoc house was originally a public asset that was leased as an office to several local firms.
In 2007, IVC Company bought the house from the Da Nang People’s Committee.
IVC was established in 2006, with Phan Van Anh Vu the chairman of the management board.
Previously a public property, the 47 Nguyen Thai Hoc house was open for lease until 2009, when the Minh Hung Phat Company asked to buy the building.
The location is now owned by Xuan Minh Phat Company, a flight ticket agent established in 2013, whose legal representative is Bui Thi Diem.
Anh’s wife is also named Bui Thi Diem.
The address of the 45 Nguyen Thai Hoc house has been taken off. It now shares the same address as the 43 Nguyen Thai Hoc residence.
Tuoi Tre News
Việt Nam treasures ties with China: Party chief
HÀ NỘI - Party General Secretary Nguyễn Phú Trọng has assured Liu Yunshan, Politburo Standing Committee member and Secretary of the Secretariat of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, that Việt Nam attaches importance to ties with China.
Party General Secretary Nguyễn Phú Trọng (right) yesterday held talks with Liu Yunshan, Politburo Standing Committee member and Secretary of the Secretariat of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, during the latter’s visit to Hà Nội. — VNA/VNS Photo Lê Trí Dũng

During a reception in Hà Nội yesterday, the Party leader expressed his wish that Việt Nam - China relations would grow for the interests of the two countries’ peoples and for peace and development in the region and world.
Hailing the developments in ties between the two parties and countries over the years, he underscored the significance of exchanging theory and experience in socio-economic development, party building and personnel training.
He wished that the CPC led by General Secretary and President of China Xi Jinping would hold a successful 19th National Congress, which is slated for October this year.
Liu, who is visting Việt Nam for two days, from September 18 to 19, expressed his belief that under the leadership of the Communist Party of Việt Nam (CPV), headed by General Secretary Nguyễn Phú Trọng, the Vietnamese people would continue reaping greater successes in national reform and building socialism.
He affirmed that the party and state of China attached importance to developing the traditional friendship between the two parties and countries.
The guest wished to work closely with Việt Nam to prepare for the Party General Secretary and President’s official visit to Việt Nam and his attendance at the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in November, the first foreign trip to be made by the Chinese leader following the 19th CPC National Congress.
The same day, Politburo member Trần Quốc Vượng, Secretary of the CPV Central Committee and head of the Committee’s Inspection Commission held talks with the Chinese guest.
The two sides discussed measures to fully implement common agreements between leaders of the two Parties and countries, contributing to strengthening political trust and friendship, improving the efficiency of practical collaboration in diverse areas, maintaining peace and security, and properly settling the East Sea issue. - VNS
Social News 19/9

Tougher administrative punishments for flood prevention and control violators

 Tougher administrative punishments for flood prevention and control violators, 5-alarm fire tears through high rise office building in Hanoi, HCM City cops arrest petrol thieves at Nhà Bè Petroleum General Depot

The Government has released Decree 104/2017/ND-CP on sanctioning of administrative violations in the operation and protection of irrigation works; dykes; and flood and storm prevention and control.
The new decree regulates violation behaviors, forms of sanctions, rates of sanctions, remedial measures on administrative violations; punishment authority.
Depending on nature, levels of violation, individuals or organizations will be imposed supplementary punishments including withdrawal of business licenses in limited time; seizure of exhibits and means of administrative violation.
In addition, violating organizations will be forced to restore initial situation; dismount violation projects; tackle water pollution.
Sanctions on administrative infringements will be applied from VND 50 million for natural disaster prevention and VND 100 million on irrigation works.
The new decree also regulates that illegal exploitation of sand and gravel will be subject to fines worth VND 25-40 million.
Decree 104 shall take effect since November 1, 2017, replacing Decree 139/2013/ND-CP, dated October 22, 2013 on sanctioning of administrative violations in the operation and protection of irrigation works; dykes; and flood and storm prevention and control.
5-alarm fire tears through high rise office building in Hanoi
More than 150 firefighters battled a five-alarm blaze that destroyed the 9th floor of a high-rise office building on Thuy Khe street in the district of Tay Ho in Hanoi, reported local officials.
The blaze was reported at 8:10am on Monday, September 18. It took firefighters about one hour to get the inferno under control. A fire official said crews would stay on the scene throughout the day spraying water on the building. 
