Thứ Tư, 30 tháng 9, 2015

Vietnam’s farm produce faces unpredictable future

Current factors, including the global recession, Chinese yuan devaluation and global oversupply, do not support Vietnamese farm exports, experts say.

 Vietnam, MARD, farm produce, FTAs

Exports unsatisfactory this year

Nguyen Do Anh Tuan, head of Ipsard (the Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development), noted that Vietnam’s farm exports had been decreasing since the beginning of the year. This was partly attributed to Vietnam’s rivals devaluing their currencies, thus making Vietnamese exports more expensive.

Vietnam’s farm and seafood produce has become less competitive in price compared with Indian and Thai rice, Brazilian and Colombian coffee, Thai, Indian and Indonesian shrimp, and Indonesian and Malaysian rubber.

As the Chinese economy takes a hit, the world’s economies, have been reeling as well. Vietnam's economy bears the biggest influence from China’s economic problems as 20 percent of Vietnam’s agricultural products are exported to China, not including exports across border gates.

According to Tuan, in the first seven months of the year, China consumed 37 percent of Vietnam’s total rice exports, 47 percent of rubber, 36 percent of vegetables and fruits, 13 percent of wooden furniture products, 12 percent of cashew nuts and 7 percent of seafood exports.

Nguyen Trung Kien from Ipsard agreed that Vietnam’s farm produce had become less competitive because of the exchange rate policy.

Previously, Vietnam’s rice had a competitive selling price compared with Thailand and India. However, the prices are now nearly the same.

Kien noted that Vietnam’s agricultural growth rate heavily depends on exports, but exports have been unsatisfactory so far this year.

Vietnam’s farm exports in general have been average as the rice export value is down by 13 percent, coffee 16 percent, rubber 6 percent and seafood 16 percent.

Vietnam exported $9.2 billion worth of farm produce in the first eight months of the year, a decrease of 7.7 percent over the same period in 2014.

In 2013, China consumed 66 percent of Vietnam’s rice exports, while the figure was just 47 percent in the first four months of the year.

Regarding coffee exports, since Brazilian and Columbian arabica coffee prices have decreased sharply as a result of the local currencies’ depreciation, Vietnam’s robusta exports have suffered.

Dim ray of hope

Kien warned that weak competitiveness plus weak demand in the world market would still be big problems for Vietnam’s farm produce in the time to come.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB) and several other institutions all have predicted that the price of farm produce such as rice, coffee and shrimp would see a downward trend until 2020.

A 7-13 percent decline in prices has been predicted for the next several years.

Social News 30/9

Police arrest women with rare turtles in luggage
Two women have been caught while transporting nearly 100 endangered turtles, Nam Tu Liem District police said yesterday. 
The pair was arrested near the My Dinh Bus Station in Ha Noi on Sunday after the police found the turtles in their possession, hidden inside four backpacks. 
The turtles were identified as rare Indochina box turtles, whose numbers are reportedly in sharp decline as they are extensively hunted for their meat, for use in medicines and for being kept as pets, the Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources said. 
The police also arrested a woman in Ha Tinh Province, who allegedly supplied the said turtles and a number of other wild animals. 
The case has been transferred to the prosecutor's office. 
Rumours hit big-drumstick chicken trademark

 Police arrest women with rare turtles in luggage,  Police arrest women with rare turtles in luggage, Rumours hit big-drumstick chicken trademark, Funding shortage hinders Viet Nam HIV/AIDS fight, Thousands live in danger of floods, Thanh Hoa to fight agai

