Thứ Bảy, 31 tháng 10, 2015

Vietnamese model brings her floating catwalk to River Seine

Vietnamese model Jessica Minh Anh presented an autumn collection on Thursday in a unique way, with a "floating catwalk" on the River Seine in Paris.
Vietnam, fashion show, Vietnamese model Jessica Minh Anh 
The model cum entrepreneur hosted the event, inviting a group of guests aboard the Seine's giant glass boat to witness the stunning 100m catwalk. The multi-faceted glass windows gave the illusion of the models walking on water as the boat cruises. As a result, Paris landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Louvre, and the 37 famous bridges crossing the river became the backdrop for the catwalk.

Marco Goncalvez, Operation Manager of Compagnie des Bateaux Mouches, said: "We are extremely honoured to work with Jessica Minh Anh on this special project.

"We have been admiring her iconic productions at places such as the Grand Canyon Skywalk, Hudson River, London's Tower Bridge, and One World Trade Center for years. It is a privilege to have our venue added in Jessica's famous series of unconventional catwalks."

Anh's catwalk was the centrepiece of the J Autumn Fashion 2015 showcasing a range of labels, including Lebanese haute couture designer Rouba. G, Turkish talent GulnurGunes, Saudi Arabian fashion house OtKutyrAtulier, Peruvian artist Ani Alvarez Calderon, Kiwi heritage brand Iwi Creations, and 5.8.0 creative studio from Hong Kong.

In July 2015, Anh created the world's first solar-powered catwalk. It followed her previous events at the Eiffel Tower in France, the Tower Bridge in London, One World Trade Center, Gardens by the Bays Skyway in Singapore, Petronas Twin Towers' Skybridge in Malaysia.

She produced the world's highest fashion show on the Grand Canyon Skywalk at 1,220m above the Colorado River.

Before the catwalk on the River Seine, she turned the Hudson River in New York into the world's newest runways.

Talking about her unique runways, Anh said: "I believe the most outstanding designs should be showcased at the best of locations, using the most creative catwalk concepts. It's a challenging process, but very rewarding."

Anh, who was born in Ha Noi, Viet Nam but raised in Moscow, Russia, received formal training in piano and fine art before studying under a scholarship in Malaysia. The catwalk producer currently resides in Paris but travels internationally to produce three unique runways each year.

Untold stories about Vietnam’s most expensive paintings

After years participating in auctions held by major auction houses in the world, collector Nguyen Minh has brought home nearly 30 paintings by well-known artists of Vietnam such as Vu Cao Dam, Le Pho, Mai Trung Thu, and Le Thi Luu.
An exhibition titled “Art of Vietnam – Another Look,” which showcased more than 50 art works by well-known Vietnamese modern artists since the period of École Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de l’Indochine (Indochina Fine Arts College) and beyond from October 19-23, has just closed.
Raising the value of Vietnamese paintings

Untold stories about Vietnam’s most expensive paintings, Vu Cao Dam, Le Pho, Mai Trung Thu, Le Thi Luu 
Collector Nguyen Minh

Some may wonder if Nguyen Minh’s effort to bring back Vietnamese artworks home was for “business" or "art". The answer is both. 
Minh said the first motive for "repatriation" of paintings must be love because if only profit was considered, he could not take a "risk" in auctions.
Minh has a great passion for paintings by the artists of the "golden generation" of the Indochina College of Fine Arts (L'ecole des Beaux-Arts de l'Indochine), especially Le Pho, Mai Trung Thu, and Vu Cao Dam. So, when participating in the auction of paintings by these artists, he was often more “aggressive” than usual. 
"Obviously, I'm a painting collector so I also have to take into account the elements relating to trade in order to balance revenues and expenditures," he said.
The fruits of his passion are 12 paintings by Le Pho, nine paintings by Vu Cao Dam, six paintings of by Mai Trung Thu and one painting by Le Thi Luu.
In addition to "repatriating" Vietnamese paintings, collector Nguyen Minh has also contributed to Vietnamese art in another perspective: Raising the price of Vietnamese paintings on international auction floors. "The time when I silently bought Vietnamese paintings, the prices for Vietnamese paintings was not high.
“Commercially, it was an advantage for me, but for the country's art, it was a disadvantage. Since my successful auction of four paintings by Vu Cao Dam and then a series of paintings by Le Pho was reported by the local newspapers, Vietnamese painting lovers have found a new ‘channel’ to take Vietnamese paintings home," said Minh.
According to collector Nguyen Minh, during the online auctions of Vietnamese paintings recently held by world-renowned auction houses as Sotheby's (Hong Kong) and Christie's (Hong Kong), more accounts "from Vietnam" participated.
"Hence, the price of Vietnamese paintings is increasing and Vietnamese paintings have attracted more attention from world collectors. For example, on November 22, 2014, the painting ‘View from atop of the hill’ by artist Le Pho reached the record price of $840,000. The painting sold by Christie's far exceeded the 2013 record for the painting ‘The rice seller’ by Nguyen Phan Chanh ($340,000). The price of million USD for Vietnamese paintings is no longer a dream," Minh said.
Contribution of overseas artists

Untold stories about Vietnam’s most expensive paintings, Vu Cao Dam, Le Pho, Mai Trung Thu, Le Thi Luu 
"Mother and baby" by Le Pho 

"The artists like Le Pho, Le Thi Luu, Mai Trung Thu, and Vu Cao Dam lived abroad but their paintings are all about Vietnam, showing the Vietnamese soul. And, their contributions to promote Vietnamese art to the world have been huge," said painter Luong Xuan Doan, Vice Chair of the Vietnam Fine Arts Association.
"However, these artists have not been rewarded with the nation's top prizes as the State Award and the Ho Chi Minh Award," Doan said.
"Previously we lacked the resources to assess the paintings of these artists but the exhibition ‘Art of Vietnam – Another Look’, has provided professionals the original paintings as the basis for assessment and recognition of the contribution of expatriate artists," Doan said.
Collector Nguyen Minh said the names of Vu Cao Dam, Mai Trung Thu, Le Thi Luu, and Le Pho have been recognized worldwide. These artists and their artworks have long been considered a vital part of the face of Vietnam arts so the recognition of the contribution of these artists at this time came late. But better late than never.
Pha Le, VNN
Japonica rice considered for national brand development

The Vietnam Food Association (VFA) has suggested adding Japonica, a Japanese rice variety, on the list of rice varieties for consideration to develop a national rice brand.
 Vietnam, national rice brand, Jasmine, Japonica

Under the plan to develop the brand by 2020, three varieties have been chosen for consideration, including Jasmine rice, scented rice and a sticky rice specialty. However, VFA has suggested that Japonica should also be considered.

