Thứ Ba, 12 tháng 12, 2017

World Bank forecasts Vietnam’s GDP growth of 6.7 percent

Hanoi - The World Bank (WB) on December 11 released its report “Taking Stock- An Update on Vietnam’s Recent Economic Development”, forecasting the country’s GDP to grow at 6.7 percent this year.

Illustrative photo (Source: VNA)

Over the medium term, growth is projected to stabilise at around 6.5 percent, and inflation is projected to remain low, says the bi-annual economic report on Vietnam.

Ousmane Dione, WB Country Director for Vietnam, said growth momentum picked up across major economies and global trade recovered in 2017, adding with incomes rising and poverty falling, Vietnam’s economy had another good year of strong growth and broad macroeconomic stability.

According the new WB report, stronger domestic demand, robust export-oriented manufacturing, and a gradual recovery of the agriculture sector are driving Vietnam’s economy, which expanded by 6.4 percent during the first nine months of the year compared to the same period last year. The manufacturing and service sector respectively grew by 12.8 percent and 7.3 percent during the same period. 

Low inflation and rising real wages sustained buoyant domestic demand and private consumption, while the stronger global economy helped Vietnam’s export-oriented manufacturing and agricultural sectors. Job growth continued, with 1.6 million new jobs added in the manufacturing sector over the past three years, and 700,000 additional jobs in the construction, retail, and hospitality sectors, leading to higher aggregate labour productivity. Labour demand also contributed to rapid wage growth, with wages increasing by 15 percent cumulatively between 2014 and 2016. 

Despite progress in resolving non-performing loans, risks remain, including the lack of robust capital buffers in some banks, especially amidst rapid credit growth. 

Fiscal tightening is underway, and has led to a leaner budget deficit and containment of public debt accumulation. However, the decline in public investment – falling to 16 percent of total spending in the first nine months of 2017 compared with an average of 25 percent in recent years – may not be sustainable over time, as Vietnam needs significant investments in infrastructure to support future growth. 

A slow-down in structural reforms could also impact the ongoing recovery, especially given the weaker growth in investment.  Enhancing macroeconomic resilience and structural reforms can lift Vietnam’s growth potential over the medium term.

Sebastian Eckardt, WB’s Lead Economist for Vietnam, said structural reform remains a central priority in view of tepid productivity growth. Building on progress already made, Vietnam can further lift productivity growth through investments in needed infrastructure and skills as well as deeper reforms of the business environment, SOE and banking sector, the WB expert added.


Vietnam, Cambodia to develop cashew farming area

 Vietnam, Cambodia to develop cashew farming area, Vietnam-Japan Joint Initiative helps improve business climate, Opportunity for Vietnamese food products to enter US market, Experts urge expanded cultivation of fruit exports

 The Vietnam Cashew Association (VINACAS) is working with the Cambodian Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to establish a cashew farming area in Cambodia that is able to produce 1 million tonnes of material cashew annually.
VINACAS President Nguyen Duc Thanh unveiled the information at the association’s seminar in HCM City on December 7 to seek ways to support foreign trade of cashew between 2018 and 2019.
Addressing the event, Thanh said Vietnam has remained the world’s largest exporter of cashew and seen a robust growth of the cashew processing industry in recent years. 
However, the domestic supplies of cashew nuts have only satisfied about 20-35 percent of the firms’ demand for materials while imports of cashew face risks from quality control and payment, he noted.
Cambodia is able to produce high-quality cashew nuts thanks to good varieties and favourable weather conditions, Thanh stated, adding that the Cambodian Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and some local growers are proposing to cooperate with the VINACAS to build a “one-million-tonne” cashew growing plantation on an area of 500,000 hectares in Cambodia in the future.
VINACAS guaranteed to purchase all the amount of cashew nuts to be harvested on the area and will closely coordinate with Cambodia to translate the plan into reality, he vowed.
Director-General of the Cambodian General Department of Agriculture Hean Vanhorn said Cambodia looks forward to Vietnam’s support in cultivating and harvesting techniques and quarantine technologies to ensure the cashew productivity and quality.
VINACAS decided to provide Cambodia with 1.5 billion VND in financial support for the development of the plan from 2018-2022.
Cambodia is currently Vietnam’s fifth biggest supplier of raw cashew and if the plan works out well, it will become the world’s largest raw cashew producer in the future.
Vietnam-Japan Joint Initiative helps improve business climate
As many as 28 policy dialogues were held between Vietnamese and Japanese agencies involved in the sixth phase of the Vietnam-Japan Joint Initiative, which lasted from August 2016 to December 2017. 