Concerns have been raised after a story of Chinese merchants buying a large amount of Dong Tao big-drumstick chicken’s eggs and chicks at steep prices was spread in the media. 
Distinctive for its rough, gigantic drumsticks, Dong Tao chicken in the northern province of Hung Yen features heavy figures, thick skin and red meat. The delicacy has long been popular among gourmet groups across the country and recently become a collective trademark. 
Some say the massive transaction is for breeding purposes that could harm the trademark’s competitiveness while others have linked it with damaging speculations in the past. 
In Dong Tao commune, Khoai Chau district, there is considerable anxiety among more than 1,500 households who have cared for the distinguishable farm bird for years, as they consider the whole story to be a detrimental rumour. 
Vu Dinh Trieu, a local farmer, declared there were Chinese men visiting and learning about the chicken but there was no such massive purchase.
Sharing Trieu’s opinion, Le Quang Thang, head of an association for Dong Tao chicken farming and trade, informed that in recent years, tourists from Japan, Thailand, Laos, Belgium and China have toured the locality and purchased chicken and eggs with at a limited amount. 
In fact, it often takes months after pre-orders to deliver the local products, which are only crossbred for commercial purposes. 
According to Nguyen Van Phu, Vice Director of Hung Yen’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, his agency learned through working sessions with local authorities that in the past three months, prices have maintained normal levels and the chickens have expanded through good genetic preservation programmes. 
Egg prices are between 50,000 and 80,000 VND (2.2-3.5 USD) each, while the chick costs range from 250,000 – 300,000 VND (11-13.3 USD).
Funding shortage hinders Viet Nam HIV/AIDS fight
Medical experts are concerned that an outbreak of the HIV virus is likely to return to Vietnam any time due to a lack of funds.
A funding shortage could open the way to a potential health catastrophe, said Nguyen Hoang Long, director of Ministry of Health's Department of HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control, at a workshop held in Ha Noi last week to design an HIV/AIDS Prevention for the 2016-2020 period.
It is estimated that Viet Nam will need at least VND7.4 trillion (US$329 million) for the programme for 2016-20 period but it will lack about 11 per cent of the capital. Because the HIV prevention programme will not be a national target programme, it will suffer a big reduction in budget allocation.
About 80 per cent of funding for HIV response in Viet Nam comes from external donors but the funding will be gradually lowered because Viet Nam has now been classed as a middle-income country.
For example, Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS will cease funding by 2015, the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) by 2018.
Statistics from the Department of HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control showed that as of June, there were 227,114 people living with HIV in Viet Nam. Of these, 71,115 HIV carriers had progressed to AIDS and 76,588 people had died.
The HIV epidemic had spread to 99.8 per cent of districts and over 80.3 per cent of wards and communes across the country.
Long said ARV drugs could suppress the HIV virus, stop the progression of HIV and reduce HIV infections in the community.
During the 2011 to 15 period, the country saved 150,000 people living with HIV from fatalities and helped 400,000 people avoid HIV infection.
Long said about 98,000 people with HIV had received free ARV treatment in the country to date. He said it cost about VND420 billion (US$19 million) a year to treat 98,000 people with HIV.
Thus, the cost for medical treatment for one person treated with ARV was about VND4 million (US$181) a year.
"As funds dry up, many HIV carriers may abandon treatment because they cannot afford it, raising the risk of those with HIV progressing to AIDS.
"Finding alternative sources to maintain the provision of HIV related goods and services is crucial," he said.
Long stressed the need for increased budget allocation for HIV/AIDS prevention in the coming years.
According to the HIV/AIDs prevention plan for 2016 to 2020, Viet Nam will focus on keeping the rate of new HIV cases below 0.3 per cent by 2020, while reducing the impact of HIV/AID on socio-economic development.
The plan includes national targets of 80 per cent of the population aged between 15 and 49 having adequate knowledge of HIV, 80 per cent of the population not discriminating against people living with HIV, and 90 per cent of people living with HIV understanding their condition and receiving antiretroviral (ARV) treatment.
HIV/AIDS prevention in the future will focus on providing sterile syringes for drug users, especially those in mountainous and far-flung areas, expanding the use of new and traditional medicine in detoxification.
It also concentrates on studying and applying preventive measures against HIV and expanding the number of HIV testing clinics nationwide.
Thousands live in danger of floods
Thousands of households in the central province of Quang Nam are still living in danger of flooding. This is despite government programmes to build flood and storm protected houses, in place since 2014.
The provincial People's Committee plans to help more than 3,560 households living in disaster prone areas build solid houses to protect against storms and floods.
Each household will receive a grant of VND12-16 million (US$533-711) and loans up to VND15 million ($667) from the Social Policy Bank.
However, many households have not started building work, the Tien Phong (Vanguard) newspaper reported yesterday.
In Tam Ky City, at least 30 households had been approved to receive money, but no households had started building due to a lack of support, the report said.
Nguyen Thanh Lam, chairman of Tam Thanh commune, said many households had refused to receive the grant because it was not enough to build a solid house and they would not be able to pay their debt if they take a loan.
Similarly, only three of over 100 eligible households received money in Hoi An city worth VND30 million ($1,330).
Head of the Depart-ment of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs in Hoi An City, Le Viet Phuc, said most poor households were unable to build a new house with the support available.
It is estimated that a minimum of VND60 million ($2,700) is needed to build a new house but State support and bank loans only amount to VND30 million, according to poor households in Nong Son District's Que Trung Commune.
A survey found about 67 out of 702 households in Nong Son district have been approved to receive funding this year.
Local authorities said that only a few households would build new houses with low support, so they are mainly helping them to repair and upgrade their houses.
A disaster prevention programme has been running in Dai Loc district's Dai Lanh commune since 2013, helping residents build safer houses.
However, many households remain in debt as they invested VND30-50 million ($1,330-$2,220) in building their houses.
Chairman of the provincial People's Committee, Dinh Van Thu, said the province would offer more funding besides State grants and loans.
The province would also mobilise additional capital from the Fund for the Poor to help poor people to build houses, he said.
The Social Policy Bank is guiding bank branches at districts and cities to create good conditions for borrowers and quickly expedite loan procedures. 
HCM City to Thap Cham railway to open
Railway service between HCM City and Thap Cham City will begin on October 3 to meet demand for travel between HCM City and Ninh Thuan and Binh Thuan provinces in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta.
According to Sai Gon Railway Company, the STC1 railway line, which will depart from Thap Cham Station in Ninh Thuan Province at 12:50pm, will stop at Ca Na, Song Mao, Binh Thuan and Bien Hoa Station, before arriving at Sai Gon Station at 7:15pm.
The STC2 line will depart from Sai Gon Station at 10:25pm and arrive at Thap Cham Station at 5:40AM. The new train service will also stop to pick up more passengers at stations along the route.
The price will range from VND198,000 to VND451,000. The company will reduce fees by half on the two first days of service on October 3 and 4. 
Thanh Hoa to fight against child marriage
The central Thanh Hoa Province's People's Committee has approved a project to end child marriage and marriages between blood relatives among ethnic people.
The project will be implemented in the province during the 2016-20 period, with a total capital of VND9.974 billion (US$443,500).
Statistics from the province's Department of Ethnic Minority Affairs showed that there were 1,207 child marriages and 86 marriages between bloods relatives in the province between 2011 and June this year.
Most of the above-mentioned marriages occurred within ethnic minority communities and remote areas such as Muong Lat, Quan Hoa, Quan Son and Ba Thuoc.
Pham Van Do, acting head of policy and information office under Thanh Hoa Province's Department of Ethnic Minority Affairs, said the maximum number of child marriages was in the districts of Muong Lat, Quan Son, Quan Hoa and Ngoc Lac. Most of marriages between bloods relatives take place among Mong and Thai ethnic people.
He also said the number of child marriages might be higher due to difficulties in collecting information.
Every year, 250 to 400 child marriages and more than 20 marriages between bloods relatives are recorded in the province.
The province is home to the six ethnic minority communities of Muong, Thai, Tho and Mong, besides Dao and Kho Mu.
Once the project implemented, it will help the local residents to understand better the effects of child marriage and marriages between bloods relatives on their lives. 
Orbis funds 1 million USD for eye care in Can Tho, Ca Mau
Orbis, a US-based non-governmental organisation, will launch a project in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho and southernmost province of Ca Mau to offer care for visually-impaired children from 2016-2018. 
The project costs 1 million USD, 700,000 USD of which will be spent on building paediatric eye care facilities in Can Tho Children’s Hospital and Can Tho Eye Hospital as well as improving refraction services and the professional skills of medical staff, Orbis representatives told Can Tho authorities during a working session on September 29. 
Orbis estimates that nearly 300,000 children in the Mekong Delta are suffering from eye problems and about 1 million have refractive eye disorders. 
The ratio of ophthalmologists per one million individuals in the region is 7.6 percent, the second lowest nationwide. 
Le Van Tam, Vice Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee, pledged all possible support for the project. 
Founded in 1982, Orbis is devoted to blindness prevention and treatment in developing countries. It implemented its first hospital-based programme in Vietnam in 1997 and previously gave assistance to the National Institute of Ophthalmology from 2003 to 2010.
German state grants scholarships to poor students in Thai Nguyen