Local officials said they were extremely grateful and relived that no one sustained serious injuries.  Thanks to the leadership and determined actions of the fire department the very real potential to severe damage to other structures and people were avoided.
Investigators are already interviewing witnesses and have begun the search for physical evidence of the cause of the fire.
HCM City cops arrest petrol thieves at Nhà Bè Petroleum General Depot
The HCM City police have arrested 13 people for allegedly stealing aviation fuel that was being transported in tanker trucks from the Nhà Bè Petroleum General Depot on the city’s outskirts.
After two months of investigation officers last Friday afternoon surrounded three places around the depot and caught three truck drivers red-handed along with 10 other accomplices while on the way to Tân Sơn Nhất airport.
At number 33 Đặng Nhữ Lân Street in Nhà Bè town, Lê Anh Tuấn had stopped his truck with 25,000 litres of fuel allowing his assistant Nhan Tấn Trí and Trần Văn Thành to siphon off 19 cans of 30 litres each.
The owner of the house and alleged ring leader Ngô Thị Thanh Huỳnh was also arrested. The police said the gang would have stolen another 30 cans of fuel if they had not turned up.
Huỳnh was to have paid VNĐ240,000 (US$10.7) to the driver for a can, which she would then sell for VNĐ270,000 ($12).
At exactly the same time at Dương Cát Lợi Street nearby, five others were arrested after Phạm Trí Hùng stopped his truck also with 25,000 litres to allegedly sell stolen fuel to Nguyễn Minh Trí, 45.
The police discovered 14 cans with petrol, 63 empty ones and some incriminating papers.
They said around 2,300 litres of fuel were to have been sold with the driver getting VNĐ18.4 million ($822) and the middlemen, VNĐ2 million ($90).
A four-member ring led by Vũ Thị Thu Nguyệt was arrested at 24/3, Đào Tông Nguyên Street in Nhà Bè.
The police said Nguyệt confessed to starting the illegal business early this year, buying petrol from three or four trucks every day.
Stealing petrol from trucks is thought to be going on for a long time in the area.
Investigations are continuing.
HCM City provides tap water to neighbours
About 8,300 households households with more than 31,000 individuals in the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Long An’s Cần Giuộc District have begun to get tap water from HCM City under its programme to provide water to neighbouring provinces.
The Nhà Bè Water Supply Joint Stock Company, a subsidiary of the Sài Gòn Water Corporation, is supplying tap water to the communes of Long Hậu, Phước Lại, Phước Vĩnh Tây and Phước Vĩnh Đông where groundwater has been polluted by industrial waste, farming activities and untreated household waste.
The households here used to get water from private treatment plants.
The new project, which cost VNĐ11 billion (US$484,500), supplies tap water from HCM City to centralised water supply stations in Long An, which in turn supply the households.
Last week, a clean water plant for poor residents was inaugurated in Cái Đôi Vàm Town, Phú Tân District, in the southern-most province of Cà Mau.
The plant has a total investment of more than VNĐ550 million (US$24,400). Some VNĐ500 million ($22,200) comes from the HCM City Fund for the Nation’s Island and the remainder comes from sponsors solicited by the Cà Mau Fatherland Front Committee.
The plant will supply clean water to more than 100 households.
Local residents must hand in a small fee to maintain the plant, which is about half the market price for clean water.  
‘Innovate Like a Swede’ competition launched
A competition entitled “Innovate Like a Swede”, launched in Hanoi on September 18, is designed to inspire Vietnamese college and university students to brainstorm ideas for environmentally sustainable production and responsible consumption in Vietnam.
Co-hosted by the Swedish Embassy in Vietnam, and the Ministry of Education and Training and the Ministry of Science and Technology, the competition runs from September 18 to November 11.
It encourages the participating students to find solutions to help Vietnam reach the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s). It focuses on Goal 12: sustainable consumption and production patterns.
Participants will generate ideas and possible products and services that contribute to the sustainable production and responsible consumption. Their submissions to the competition can be technical solutions or concepts.
“For Sweden, reaching the SDGs is very high priority and as an embassy we work to promote these values in Vietnam and to encourage an exchange of knowledge and ideas between our two countries," said Johan Alvin, the Swedish Embassy’s second secretary, at the competition’s opening ceremony.