The outcome was released at a high-level meeting of the Joint Committee of the Vietnam-Japan Initiative held in Hanoi on December 7 to review the implementation of the sixth phase. 
The Japanese side has made many constructive policy recommendations, which have been acquired by concerned Vietnamese ministries and agencies to serve the refining of law and policy as well as the enforcement process. 
According to the committee, 19 out of 32 items identified to be done in the sixth phase have been carried out soundly as scheduled, covering services, support to small-and medium-sized enterprises, logistics-transportation and labour. 
Meanwhile, the seven stagnant items dealt with labour issue, regulations for foreign investors in the Investment Law, the Law on Business and the Land Law as well other laws regarding investment and business, and pharmaceutical product distribution. 
The two sides will continue to discuss the six items that have yet to be realised. 
They agreed to soon carry out the seventh phase of the project with new approach and implementation method suitable with the reality. 
Major, feasible policy recommendations are expected to be made at the seventh phase, contributing to improving Vietnam’s investment environment, attracting more Japanese investments in the country and consolidating the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries. 
Addressing the meeting, Vietnamese Ministry of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung praised efforts made by Vietnamese ministries and agencies and Japanese businesses over the past 14 years of implementing the initiative. 
Their efforts have helped create a favourable and competitive business climate in Vietnam, expand Japanese investments in the country, complete local mechanisms and policies and promote law enforcement, he said. 
Vietnam wishes to cooperate with Japan to develop the domestic economy more rapidly, sustainably and independently, that can connect with the world on the basis of the Vietnam-Japan extensive strategic partnership for peace and prosperity in Asia,” he said. 
Japanese Ambassador to Vietnam Kunio Umeda expressed his hope that the Vietnamese Government will firmly realise industrial development policies for the mid- and long-terms and macro-economic targets such as economic growth rate, inflation and trade deficit. 
The Japanese Government will actively join hands with its Vietnamese counterpart to popularise valid policies in the fields of production and industry, while calling for Japanese investments in Vietnam, he said.
Opportunity for Vietnamese food products to enter US market
The US has been a leading importer of food and agricultural products from Vietnam and the export growth is forecast to reach 11 percent this year, heard a seminar in Ho Chi Minh City on December 7.
According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the US is a potential export market of Vietnam with export turnover increasing over recent years. However, Vietnam’s export earnings to the US market currently account for only 2 percent of the US’s total import turnover.
Participants noted that the US market’s attraction is posing fiercer competition to Vietnamese exporters in addition to the country’s strict regulations on food safety set out by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Food Safety Modernisation Act (FSMA).
A representative of Vietnam's Trade Office in the US said the agency will continue updating information about the FSMA as well as the US’s economic and trade policy on its portal, while providing legal assistance and export-procedure consultancy, making it easy for Vietnamese exporters to understand more about this market.
It has also assisted businesses of the nations in seeking cooperation opportunities in business, investment and export-import, while working with ministries and sectors to resolve trade disputes concerning Vietnam.
Trade ties between Vietnam and the US have been growing as bilateral relations have witnessed fruitful development in recent years. 
The US has remained the largest importer of Vietnamese products, with Vietnam’s export turnover to the market hitting 38.45 billion USD last year, and 34.7 billion USD in the first 10 months of 2017.
Vietnam currently ranks 16th among the US’ leading trade partners. Bilateral trade grows 20 percent annually and Vietnam has enjoyed a trade surplus with the US in the past 10 years.
Vietnam, Taiwan seek ways to foster industrial cooperation
Vietnam and Taiwan (China) boast a lot of potential for investment cooperation in the field of industry, heard a forum in Ho Chi Minh City on December 7.
Chairman of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) Vu Tien Loc said Vietnam is now an attractive investment and business destination for many foreign enterprises, including those from Taiwan
Vietnam’s advantages include high economic growth rate, political stability, and strategic geographical location, while its consumption market has grown rapidly with an increasing middle class, he said 
The country has also continually reformed institutions and policies to create the best possible conditions for foreign firms to do investment and business, he noted.
Loc added that Taiwan used to lead the investment inflow into Vietnam in the 1990s and is currently the fourth biggest investor in the country.
Pham Tuan Anh, Deputy Director of the Department of Industry under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, said Vietnam and Taiwan are important economic partners of each other. 
Taiwan has recently invested in many large-scale mining, metallurgy and textile-garment projects in the Southeast Asian nation, creating a big number of jobs for local people.
However, Taiwanese companies haven’t formed connections with Vietnamese firms, he said, noting that Vietnam prioritises projects using high technology and creating more added value. Therefore, it hopes Taiwanese businesses will actively team up with Vietnamese companies and promote a new investment inflow into the country.