The Hessen State Ministry for Science and Art (HSMSA) and the German World University Service (WUS) presented scholarships to 20 needy students from the northern province of Thai Nguyen on September 29. 
The recipients are from remote or ethnic minority inhabited areas and boast outstanding academic performance. 
Each scholarship was worth 5.1 million VND (226.8 USD) and prioritised girls. 
Over the past 23 years, the German ministry has granted 200-300 scholarships to students across Vietnam
The scholarships are part of an education cooperation programme between the Vietnamese Ministry of Education and Training and the HSMSA which aims to encourage disadvantaged students and those from ethnic minority groups to study hard and perform well in school. 
The Vietnam-Germany University project, the first of its kind implemented by Vietnam and the Hessen state since 2008, is considered the most remarkable result of the two countries’ education partnership.-
Prospect of Vietnam, ASEAN-India ties takes centre stage at seminar
Current developments and the prospect of Vietnam and ASEAN cooperation with India were the theme of an international seminar held in Hanoi on September 29. 
Professor Ta Ngoc Tan, President of the Hanoi-based Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics, said Vietnam and India continually attach importance to deepening their strategic and comprehensive partnership across politics, economics, energy, national defence-security, culture, education, science and technology. 
According to Professor Tan, ASEAN lies in a geo-political location of strategic importance to India in its integration into East Asia and the Asia-Pacific. So far, ASEAN and India have established 25 cooperative mechanisms, including six at the ministerial level. 
Bilateral political ties have paved the way for ASEAN and India to develop a vibrant and comprehensive partnership covering politics, national defence-security, economics, trade, investment, energy, socio-culture, education-training, science-technology, transport and people-to-people exchange. 
For her part, Indian Ambassador to Vietnam Preeti Saran said the ASEAN-India relationship has extended into strategic areas for the sake of prosperity, peace and stability. 
She commented that India-Vietnam trade, which hit targeted figures ahead of schedule, is likely to play a more significant role once ASEAN establishes a common Economic Community later this year. 
Participants extensively analysed achievements and hindrances to links between Vietnam, ASEAN and India over the past 20 years and the impacts of their collaboration on peace, stability and development in the region and the world. 
During the three discussion sessions, they also forecast the prospects of the Vietnam, ASEAN – India ties in different areas. 
Measures to increase the efficiency of Vietnam, ASEAN-India affiliation were also tabled at the event which was hosted by the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics.
Government Inspectorate opens training course for Lao officials
The Government Inspectorate’s Training School opened a three-month course for Lao Government Inspectorate officials on September 29. 
The course aims to enhance the officials’ theoretical knowledge and practical capacity as well as skills in inspecting, dealing with complaints and combating corruption. 
During the course, the Lao trainees will take part in several fact-finding tours to a number of Government Inspectorate agencies and localities. 
Addressing the opening ceremony, Deputy Inspector General Nguyen Duc Hanh said training is a highlight of the sound cooperation between the two Government Inspectorates. 
So far, the Vietnamese side has organised three training courses for 47 Lao officials together with a number of visits to exchange experience on professional activities, he noted. 
The course is scheduled to conclude on December 26.
Flood-proof measures sought in Ho Chi Minh City
International experts and Ho Chi Minh City authorities met on September 29 to seek flood prevention measures in the city. 
The experts suggested the city install larger piping in flood drainage systems and expand and upgrade the sewage system across the city while zoning off specific areas for temporary water facilities, such as lakes, reservoirs and tunnels. 
Long-term facilities with visions through 2050 were also advised to be taken into account. 
A German expert shared experience in water management, saying Germany and a number of European nations have invested more than 5 billion USD in developing space for water storage. 
In order to ensure safety for residents, communication systems have been developed to help inform the community of flood risks and infrastructure facilities have been built at least four metres above sea level, the expert said. 
Others from Japan and Malaysia recommended approaches to storing water and regulating traffic in case of floods. 
Secretary of the municipal Party Committee Le Thanh Hai highly valued the experts’ consultations and urged the local authorities to review current counter-flooding projects to effectively tackle problems in flood-prone areas. 
The city's sewage system, which was built in 2005, are no longer able to handle such a large amount of water during the rainy season, according to Do Tan Long, an official from the HCM City Anti-Flooding Centre. 
The city will continue with its anti-flooding effort by upgrading the current sewage system, which stretches over 200km in length throughout the city, dredging canals and building at least three more reservoirs in the next five years, he added.
Measures discussed to develop manpower
Measures to develop human resources in Vietnam were discussed at a conference, held by the Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM) in Hanoi on September 29.
Speaking at the conference, CIEM Deputy Director Nguyen Thi Tue Anh highlighted that Vietnam has to improve its human resources for prioritised sectors, saying sustainable economy is premised on human resources development.
Meanwhile, Toma Massaski from the Japanese Embassy in Vietnam underscored that Vietnamese Government and relevant ministries and agencies need to pay attention to the human resources education quality while identifying fields that require advanced qualifications and technology.
He stressed that high-quality manpower has a crucial role in increasing productivity and contributing to the nation’s industrialisation, adding that it is necessary to find key sectors where workers and employers are harmonised.
Regarding solutions to human resources development, Dr. Nguyen Van Thanh from the Hanoi University of Industry recommended the Government supplement and complete regulations to encourage collaboration between universities and enterprises as well as ask enterprises to join vocational training through tax and land use policies.
According to statistics from the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, graduate and post graduate unemployment jumped from 162,000 to 178,000 people during the first three months of this year.
The highest unemployment rate was seen among those with college degrees (7.2 percent), followed by vocational graduates (6.9 percent) and labourers without certificates (1.97 percent). The country’s average unemployment rate stood at 2.43 percent.
Euro Presse Image hails Vietnam’s economic achievements
The Euro Presse Image on September 26 ran an article on Vietnam’s preparations for the 12th National Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) with a positive social-economic record. 
According to the article, Vietnam has undergone an almost complete makeover caused by a fast economic growth combined with continuous industrialised and modernised process. 
Vietnam’s socialist-orientated market economy has been accelerated, contributing to improving the living standard of its citizens, placing the country in the middle-income group. 
The article underlined Vietnam’s signing of an agreement on the establishment of a free trade zone with the European Union (EU) which will, according to EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom, promote trade ties between the EU and the Southeast Asia, and may serve as a model for EU’s similar agreements with other developing economies. 
Vietnam is also participating in negotiations with 11 other countries on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). 
At the same time, the article analysed weaknesses of the Vietnamese economy in the short and medium terms, especially administrative reforms and lack of capital for infrastructure projects. 
It said falling oil prices will affect Vietnam’s income, and the budget deficit is predicted to reach 6 percent, surpassing the government’s five-percent goal. 
The country also needs to improve the efficiency of social-economic management, environmental protection and income gap. 
The article highly appreciated Vietnam’s political stability which it said is an important and indispensable factor for development. It quoted the Financial Times as saying that thanks to the stable political environment, Vietnam has been one of leading destinations for foreign investors. 
According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, Vietnam is among countries with fastest economic growth from now to 2050. 
The article came to the conclusion that Vietnam’s Doi Moi policy since the late 1980s has been strengthened through years and will be the main guidelines at the upcoming National Party Congress.
Hanoi Book Festival attracts people of all ages
Thousands people of all ages flocked to the Thang Long Imperial Citadel in Hanoi on September 29 to enjoy the 2015 Hanoi Book Festival which featured 167 booths with more than 20,000 books of various genres on display. 
Themed “Books and Heritage”, this year’s festival was among the capital’s key events to celebrate the 61st anniversary of Hanoi’s Liberation (October 10, 1954). 
In his remarks at the festival’s launching ceremony on the same day, Deputy Minister of Information and Communications Truong Minh Tuan said the literary event aimed to contribute to a strategy for the development of a reading culture in Vietnam that the ministry has been implementing. 
The Deputy Minister hoped Hanoi and other provinces nationwide would pay greater attention to developing a reading culture among communities and that more book events would be held for not only readers but also writers and publishers to exchange ideas and promote their work. 
Different sections were organised for calligraphy writing, book colouring, and “ca tru” and “trau van” singing while dozens of panel discussions and talks between readers, authors and book researchers were also hosted on the sidelines of the event. 
The organiser is collecting book donations during the week-long festival, which runs through October 5. The donated books will be presented to schools in mountainous communes and naval solders on Truong Sa and Ly Son Islands.
Con Son-Kiep Bac autumn festival begins in Hai Duong
The Con Son - Kiep Bac Autumn Festival commenced in the northern province of Hai Duong on September 29 in memory of General Tran Hung Dao, one of the most revered figures in Vietnam’s history.