VFA’s secretary general Huynh Minh Hue said there were two reasons behind the association’s decision. First, the market demand for Japonica rice is relatively high. And second, Vietnam has favorable conditions to organize the production of the rice.

“We have heard that 10,000 hectares of Japonica rice were grown in the provinces of Kien Giang and An Giang last crop and the sales were very satisfactory. This shows that we are capable of growing Japonica in our conditions,” he said.

Hue, who went on a business trip to Yunnan province indit China some days ago with officials from the Ministries of Industry & Trade (MOIT) and Agriculture & Rural Development (MARD), has found that the demand for Japonica rice in the Chinese province is relatively high. The provincial rice center needs up to 1.4 million tons of Japonica rice a year.

“We were told that 70 percent of the demand in the locality is for Japonica and the other 30 percent is for long-grain rice,” he said, adding that he and other officials had the opportunity to visit a rice market.

Hue said that it was still necessary to learn more about the market to clarify the information, but the demand for Japonica appears to be high in China. Besides, Vietnam also hopes he can sell Japonica rice to other markets.

A rice exporter said he agrees with Hue that the market for Japonica is large enough for Vietnam to organize Japonica rice production.

“With the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) signed, Japan has agreed to open its market,” he noted.

“In fact, Japanese companies have visited Vietnam to organize Japonica rice production in Vietnam,” he said.

Under the plan on developing Vietnam national rice brand, 20 percent of Vietnam’s rice exports would bear the Vietnamese brand by 2020, while the proportion will be 50 percent by 2030. Thirty percent of total rice exports will be scented and specialty products.

Vietnam is one of the world’s largest rice export countries, but it is considered a low-cost rice exporter, though its high-end products are also available in the world.

MARD’s Deputy Minister Tran Thanh nam said that Vietnam’s high-end rice products have been available at supermarkets overseas, but they bear foreign brands. This shows that Vietnam is capable of penetrating the high-end market segment.

Promising aquaculture model changes farmer lives

Vu Van Khuyen, 46, a fish farmer from Ha Long city, is optimistic that his aquaculture farm will make him huge profits this year.
Vietnam, farmers, agriculture, TPP 

Since taking part in a pilot project initiated by Van Chai-Ha Long Co-operative, which integrates floating fish farms with eco-tourism, Khuyen and 70 other households in the resettlement area no longer have to deal with risks like fish loss and environmental destruction.

The project has provided technical assistance since March this year in VungVieng fishing village, where fish farmers lived before relocation, aimed at stablising farmers' livelihoods and creating tourism products based on fish farmers' culture.

Nguyen Van Cong, deputy director of Ha Long city's Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that previously, when fishermen raised fish on their own, some could not expand the breeding area as they lacked knowledge on sustainable breeding.

Their outdated techniques caused pollution and damaged the seabed's environment.

They also had to catch baby fish at sea to feed breeding fish. About two to three kilograms of baby fish were needed to feed one kilogram of breeding fish, which would lead to an over-exploitation of natural fish in the long term, Cong said.

"QuangNinh People's Committee is willing to instruct fishermen what to breed and what techniques to use for high productivity," he added.

Under the project, with the breeders' own investment in fish stocks, they raised nearly 20,000 fish in about 100 square cages. Most of the cages are located on the co-operative's floating wooden houses while the others are attached under the foot of mountains or preserved floating houses where locals used to live.

Selecting high-quality breeding fish was also a concern for the co-operative.

In 2010, local farmers had suffered heavy financial losses as they purchased cheap breeding fish from Chinese enterprises. Some even lost all their invested money.

"The quality of breeding fish is one of key factors that determine output. This season, the co-operative is working to mitigate losses by carefully selecting reliable sources from ThienLoc joint stock company," Tang Van Phien, director of Van Chai-Ha Long Cooperative, said.

The fish raised in the farm, mainly cavuoc (Asian seabass), ca song (garrupa), cahong (red snapper), are suitable to the Bay's waters and bring high economic profits. One kilogram of Asian seabass can be sold at VND120,000-140,000 (US$5-6), according to the company's experts.

By products

Besides fish breeding, farmers cultivate aquatic rongmo (sargassum) in net cages interleaved with fish's cages.

The plants, which take from 60 to 90 days to be harvested, are tasty and nutritious food for farmers and tourists. They can also be used to produce cosmetics, Luong Van Thuong, Aquaculture Specialist of ThienLoc Joint Stock company said.

"Rongmo also helps to clean waters and provides a healthier environment for the fish," he added.

At present, rongmo areas cover about 300 sq.m. Tourists can harvest rongmo with local farmers and then enjoy some dishes made from rongmo on the spot.

Tourists' expectation

Despite efforts of the province and the Co-operative to develop the city's eco-tourism, they have learned that tourists expect to have more authentic experiences.

"We have conducted many surveys and found that visiting floating fish farms is one of the most enjoyable activities that tourists want to experience", said Don Van Dung, general director of Indochina tourist agency.

James Fahn, an American tourist and environment journalist, came back to Ha Long Bay early this month after 20 years. He was surprised at the development of the Bay and praised the new fish breeding model because of its positive impact on the environment. However, he said he hoped to experience a real day of a floating boat resident.

"I am a little disappointed. Before the trip, I expected to see the hectic atmosphere in the floating village, but when I arrived, I only saw few farmers there. It looks like a museum to me."

The province was determined to invest all necessary money and resources to make this model a success. It has planned to invest VND5 billion ($220,000) to expand the model with many more residents participating in the project, Phien, the Co-operative director, said.


Rice market gains momentum

 Illustrative image (Source :VNA)

The rice market is expected to continue gaining ground in export, as the Philippines plans to import a million tonnes in early 2016. 