Xu Sheng Xiong, Chairman of the Taiwan Industry Association, said Taiwan’s total investment in Vietnam has exceeded 31 billion USD. Including projects invested through a third party, this figure is estimated at around 100 billion USD.
According to Xu, Vietnam and Taiwan have many supplementary conditions to develop processing-manufacturing industries and production of goods for export. Vietnam has rich mineral resources, abundant workforce and low production costs while Taiwan has experience and green production technology. Therefore, the two sides should connect their businesses to form production-consumption chains.
Aside from stronger investment, they can also increase the exchange of experiences in international cooperation, manpower training, and hi-tech application to improve the capacity of Vietnamese small- and medium-sized enterprises, Xu said.
Workshop spotlights Vietnamese IT services, products
The Ministry of Information and Communications organised a workshop on Vietnamese-branded IT products and services in Ho Chi Minh City on December 7.
According to the Department of Information Technology, Vietnam’s IT sector groups 24,000 businesses, which generate jobs for over 700,000 personnel and contribute 34 trillion VND (1.49 billion USD) in tax to the State budget.
There are more than 2,700 companies working in the digital content industry, which have seen favourable growth conditions in Vietnam thanks to the local young workforce, competitive labour cost, increasing number of smart phone users, and widespread internet connection.
To Thi Thu Huong, deputy head of the department, said the digital content industry makes up just a small part in total revenue of the IT sector. It houses large amount of firms but most of them have small and medium scale, she added, noting that there are not many Vietnamese – branded IT products capable of winning a market share. 
Pham Thi Ly, head of the Centre for Development and Integration, said enterprises must defend themselves against fake products, suggesting that transparent origin information can boost competitiveness of Vietnamese products amid integration.
Le Quang Tu Do, Head of the Authority of Broadcasting and Electronic Information, the Ministry of Information and Communications, said monitoring the operation of enterprises operating domestically is tighter than that of firms working across borders. He said the situation might reduce competiveness capacity of domestic businesses.
Do said support policy is needed to help Vietnamese companies build brands to be able to compete against those from foreign countries, which are now more popular in the Vietnamese market.
Dak Lak’s food production reaches record high
Despite unfavourable weather conditions, total food production in the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak reached a record high of 1.24 million tonnes this year, 71,865 tonnes higher than the same period last year.
Farmers in the province cultivate three main food crops: winter-spring, summer-autumn and autumn-winter.
Local ethnic people were supported to switch from rice to hybrid maize or other short-day food crops in fields suffering from water shortage, which bring in better economic efficiency. They have also used new high-yield hybrid rice and maize varieties in the three crops.
Relevant agencies have guided local farmers in cultivation and disease prevention techniques, contributing to high yields of rice and maize, at 6.3 tonnes per hectare for rice and 5.1 tonnes per hectare for maize. 
Currently, Dak Lak farmers are rushing off their feet to repair irrigation systems and prepare soil and field for the 2017-2018 winter-spring crop.
Experts urge expanded cultivation of fruit exports     
More farmland should be devoted to cultivation of fruit, especially key exports, experts said at a conference held in the Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang.
Nguyen Hong Son, head of the Department of Crop Production under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said on Tuesday that focus should be on quality to ensure safety and hygiene of fruit exports.
Reducing post-harvest losses and increasing capacity in storage were also needed, he said.
Son said that fruit cultivation areas had increased in recent years, with a total of over 857,000ha. The increase was partly due to farmers shifting from cultivating rice to fruit.
The areas for fruit growing are mostly in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta and Hong (Red River) Delta regions, he said.
Because of the use of advanced technologies, fruit yields have surged in recent years.
Cao Van Hoa, a high-ranking official from the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of Tien Giang, said his province had nearly 73,000ha of fruit, with an average of 1.3 million tonnes produced each year.
Nguyen Thanh Tai, deputy director of Dong Thap’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said his province had over 27,000ha of fruit cultivation, with some areas growing famous fruits like Cao Lanh mango, Chau Thanh longan and lemon, and Lai Vung mandarin.
In the 2016-17 period, local farmers switched to fruit from rice on a total of nearly 3,000ha, he added.
At the conference, speakers noted that fruit exports had yet to reach their potential even though efforts had been made to expand cultivation.
Poor storage and harvesting methods had contributed to the slow growth of fruit exports.
Vo Mai, deputy chairwoman of the Viet Nam Gardening Association, said the biggest weakness was processing, this was why 80 per cent of fruit was sold in the domestic market, with most of it consumed raw.
Mai suggested that the Government develop better management methods. Each fruit should have a specialised area, she said, as it would be easier to manage, process and ensure food hygiene and safety.
These areas should be developed under VietGAP and GlobalGAP standards, she added.