Speaking at a ceremony to mark the 715 th death anniversary of Tran Hung Dao (or Tran Quoc Tuan), Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Nguyen Manh Hien recalled the General’s life and career.
Under the Tran Dynasty (1225 – 1400), the Supreme Commander led the Dai Viet (Great Vietnam) army to victories over three major Mongolian invasions, making him one of the most accomplished military strategists in world history. He passed away on August 20 (lunar calendar) in 1300 at the age of 70.
To commemorate the hero, local residents built Kiep Bac temple, which was recognised as a national heritage site in 1962 and a special national heritage site in 2012.
Following the ceremony, a military parade was held on boats on Luc Dau River, re-enacting the Tran Dynasty army during the second struggle against Mongolian invaders.
The festival, which will run through October 2, will feature a range of traditional rituals and cultural activities such as incense-offering ceremonies, a water puppetry festival and a boat race.
Located in Chi Linh district, Con Son – Kiep Bac relic was the site of many important battles between the Tran Dynasty army and the Yuan-Mongolian invaders.
It was also closely associated with the lives and careers of Tran Quoc Tuan and the Great Man of Culture of the World Nguyen Trai (1380-1442), one of Vietnam's most famous poets and writers.
The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism accredited Con Son-Kiep Bac spring and autumn festivals as national intangible cultural heritages in 2013.
Central region seeks responsible tourism
Developing responsible and sustainable tourism in central Vietnam came to the fore at a workshop held in Quang Nam province on September 29. 
The event was jointly organised by the provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism; the Labour Newspaper; and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). 
Present at the workshop were over 120 delegates from international organisations such as UNESCO, the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) along with representatives from the central cities and provinces of Quang Tri, Thua Thien – Hue, Da Nang, Quang Nam, Quang Ngai and Binh Dinh. 
A number of reports were presented at the function, underlining the pros and cons of responsible and sustainable tourism development and proposing measures to develop this form of tourism in the central region and Quang Nam in particular. 
Director of the provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism Dinh Hai said the local tourism industry has grown strongly in recent years thanks to the support of international organisations and cooperation with other cities and provinces. 
The number of tourists to Quang Nam increased to over 3.6 million last year from 1.3 million in 2005, he noted. 
Responsible tourism, which is common in western countries, is still in its infancy in Vietnam
Featured in Vietnam’s tourism strategy for 2020, responsible tourism aims to protect and care for the country’s diverse cultures and environment whilst optimising business processes and ensuring economic sustainability. 
Some travel operators are embracing responsible tourism practices, including electricity and water savings, waste treatment, sourcing food locally and providing job opportunities for disadvantaged members of society, including women and ethnic minorities. 
The central province of Quang Nam is home to three famous attractions: the World Cultural Heritage Sites of Hoi An Ancient Town, My Son Sanctuary, and the World Biosphere Reserve surrounding the Cham Islands
Hoi An, recognised by UNESCO as a heritage site in 1999, is an old trading port that dates back to the 15th century. Its architecture and layout reflect the indigenous and foreign influences that melted together to produce the unique character of the town. 
My Son Sanctuary is a cluster of abandoned and partially ruined Cham temples. Constructed between the 4th and the 13th century AD, it was once the religious and political capital of the Champa Kingdom
Meanwhile, the Cham Islands (Cu Lao Cham) constitute a group of eight islets, which form part of the Cu Lao Cham Marine Park, a World Biosphere Reserve also recognised by UNESCO. The islands are well-known for their rich marine ecosystems with more than 300 species of coral, as well as beautiful sand beaches and forested hills.
Japan, Vietnam augment cooperation in HR training
Vietnam needs to focus on training human resources (HR) to meet the requirements of  the sectors the country places priority on development, said Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM) Vice Director Nguyen Thi Tue Anh at a seminar in Hanoi on September 29.
The seminar is intended to assess the real situation and causes and propose measures to further cooperation between training units and businesses to satisfy the the needs of national industrialization process.
Toma Massaski, Japanese counsellor stressed HR training is a vital issue for Vietnam if the nation wants to become an industrialised country.
The government and relevant departments should pay more attention to training highly skilled workers who can master state-of-the-art technologies, he noted.
According to the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA), in the first quarter of this year, the number of unemployed graduates increased from 162,000 to 178,000 while that of the unemployed who graduated from junior colleges climbed from 79,000 to 100,000.
In regard to solutions for HR development in the future, Dr. Nguyen Van Thanh from Hanoi University of Industry said the State should revamp regulations to encourage closer HR cooperation between universities and enterprises.
PhD. Yoichi Sakurada from Japan’s Mitsubishi Research Institute emphaszied business - school- state connectivity is a prerequisite for HR development that also needs more support from the State through institutional reform and model projects.
Drug administration withdraws 60 low quality medicines
The Drug Administration of Vietnam, under the Ministry of Health, said that responsible agencies have withdrawn its registration permission of sub-standard medications including foreign–made kinds to ensure drug quality in the market.
According to the Vietnam Drug Administration, from beginning of September, around 60 drugs have been withdrawn. Deputy Chief of the administration Do Van Dong said that not all of them violated the regulation or were confirmed low quality. 52 of these drugs have been voluntarily withdrawn by its producers. 
Producers have withdrawn the registration because they do not want to make drugs any more, said Mr. Dong. As per the present regulation, they can have right to withdraw the registration. 
Additionally, the administration decided to remove 6 drugs of Sanofi-Aventis, the French pharmaceutical group including  No-spa, Telfast BD, Telfast HD, Amaryl (Glimepirid 1mg), Amaryl (Glimepirid 2mg), Amaryl (Glimepirid 4mg). All of them were patented and manufactured in Sanofi-Aventis in Vietnam
Through tests, the pharmaceutical administration discovered drugs’ standards made in the country were not fixed with the same kinds made in other countries and had lower quality than what had been registered. 
Additionally, the administration removed license of three manufacturers as their product quality is different from what registered. The pharmaceutical controllers have made concerted efforts to reduce substandard medication from 3.45 percent in 2006 to 2.3 percent in 2014. Moreover, the rate of fake drugs has also been reduced from over 7 percent in 1990 to 0.04 percent in 2014 thanks to strong measures carried out by related agencies. According to the World Health Organization, Vietnam is one of the nations having low rate of fake and substandard medicines (below 1 percent fake medications and 3 percent low quality drugs).
HCM City to complete multiple key roads next year
The HCMC government will focus on completing 26 major traffic infrastructure projects next year to ease increasingly severe traffic congestion in the nation’s southern economic hub.
The city will set aside funding equivalent to 30% of its gross regional domestic product (GRDP) for development investment next year as part of its plan to put into use the projects on schedule. The city is expected to thoroughly solve traffic jams lasting over 30 minutes in 2016.
The key projects scheduled for completion next year include four main roads in Thu Thiem New Urban Area in District 2, the entire Pham Van Dong Street, Rach Chiec bridge on the eastern ring road, and a road linking Nguyen Duy Trinh and Phu Huu Industrial Park in District 9.
The city will open to traffic D3 Hiep Phuoc road and a road linking Nguyen Van Huong Street and Hanoi Highway, Luong Dinh Cua Street, Le Duc Tho and the Phan Van Tri Street section from Hang bridge to Pham Van Dong Street.
Traffic jams have become nightmarish for citizens in HCMC, and the frequently congested sites in rush hour are Nguyen Thai Son-Pham Van Dong Roundabout in Go Vap District, Hang Xanh Roundabout in Binh Thanh District, and Thu Duc Intersection. Traffic congestion would worsen if heavy rain and high tides cause flooding in peak hours from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.
The local government is exerting effort to solve nine out of 17 flooded areas caused by rain, including those on Go Dau Street, Truong Vinh Ky, Tan Quy, An Duong Vuong, Nguyen Xi, National Highway 13, Me Coc 2, Luu Huu Phuoc and Luong Dinh Cua.
In mid-September, rainfalls of up to 142 mm submerged 77 streets in HCMC. Severely flooded roads were Nguyen Huu Canh, Kinh Duong Vuong, Go Dua, Do Xuan Hop, La Xuan Oai, Ho Van Tu, To Ngoc Van and Quoc Huong.
Denmark to strengthen economic cooperation with Vietnam
Denmark and Vietnam will enter into a new era of economic cooperation with a focus on trade and investment ties after the projects financed by the Nordic country’s official development assistance (ODA) funding are complete in late 2015.
New Danish Ambassador to Vietnam Charlotte Laursen heralded the new chapter in Denmark’s ties with Vietnam at a press conference in Hanoi on September 28.
The ambassador said Denmark has established a strong relationship with Vietnam and given much priority to this ASEAN nation.
Since 1994, Denmark has provided total ODA funding of over US$1.3 billion for Vietnam, thus contributing significantly to socio-economic development in this country. Denmark remains one of Vietnam’s major European ODA donors of grants.
Two-way trade between Denmark and Vietnam has increased by almost 100% since 2010 and 135 Danish firms are active in Vietnam, a significant number for a small country like Denmark.
Laursen said one of her targets is to foster trade and investment ties between the two countries. She expected that Vietnam will become a potential export market for Danish companies in the coming years.
Laursen said the Vietnam-Denmark agreement on comprehensive partnership and the free trade agreement (FTA) between Vietnam and the European Union will lay the foundation for the two countries to strengthen cooperation in different fields including political dialogue, trade, investment, green growth, education, food and culture.
Laursen was deputy head of the Mission at the embassy of Denmark in Vietnam from 2004 to 2007, according to Nhan Dan Online.

