BUSINESS IN BRIEF 6/3
Reference exchange rate kept unchanged
The State Bank of Vietnam kept the reference VND/USD exchange rate unchanged from the end of last week at 22,246 VND/USD on March 6.
With the current +/- 3 percent VND/USD trading band, the ceiling exchange rate is 22,913 VND per USD and the floor rate is 21,579 VND per USD.
In the opening hours, some commercial banks also kept their rates unchanged too.
Vietcombank listed the buying rate at 22,795 VND/USD and the selling rate at 22,865 VND/USD.
BIDV set the buying rate at 22,765 VND/USD and the selling rate at 22,865 VND/USD.
However, Techcombank adjusted its buying rates to 22,800 VND, down 5 VND from the end of last week, and maintained its selling rate at 22,870 VND, per USD.
Vinalines sets financial priorities
The Vietnam National Shipping Lines (Vinalines) will maintain its controlling stake in major ports and divest from others as it targets increased efficiency and profitability of core services over the next five years.
Under its five-year (2016-2020) investment and development plan approved by Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc, it will maintain its controlling stake in the nation’s three major ports in Hải Phòng, Đà Nẵng and HCM City.
The corporation currently holds a majority stake of between 75 per cent and 95 per cent in the three ports.
It will divest and give up its controlling stake in several smaller ports.
Under the five-year plan, the corporation will concentrate its investments in the Lạch Huyện and Đình Vũ ports in Hải Phòng City; the Hải Phòng International Port; the Liên Chiểu Port in Đà Nẵng; and the Nghệ Tĩnh Port in Ha Tĩnh Province.
In the southern region, the corporation is to focus efforts on beginning operations at the Sài Gòn-Hiệp Phước Port and developing general ports in Hậu Giang, Cần Thơ and Cam Ranh provinces.
Meanwhile, it will restructure its bank debts and prepare to list its shares on the national bourse.
It will strive to improve the efficiency and profitability of its sea transport, ports and maritime services, sustain and increase the State’s capital, and withdraw from ineffective businesses.
The exploitation and development of deepwater ports and transit ports will be improved to make it competitive in the region.
Vinalines plans to complete its equitisation process early next year.
The corporation’s revamp plans after years of losses and soaring debts. In 2015, its debt was estimated at VNĐ11 trillion, or $504 million, owed to 24 lenders, nearly half of them foreign firms. The majority of its domestic market share on import-export carriage has been taken over by foreign shipping businesses.
For 2017, Vinalines targets a revenue of around VNĐ15.3 trillion (US$668.4 million), lower than last year, when it topped VNĐ16 trillion.
EU businesses count on VN-EU FTA
European investors show optimism on Viet Nam’s market and hope to expand investment in Viet Nam, according to a recent survey by European Chamber of Commerce in Viet Nam (EuroCham).
The optimism is mainly driven by the upcoming signing of the Viet Nam-EU free trade agreement expected to come into effect in 2018, said EuroCham President Michael Bahren at a meeting with Deputy PM, FM Minh on Friday.
EuroCham, through its leading European firms, pledge to support and accelerate the agreement ratification process by member countries, he said.
The EuroCham President expressed thanks to the Government of Viet Nam for maintaining dialogues with foreign business communities.
He also figured out EuroCham’s future plans, including support for small and medium-sized enterprises to seek investment opportunities in Viet Nam.
Mr. Michael Bahren also committed to encouraging European businesses to forge stronger partnership with Viet Nam.
Deputy PM, FM Minh spoke highly of the agency’s role and operation in Viet Nam over the past time, especially in bridging the Vietnamese Government and the European business community.
The host noted the agency and the EU delegation in Viet Nam have made positive contributions to economic relations between Viet Nam and the European countries.
Deputy PM, FM Minh also hailed EuroCham’s efforts in publishing White Book on Viet Nam’s business and investment environment during the past years.
He affirmed the Government’s determination to build a constructive Government in service of people and businesses, asking EuroCham and the EU delegation to advocate the Vietnamese Government to turn Viet Nam into an attractive investment destinations for European businesses.
New commercial centre put into operation in Ho Chi Minh City
A new food market and shopping complex was opened to the public in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 1 by the Saigon Co-op Investment Development JSC and the Cuu Long Investment Commercial Company Limited on March 4.
Located at Section B of the September 23 Park in District 1, the Sense Market commercial centre is a new business model, combining traditional and modern markets to meet the shopping and recreational needs of domestic customers and international tourists.