Conference attendees also suggested that enterprises and farmers improve cooperation to ensure large-scale production and authentic origin.
Le Quoc Doanh, deputy minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that Viet Nam has many advantages to develop fruit production, but limited information about import markets was hindering growth.
He also said that prices and yields were not stable, and that competition from other markets was a significant burden.
To develop better production methods, the country needs to improve cooperation among all involved parties, and process and diversify fruit products to ensure added value.
More trade promotions are also needed to reduce the dependence on one market, he said.
In recent years, national vegetable and fruit export revenue has increased, with US$2.4 billion recorded last year, a rise of 33.6 per cent year-on-year.
This year, it is expected to be between $3.46 billion and $3.63 billion. With this figure, Viet Nam now ranks third out of five key fruit exporters in the ASEAN region.
Vietnamese fruits are exported to 60 nations and territories. The main fruit exports are dragon fruit, pipe apple, mango, jackfruit and papaya. 
Viet Nam’s 100 most sustainable firms honored     
Viet Nam’s 100 most sustainable businesses of 2017 were announced at a ceremony in Ha Noi on Wednesday.
They were selected from nearly 500 entries to the contest, jointly conducted by the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) and the Viet Nam Business Council for Sustainable Development (VBCSD). Businesses include Phu Nhuan Jewelry JSC, Da Nang Port Logistic JSC, Thang Long Invest Group, Herbalife Viet Nam and Amway Viet Nam.
Heineken Vietnam improved its previous ranking (from third position last year) to the top sustainable manufacturing company among the 100 most sustainable companies in Viet Nam. It was selected as the leading company on the Corporate Sustainability Index (CSI) ranking due to its significant achievements in 2017.
The company made a significant economic contribution to Viet Nam – some 0.75 per cent of the nation’s GDP -- along with focusing on green growth by using carbon-neutral initiatives such as biomass to create thermal energy for brewing. It also prioritised using Vietnamese suppliers wherever possible, and by doing so, added nearly 200,000 jobs in Viet Nam.
According to the organising board, this year’s programme assessed firms on the basis of 134 criteria, focused on socio-economic and environmental aspects. In the future, the list of criteria will be simplified so that it can be applied to micro- and small- and medium-sized enterprises.
Addressing the event, VCCI President Vu Tien Loc highlighted the presence of new private firms in this year’s ranking, saying that this proves the country’s business climate is improving. Tran Ngoc Anh from Dekalb Viet Nam, a Monsanto entity that sells genetically modified seeds to farmers and is one of the honoured firms, said the recognition gives her company motivation to pursue sustainable development goals at home and abroad.
The programme was first held in 2016 and will be an annual event.
This year, the companies received three different types of honors including the sustainable business certificate, the sustainable enterprise certificate for excellent manufacturing enterprises and the sustainable business certificate for excellence enterprises in trade and services.
The certificates aim to encourage businesses in Viet Nam to focus more on sustainable development, planning and implementing strong development business strategies. 
Agribank and Bao Viet sign co-operation agreement     
The Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development of Viet Nam (Agribank) and Bao Viet Holdings signed a co-operation agreement on Wednesday.
Under the co-operation agreement, Agribank and Bao Viet have committed to prioritise the use of products and services of each other and exploit the strengths and potential of each party to raise efficiency and competitiveness for deeper and further integration.
Tiet Van Thanh, general director of Agribank, said through the co-operation with Bao Viet, a leading financial-insurance group in Viet Nam, Agribank hopes that it will successfully implement the Party’s resolutions and the Government’s policy on promoting the leading role of State corporations and enterprises in supporting each other to develop sustainably, reach out to the world and contribute to the socio-economic development of the country.
At the signing ceremony, Nguyen Quang Phi, Bao Viet general director, said Bao Viet and Agribank have many similarities in size, network and fields of operation. Through the co-operation agreement, the commitment to use each other’s products and services will help the two maximise their potential and strengths, he said.
Northwestern region targets to welcome over 16 million tourists by 2020
Vietnam’s eight northwestern mountainous provinces will boost links and lure more investment in tourism and road infrastructure to reach target of welcoming 2.3 million foreign visitors and 14 million local tourists by 2020.
The provinces of Hoa Binh, Son La, Lai Chau, Dien Bien, Phu Tho, Lao Cai, Yen Bai and Ha Giang has huge potential and advantages for tourism development as it boasts beautiful landscapes and historical sites, rich natural resources, diverse ecology and cultures of ethnic minority groups.
However, there remain obstacles hindering regional tourism development including difficult terrain, poor infrastructure and limited resources.
The region lacks high-class tourism services to keep tourists longer, they said, adding that promotion has also been poor, with few travel firms operating in the region.