Earlier, after winning bids to sell 450,000 tonnes of rice to the Philippines and a million tonnes to Indonesia, Vietnam has seen rice export prices grow continuously. 

A range of Vietnamese rice products, which have been exported at prices lower than Thailand’s for a long time, are now valued at 10 to 15 USD more per tonne than the same Thai products. 

Businesses expect the prices to rise further once Indonesia starts importing rice. 

According to the Vietnam Food Association, by October 20 Vietnam had shipped 4.5 million tonnes of rice abroad, reeling in more than 1.9 billion USD. 

Increases in exports push domestic business transactions, as local merchants collect more goods to cater to rice exporters’ demands. 

Domestic prices also rose across the Mekong Delta. Rice in Can Tho costs 400 VND per kilogram more than it did the previous harvest.-VNA

Czech enterprises consider intensifying presence in Vietnam

Representatives of more than 20 Czech enterprises on October 23 arrived to Vietnam to find business opportunities on the occasion of the state visit of Lubomir Zaoralek, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic.

These enterprises operate in various sectors, including electronics, electricity, construction, waste and water treatment, and mechanical industry, among others. Within the framework of the visit, these enterprises have participated in the 24th Vietnam International Industrial Fair (VIIF) at the Vietnam Exhibition Fair Centre, and simultaneously organised workshops in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi to introduce their products, find business opportunities, and strike up partnerships.

Vietnam is considered a potential market for Czech enterprises due to its abundant natural resources and cheap labour price. The Czech Republic is one of the strategic export markets of Vietnam and Vietnam is a significant economic partner to the Czech Republic. However, the bilateral trade turnover is still not commensurate to the two countries’ potential. The Czech Republic will increase co-operation with Vietnam in the above mentioned potential sectors,” said Zaoralek.

According to Czech enterprises, sectors having the most promising opportunities to invest in are the automotive, chemical industry, environmental  technology, safety and security, as well as medical equipment, agriculture and food, because the speed of Vietnamese economic development is astounding.

According to industry insiders, the Vietnamese government is prioritising industrial modernisation. Furthermore, as a developing country, Vietnam is facing an increasing number of environmental challenges, such as air and water pollution, and solid waste disposal. Regarding the safety and security sector, its potential lies in the Vietnamese demand for safety and security equipment, which is expected to grow in the upcoming years at an annual rate of over 20 per cent.

In 2014, the bilateral trade turnover between the two countries reached $294 million, up 24 per cent on-year. In the first eight months of this year, the figure stood at $165 million.

As of September, the Czech Republic ranks the 43rd among countries and territories investing in Vietnam, with the total registered capital of more than $90 million in 37 projects.

Dong Nai’s IZs double yearly FDI target in ten months

Between January and October this year, Dong Nai’s industrial zones (IZs) have attracted $2.15 billion in foreign direct investment, exceeding twice the province’s 2015 target.

Notably, as of October 20, the southern province’s IZs have attracted the total investment capital of $1.56 billion in 82 newly-registered projects and $592 million to expand the capital of 75 existing projects.

In the first 12 days of October alone, foreign investors registered $350 million into 11 newly-registered projects and added approximately $225 million to five existing projects.

 “80 per cent of the capital is invested in the supporting industries for mechanical engineering, electronics, textile and garments, and high-technology projects. We especially prefer high-technology as well as environmentally friendly projects,” said Mai Van Nhon, deputy director of the Dong Nai Industrial Zones Management Authority.

Dong Nai is considered an ideal destination for foreign investors due to abundant human resources, favourable policies, and developed infrastructure, as well as convenient transportation with many national arterial roads.

“FDI plays a key role in the province’s socio-economic development. Thus, the province focuses on reforming administrative procedures as well as organising trading promotion activities in order to boost FDI inflows,” he added.

Economic forum to further cement South Korean economic ties

On November 13, the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) will organise a Vietnamese-South Korean economic forum in Hanoi.

The forum is expected to attract more than 400 representatives from enterprises and economic experts from the two countries.

The event aims to promote bilateral trade relationship in the context of Vietnam’s active participation in free trade agreements, as well as the rapidly increasing bilateral trade turnover between the two countries.

In the framework of the event, the two parties will focus on discussing cooperation opportunities in three sectors, namely supporting industry, agriculture, and infrastructure and energy. Besides, the two countries’ enterprises will have opportunities to strike up partnerships, as well as find investment opportunities in the industrial and economic zones and localities.

VCCI is an important bridge to increase trade between the two countries’ enterprises via organising trade events, economic forums, and workshops.

South Korea is currently one of the largest foreign investors in Vietnam. In the first nine months of this year, South Korea ranked first out of the countries investing in Vietnam, with the newly-registered investment capital of $1.97 billion to 510 projects and the additional investment capital of $3.76 billion.

The bilateral trade turnover between the two countries stood at $27 billion in 2014, up 31 per cent on-year. The figure is expected to reach $30 billion in 2015.

Phu Nhuan issues bonds to cover expansion

Phu Nhuan Jewelry JSC (PNJ) has announced the plan of issuing a volume of VND500 billion ($22.93 million) corporate bonds this year to raise capital.

Particularly, PNJ will issue a maximum bond cluster worth $22.93 million, valued at VND1 million ($45.87) per bond, with a maturity of one year.

The amount of money collected will be spent on restructuring VND350 billion ($16.1 million) of the company's short-term loans and developing a VND150 billion ($6.88 million) retailer network.

The bonds will be divided into two types—secured bond, which are stakes owned by shareholders with benefits such as dividends and rights to purchase shares, and non-secured bonds.

The bonds’ interest rate is said to be based on the market interest rate at the time of issuance and will be fixed until the maturity date.

Earlier this month, PNJ announced that it would raise the company's capital by 20 per cent to VND1.2 trillion ($55 million) from the initial VND982.75 billion ($45 million) by offering 20 million additional shares to the company's current shareholders. This plan has been now cancelled and replaced by the new plan of bond issuance.

PNJ said that it needs prompt financial resources by the end of this year to facilitate its business expansion ambitions, which is the reason why the latter plan has been chosen. Under the former plan, the company would have had to wait until next year for the cash flow from the share offering to pour in.