“Vietnam faces many challenges, but with these challenges comes the opportunity to be innovative and to think outside of the box,” Alvin said. “This is something that we want to encourage through ‘Innovate Like a Swede’.”
Entries may comprise anything from completely new ideas that have not been developed to innovative ways of using existing solutions. A jury consisting of representatives from the Swedish companies and universities in Vietnam will judge the entries on the basis of feasibility and commercial viability, degree of innovation and potential level of impact.
The winning team will be awarded a study visit to Swedish companies’ regional headquarters in Singapore in 2018. Runner-up teams will get internships at Swedish companies in Vietnam. 
‘Innovate like a Swede’ will be a chance to show participants’ science creativity and a rewarding experience for Vietnamese students from all universities and colleges, said Pham Quang Hung, deputy head of the Education Ministry’s International Cooperation Department. “I hope many students will join the competition and win the awards.”
Khmer people’s traditional festival observed in An Giang
The Mekong Delta province of An Giang is observing Khmer people’s traditional Sen Dolta festival from September 19-21.
Various activities, including cow racing, will be held during the event, according to head of the provincial department of ethnic affairs Tran Quoc Thanh.
Earlier on September 12-18, leaders of the provincial Party Committee, People’s Council and People’s Committee visited Khmer people to congratulate them on the occasion of Sen Dolta festival.
While visiting monks at Pray Veng, Soai So Tum Nop, and Phnom Ta Pa pagodas in Tri Ton district, Vice Secretary of the provincial Party Committee Vo Anh Kiet wished them good health to better do Buddhist affairs.
Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Nguyen Thanh Binh visited monks at Tho Mit, Cha Rat, and My A pagodas in Tinh Bien district. He recognised the efforts of Khmer people to develop the house-based economy and join the new-style rural development movement.
He affirmed that local authorities will continue supporting Khmer people to improve their living standards and enable their children to pursue education and training. 
Sen Dolta is one of the largest annual festivals of ethnic Khmers in the southern region, along with Chol Chnam Thmay (New Year) and Ok Oom Bok Festival (long boat race), which give thanks to the moon for good harvests.
It is also called Phchum Banh, meaning family gathering and virtue. The festival is held from the last day of the eighth lunar month to the second day of the ninth lunar month each year.
The Khmer express their gratitude to ancestors, parents and relatives, and pray for good luck.
During the three-day festival, many religious rituals and several cultural activities take place at Khmer pagodas.
Malaysia gathering celebrates Vietnam-Laos relations
The embassies of Vietnam and Laos in Malaysia together have hosted a gathering to mark the 55th anniversary of the two countries’ diplomatic ties and the 40th year of the Vietnam-Laos Treaty of Amity and Cooperation.
The gathering was attended by about 100 Vietnamese and Lao diplomats and embassy staff, featuring cultural performances and badminton events.
Opening the event, Vietnamese Ambassador Le Quy Quynh said it provides an opportunity for people from the two embassies to meet and strengthen their coordination at work.
Lao Ambassador Houmdaophone Soukhaseum, for his part, recalled the long-standing relations between Vietnam and Laos nurtured by late Vietnamese President Ho Chi Minh and late Lao Presidents Kaysone Phomvihane and Suphanuvong. 
The friendship has been a valuable asset of the two Parties, States and people, he said, adding that it will stay forever, contributing to the two countries’ development and the global and regional peace, stability, cooperation and growth.
VN Red Cross request help for Doksuri victims
The Việt Nam Red Cross Society (VNRC) has released an emergency appeal to help victims of Doksuri typhoon in the central region, especially hardest-hit Quảng Bình and Hà Tĩnh provinces.
“We call on our members, local organisations, individuals and the community to donate at least one day’s salary to help victims overcome difficulties in the wake of the disaster, chairwoman Nguyễn Thị Xuân Thu said at a ceremony on Monday in Hà Nội.
The appeal aims to mobilise financial and material support to help thousands of typhoon victims overcome difficulties and stabilise lives and production following the disaster in the central provinces.
Thu also asked Red Cross societies of provinces and cities to evaluate losses and demand better emergency aid for victims, with priority given to worst-hit families and localities.
Thu added that the appeal for aid will continue until the end of October this year. All financial and material donations will be distributed to families affected by Doksuri.