The insiders also agreed on the need for more human resources training, the most serious problem facing the provinces’ tourism, as 60 percent of local tourism workers have no professional training.
Home to more than 30 ethnic minority groups, the region should focus on developing community-based tourism to introduce tourists to the beauty of the people, cultures and lifestyles of local ethnic minorities, they said.
Over the years, northwestern provinces have tried to create the best conditions for different economic sectors to invest in tourism. Transport infrastructure works serving tourism have been built, including the Noi Bai-Lao Cai Expressway, National Highway 6, and a railway linking Lao Cai and Kunming (China). 
Luu Duy Linh, Deputy Director of the Hoa Binh provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said regional provinces have already developed a road tourism route, National Road 6, connecting Hanoi, Hoa Binh, Son La, Dien Bien and Lai Chau. 
The provinces are also surveying a river tourism route along the Da River that allows tourists to see the Hoa Binh, Son La and Lai Chau hydropower reservoirs, he said, adding that the route is expected to be launched at the end of this year.
Linh stressed the need for northwestern provinces to promote their strengths and create distinctive products based on unique cultural values, landscapes, and the environment.
He said Hoa Binh will focus on the culture of the Muong ethnic group as it is a typical feature of the province while Son La and Dien Bien will pay attention to the cultures of Thai, Mong and Dao ethnic people. 
According to Ha Van Sieu, Deputy Director General of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, National Tourism Year 2017 in the northwest has helped awaken the region’s potential and open up opportunities for the development of tourism.
Themed “Colors of the Northwest”, the event has offered a chance for the provinces to introduce their tourism potential, cultural identities and heritage values to domestic and international visitors, while creating a breakthrough in tourism development, building new products and enhancing links among localities in the field, he said.
To serve National Tourism Year 2017, the region has invested in developing eight attractive tourism products, including community-based tourism, tours to discover terraced fields and mountainous market-days, spiritual tourism along the Red River and the Da River, and tours to see flowers.
There is also a tourism program to discover roads where Vietnamese soldiers marched during the Dien Bien Phu Campaign and tours designed for those who want to conquer the summits of Vietnam including Fansipan in Lao Cai (3,143m), Phu Ta Leng in Lai Chau (3,040m) and Chieu Lau Thi in Ha Giang (2,412m).
Vestas and Tan Hoang Cau sign MoU aims to accelerate wind farm development
Danish wind turbine manufacturer Vestas and locally-invested Tan Hoang Cau signed a turbine supply contract for the 30MW Huong Linh 1 wind farm as well as a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the pre-development of three other wind projects.
This turbine supply contract for Huong Linh 1 wind farm is estimated at more than €22 million ($26 million). Huong Linh 1 wind farm is located in the central province of Quang Tri.
Mai Van Hue, chairman of Tan Hoang Cau (THC), said, "We are committed to deploying the latest technology and wind turbine models to bring the highest efficiency for the projects. Therefore, we are partnering up with Vestas, the industry leader, to help us bring this project to life.”
Clive Turton, president of Vestas Asia-Pacific, said, "Vietnam is the ASEAN's second fastest growing economy and it is commendable that given all this growth, the country is looking into wind energy. 
Vestas is very excited for the partnership with Vietnam in this respect and today, we are absolutely delighted to be here to demonstrate our commitment. 
Vestas is Denmark's leading light in the renewable energy sector and will show Vietnam how to appreciate the value, opportunities, and potential of wind energy to improve the lives of Vietnamese people.”
“We will engage, expand, and deepen our capabilities in Vietnam and look forward to working even more closely together," he added.
Previously, Vestas supplied turbines for the 30MW Huong Linh 2 project in the central province of Quang Tri, also invested by THC.
Seafood exports target forecast to achieve one month ahead of schedule
This year’s seafood export turnover is forecast to expand by 6% to US$7.4 billion when compared to last year’s figure, and is set to fulfill its target one month ahead of schedule despite facing a number of notable, says the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP).
In 2017, seafood exports are encountering difficulties due to low market demands and stringent technical barriers set by major importers. 
According to initial statistics from the General Department of Vietnam Customs in the ten months leading up to mid November, aquatic export products have brought in over US$7.2 billion in revenue and seafood export turnover in November alone is estimated at US$728.118 million, thus lifting the 11 month turnover to US$7.565 billion in total and surpassing the set target by US$156 million.
At present, there has been a change in the ranking of Vietnam’s four major export markets-the EU, the US, Japan and China when the EU replaced the US to become the biggest buyers of the country’s aquatic products.  Over the past ten months, exports of aquatic products to major markets saw positive growth against last year’s corresponding period.