Jetstar Pacific opens Chu Lai – Buon Ma Thuot route

Low-cost airline Jetstar Pacific on October 27 announced the addition of a domestic air route linking Chu Lai (Quang Nam province) and Buon Ma Thuot city (Dak Lak province).

The airline will conduct three round-trip flights per week every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, using the 180-seat Airbus A320 plane.

With a total travel-time of 50 minutes, flights are scheduled to take off at 13:25 from Chu Lai airport and 14:50 from Buon Ma Thuot.

Nearly 2,000 passengers have booked tickets for the air route so far.

Earlier, Jetstar Pacific launched two new routes linking Hue – Da Lat, and Ho Chi Minh City – Pleiku on October 25.

According to Jetstar Pacific Director Le Hong Ha, the launching of the air routes aims to help people have easier access to air travel.

By providing low-cost aviation services and opening new air routes regularly, Jetstar Pacific hopes to create opportunities for everyone to discover attractive tourist destinations while contributing to stimulating tourism development in the localities, he said.

To celebrate the launching of the three new routes, Jetstar Pacific is running a promotion programme for 25 domestic and international air routes. Under the programme, which will run until October 28, passengers only have to pay for one-way fares and are applicable to receive a return ticket free of charge.

$170 million in government bond sold at auction

The Hanoi Stock Exchange has announced details of the auction of government bonds by the Vietnam Development Bank (VDB) on October 24.

The total bond offering was VND5 trillion with four terms of maturities. VND2 trillion ($89.62 million) worth of bonds issued were available in both three- and five-year terms, while VND500 billion ($22.40 million) were available in both ten- or 15-year terms.

There were six participants in the auction of the three-year bonds, with a total placement of VND6 trillion ($268.86 million) with yields from 6.45 to 6.8 per cent per annum. All VND2 trillion worth of bonds were sold with a winning yield of 6.63 per cent per annum, 0.07 per cent lower than at the last auction.

There were five participants in the five-year bond auction, with a total placement of VND2.4 trillion ($107.54 million) with yields of 7-7.45 per cent per annum. The auction sold VND1.9 trillion ($85.13 million) with a winning yield of 7.35 per cent per annum, 0.25 per cent higher than the last auction.

The ten and 15 year bonds were not sold. Since the beginning of this year the VDB has successfully sold VND15.45 trillion ($692.31 million) worth of government bonds.

Thai firm expands production in Vietnam

Tostem Thai is among the first Thai companies to relocate its assembly lines to Vietnam in a bid to grasp opportunities to be brought by the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) once it is formed at the end of the year.

The aluminium producer, established in 1923, had served as an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) for its clients in Vietnam for years before its factory was put into operation in Ho Chi Minh City in October last year.

With the facility, Tostem Thai expects to serve demands in both Vietnamese and regional markets, especially with positive signs in the local sector, said General Director Apirak Chotsasitorn.

Vietnam’s aluminium industry is entering a new phase of growth as the Government maintains its open foreign policy, he noted, adding that this will boost foreign investors’ confidence but they still hope for more support on taxes for domestic sales.

With its long-term development strategy in Vietnam, he said the company aims to sales in the nation from 10% to 50%.

To reach this goal, Tostem Thai has launched a number of marketing campaigns and production expansion programmes. Most recently, it took part in Melatex Vietnam 2015.

US group to invest in Thua Thien-Hue

The PSL group from the US will invest in a number of projects in Thua Thien-Hue province, according to a memorandum of understanding that the group signed with the provincial People’s Committee on October 27.

Accordingly, PLS will upgrade, enlarge and operate 7 wharfs in Chan May port and construct and run port urban areas, hi-tech parks, industrial zones and non-tariff areas at the Chan May-Lang Co economic zone.

It will also build a wind-power and solar power complex and a biomass power plant with a capacity of 500MW and a white sand processing plant at Phong Dien IZ.

Addressing the signing ceremony, Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Nguyen Van Cao hoped that PLS projects will contribute to the province’s socio-economic development.

Thua Thien-Hue province pledged to create a niche for the group to effectively implement projects, Cao said.

Vietnam sees sharp rises in new companies, re-openings

Vietnam has reported signs of economic recovery this year with big increases in new business registrations as well as comebacks.

Figures from the General Statistics Office showed 77,542 new companies with a combined capital of VND486.1 trillion (US$21.86 billion) were formed during the first ten months this year, up 29% in number and 38% in the capital value year-on-year.

Together they are expected to create more than 1.15 million jobs.

More than 16,000 suspended businesses have also returned to operation, up 25% from the same period last year.

The number of shutdowns dropped slightly to more than 7,600, mostly which were small businesses with registered capital of less than VND10 billion.

A statement from the statistics office said businesses are benefiting from a series of recent reforms including more liberal regulations in real estate and an easing of many restrictions in investments.

The country has forecast the quickest economic growth rate since 2010 at over 6.5% this year and has succeeded in controlling inflation and a troublesome blight of bad debts.

VBL released its sustainability report 2014

Vietnam Brewery Limited has released its sustainability report 2014 - “Brewing a Better World” for the first time, highlighting its long-term commitment to sustainable development in Vietnam.

The report focuses on six main areas, including advocating responsible consumption, protecting water resources, reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, growing with communities, sourcing sustainably, and promoting health and safety.

Over the past few years, the company (VBL) has made remarkable progress in its sustainability work. Specifically, while advocating responsible drinking, it has collaborated with the National Traffic Safety Committee and the provincial Traffic Safety Committees to implement its “Drink Don’t Drive” communication campaign since 2008. Internally, VBL has in place the Alcohol Policy since 2003 that is cascaded down to all VBL employees within this organisation.

VBL has also protected water resources. It invests massively in production water saving technologies and state-of-the-art wastewater treatment systems. In 2014, it achieved an impressive reduction in water consumption by 5.9% to 3.07 hl/hl, down from 3.27 hl/hl in 2013. At VBL, waste water is strictly treated to ensure the quality of water discharged to the water surface complies with all laws and regulations.

Additionally, over the past four years, VBL has continuously reduced CO2 emissions in its production operations, from 5.5 kilogramme/hl to 3.69 kg/hl in 2014.