Manulife Vietnam, SCB in long-term bancassurance deal
Manulife Vietnam and Saigon Commercial Bank (SCB) last Friday signed an exclusive long-term bancassurance agreement that will enable Manulife to sell life insurance to SCB’s customers across Vietnam.
The distribution agreement with SCB is the first exclusive bancassurance deal of Manulife Vietnam. As part of the contract, Manulife Vietnam will train SCB’s employees on its life insurance products.
Vo Tan Hoang Van, board member and CEO of SCB, said in a statement released last Friday that the partnership aims to develop a range of new products and benefit both partners.
Headquartered in HCMC, the insurer has 37 offices across 26 major cities and provinces in the country. In 2005, Manulife Asset Management (Vietnam) Co. Ltd., a wholly owned local subsidiary of Manulife Vietnam, got a license to operate fund management and portfolio management services, further expanding Manulife Vietnam’s products for its customers.
Forum in Malaysia presents Vietnam’s business environment
The Malaysia-Vietnam Business Forum 2015 took place in Kuala Lumpur on September 28 with the objective to provide information about Vietnam’s business and investment environment. 
Jointly organised by the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE) and the Vietnam Trade Promotion Agency (VIETRADE), this year’s event attracted the participation of over 300 Malaysian entrepreneurs, exporters and investors. 
Speaking at the event, MATRADE Chief Executive Officer Dzulkifli Mahmud said that with the 90-million population, Vietnam is considered a potential market for ASEAN’s trade and investment activities. 
Strong economic and trade ties between Malaysia and Vietnam have been a catalyst to boost the bilateral relations over the past years, he stated. 
According to him, two-way trade reached 9.04 billion USD in 2014. In the first seven months of this year, Malaysia exported goods worth 2.61 billion USD to Vietnam, while importing 2.79 billion USD worth of commodities from the country, up 9.1 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively, from the same period last year. Malaysia is now Vietnam’s eighth biggest investor with a total capital of 10.7 billion USD. 
He expressed his hope that through this forum, there are more and more Malaysian enterprises paying attention to doing business in Vietnam, thus helping promote trade between the two countries. 
Vietnamese Ambassador Pham Cao Phong said that Vietnam records an annual growth rate of 6.8 percent in the past 15 years, and is exerting efforts to complete the market economy institution, improving its competitiveness, and expanding its trade ties with other countries. 
He proposed establishing a Malaysian-Vietnamese Entrepreneurs’ Association in Malaysia
Meanwhile, Director of VIETRADE’s Export Development Department Tran Minh Thang briefed participants on Vietnam’s economic situation, business and investment environment, as well as opportunities and challenges when doing business in the country. 
The Vietnam-Malaysia Business Forum is scheduled to take place in Ho Chi Minh City in October.
Da Nang, US boost trade, investment relations
Potential for Da Nang to profit from trade, investment and economic integration once the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement comes into effect as well as investment opportunities in the US were featured at a conference held in the central coastal city on September 28.
The conference was jointly organised by the municipal Department of Foreign Affairs, Da Nang Friendship Association and the US Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City as part of activities to celebrate the 20 th anniversary of Vietnam-US diplomatic relations.
Nathan Lane, Economic Officer from the US Consulate General, highlighted that the TPP is a valuable opportunity for Vietnamese exports to the US such as garments, seafood, footwear and wooden furniture while fostering investment from the US and other foreign countries in Vietnam.
He added that the deal will also help lift Vietnam’s position in the international arena and enhance its relations with key partners. 
Solutions to connect with US suppliers and address intellectual property, cyber security and US visa requirements were discussed at the conference. In addition, representatives of US brands briefed the municipal authorities and enterprises on the role of intellectual property rights in economic growth and research development.
The US is among the leading trade and investment partners of Da Nang. As of June 30, 2015, the city was home to 34 US projects with total registered capital of 331.7 million USD. As many as 15 businesses in the city have trade relations with the US
In 2014 alone, Da Nang raked in 220 million USD from exports to the North American country.-
Construction commences on garment-textile factory in Binh Phuoc
Construction began on a garment-textile factory in the Minh Hung – Korea Industrial Zone in Chon Thanh district, the southern province of Binh Phuoc on September 28. 
The C&T Vina 2 factory, worth 120 billion VND (5.35 million USD) is built on 6.5 hectares. 
The project, implemented by the C&T Vina Company – a subsidiary of the Republic of Korea’s Hansae Garment Group, also includes office buildings and workshops. 
The factory, which is expected to create jobs for 500 labourers working, is designed to produce 50,000 tonnes of products a day for export. 
In the past nine years of operating in the province, the C&T Vina Company has created jobs for more than 600 labourers with an average monthly income of 4.4 million VND (196.5 USD). 
It has also actively participated in welfare activities in Chon Thanh district, contributing to improving the living conditions of local residents.
Bac Giang province to host industry, trade fair
Some 400 domestic and foreign enterprises have registered to join the industry and trade fair in the northern province of Bac Giang, as heard at a press conference held in the locality on September 28.
Visitors to the fair, which will be held from October 6-14, will have a chance to buy products manufactured in Vietnam such as garments, farm produce and household equipment as well as enjoy art and entertainment activities.
Nguyen Khanh, Director of the provincial Trade Promotion Centre, said that the event, organised as part of the 2015 National Trade Promotion Programme, aims to introduce the local economy, culture, society, security and defence as well as policies to attract foreign investment.
He added that the fair will create opportunities for enterprises to introduce their brands and establish relationships with their partners while connecting businesses with consumers, contributing to increasing and developing product quality.
Japan paper material factory inaugurated in Ha Nam
The Vietnam Nittoku Limited Company of Japan inaugurated a paper material factory at the Thi Son industrial park in Kim Bang district, the northern province of Ha Nam on September 28.
The factory covers nearly 40,000 square metres with a total investment of 17 million USD. 
The factory, specialising in producing materials for napkin and toilet paper production, has a designed capacity of nearly 15,000 tonnes a year. Its products are mainly for export to Asian markets.
Ha Nam has recently focused on policies creating favourable conditions for enterprises to attract foreign direct investment (FDI). The province is now in the list of the top 10 provinces attracting the most FDI nationwide.
In 2014, there were 35 FDI projects totalling over 300 million USD in the province.
Jetstar Pacific launches new domestic air routes
Low-cost airline Jetstar Pacific on September 28 announced the operation of three more domestic air routes using the 180-seat Airbus A320 plane, which is expected to boost socio-economic and tourism development in southern and central areas. 
According to Jetstar Pacific Director Le Hong Ha, the airline will conduct one roundtrip flight every day between Ho Chi Minh City and Pleiku and three round flights between Hue and Da Lat every week from October 25. 
It will also operate three round flights a week between Chu Lai in central Quang Nam province and Buon Ma Thuot. 
One-way fares for the routes between HCM City and Pleiku and Chu Lai and Buon Ma Thuot are on sale from September 28 from 450,000 VND (20USD) with the exception of discounted tickets, while one-way fares for the Hue-Da Lat route are sold from 550,000 VND (24.43 USD) from September 29. 
The same day, the carrier also introduced its promotion programme, with special discounted fares as low as 30,000 VND (1.34 USD) for the three new air routes and a number of other domestic routes. 
Tickets are available on and agencies from 11 am on October 1, 2015 through October 4, 2015. Online payment is required at the time of purchase to be eligible for promotional fares.
Phong Dien industrial park under construction
Construction on the Phong Dien – Viglacera industrial park commenced in the central province of Thua Thien – Hue on September 28. 
The project, worth over 680 billion VND (29.92 million USD), covers over 284 hectares in Phong Dien district and was invested by the Viglacera Real Estate Company. 
The hi-tech industrial park targets less-polluted industries. 
Phong Dien is one of the six industrial parks built under the provincial socio-economic development master plan in 2015 approved by the Prime Minister. 
Located 37 kilometres from Hue city to the north, 45 kilometres from Phu Bai airport, some 40 kilometres from Thuan An port, 70 kilometres from Chan May deep seaport to the south, and proximate to National Highway 1A and the North-South Railway, the park is critically placed to facilitated import and export of goods. 
The park is expected to be a promising destination for both domestic and foreign investors, especially those from the Republic of Korea and Japan
Deputy General Director of the Viglacera Corporation Tran Ngoc Anh said in addition to its favourable transport network, the park boasts many surrounding universities and colleges as well as abundant and low-cost labour. 
Businesses could easily attract high-quality human resources from Hue city and its vicinity, he added. 
Besides developing the project, Viglacera has increased the number of its industrial parks to seven across the north and centre of Vietnam with a total investment area of over 2,000 hectares. 
Effectively operating industrials parks include Tien Son, Yen Phong and Thuan Thanh in northern Bac Ninh province; Hai Yen and Dong Mai in northern Quang Ninh province; and Phu Ha in northern Phu Tho province.