The VNRC has already released emergency aid of VNĐ1.56 billion (US$68,000), comprising money and goods, to help affected victims in the six central provinces of Thanh Hóa, Nghệ An, Hà Tĩnh and Quảng Bình, as well as Quảng Trị and Thừa Thiên - Huế.
Doksuri, the 10th typhoon in the East Sea so far this year, has killed eight people and injured 215 others in six central provinces of Việt Nam. More than 200,000 houses have had their roofs blown away, 2,440 electricity poles have collapsed and more than 20,000ha of rice have been destroyed. The VNRC estimated cost of total damages due to Doksuri typhoon had reached VNĐ10,174 billion ($442 million).
4th Vietnamese Community Festival opens in RoK’s Daejeon city
A string of activities highlighting the culture of Vietnam and the Republic of Korea (RoK) was included in the fourth Vietnamese Community Festival held in Daejeon city on September 17.
Under the auspices of the Vietnam Embassy in the RoK, the event aims to create a space for Vietnamese people in the host country to enjoy and experience cultural exchange while nudging Vietnamese gorgeous features closer to international friends. 
The festival is also part of the activities to mark 72nd anniversary of Vietnam’s National Day and the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Folk games, traditional cuisine, contest for children from multicultural families and traditional costume show were the larger part of the festival.
Counsellor Tran Anh Vu from the Vietnamese Embassy in the RoK lauded the festival organisation in Daejeon - the city of technologies, an ideal environment for Vietnamese students and labourers.
He thanked Daejeon city’s authorities for supporting the Vietnamese community in the past years, affirming that the Vietnamese Embassy is willing to connect the RoK city with Vietnamese organisations and localities to promote the strategic partnership relations between the two countries.
The Vietnamese People Community in Daejeon has joined hands with the Vietnamese People Community and the Vietnamese Students Association in the RoK to organise a line-up of activities, including teaching Vietnamese for children of multicultural families, raising money to help disadvantaged Vietnamese in the host country and arranging the Tet celebration for Vietnamese expats, to connect the Vietnamese in the RoK.
Hanoi aids storm victims in central region
Hanoi authorities on September 18 decided to allocate more than 7 billion VND (308,000 USD) from the local fund for emergency aid to people in the central region hit by storm Doksuri.
The financial assistance is set to be delivered for Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Thanh Hoa, Nghe An, Quang Tri, and Thua Thien – Hue provinces. 
Ha Tinh and Quang Binh, which bore the full brunt of the typhoon, will each receive 1.5 billion VND (66,000 USD). The other localities will get 1 billion VND (44,000 USD) each. 
On the same day, the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union’s Central Committee organised an event in the capital city to raise funds for the storm-hit victims, with over 240 million VND (10,560 USD) collected.
Doksuri, the 10th storm arising in the East Sea and the strongest one hitting Vietnam in many years, claimed nine lives and left four missing and 112 injured, according to reports from affected localities by 10pm on September 16. 
The typhoon destroyed 1,185 houses, blew away roofs of 152,599 houses, and submerged 10,923 others. It also inundated 4,473ha of rice and 8,277ha of other crops, affected 16,108ha of aquatic farming, and ruined 10km of national highways and 17.9km of local roads.
Int’l conference talks safe, green, integrated transport
The 12th International Conference of the Eastern Asia Society for Transportation Studies (EASTS), themed “Vision and Action Programme for Safe, Green and Integrated Transport”, opened in Ho Chi Minh City on September 18. 
Speaking at the event, Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Ngoc Dong said over the past years, Vietnam has completed construction of 831km of highways while airports have been upgraded to serve 75 million passengers a year and the country’s seaport capacity has reached almost 500 million tonnes of cargo per year. 
However, traffic congestions and accidents have not been fully addressed due to limited public transport services and quality, he said, adding that the Transport Ministry will direct agencies concerned to review and propose measures to deal with existing flaws. 
Vice Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Le Thanh Liem said the event affords a chance to share experience and seek highly practical ideas to ease traffic concerns faced by Ho Chi Minh City and other urban areas in Vietnam. 
The conference will have 110 discussion sessions about more than 40 different topics regarding planning, construction, operation and management of transport systems and services, including eight special sessions on safe, green and integrated transport system, urban railway, personal transport demand and smart transport development. 