Especially with its investment in biomass based energy generation, VBL plans to reduce CO2 emissions further to 2.34kg/hl in 2015. 100 per cent of its new fridges are also compliant with the HEINEKEN Green Fridge Policy.

VBL’s endeavours are also aimed at strategic community investments in priority areas of water and education. Throughout Vietnam, VBL proactively runs water programmes, the very successful “1 Minute Less for Million Smiles” programme building the awareness of saving and protecting water.

Also VBL grants “Towards Water Security” scholarships to help young environmental scientists and students to realise their water study ambitions and make effective contributions to water protection in the future in Vietnam.

In addition, VBL conducts many community support programmes such as Warm Spring, Dream Moon and blood donations, with the enthusiastic participation of our employees and business partners. These programmes support thousands of needy households, elderly and children.

Besides, 55% of VBL’s suppliers have signed Heineken’s world-wide Supplier Code, and VBL is on track towards its 2015 target of 100 per cent.

VBL has also conducted yearly training and activities to place workplace safety and health as a top priority in the mindset of all employees from all functions.

 “While sustainability related initiatives have been a part of VBL for some time, this year is the first time that we have published our sustainability report. Our approach is aligned with the HEINEKEN group’s strategy, ‘Brewing a Better World’, to build a sustainable business in Vietnam,” said VBL’s managing director Leo Evers. “Its aim is to create shared, long-term value for all our stakeholders and the society we are living and working in.”

Power price in Vietnam tends to rise due to underlying cost

The output and retail price of electricity in Vietnam has surged, as there are a lot of costs included in the input rate, experts said at a recent conference in Hanoi this month.

Those expenses include asset depreciation, fuel, raw materials, compensation and overhaul, hired services, business development, and wages for employees.

But among those costs, state agencies can only regulate the rates for asset depreciation and wages, leaving the remaining up to power firms, including those under state-run conglomerate Vietnam Electricity (EVN), Dr. Le Duc Lam, from the Vietnam Union of Sustainable Energy, said on October 16.

In addition, the cost of electricity generation in Vietnam is high due to deficits caused by the inefficient process of burning fuel inside thermal power plants and losses occurring when the electricity is transmitted, Lam said, citing his data.

Specifically, fuel consumption in Vietnam’s thermal power plants is 560-700g per kWh, and the rates in new plants are about 450g per kWh, compared to the world’s average of 380g per kWh.

These losses in burning fuel for power generation and transmission must eventually be paid for by consumers, Dr. Lam added.

Electricity power transmission and distribution losses in Vietnam, compared to output, averaged 8.49 percent in the 2011-14 period, lower than Cambodia (28%), Myanmar (22%) and Indonesia (9%), but still higher than Thailand and Brunei (7%), Malaysia (6%), and Singapore (5%), according to a World Bank report.

The efficiency of new power plants in Vietnam is around 39% on average, and that rate will drop to 32% in the next decade, bringing the average rate in the Southeast Asian country to 27.5%, Lam said, citing a report of an institute under the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

Prof. Nguyen Minh Due, from the Hanoi University of Science and Technology, said electricity prices have increased eight times since 2009, bringing the average retail rate, including tax, to over VND1,700 (US8.3 cents) per kWh.

Given that electricity quotes should be maintained for macroeconomic stability, Prof. Due put forward three solutions: promoting a competitive electricity market, improving the efficiency of electricity generation and consumption, and accelerating the privatization of state-run firms to spur the participation of the private sector and foreign-invested companies in the power industry.

It is hoped that consumers in Vietnam will be able to buy electricity from sellers other than the country’s current sole power utility, EVN, as a wholesale power market is set to launch next year.

In July, Nguyen Anh Tuan, head of the Electricity Regulatory Authority of Vietnam (ERAV), told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that EVN will lose its monopoly in 2016 thanks to a competitive wholesale electricity market.

The wholesale market will be redesigned to increase competitiveness and reduce EVN’s exclusive control of power in the country, Tuan said.

There are now many power generators in Vietnam but they still have to sell electricity to EVN, which the power utility then distributes to consumers via five regional units managing the markets in the north, central, and southern regions, and in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

Both EVN and ERAV operate under the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

SMEs face tough market as FTAs kick in

Small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) contribute 40% of national GDP but the proportion is expected to fall as competition will increase under new international free trade agreements.

Under such a scenario, SMEs will likely experience a smaller market share, decline in production, and more bankruptcies.

SMEs make up 95% of total national enterprises. The economy also includes 3.5 million privately run household businesses, 10 million farmer households and 140,000 co-operatives.

SMEs are involved in every kind of business, including retail, wholesale, manufacturing, production and in fields that are typically State-owned, such as electricity, gas, water supply, mineral exploitation, information and telecommunications.

Five percent of SMEs are involved in other public services such as education and healthcare.

"SMEs have contributed 40% of GDP, 61% of jobs, 31% of export turnover, 30% State budget and attracted 38% of social investment," To Hoai Nam, deputy chairman of the Small-and Medium-Sized Enterprises Association, was quoted as saying in the Sai Gon Giai Phong (Liberated Sai Gon) newspaper.

"SMEs' economic efficiency is only 0.7 times that of foreign invested companies, but 2.3 times higher than State-owned enterprises," he added.

Nguyen Thang, director of the Society and Science Institute's Forecast and Analysis Centre, said, "The size of SMEs is smaller because their business fields are more limited. Since 2010, most SMEs have cut their workforce by nearly a third. For individual workshops, most of them only have two to four workers."

Besides being limited in size, they are weak in creating value-added products. Most SMEs do business in trade and service, while enterprises working in manufacturing and production with high-level links with the international market are small.

To support SMEs, the Government and authorities have created 14 programmes for information management, 15 for technology development, and eight others for finance and tax.

However, many experts said that authorities had designed policies but not carried them out. No report had been issued on the effectiveness of such policies to the SME community.

"These policies only support SMEs, but they are not able to protect them," Nam said.

While State-owned enterprises, most of them being groups or corporations, have large investments, SMEs are limited in capital, lack high-quality human resources and modern technology and have poor business governance. They also find it hard to borrow loans from banks.

Sometimes, SMEs have to borrow loans at interest of over 20% each year.

"SMEs mostly do not receive legal and information assistance to meet international standards for their products and services so they can compete with foreign companies," Nam added.