More Russian firms join business project with Vietnam
Additional Russian research institutes and technology companies will join the new stage of the long-term project “Russia-Vietnam: new economies”, as heard at a press briefing in Hanoi on September 28. 
Operating since April 2012 under the auspices of the Russian State Duma, the Russian Federation Council and the Union of Russian Renovation Area Associations, the project is designed to help the two countries’ business communities develop technological partnerships and extend integration and technological innovation. 
During the briefing, Director of the Research Institute for Small and Medium Enterprises Pham The Hung said during the new stage, the Russian side will introduce technologies applicable to Vietnam and explore the possibility of forming new ventures. 
Head of the project Strozhaeva Lubov Victorovna said participating Russian firms are willing to open joint-venture factories in Vietnam in order to boost technical transfers. 
From September 28 to October 2, a Russian business delegation is on a working visit to Vietnam, during which they will meet representatives from the Vietnamese National Assembly’s Committee for Science, Technology and Environment; the Ministry of Planning and Investment; and the Ministry of Health as well as hold working sessions with companies under the Vietnam Association of Small and Medium Enterprises and the Vietnam-Russia Joint Venture Bank (VRB). 
They will also attend a round-table conference within the framework of the 2015 International Techmart Vietnam – a technology, equipment and trade fair.
Vietnam attends Western Australia’s large farming show
Vietnamese displays have received a warm welcome at the Perth Royal Show in Western Australia (WA)’s Perth City, the biggest local farming show that runs from September 26 to October 4. 
Covering 600 square metres, the representation features stalls showcasing coffee, gifts, handicrafts and silk, among others, and an open-air water puppet theatre. 
On September 26, the opening day, Vietnam’s water puppet performances and traditional dishes entertained visitors. The Vietnamese Consulate in Perth also organised a lucky draw with prizes including two Vietnam Airlines return tickets, a traditional pottery vase and a box of Vietnamese coffee products. 
Vietnamese Consul General Le Viet Duyen said the show is a great occasion for trade stimulation between Vietnam and WA, particularly in culture and agriculture. 
The diplomat shared that Vietnam is among the leading global producers of rice, coffee, cashew nuts and peppercorn, and is also the third biggest consumer of WA’s farming produce and the second biggest importer of Australian live cattle. 
WA Agriculture and Food Minister Ken Baston underscored that Vietnam is now the 16 th largest trade partner of WA with two-way trade hitting 1.2 billion AUD last year. 
Vietnam mainly imports wheat, seafood, beef and lamb from WA, Baston said, adding his hope for stronger commercial cooperation with the Southeast Asian country. 
The century-old Perth Royal Show brought 1,000 enterprises together this year.
Gas distribution system inaugurated in Thai Binh province
The Vietnam Oil and Gas Group (PetrolVietnam) held a ceremony to inaugurate the first stage of a gas distribution and collection system from Ham Rong and Thai Binh fields in northern Thai Binh province on September 28. 
Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai urged the group to continue exploring and providing gas for the system while building infrastructure for the northern gas industry and directing contractors to complete the project as soon as possible. 
He cited gas exploration as one of the group’s significant tasks having been conducted for a couple of years and will continue to be maintained to shift Vietnam from an energy-importing to an energy-exporting country.
He asked PetroVietnam to ensure operational safety for the system by improving fire and explosion prevention efforts and training courses to proactively deal with any incidents.
Local authorities are requested to coordinate with ministries and sectors to develop sectors using gas energy and support businesses in the field. 
The gas distribution and collection system from Lots 102 and 106 of Ham Rong oil field and Thai Binh gas field was invested by the PetroVietnam Gas Joint Stock Corporation (PV Gas) with nearly 92 million USD for the first phase. 
The PV Gas authorised the Vietnam Petrol Low-Pressure Gas Distribution JSC to invest over 62 million USD into the Tien Hai – Thai Binh low pressure gas distribution project. 
The projects, significant realising the national master plan on developing gas industry in 2015, are expected to make active contributions to northern economic growth and in Thai Binh province in particular.
State Bank lowers interest rates on USD deposits
The State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) has lowered the interest rates for USD deposits from organisations and individuals (excluding credit institutions and foreign bank branches).
Accordingly, the annual interest rate for USD deposits from organisations has been reduced to zero from the current 0.25 percent while the interest rate for deposits from individuals dropped to 0.25 percent from the current 0.75 percent.
The information was stated in Decision 1938/QD-NHNN, which comes into effect on September 28.
According to the bank, the decision aims to prevent foreign currency speculation, helping to effectively implement monetary policies and banking operations for the rest of the year.
The new decision replaces the SBV’s Decision 2172/QD-NHNN dated October 28, 2014 on the maximum interest rate applicable to USD deposits from entities and individuals at credit institutions and foreign branches.
Agro-forestry-fishery exports down 5 percent in nine months
The agro-forestry-fisheries export turnover in September was estimated at 2.15 billion USD, bringing the nine-month figure to 21.65 billion USD, down 5 percent against the same period last year. 
Export revenue from key farm produce stood at 10.29 billion USD, down 7.2 percent, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. 
Strong decreases were seen in coffee (32 percent), rubber (13.7 percent) and rice (15.7 percent). 
Specifically, Vietnam shipped 4.47 million tonnes of rice abroad and raked in 1.92 billion USD, down 10 percent in volume and 15.7 percent in value. 
The average export price of rice dropped 5 percent year-on-year to nearly 431 USD per tonne. 
China remains the biggest rice importer of Vietnam, accounting for around 35 percent of the market share. Grain exports to Malaysia and Ghana strongly increased by 24 percent and 16 percent, respectively. 
By the end of the third quarter, Vietnam grossed 1.96 billion USD from selling 961,000 tonnes of coffee, respective declines of 32 percent and 31 percent year-on-year. 
The average export price of coffee stood at 2,054 USD per tonne, down 0.23 percent yearly. 
Meanwhile, rubber exporters earned 1.06 billion USD from shipping 740,000 tonnes of products, up 6.6 percent in terms of volume but down 13.7 percent in value. 
Among farm produce, the pepper market is thriving with increasing export prices and global appetites. The sector earned 1.04 billion USD from shipping 110,000 tonnes of pepper overseas. 
Cashew nut brought in 1.78 billion USD from the export of 245,000 tonnes. 
Prices of key aquatic products such as ‘tra’ fish and shrimp were not optimistic, causing seafood export turnover to drop 17.8 percent to 4.69 billion USD. The most considerable decrease was posted in the US market (30 percent). 
Exports of key forestry products reached 5.03 billion USD, a yearly rise of 6.6 percent.
Bank credit floods back into housing market
According to the State Bank of Vietnam, in the first eight months of the year banking credit grew at 10.23 percent compared to 4.33 percent a year earlier. It is expected to grow at 15-17 percent this year.
It might well be considered good news indicating the economy is on the mend.
But there are some worries, especially since a considerable amount of money has been lent to buy or develop property, one of the four categories of borrowers with the highest bad debts as of April 30, according to the National Financial Supervision Committee.
It had its genesis in the bursting of the property bubble in early 2008. By then a huge number of individuals and companies had borrowed money from the banks at interest rates as high as 25-27 percent to speculate in property.
When the inevitable bust came, no one was able to sell their properties and repay the banks. It also took down many property developers, who were caught in exactly the same trap – an irrational demand causing a scramble to build even if it meant borrowing at ridiculous rates.
As of April this year they together accounted for bad debts of 11.4 percent of total loans.
Analysts attribute the strong credit growth to the sector to its indubitable recovery and banks' efforts to support housing.
The Government has also come up with several policies to support the industry, one of which is to reduce the risk weight assigned to loans to the property sector from 250 per cent to 150 percent.
The central bank allows banks to use 60 percent of their short-term funds for medium- and long-term financing against only 30 percent before.
Enthused, most banks have been offering preferential credit for property projects and to home buyers.
There is also a lot of pent-up demand for buying houses, and with lending rates falling to around 7 percent, many are availing the opportunity.
But there are legitimate concerns that if the real estate market develops too strongly and into the realm of speculation, it could again cause a bubble.
Others dismiss these concerns saying a reprise of 2008 is not possible in the current context.
They point to the 2014 Law on Real Estate Business which requires housing developments to be guaranteed by banks to protect buyers. This means if a developer fails to hand over a unit as agreed in the sale or lease contract, the buyer or lessee could demand a full refund.
Incorporated in the law for the first time, the provision is intended to ensure that developers are financially viable and buyers get full security.
This also means the property market will be healthier and more transparent since lenders need to carefully scrutinise projects before providing guarantees.
Apartment retail market booms in Nha Trang