The complex consists of an 11,000 m2 basement, of which its 6,000 m2 parking lot can house 150 automobiles and 600 motorcycles, contributing to solving traffic jams and parking needs in the downtown areas.
The remaining 5,000 m2 area is devoted to the reconstruction of an Asian street food cultural space with nearly 100 ancient Asian street food stalls from Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, India, and Japan.
Along with that is the Taka Plaza shopping mall with more than 400 booths, offering diverse goods sold at reasonable prices. In addition, Sense Market also has Co-op Food convenience stores, telecommunications service booths, and foreign exchange kiosks.
With the aim of celebrating Vietnamese cultural traditions, cuisine and landscapes, the design unit has added national characteristics of traditional culture, as well as landscapes, to combine with modern models of foreign markets.
Visitors to Sense Market can easily identify staircases which have been designed to replicate terraced rice fields typical of the north-western region and a natural lighting system from the ground floor to the basement in the style of the well-known Son Doong Cave in Quang Binh.
Sense Market also regularly organises free classes of Tai Chi, aerobics and self-defence in the morning for local residents. Tourism promotion events will be held periodically in coordination with the Ho Chi Minh City Tourism Association.
Along with cuisine, culture and tourism promotional activities, Sense Market will also host regular special booths for students, facilitating the city’s youth start-ups.
Exports maintain decent growth due to higher prices: report
Vietnam maintained decent export growth in the first two months of 2017 thanks to higher export prices, according to the National Financial Supervisory Commission (NFSC).
Total export revenues in January and February rose 15.4% year on year, compared with just 2.9% a year earlier, mainly due to average export prices rising on average by 14%, boosted by oil, coal, steel and rubber.
The first two months saw industrial production slowdown due to sharp falls in oil output while aggregate demand slightly improved along with consumer demand rising at a slower pace than last year.
Foreign direct investment (FDI) also slowed in the last two months, indicating that the US withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership affected the inflow of FDI into Vietnam to a certain degree.
Nevertheless, with exports continuing to grow, the NFSC states that the Vietnamese economy is still in the recovery period.
According to the commission, inflation is projected to accelerate in 2017 if periodical price increases, especially public service fees, are not tightly controlled.
During the 2012-2015 period, about 55.4% of total non-performing loans worth VND500 trillion (US$22 billion) were handled by credit institutions themselves while the remaining were sold to the Vietnam Asset Management Company (VAMC).
However, only a small proportion of bad debt sold to the VAMC has been resolved, that is why the average medium and long-term lending rates fell only mildly last year despite positive inflation figures.
The VAMC has set a target to resolve VND33 trillion (US$1.45 billion) worth of bad debt in 2017.
According to the NFSC, the handling of bad debt is heading in a positive direction with more specific and clearer steps under a proposed law stipulating special mechanisms for the VAMC and credit institutions.
Budget revenue hits VND185.8 trillion in first two months
Vietnam’s budget revenue was estimated to reach VND185.8 trillion (US$8.17 billion) in the first two months of 2017, equivalent to 15.3% of the year’s plan and up 15.8% compared to the same period of last year, according to the Finance Ministry.
Specifically, domestic collection was VND157.1 trillion (US$6.9 billion), equal to 15.9% of the estimate and up 12.9% year on year, with revenue from the foreign invested sector meeting 16.9% of the year’s estimate and revenue from the non-State economic sector equivalent to 18.2% of the annual plan.
Thirty five of 63 cities and provinces satisfied progress as forecasted in the year’s estimate in terms of domestic collection (over 17%) in two months, with 27 localities meeting 18% of the plan and 47 localities recording higher revenues than that of the same period in 2016.
Revenue from crude oil hit VND6.6 trillion (US$290.4 million), equal to 17.4% of the year’s estimate and up 8.9% year on year, while revenue from import-export activities reached VND41 trillion (US$1.8 billion), 14.4% of the plan and up 22.1% against 2016.
Total budget expenditures in the January-February period were estimated at VND175.8 trillion (US$7.73 billion), equivalent to 12.6% of the year’s plan and up 8.4% year on year.
In February alone, Vietnam’s budget revenue recorded VND79.4 trillion (US$3.5 billion), including VND60.28 trillion (US$2.65 billion) in domestic collection, VND3.9 trillion (US$171.6 million) in revenue from crude oil and VND20.5 trillion (US$902 million) in revenue from import-export activities.
Crocodile breeders undergo heavy loss due to price fall
Crocodile breeders in the southern province of Dong Nai have undergone a loss of at leastVND600,000-700,000 a crocodile because of consumption shrink, excessive supply and price drop.