"We can find global plastic market analysis information much easier than figures about the local market," Nguyen Hoang Ngan, general director of Binh Minh Plastics Joint Stock Company, said.

The company has sought support from all authorities and business associations, but has found little information.

In addition, the SME community lacks maturity and is not large enough to join global supply chains.

SMEs in agriculture, garments and textiles, footwear, food processing and wood furniture depend on imported material and production technology.

Under global integration, Vietnam has new opportunities to develop SMEs in multi-national groups with leading technology.

"To take advantage of this opportunity, the Government should release new policies to support SMEs so they can overcome capital limitation, reduce risks, and increase high-quality human resource training and other conditions to promote reform and creativity," Nam said.

"Developed nations have certain conditions for SMEs. SMEs don't need to become bigger. They only need to develop a stable market share and have close links with global supply chains" he added.

VIB, HPT cooperate to deploy Basel II Standardised Solution

Vietnam International Bank (VIB) and HPT Vietnam Corporation (HPT) has held the kick - off ceremony for the “Basel II Standardised Solution” project.

As one of the 10 banks selected by the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) to implement Basel II – a set of international banking regulations for capital adequacy, based on credit risk, market risk and operational risk, VIB has decided to choose HPT as the local partner to implement the “Basel II Standardised Solution” of BlackIce Enterprise Risk Management Inc. With this project launch, VIB expects to fully meet the SBV’s requirements for Basel II Standardised capital by the end of 2015.

The Basel II Standardised Solution, called BlackIce ERA, implemented by HPT, is a compliant and working solution that is capable of integrating data in a logical manner from source systems, performing the necessary calculations and analytics and then populating reports required for Basel II as well as overall best practice risk management analytics. Hence, this is an open platform software application that not only delivers end-to-end data and analytical standards to meet all of the regulatory expectations of Basel II but also helps VIB to take advantage of advanced measurement approaches of Basel II.

Applying Basel II is an important and positive step for VIB, which is also compliant with regulation of the SBV with respect to risk management. The successfully implemented VIB - Basel II Standardised Solution will provide VIB with an international- standard best practice risk management framework.

“It is our great honor to help VIB break the ice with a powerful framework and calculator, serving their risk assessment performance under Basel II standards. We commit to invest time, resources and make every effort to make sure this project will succeed, supporting VIB to remain one of the most prestigious banks in Vietnam,” Nguyen Viet Anh, vice director of HPT Application Solution and Service Center (HAS), said at the ceremony.

Founded in 1996, VIB now has the highest credit strength rating in Vietnam, having recently been upgraded by Moody’s to a positive outlook. As of mid-June, VIB had total assets of nearly VND80 trillion ($3.7 billion).

Founded in 1995, HPT provides IT services from infrastructure, integration to application software solution. Canada-based BlackIce Enterprise Risk Management Inc is a global risk management consulting and technology firm, having been part of numerous Basel implementations and risk management engagements around the world.

Industrial production grows nearly 10 percent in ten months

Vietnam’s index of industrial production (IIP) in October picked up 8.8 percent over the same month last year, contributing to a year-on-year increase of 9.7 percent in the first ten months of the year, announced the General Statistics Office (GSO).

The GSO reported that the electronic, computer and optical sector had the strongest growth rate of 38.9 percent in IIP, followed by automobiles (27.4 percent), leather and related products (16.8 percent), and garment (15.6 percent).

However, other industrial sectors witnessed low production growth during the period such as food, beverages, chemicals, pharmaceutical chemistry and tobacco.

High ten-month IIP growth in was seen in Thai Nguyen province (121.9 percent), Quang Nam province (31.9 percent), Hai Phong city (15.8 percent), Da Nang city (14.1 percent), and Hai Duong province (10.3 percent).

The GSO also pointed to sectors with large IIP growth in October against the same month last year, including automobiles (54.5 percent), television (49.6 percent), mobile phones (42.6 percent), coiled steel sheets (18.7 percent), leather footwear (18.1 percent) and powdered milk (17.9 percent).

As of October 1, the inventory index of the processing and manufacturing industry had experienced a yearly surge of 9.8 percent.

First AEON shopping centre in Hanoi inaugurated

The Japanese retail AEON Group held a ceremony on October 28 to put its first-ever shopping mall in Hanoi into operation.

Covering 9.6 hectares, the AEON MALL Long Bien has a total investment capital of 200 million USD with a total leasable area of around 110,000 square metres.

The Hanoi shopping centre is the third instalment of Japan’s single-largest shopping mall developer and operator in Vietnam.

It is expected to offer new shopping experiences and advocate new lifestyles for local residents in Hanoi, contributing to boosting investment and business in the city.

Addressing the inaugurating ceremony, Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Nguyen The Thao appreciated the cooperation and contribution of Japanese investors in general and the AEON Group in particular.

The city pledged to create favourable conditions for investors to do business effectively, contributing to making Hanoi a safe destination for investment.

Hanoi is currently home to 721 foreign direct investment (FDI) projects from Japan with total registered investments of over 4.7 billion USD. As many as 23 Japanese official development assistance (ODA) projects worth 2.9 billion USD have been implemented in the city.

DPRK delegation seeks investment opportunities in Hau Giang

A delegation of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) led by Minister of Foreign Trade Ri Ryong-nam visited the Mekong Delta province of Hau Giang on October 27-28 to inquire into possible investment cooperation.

Meeting Secretary of the provincial Party Committee and Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Tran Cong Chanh on October 28, Minister Ri Ryong-nam said the visit is to seek business partners and foster friendship between the two countries.

The Hau Giang leader said the province is agriculture-reliant with 80 percent of its population living on farming. With 80 percent of land area used for farming, the province produces more than 1 million tonnes of food each year, including over 600,000 tonnes of rice.

Home to two industrial parks and four industrial clusters, Hau Giang has attracted enterprises operating in thermal power and paper plants, seafood processing, and beverages.

The province is compiling a list of projects calling for domestic and foreign investment, focusing on farming, trade-services, health care, environment, education-training and vocational training, he said.

During the stay, the DPRK delegation visited several fish farms in Nga Bay township and Vi Thanh city, the Casuco sugar plant and surveyed the local fisheries sector which produces and processes 1,900 tonnes annually.