The event attracted around 800 domestic and foreign experts and scientists. It will last till September 21 in Ho Chi Minh City and the southern province of Binh Duong.-
Vietnam Social Security strengthens international cooperation
The Vietnam Social Security (VSS) will step up bilateral and multilateral cooperation with international organisations and other countries between now and 2020 in order to assert its prestige and position, said VSS Deputy General Director Dao Viet Anh. 
Anh made the statement during a conference held by VSS in Ho Chi Minh City on September 18 to review its external information work in the 2013-2020 period. 
He said VSS is now a member of the ASEAN Social Security Association (ASSA) and the International Social Security Association (ISSA). It has also worked with domestic ministries and agencies to negotiate bilateral and multilateral agreements with the Republic of Korea, Germany, Japan, the US, the UK, France and Russia. 
In the near future, it will also continue partnering with the World Bank (WB), the European Union (EU) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO). In collaboration with the WB, the VSS will issue e-social security cards to replace social insurance books and health insurance cards. 
The agency has also published a Vietnamese-English bilingual book about the VSS, leaflets introducing social and health insurance policies for foreign direct investment (FDI) enterprises and held dialogues to popularise relevant policies. 
In August, the VSS piloted an English language portal which is scheduled to be put into operation in late 2017. It is an important tool to interact with international organisations in social welfare, foreigners working in Vietnam and Vietnamese living and working abroad.
Progress on mineral resource maps remains slow
Only five of 35 planned mineral resources maps have been completed, making it challenging for the government to reach its 2020 deadline for completing the map projects, officials have said.
The Party Central Committee’s Economic Commission (CEC) and Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE) discussed the progress on the maps at a recent meeting titled “Evaluation of five-year- implementation of guidelines, policies and legislation on minerals”.
The mapping of mineral resources over a total area of 62,380, divided into 35 projects, is supposed to be completed by 2020. Fourteen projects over an area of 14,500 area were begun in 2016 and are still underway, while seven others accounting for 18,124 are behind the schedule.   
If the continuing projects are completed on schedule, by 2020, 80 percent of Vietnam’s land will be presented on mineral resources maps.
Moreover, the geological and mineral surveys of the coastal area up to 30 metres of water depth are almost completed.
Only two surveys of coastal areas are being conducted. The surveyed areas are the coasts between Hai Phong city and Thanh Hoa province’s Nga Son district, and between Nga Son district and Nghe An province’s Dien Chau district.
In addition, 3,000 individuals and organisations are being allowed to explore and mine minerals, according to the MoNRE’s data.
Speaking at the meeting, Cao Duc Phat, deputy head of CEC, said that after five years of guidelines, policies and legislation on minerals, the status quo has several major disadvantages. To effectively manage the mineral resources, it is important to adjust some provisions in the mineral law to align with common world practice.
Representatives of related agencies also need to initiate solutions to effectively manage, protect, and explore minerals for the sustainable development of Vietnam, he said.
Dong Nai revokes land to build Ben Luc-Long Thanh expressway
Deputy chairman of Dong Nai province People’s Committee Vo Van Chanh has signed a decision to revoke over 13,000 square meters of land in Vinh Thanh commune, Nhon Trach district for implementation of Ben Luc-Long Thanh expressway.
The above area which are being used by organizations, households and individuals will be handed over to the People’s Committee of Nhon Trach district to conduct site clearance and compensation works.
Ben Luc-Long Thanh expressway stretches over 27 kilometers, comprising 22 kilometers in Nhon Trach and five kilometers in Long Thanh district.
According to plan, the expressway will be built in 2019 but so far site clearance work has not been done. The project is in danger of running behind schedule.
Fresh water reservoir makes available for residents in border crossings
Ho Chi Minh City Fatherland Front Committee and committee to manage the fund for island support and soldiers in border crossings yesterday gave fresh water reservoir, a well, a pump and a 2km pipe to residents in the southern province of Binh Phuoc’s Loc Ninh District.
The fresh water construction cost VND300 million funded by the fund and soldiers from calling social contribution.
On the occasion, the Fatherland Front Committee in HCMC also gave 100 presents to locals and scholarships to poor students of Thanh Phu Village.
The village has 138 households with 486 residents including 78 households belonging to ethnic minority groups. Most locals are poor and they have difficulties with fresh water supplier especially in dry season.
Int’l medical exhibition to open in HCMC
The 12th Vietnam International Exhibition named Pharmed & Healthcare Vietnam – PHARMEDI will open in Saigon Exhibition and Convention Center in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 7 from September 20-23.