The apartment retail segment in Nha Trang city in central Khanh Hoa province is growing in both supply and attention, reported Savills Vietnam real estate service provider. 
According to a recent report by Savills, 60 percent of the city’s stock was developed as studios or one-bedroom units sized from 32 – 50 square metres while two bedrooms account for about 36 percent. 
Three new projects are now available for sale, adding more than 1,150 units during the first half of 2015 and bringing the city’s total apartment supply up to 3,550 units from 11 projects. Six of these projects have sold at least 60 percent of their capacity. 
Projects in Loc Tho ward performed the best with 65 percent sold despite the average selling price of 48 million VND (2,134 USD) per square metre. Buyers were mostly foreigners and Vietnamese nationals from Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, the firm said. 
The property market in Nha Trang has become more attractive to foreigners since the amended Housing Law permits them to have a 50-year lease tenure for residential units, Savills explained. 
Furthermore, tourism in the coastal resort city with its year-round sunshine has been successful over the past five years with annual expenditures growing by 20 percent and an annual arrival growth rate of 18 percent.
Hanoi: Credit growth picks up
Credit in Hanoi has surged sharply, roughly doubling the average rate of the entire banking system.
According to the municipal Statistics Office, total outstanding loans of the capital in the first nine months of the year is estimated to reach 1,195.9 trillion VND (53.15 billion USD), up 18.3 percent against December last year.
Short-term loans were estimated to rise 16.8 percent while the increasing rate of medium- and long-term loans was 20.9 percent.
Total capital mobilisation in the period rose 11 percent, reaching 1,321.8 trillion VND (58.74 billion USD).
As the credit growth rate was much higher than that of capital mobilisation, commercial banks have to continuously increase deposit interest rates to attract depositors in a move to balance deposit and credit sources.
Sacombank continuously inched up its deposit interest rate by 0.1-0.2 percentage points per year. This was the third interest hike of the bank since August this year. The bank's highest rate of 7.55 percent is applied for 13-month deposits.
Eximbank early this week also released the new interest rate level with a rise of 0.1-0.2 percentage points per year for some terms, effectively from September 21. The bank's highest rate was 7.5 percent, which is applicable for 13-month deposits.
Previously, An Binh Bank, VIB and SeaBank also increased the deposit interest rates by 0.2-0.3 percentages points per year for some terms.
Economist Dinh The Hien suggested that the Government should take more measures to better control the deposit rate hike. Avoiding it could cause lending interest rates to rise in the near future.
It was contrary to the government's guidance in cutting lending interest rates to support domestic business and production, Hien said.
Rice exports face difficulties
Vietnam is encountering difficulties in exporting rice in the face of fierce competition from Thailand, India and Myanmar
The statement was made by Vo Hung Dung, Director of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry – Can Tho branch, at a workshop in the Mekong Delta city on September 25 to seek solutions for rice producers and exporters. 
Statistics from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development showed that in the first eight months of 2015, Vietnam shipped 4.1 million tonnes of rice abroad and earned 1.76 billion USD, down 8.6 percent in volume and over 13 percent in value compared to the same period last year. 
Notably, China, which remains Vietnam’s largest rice importer with 32 percent of the country’s total market shares, is decreasing its imports from Vietnam. In 2012-2013, around 65 percent of China’s imported rice came from Vietnam but the figure reduced to 53 percent in 2014 and 47 percent in the first four months of this year. 
In addition, Vietnam’s two other major importers, the Philippines and Indonesia, which account for 12 and 5 percent of the market shares, respectively, are striving to boost production towards self-sufficiency. 
At the workshop, Chairman of the Vietnam Food Association Huynh The Nang introduced several measures to help businesses improve their competitiveness. 
According to Nang, the long-term solution to effectively stabilising production and exports is to provide loans for export businesses’ rice stockpiles. 
He also suggested reducing risks in harvesting, stocking and distributing rice while striving to building trademarks for the Vietnamese product. 
The Ho Chi Minh City Development Bank (HDBank) also took the occasion to introduce its programme to support rice exporters.
Dong Nai: 9-month industrial production index up 8.39 pct
The industrial production index of the southern province of Dong Nai in the first three quarters of this year surged 8.39 percent year-on-year, the provincial Department of Industry and Trade has reported.
In September alone, the index increased 1.97 percent from a month ago and 8.11 percent compared the same period last year.
According to Director of the Department Nguyen Van Quan, the index for the whole year is forecast to rise 8.3 percent against those of 2014, with 13 out of 16 sectors will see their indexes increase.
The largest year-on-year product index rise was recorded in footwear with 15.5 percent, following by washing powder, and PVC plastics with respective rises of 15 percent and 12.5 percent.
The local industry and trade sector will focus on fully tapping production capacity and market demand to promote industrial production.
Trade promotion will be intensified to support local enterprises in seeking and expanding domestic and foreign markets.
The department will also work to assist local businesses in quickening inventory sale and accessing banking loans, thus stabilising their production and business.
Dong Nai is home to around 20,000 enterprises and it has become one of the leading localities in the country in terms of per capita GDP.
From a trade-deficit locality, Dong Nai now is among top five cities and provinces in attracting FDI projects, including many worth over 100 million USD such as those run by Formosa (Taiwan), Vedan (Singapore and Taiwan), Hualon (Malaysia and Taiwan) and Fujitsu (Japan).
Institutional reforms prove key to capital attraction
Bilateral and multilateral trade agreements have become increasingly imperative to the local investment arena and the capital inflow to Vietnam, and the country is almost keyed up to cash in on the new opportunities these agreements will engender.
During a recent roundtable talk on the implications of bilateral and multilateral trade agreements on capital inflow to Vietnam, courtesy of StoxPlus, an associate of Nikkei Inc and QUICK Corp (Japan), Vo Tri Thanh, deputy director of the Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM), noted that in between 2001-2011, Vietnam’s economy suffered from both structural problems, namely the low quality of growth, and macro-economic instability, as the entire economy became less resilient to external factors.
Vietnam, however, has had important policy changes from 2011-2012, and the government has begun to focus on macro-economic stabilisation, including monetary tightening and policies that prevent dollarisation”, stressed Thanh.
The government has also initiated programmes to restructure the economy, aimed at greater efficiency in the financial, banking, state-owned enterprise (SoE), and public investment sectors.
In addition, Vietnam has taken the initiative toward international economic integration, in order to draw in large foreign capital inflows from diverse international participants, through the signing of many bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements (FTAs), as well as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP), strengthening links to many countries and regions. The negotiations of the important Trans-Pacific partnership (TPP) are also nearing completion.
Vietnam has set its growth target at 6.5-7% per year for the 2016-2020 period, while inflation is forecast at 5%, per year.
“The key to achieving such targets is to regain confidence in the private sector and foreign investors”, noted Thanh, adding that success would depend on the country’s institutional reforms and improvement, with reference to the amendments to the Investment and Enterprises laws, the new legal framework for public-private partnership (PPP), macro-economic stabilisation, and structural reforms in the SOE, financial, and public investment sector.
“More importantly, it really depends on the effectiveness of the integration process and the FTAs themselves”, added Thanh.
In 2015 alone, Vietnam has successfully signed two FTAs with the Republic of Korea (RoK) and the Eurasian Economic Union. At this year’s end, the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) will officially be formed, and Vietnam will then become part of a single marketplace in the region.
“These FTAs, together with the others that the government has signed, will be the catalyst for export and investment expansion, and further institutional reforms, in terms of improvement to the local business environment, “ said Thanh, adding that new investment opportunities would come in many sectors in Vietnam, including consumption goods, infrastructure development, and logistics, as well as emerging new sectors such as the “green”, IT, and creative industries”.
Citing the Vietnam-RoK FTA as the clearest example revealing observable impacts on capital flows to Vietnam, StocxPlus CEO Nguyen Quang Thuan said that this FTA had helped eliminate an additional 771 tariff line between the two countries, which then benefited Vietnam’s exports, such as garments, textiles, and agricultural products to RoK, and imports like electronic components, trucks, and passenger automobile parts from RoK.
Thuan said the merger and acquisition activities from RoK in the local property and financial markets in 2015, for instance, had led to essential deals between Shinhan Investment and local Nam An Securities, or Lotte and Diamond Palza.
“It is our observation that FTAs have a very significant impact to capital flows, where tariffs are removed and coupled with the recent ease of the foreign ownership threshold,” said Thuan.