Newly-established enterprise capital up 46 percent in Oct

Vietnam has approximately 9,200 newly-established businesses with 65.2 trillion VND (2.92 billion USD) in total registered capital in October, a rise of 30.6 percent in number and 46.4 percent in capital from last month.

According to the General Statistics Office, the average registered capital per business is 7.1 billion VND (318,000 USD), up 12.1 percent against the previous month.

In the first 10 months of this year, more than 77,540 enterprises were newly established, registering a combined capital of 486.1 trillion VND (21.78 billion USD), a 29.2 percent increase in number and 37.9 percent in capital compared to the same period last year.

Operational firms were also reported to have added 737.8 trillion VND (over 33 billion USD) during the period, bringing the capital pumped into the economy up to nearly 1.22 quadrillion VND (over 54.8 billion USD).

The country saw about 60,164 enterprises temporarily suspend operations in the last ten months, up 29.1 percent, while another 7,641 permanently stopped operating, down 1.2 percent, most of whom registered capital below 10 billion VND (448,000 USD).

In addition, approximately 16,200 businesses nationwide resumed operations, a year-on-year increase of 24.6 percent.

Netherlands supports Vietnam to develop smart agriculture

Supporting Vietnam to implement and duplicate smart agricultural models adaptive to climate change was the main focus of a workshop between Vietnamese and Dutch experts held in Hanoi on October 28.

Vice Minister for Agriculture of the Netherlands Hans Hoogeveen said farmers are the key players in driving agricultural adaptation to climate change.

Therefore, it is necessary to help farmers select varieties and apply advanced cultivation technology as well as join the global high-added value chains to increase their income, he suggested.

The Netherlands cam send technological experts to Vietnamese farmhouses to support them in production and processing stages to avoid food waste and loss, he said.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat said he hopes Dutch State-run agencies and businesses will cooperate with Vietnam to develop sustainable agriculture.

He particularly noted the improvements to productivity and the creation of safe and environmentally-friendly food products.

The Vietnamese and Dutch officials agreed on future coordination orientations, including the duplication of food loss and waste prevention and green growth models along with the expansion of bilateral affiliation to science-technology in selecting crop and animal varieties, and seafood breeding.

In 2013, Vietnam along with the Netherlands, South Africa and the US proposed the establishment of the Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA), which was introduced to public at a session of the UN Summit on climate change in New York in September 2014.

Dong Nai seeks to navigate key trade markets

A seminar promoting Vietnam’s exports to the US, Japan, China and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was held in the southern province of Dong Nai on October 28.

Over the past five years, Dong Nai’s economy has grown by an annual average of 12 percent, with more than 1,200 foreign-invested projects from 42 countries and territories and over 19,500 domestic firms, according to Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Tran Van Vinh.

The US accounts for 31 percent of the province’s total exports, followed by Japan (10 percent) and China (8.5 percent), he added.

Dao Tran Nhan, Commercial Counsellor in the US, said Vietnam’s gross domestic product (GDP) and exports will increase by a respective 25 percent and 32 percent following the enforcement of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which covers a 800-million population market and makes up 40 percent of the world’s GDP and 30 percent of the global trade.

He described the US as a major and penetrable market, adding that Vietnamese firms will still meet difficulties due to weak export capacity, transport and technical barriers and food safety.

Vietnamese Commercial Counsellors in Japan and China hailed the recent growing shipments of fruits and agricultural products, aside from apparel, fibre, machinery and fisheries.

Commercial Counsellor in the UAE Pham Trung Nghia said UAE is a significant market and a gateway to the Middle East and Africa.

However, he also expressed concern over inflated import prices due to the high local costs of transport and preservation.

Vietnamese Commercial Counsellors assured over 100 local export-import firms that they will be provided with all possible support to bring Vietnam’s products to foreign countries.

Foreign investors eye Vietnam’s interior design market

The EU-Vietnam Business Network (EVBN) organized a Vietnam-EU trade promotion program under theme of “Lifestyle Trade Mission to Vietnam 2015” featuring indoor decoration on October 27.

Mrs. Delphine Rousselet Director of EU-Vietnam Business Network Project said that 11 companies from France, Italia, Spain, the Unied Kingdom, Portugal and Belgium participated in the event.

Vietnam's population has reached 90 million people and that is a potential market for luxury interior decoration and industrial production, said Mr. David Holkinson Design Director of design firm Noor Ho Chi Minh.

Statistics of Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) showed that domestic consumption of high quality interior decoration and furniture products has reached US$ 2. 5 billion in recent years, including 20 percents of domestic interior decoration goods and 80 percents of products importing from Europe.

With Vietnam's economic growth rate, foreign investors expect the consumption of interior design of Vietnamese people will increase rapidly in the upcoming time

Tien Sa Port set for major upgrade

Da Nang Port, the largest in central Viet Nam, will invest VND1 trillion (US$47.6 million) for the second phase upgrade of Tien Sa Port in the second quarter next year.

Chairman of Da Nang Port Company Nguyen Thu told Viet Nam News that the upgrade was aimed at raising the port's standards to an international level in the coming years.

"We have raised funds ourselves and via shareholders for the second phase of Tien Sa Port's upgrade in the 2016-18 period. The port was designed to handle 14 million tonnes of cargo, including 800,000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent unit), in 2025," Thu said.

"We decided not to use Official Development Assistance (ODA) funds for the port, and hope to accelerate the construction process to begin operations soon," he said.

Company General Director Nguyen Huu Sia said the Foreign Trade Bank of Viet Nam (Vietcombank), the Bank of Investment and Development of Viet Nam (BIDV) and the city's Investment and Development Fund have agreed to provide loans for the project.

"We have also raised VND350 billion ($16.6 million) ourselves for the project, and have called for investment from shareholders and other sources," Sia said.

As scheduled, Tien Sa Port will be built as a ‘valley' of logistics, warehouse, transport and digital customer clearance services, besides having representative offices of shipping companies and banks.

Sia said two piers, measuring 310m and 210m in length, would be constructed to dock container ships.

Last year, Da Nang's ports handled a record six million tonnes of cargo, and hosted nearly 120,000 tourists disembarking from cruises.