Specifically, seafood exports to the EU in October rose 37.5% to US$168.803 million over last year and up 8.84% from a month earlier. In the first ten months of the year, seafood exports to the EU market surged an impressive 21.2% to US$$1.215 billion.
This is the first time that the EU has become the No 1 destination for Vietnam’s aquatic products.  Within the EU bloc, the Netherlands has posted the strongest growth with seafood export turnover to the Dutch market in October alone grew 80.3% against last year’s same period, bringing total export value in ten months to US$243.668 million, up 43.8%.
Meanwhile, the US the former largest market for Vietnam’s aquatic products, dropped to the second place due to slower growth and a slight reduction of 2.5% in turnover. The main reason behind this is that the US Department of Commerce (DOC) has imposed high anti-dumping tariffs on Vietnam’s shrimp and tra fish industries, making these products lose their competitive edge when compared to other significant rivals.
Seafood exports to the Japanese market have soared 21.8% and are projected to maintain this high growth rate thanks to price hikes in the Japanese Yen (JPY) against other foreign currencies.
Despite fast-growing consumption demand of aquatic products in China, the domestic supply fall short of meeting these demands
 To meet domestic consumption demand and ensure material resources for seafood processing plants,  seafood import encouragement policies have been adopted by the Chinese Government to reduce the catch numbers of aquatic products to protect the fisheries sources and manage them more sustainably, thus facilitating Vietnam’s  seafood exports to the highly lucrative market.
Truong Dinh Hoe, VASEP Secretary General attributes the shrinking seafood export turnover to the US to strict technical barriers and high anti-dumping duties on tra fish and shrimp, which have adversely affected export activities and resulted in falling export turnover from this large market. However. positive growth in other major markets have made up for the decrease in export earnings from the US market, Hoa notes.
Mr Hoe highlights the EU’s strengthened import of Vietnamese shrimp, especially processed products of high added value and impact of Vietnam-EU Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA to take effect in2018 as contributory factors to Vietnam’s increased export turnover to the EU.
Local businesses have managed themselves to boost exports and secured a firm foothold this profitable market, which begins to focus on higher imports of Vietnamese goods
The export volume of seafood has seen no high increase this year but the value is on an upward trend as businesses have concentrated more on producing high-added value export products, primarily targeting the EU market, thus accelerating the finalization of seafood export turnover target one month ahead of schedule, Mr Hoe explains.
Despite still being the primary destination for Vietnam’s seafood exports, the EU’s recent issuance of a yellow card warning to Vietnam over its exploitation of fisheries will deal a significant blow to Vietnam’s seafood turnover into the EU next year.
Therefore, the seafood industry along with government agencies need to take drastic actions to avoid the risks of being dealt with a ‘yellow card’ and a ‘red card’, which would greatly affect next year’s export plan. 
Khanh Hoa to establish special administrative-economic unit
The People’s Council of the central province of Khanh Hoa adopted a resolution approving a project establishing Bac Van Phong (Northern Van Phong) special administrative-economic unit during its fifth session on December 7. 
The special unit will cover all the area and population of Van Ninh district, including about 111,000 ha of land and water surface and more than 128,000 people in 12 communes and one town. 
Van Phong Bay and the Northern Van Phong area hold an important strategic, geological-economic location for the country and the region, able to become a gateway for Vietnam to reach the East Sea and the Indochina peninsula. 
The area is also expected to help boost the nation’s maritime economy, the southern central region, the Central Highlands and Khanh Hoa province, and protect national sovereignty over seas and islands. 
The special unit will focus on developing sea transportation, trade-financial services, tourism, health care, education and high-tech industrial development. 
The People’s Council has assigned the provincial People’s Committee to complete a dossier for the project to be submitted to competent agencies.
Northern Van Phong is one of the three special administrative-economic units initially developed on the basis of the the Conclusion No 21-TB/TW issued on March 23, 2017 by the Politburo. The others are Van Don in the northeastern province of Quang Ninh and Phu Quoc in the Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang.  
The Ministry of Planning and Investment expected that with preferential incentives, the three special zones would attract investment worth dozens of billions of dollars, which would generate huge sums in terms of added value and boost average income to 12,000-13,000 USD per capita.
 The ministry estimated that the special zones would contribute billions of dollars in taxes and fees to the State budget.
Viettel telecom wins Best Fintech Companies award
Vietnam’s military-run Viettel telecom group on December 7 was honoured with the Best Fintech Companies award for its BankPlus services. 
The awards were organised by the US-based International Data Group.
After six years of operation, BankPlus has connected with 15 banks in Vietnam. There are about 3.4 million customers using the application with an average of 10.3 million transactions each month. 
The application allows money transfers and payments at 85,000 transaction stations nationwide or via mobile phones.