These FTAs will have significant impacts on the Vietnamese economy as a whole, and Vietnam must take advantages of new opportunities, mitigate the negative impacts, and manage risks arising from the implementation of these FTAs.
Buying reserve oil must be delayed, says minister
Viet Nam can only buy 30,000 cubic metres of crude oil out of a planned 150,000 cubic metres for national reserve, said an official from the Ministry of Finance.
Le Van Thoi, deputy head of the General Department of State Reserves under the ministry, said at a press conference on Thursday that the country might delay the purchase of the total volume of crude oil needed by one to two years, based on budget calculations.
Crude oil had been one of the goods in the list in the state reserve since 2014 with a volume of 150,000 cubic metres under the prime minister's directives, he said.
However, the target was still under consideration to ensure a balance of the State's budget because the State's total budget still had difficulty in 2014 and 2015.
In addition, the general department does not have its own warehouses to store crude oil and still uses those of the Dung Quat Oil Refinery Plant based in Quang Ngai Province, according to Thoi.
In other words, there is no place to store 150,000 cubic metres as required.
The ministry has asked the prime minister to approve purchase of 30,000 cubic metres of crude initially or delay it by 1 to 2 years.
By purchasing less crude oil for its reserves, the general department could drill for more from the Bach Ho oil field and there would be no need to import it.
Under the national reserve plan, Viet Nam would have 3.1 million cubic metres of crude oil in the national reserve warehouses by 2025. 
KDC plans to buy back 40m shares
Foodstuff maker Kido Joint Stock Company (KDC) yesterday announced plans to register with the State Securities Commission to buy back 40 million shares on the open market, equivalent to 17.01 per cent of its free float.
It will be done between October 12 and November 12 at a price not exceeding VND30,000 (US$1.4), with the purchase funded by its own resources.
The share closed at VND24,900 in HCM City yesterday.
In the media release yesterday the corporation said, "The purpose of the buyback is to have a flexible capital strategy in response to the changes in business strategy and to increase capital efficiency."
KDC was formerly known as Kinh Do Corporation and used to be a confectionery producer. It restructured last year, selling 80 per cent of the snack business.
It focuses now on daily consumer food and flavour staples.
In the second quarter of this year KDC launched a range of products including instant noodles, cooking oil and seasoning under the "Dai Gia Dinh" brand name.
Last year KDC achieved an after-tax profit of VND547 billion ($26 million). The turnover was VND5 trillion ($238 million). 
Saigon Port gearing up for share listing
Sai Gon Port JSC is preparing the necessary documents to register shares with securities authorities by end of this year and begin trading soon after.
This information was announced at the first shareholders' meeting of the company yesterday in HCM City.
The operator of Viet Nam's most important port with a 155-year history sold over 35.7 million shares, or 16.51 per cent of the company, in its initial public offering (IPO) on June 30 on the HCM Stock Exchange.
Vietinbank and VPBank acquired these shares with each holding 9.07 per cent and 7.44 per cent, respectively After the IPO, the State-owned Viet Nam National Shipping Lines, better known as Vinalines, holds a 65.45 per cent stake.
In the board election yesterday, seven of nine members of the board of directors, including chairman, are Vinalines personnel. Vietinbank (CTG) and VPBank have also placed one representative each on the company's board of directors and supervisory.
A legal representative of the company yesterday said Vinalines had a plan of selling more stakes to private investors but declined to disclose the specific time.
On September 21, the Prime Minister allowed Vinalines to sell more shares to slash State holding in Sai Gon Port to as little as 20 per cent in a bid to restructure the State-owned enterprises sector. The company has a charter capital of VND2.16 trillion (US$96 million) with a total asset value of VND3.95 trillion ($176 million).
Sai Gon Port operates important ports in the Southern part of Viet Nam including, Nha Rong Khanh Hoi, Tan Thuan I, Tan Thuan II and Phu My Steel Port. The port accounts for 10.5 per cent of the overall throughput in the South.
It is planning to link with real estate giant VinGroup (VIC) to form a company to build a commercial centre, passenger terminal and apartments on the side of Nha Rong Khanh Hoi port after the port will be relocated later next year. The venture company, of which Sai Gon Port will hold a 26 per cent stake, will receive a total investment of VND11 trillion ($489 million). It expects to start the sale of products from 2018 with a planned dividend of over 10 per cent per year.
Sai Gon Port plans total sales of VND992.5 billion ($44.1 million) and a net profit of VND64.2 billion ($2.9 million) for 2015. 
Provinces urged to boost tourism
Better linkages among local governments and businesses in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta are needed to fully exploit the tourism potential of the region, the president of the Viet Nam Fatherland Front Central Committee has said.
Speaking at a meeting held on Sunday in Ben Tre Province, Nguyen Thien Nhan said that each province needed to identify its strengths in order to overcome weaknesses in the tourism sector.
Cao Van Trong, chairman of Ben Tre Province's People's Committee, said the province, like others in the region, depended on tourism.
He said the region should not only promote its natural landscapes and cultural value but preserve them at the same time.
Ben Tre has a dense network of rivers and streams, canals, beaches and islands. Its folk festivals and historic monuments also attract travellers.
Tran Duy Phuong, deputy director of Ben Tre's Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said the province should improve its restaurants, hotels and unique tourism products, as well as services.
Most Mekong Delta provinces have seen a growth in tourism in recent years, particularly in Ben Tre.
In the 1995-2015 period, the province saw an average increase of 23.11 per cent of tourists per year.
The Mekong Delta region welcomes around 1.5 million tourists per year. 
AFD funds EVN projects
Mr. Rémi Genevey, Director of the French Agency for Development (AFD) in Vietnam, and Mr. Andréas Greim, General Manager of EDF International Networks (EFD IN), signed two financial agreements valued at $752,223 in Hanoi on September 29. The money comes from the Funds for Technical Expertise and Experience Sharing (FEXTE), which is managed by AFD.
The agreement is expected to optimize investment planning of two major electricity distribution companies - Hanoi Power Corporation and the Northern Power Corporation, both subsidiaries of Electricity of Vietnam (EVN). It falls under the partnership agreement signed in July and provides for the transfer of experience and expertise in developing distribution networks and investment optimization methodologies.
EDF IN will assist the two companies in drawing up a master plan for two pilot areas jointly identified at a later date.
Vietnam’s aggregate energy demand has significantly increased over the last two decades (almost double the 6 per cent annual average GDP growth in the same period) and the trend is projected to continue in the coming years. Vietnam is forecast to face several major challenges in the future, with reliable power supply requiring expansion of the country’s investment capacity. In 2014 EVN invested nearly $6 billion in the construction of electricity lines, which represents a major effort compared to previous years.
VinEco sells first fresh vegetables
Agriculture products from VinEco will be displayed in a separate area at Vinmart and Vinmart+ supermarkets to help customers buy the right products.
These are the first hygienic vegetables to be available six months after Vingroup announced it would invest in the agricultural sector on a large scale. VinEco is expected to supply about 30 tons of fresh vegetables each day in 14 different types under GloblaGAP and VietGAP standards. The vegetables were grown at VinEco farms in Tam Dao in northern Vinh Phuc province, Cu Chi in Ho Chi Minh City, and Long Thanh in southern Dong Nai province, using modern technology and automation from Japan, the world’s leading country in agricultural development.
At the end of August VinEco began construction of a 24.5 ha greenhouse in Vinh Phuc with investment of VND1 trillion ($44.2 million), using Israeli technology and is the largest in Vietnam.
Established in March 2015, VinEco aims to provide safe and clean food resources and export some of Vietnam’s dominant agricultural products. With charter capital of VND2 trillion ($94 million), it has built farms throughout the country with the high technology needed to grow many types of organic vegetables under VietGAP and GlobalGAP standards.
ANZ expects further monetary moves in 2016
Commenting on the latest move by the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) to adjust the USD deposit rate, ANZ said that while it is important to note the move is a technically part of an anti-dollarization policy it nonetheless expects further monetary policy easing in 2016 given the regional slowdown led by China.
In a report, ANZ noted the SBV cutting the maximum deposit rate on USD accounts held by institutions by 0.25 per cent per annum to 0 per cent to annum and the maximum rate on deposits by individuals being cut to 0.25 per cent per annum from 0.75 per cent. The last time the central bank adjusted USD deposit rates was in March 2014. The cap on VND deposits was also maintained at 5.5 per cent. The moves are in clear pursuit of the central bank’s anti-dollarization policy. The official SBV statement referenced an intention to prevent the hoarding of foreign currency, which is a de-facto reference to the dollar.
The USD/VND rate has remained close to the upper band of the SBV’s trading range (VND21,233 - VND22,547) since the VND devaluation and band widening in August. It is now trading around VND22,490 against the greenback. Despite softening around 5 per cent year-to-date, the VND remains one of the more resilient currencies in the region supported by sustained export growth amid contracting exports among Vietnam’s regional peers.