The Ministry of Health, ADPEX, the National center for Health Communication and Education, Vietnam Pharmaceutical Companies Association and Vietnam Medical Import Export JSC (VIMEDIMEX VN) have jointly organized a press brief on the exhibition.
The event has five main themes with 600 booths of 400 companies from 25 nations and territories.
The exhibition will display products, equipment, supplies for medical, pharmaceutical, medical waste treatment system, beauty care.
This year, visitors will be provided free consultation on diseases and heart problems, diabetes by medical workers from district 2, Medicine University Hospital for the first time.
Can Tho hosts Phong Dien Ecotourism Festival 2017
The Phong Dien Ecotourism Festival 2017 will take place on September 22-25, announced the People’s Committee of the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho.
The event aims to promote Phong Dien district’s ecological tourist sites and orchards that have attracted a large number of local and international visitors to Can Tho City over the recent years.
The festival will include a series of activities, such as fruit arrangement performance, releasing lanterns into the river, Vietnamese High-Quality Goods Fair, boat racing, reviving floating market, folk and sport games.
There will be a seminar on sustainable tourism development and a launch of the club of Phong Dien’s fruit gardens.
Visitors will have also a chance to enjoy local dishes at food fair and Don Ca Tai Tu Nam Bo (southern amateur traditional music) which was recognized as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2013.
HCMC makes Hoang Hoa Tham overpass one-way for certain hours
The HCMC Department of Transport on September 16 began a trial project to make the steel overpass at Cong Hoa-Hoang Hoa Tham Intersection, Tan Binh District a one-way road for certain hours per day.
In specifics, the overpass is made one-way from Ap Bac Street to Ut Tich Street from 6:30 a.m. to 8 a.m., and one-way in the opposite direction from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
The 30-day trial is aimed at gauging how traffic would be on the overpass at rush hour. According to the HCMC Department of Transport, traffic from Ap Bac Street to Ut Tich Street is often heavy in the morning when people commute from outlying districts to the city center for work.
When they come back home in the afternoon, the overpass is often crowded in the opposite direction.
Experts also proposed using moveable median barriers on Cong Hoa Street to flexibly regulate traffic at rush hour.
HCMC supplies clean water for neighboring Long An
Saigon Water Corporation (Sawaco) began supplying clean water for residents in neighboring Long An Province last Friday.
Around 31,000 residents from roughly 8,100 families in Long An’s outlying district of Can Giuoc can receive a combined 7,800 cubic meters of treated water a day from HCMC, according to Sawaco.
These people have long relied on well water for daily activities, but the quality of well water does not meet safety requirements. They often suffer a shortage of clean water in the dry season.
Can Giouc’s water pipelines are now connected to those of HCMC’s suburban district of Nha Be. Water for Can Giuoc is sourced from Sawaco’s plants in the east of the city.
Sawaco said the total capacity of HCMC’s water treatment plants is 2.4 million cubic meters a day. Meanwhile, the city’s daily demand is only 1.8 million cubic meters.
A majority of residents in HCMC have access to clean water, according to Sawaco.
Binh Duong looks to become smart city by 2030
Binh Duong Province has set a target of becoming a smart and livable city by 2030, heard a news briefing last week.
The National Traffic Safety Committee joined hands with the Binh Duong government to organize the news briefing to introduce a meeting on Vietnam traffic safety in the framework of the 12th International Conference of Eastern Asia Society for Transportation Studies (EASTS).
Binh Duong vice chairman Tran Thanh Liem said the province had been paying special intention to safe, green and integrated transport system development and working with experts and scientists to make the province safe and livable.
In order to obtain the target, Binh Duong authorities have established a committee responsible for implementing the smart city project.
At a discussion during EASTS 2017 in Binh Duong, a provincial official will present transport models, and solutions and policies to cope with traffic accidents and jams to keep pace with the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Local and international experts and managers will also share their experience with Binh Duong delegates and vice versa.
In addition, the National Traffic Safety Committee will introduce the latest solutions based on opinions of the Government and central agencies to smart transport development and traffic safety.
EASTS 2017 will take place in HCMC and Binh Duong from September 18 to 21 with the participation of 1,000 domestic and foreign experts and scientists in the transport sector.