Japan’s Fuji Engineering inaugurates apartment blocks for rent
Japan’s Fuji Engineering Vietnam Co., Ltd on December 7 inaugurated apartments for lease and facilities that provide services for Japanese employees at Dong Van I Industrial Park, Duy Tien district, the northern province of Ha Nam.
Covering 12,000 square metres, the project is valued at 10 million USD and is the province’s first wholly foreign-invested project in hospitality and services.
The 10-storey buildings offer 76 houses from 26-54 square metres per apartment and provide amenities like offices for lease, a golf course, conference rooms, restaurants and supermarkets.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, Minister-Chairman of the Government’s Office Mai Tien Dung lauded the construction of the buildings, calling it a significant work between two close partners like Vietnam and Japan.
Vietnam always creates favourable conditions for enterprises from Japan, who is the leading official development assistance provider for Vietnam and its third largest trade partner, Dung stated.
He asked Ha Nam province to prioritise Japanese businesses and to tackle difficulties for them in a timely manner.
Osamu Yasuhara, Chairman of the Fuji Engineering Group, for his part, recognised the support from central and local authorities for the project, adding that the buildings will not only satisfy investors’ demands but help complete infrastructure facilities and create an ideal investment climate for Japanese firms in the locality.
Vinh Long pledges optimal conditions for foreign investors
The Mekong Delta province of Vinh Long has been creating optimal conditions for investors to run their businesses in the locality.
Secretary of the provincial Party Committee of Tran Van Ron made the statement at a seminar to introduce local potential on economy, trade, investment, tourism and education to foreign diplomatic agencies, consulate generals, associations and firms in Ho Chi Minh City on December 7.
Prominent attendees at the event included representatives from Consulate Generals in HCM City, the Japan External Trade Organisation, the Japanese Business Association of HCM City and the Chambers of Commerce of the US, the Republic of Korea, Canada, Australia and the European Union in HCM City.
The seminar discussed green energy, hi-tech agriculture, clean water, the environment, climate change adaption, ecotourism and human resources training.
Ron introduced six key aspects of the province, including agriculture, aquaculture and livestock, handicrafts, tourism, human resources training and industrial parks (IPs).
He called on investors to pay attention to local IPs, while describing the event as preparation for the Vinh Long Investment Promotion Conference to be chaired by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc in March 2018.
International participants also shared experience to promote local potential, thus luring foreign investors, particularly in industry, tourism and agriculture.
They expressed their hope that the province will offer more incentives for investors and focus on training human resources to meet requirements of investors.
Rang Dong, Sojitz Pla-Net sign strategic partnership
Rang Dong Plastics Joint Stock Company (RDP) and Sojitz Pla-Net, a Japanese corporation, signed a strategic partnership on December 6, taking a new step towards cooperation between the two sides.
The existing co-operation between them is the development of the Rang Dong Long An Plastics factory with a total investment at 32 million USD in the first stage.
Earlier, RDP sold 20 percent of its capital at the Rang Dong Long An Plastic Joint Stock Company that operates the Rang Dong Long An plastics factory for Sojitz Pla-Net, reported
Becoming RDP’s strategic shareholder, Sojitz Pla-Net will supply raw material and have support in soft skills as well as in sales for RDP via Sojitz Planet’s retail system in Vietnam and exports to neighbouring markets, the Sojitz Pla-Net chairman said.
RDP chairman Ho Duc Lam said when being put into operation, the project of Rang Dong Long An will meet increasing demand on plastics in the domestic market and also exports to many countries.
The factory is equipped modern machinery, including packaging workshop meeting HACCP standard, to develop global supply chain in line with standards of the US, Japan and European markets.
Lam expected with this cooperation, RDP would sustainably develop to become the leading company in Vietnam’s plastic market and to be one of the top 10 companies supplying plastics resin in Asia by 2020.
Home Credit wins Việt Nam Outstanding Banking Award     
Consumer credit company Home Credit Viet Nam has received the award for the best financial company at the 2017 Viet Nam Outstanding Banking Awards.
The award is given by the Viet Nam Bank Association and IDG Group based on a poll of consumers.
Nine years ago Home Credit had become the first foreign company in the consumer finance market, and it is now one of the biggest companies in Viet Nam, offering consumer loans for buying motorbikes, home appliances and electronics and cash loans.
Recently it launched new products targeting education and healthcare.
Last month, the company unveiled its new brand name identity set, further strengthening its people-oriented business strategy.
It has more than 7,000 offices across all country and 10,000 employees and a customer base of 6.76 million. 