The company also sold more than 8.3 million shares, worth 12.57 per cent of the charter capital, in its initial public offering (IPO) in Ha Noi last June, with each share being offered at VND11,400 ($0.54).

According to the port, the actual value of the state capital in the port is VND654.5 billion ($31.16 million).

The company's revenue grew in the last three years (2011-13) from VND307.9 billion to VND446.5 billion ($14.6 million-$21.2 million), while its after-tax profit increased from VND8.6 billion to VND44.9 billion ($409,000-$2.1 million).

The port, established in 1976, has operated as a limited company under the ownership of the Viet Nam National Shipping Lines (Vinalines) since 2008.

According to Viet Nam's seaport system development plan towards 2020, Da Nang Port has been confirmed as a major commercial port in the region, making it one of the key gateways to the East Sea from the sub-Mekong region.

It handles cargo communication and encourages economic development and tourism in Viet Nam's central provinces and the Central Highlands, southern Laos and northeast Thailand via the East-West Economic Corridor.

Currently, Tien Sa Port allows access to only 30,000 DWT (deadweight tonnage) ships, while 50,000 DWT container ships can dock at Lien Chieu.

The central city and the port of Kawasaki in Japan have agreed to open a shipping route connecting the two ports in the future.


Belgian Senate President’s visit to boost parliamentary cooperation

The upcoming eight-day visit to Vietnam by President of the Belgian Senate Christine Defraigne aims to strengthen the exchange of experience and cooperation between the two legislative bodies as a significant contribution to deepening good relations between the two nations.
President of the Belgian Senate Christine Defraigne will lead a high-ranking delegation on an official visit to Vietnam from November 1-8 at the invitation of National Assembly (NA) Chairman Nguyen Sinh Hung.
Belgium greatly appreciates the importance of parliamentary diplomacy in boosting bilateral cooperation across a variety of fields where the two countries have strengths, potential and needs such as economics, trade, investment, culture, innovation, education and training, said the Belgium Embassy in Vietnam.
During her official visit to Vietnam, the Belgian Senate President is scheduled to have talks with NA Chairman Nguyen Sinh Hung, meet Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and work with Deputy Prime Minister cum Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh, Minister of Planning and Investment Bui Quang Vinh, and Minister of Education and Training Pham Vu Luan.
President of the Belgian Senate Christine Defraigne 
She is also to have working sessions with some local leaders and visit a number of Belgian- invested businesses in Vietnam.
The ties of friendship and all-around cooperation between Vietnam and Belgium have grown constantly over the past 42 years since they established diplomatic ties in 1973.
As traditional development partners, the two countries are sparing no efforts to deepen bilateral relations in various fields- economics, trade, investment, culture, the environment and water resources, education, innovation, and tourism.
Vietnam- Belgium trade turnover has increased considerably over recent years, the Belgium Embassy said, with bilateral trade posting a year-on-year growth of 27.4% to reach over US$2.3 billion last year.
Belgium is Vietnam’s sixth largest trading partner in the EU, having roughly 1,000 companies exporting products to Vietnam. Belgium is also the 8th largest EU nation importing Vietnamese goods.
The total value of trade exchange between the two nations has exceeded the 1.2 billion euro milestone per year with more and more Belgian companies pouring investments into the Southeast Asian nation.
Vietnam welcomes around 10,000 Belgian visitors each year while more and more Vietnamese tourists come to Belgium.
Since 1978, more than 2,000 Vietnamese students, officials and researchers have studied in Belgium, many of them are Belgium scholarship recipients.
Belgian universities has partnered with Vietnamese counterparts over the past 20 years, making a great deal of great accomplishments.
Vietnam voted as region’s most favored housing market

A corner of Thu Thiem new residential area in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Nguyen Van Hai 
A corner of Thu Thiem new residential area in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Nguyen Van Hai
Vietnam is expected to be the best performing real estate market in Southeast Asia in 2016 due to an easing of foreign ownership rules, experts have said.
“Currently Vietnam is offering the most exciting opportunity in the region, while at the same time the regional real estate markets are suffering,” Rudolf Hever, executive director of the Ho Chi Minh City-based Alternaty Real Estate Service Company, said.
Singapore is feeling the effects of the heavy-handed cooling measures, Indonesia and Malaysia have seen rapid currency depreciation, Thailand continues to grapple with internal issues and Myanmar is seeing significant supply coming on to the market putting downward pressure on rentals and pricing, he said.
“Meanwhile Vietnam has come through an extended period of consolidation, and looks poised to lead the regional real estate markets over the next two to three years”.
At the 2015 Property Report Congress held last week in Singapore attendees acknowledged renewed interest in Vietnam due to the positive fundamentals.
Drivers of Vietnam’s latest emergence include a stable and recovering economy, rising confidence among buyers and developers, and the positive effects of the AEC (ASEAN Economic Community) and TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership), of which Vietnam will be a key beneficiary.
Recent positive moves by the Vietnamese Government like relaxing foreign ownership rules ate and cut in visa fees for foreign tourists are also factors.
Vietnam will cut single-entry visa fee for visitors from US$45 to $25 with effect from November 23. A three-month multi-entry visa will almost be halved to $50.
Anyone with a valid visa or other entry documents can buy housing in Vietnam.
Prime choice
The congress heard insights from top industry leaders on the success of real estate companies in Southeast Asia and the likely challenges and opportunities following ASEAN integration.
Country-focused opportunity sessions were also held with in-depth discussions on the Vietnam, Singapore, Philippines, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, and Indonesia housing markets.
During the Congress, panelists were asked to vote on which markets will perform best in 2016, and the clear favorite was Vietnam.
Participants expected Vietnam to be the best performing real estate market in 2016, ahead of Thailand, Indonesia, and Philippines.
They were also asked to choose one market (excluding their home market) which currently offers the best opportunity in the real estate market, and once again Vietnam was their prime choice.
According to Alternaty, developers in markets such as Thailand (Bangkok, Phuket), Singapore and Indonesia (Bali, Lombok) had a lot of success in attracting foreign buyers over the past few years, while Vietnam missed out on this trend.
However, the results from the Congress indicate that foreign buyers may finally give Vietnam serious consideration, according to the company.
By Khanh An, Thanh Nien News