GoBear Vietnam receives 1 mil online visitors within first year of operation
GoBear Vietnam was closing on the 1,000,000 visitor mark on December 7 after a single year of operations in Vietnam. GoBear keeps improving and will add an enhanced credit card comparison function in January 2018.
GoBear is Asia’s first and only metasearch engine for insurance and banking products. GoBear provides users a comparison platform that is free, easy to use, and unbiased. Since the official launch in Vietnam in early December 2016 with three products— comparison of credit cards, personal loans, and travel insurance—as well as educational pages for unsecured loans, GoBear Vietnam has landed nearly one million visitors to its website to become a trusted provider of comparison services for financial products in Vietnam.
The new website features an upgraded credit cards comparison function and is expected to provide users with an enhanced experience which will make searching and comparing credit cards on the website easier than ever before.
“The fact that GoBear Vietnam has hit nearly one million visitors in our very first year of operation shows Vietnamese people’s genuine interest in finding the right personal finance products and confirms GoBear’s vast growth potential. GoBear is looking forward to receiving even more support from our users and business partners, and to bringing more transparency and fair pricing to the market in our next phases of development,” said Andre Hesselink, CEO and co-founder of GoBear.
“Overall, GoBear has shown strong month-on-month growth ever since we started our first office in Singapore right up to our latest office in Vietnam. So far, we have served 14 million users year to date, with a rapid growth of four million users last month. In 2016, Think with Google ranked GoBear as the most popular comparison website in the region based on search volume,” Hesselink added.
GoBear is Asia’s first and only metasearch engine for insurance and financial products. It was founded based on the simple premise that a consumer should find freedom and ease in choosing complex financial products like insurance, credit cards, and loans. 
Headquartered in Singapore since early 2015, GoBear has established presence in Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Manila, Hong Kong, and Vietnam, and will continue to expand across Asia in 2018.
As one of the fastest growing fintech startups in Asia, GoBear is leading the way in democratising financial shopping experience with its unbiased and personalised comparison process. GoBear’s user-oriented platform neither aggregates nor sells products.
GoBear simply offers consumers a free and transparent comparison process based on their financial needs and is not influenced by service providers’ commissions or advertising. The result is a user-friendly experience that empowers users to make better informed decisions efficiently, saving both time and money.
$26 million wind turbines for Quang Tri
Danish wind turbine manufacturer Vestas and local company Tan Hoang Cau (THC) signed a turbine supply contract for the 30MW Huong Linh 1 wind farm as well as a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the pre-development of three other wind projects on December 7 in Hanoi.
The turbine supply contract for the Huong Linh 1 wind farm, located in the central province of Quang Tri, is worth more than €22 million ($26 million). Construction will take eight months, with six sub-projects to be developed having a total generation capacity of at least 30 MW. The two will work together to select appropriate locations for installing wind turbine towers.
“We are committed to deploying the latest technology and wind turbine models to bring the highest efficiencies to the projects,” said THC Chairman Mr. Mai Van Hue. “Therefore, we are partnering up with Vestas, the industry leader, to help us bring this project to life.”
President of Vestas Asia-Pacific, Mr. Clive Turton, said the company views Vietnam as ASEAN’s second-fastest growing economy and given all this growth, the country is looking into wind energy. “Vestas is very excited for the partnership with Vietnam in this respect and today we are absolutely delighted to be here to demonstrate our commitment,” he said.
“Vestas is Denmark’s leading light in the renewable energy sector and will show Vietnam how to appreciate the value, opportunities, and potential of wind energy to improve the lives of Vietnamese people,” he went on. “We will engage, expand, and deepen our capabilities in Vietnam and look forward to working even more closely together.”
Last year witnessed the establishment of Vestas Vietnam, testament to the confidence and long-term commitment that Vestas has in Vietnam’s wind market. It has activated collaborations with Vietnamese partners and organizations such as the Institute of Energy, and supported the Global Wind Energy Council’s project to establish a National Wind Energy Association for Vietnam.
Since its establishment in 1979, Vestas has been committed to harvesting the potential wind holds for the planet’s energy supply. “Our mission is to deliver best-in-class sustainable energy solutions and set the pace in our industry to the benefit of our customers and our planet,” Mr. Turton added.
Vestas holds the world’s largest fleet of wind turbines, having installed over 59,909 in more than 76 markets on six continents. This 83-GW installed capacity generates more than 205 million MWh of electricity per year, globally reducing carbon emissions of CO2 by more than 110 million tons. Vestas also services over 71 GW across the globe, both proprietary and multi-brand.
“Vestas is fully committed and optimistic regarding the development of wind in Vietnam,” Mr. Turton said. “We look forward to continuing to work as a fully-fledged local entity and, together with our local partners, build a prosperous future for the wind industry and Vietnam as a whole.”