The price fell to VND50,000 a kilogram, down VND130,000 over the peak level of 2016, in Vinh Cuu, Thong Nhat and Trang Bom districts yesterday.
According to traders, the plunge has been caused by demand reduction from China, the consumption market of 90 percent of crocodiles from Vietnam. Meanwhile export to other nations has been not easy.
Moreover, many households in the province changed into breeding crocodiles when the price was stable and profitable three years ago, resulting in excess of supply over demand now.
By the end of 2014, the province had 229 farms supplying 127,000 crocodiles. The numbers have rocketed to 400 farms and 200,000 crocodiles so far.
Seminar seeks to boost Vietnam-Russia economic links
The Vietnamese Businesses’ Association (VBA) in Russia on March 5 hosted a seminar in Moscow to discuss ways to promote economic and trade ties between Vietnam and Russia and with the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).
During the event, participants reviewed the association’s activities in 2016 and proposed future plans.
Vietnamese enterprises were urged to maintain their operations in Russia, with Russia’s economy showing signs of recovery.
The free trade agreement signed between Vietnam and the EAEU creates opportunities for Vietnamese enterprises in Russia, they said.
According to Commercial Counsellor of the Vietnamese Embassy in Russia Duong Hoang Minh, the EAEU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement has boosted economic links between Vietnam and Russia.
Vietnam’s export turnover to Russia increased by 20 percent in 2016, Minh said.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the VBA in Russia Le Truong Son stressed that Vietnamese firms in Russia have made efforts to reinforce their position and market share.
The association has served as a bridge to strengthen links between Vietnam and Russia, he said, adding that the association is operating large-scale programmes to enhance economic and trade ties between Vietnam and the EAEU.-
Handicraft export value hits 1.6 billion USD yearly
The export value of Vietnam’s handicraft products has averaged 1.6 billion USD per year since 2000.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the country has 5,411 handicraft villages, of which 1,864 are traditional handicraft villages.
Annually, the number of business households in rural areas increases by 8.8-9.8 percent, producing a production growth rate of about 15 percent.
Craft villages create jobs for about 11 million labourers in rural areas.
Vietnam earns 392 mln USD from rubber export in two months
Vietnam shipped abroad an estimated 193,000 tonnes of rubber for 392 million USD in the first two months of this year.
The figures represent increase of 25.4 percent in volume and 2.4 times in value against the same period last year.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, domestic rubber market recorded signals of recovery as rubber prices remarkably increased in February this year in line with the world trend.
The average export price in January was almost 1,922 USD per tonne, a year-on-year increase of 70.6 percent.
Enterprises attributed the situation to the recovery of oil prices in the world market, and the negative impacts of the weather, which made rubber output drop.
Domestic rubber firms have adjusted up the purchase price of rubber latex in line with the tendency in the Tokyo Commodity Exchange of Japan.
Actively responding to new challenges for exports
The world trade’s growth was forecasted to increase in 2017, which is expected to create favourable conditions for Vietnam’s exports activities. However, global economic instabilities which have prevailed since the first months of this year have posed numerous difficulties and challenges for the completion of the export growth target of 6%-7% this year.
Forecasts from many research institutions showed that Vietnam’s export turnover can maintain the growth rate, but it will be hard to reach a high increase due to signs of decline of the trend of trade liberalisation in the world.
Trade protectionism is in danger of returning as many countries are adopting more and more trade defence measures. Many technical barriers and rules of origin have been set out in order to restrict the exploitation of advantages of tariff reductions. This trend has also posed new challenges for Vietnamese enterprises while exporting their goods to countries and regions that have signed free trade agreements (FTA) with Vietnam.
Meanwhile, the export growth of domestic enterprises is always lower than the entire country’s growth. For example, in 2016, the export turnover of the domestic enterprises sector increased 4.8% compared to the previous year, lower than the 8.6% increase of the general export turnover of the country.
In addition, the sector’s contribution to the country’s export performance is declining. The share of domestic enterprises in the total export turnover fell from 29.1% in 2015 to 28.4% in 2016.
It is highly essential to seriously review and assess the decline in export growth of the domestic enterprises sector in recent years, particularly in the context that exports to foreign countries are facing more difficulties due to the return of the trend of trade protectionism.
The new situation resulted in many enterprises quickly adjusting production and trade plans as well as product and market restructuring, especially in relation to competitiveness. If the enterprises’ competitiveness is raised, they can actively respond to the new situation as well as overcome new challenges.
Long An Province targets at export revenue of $4.8 bil
The Mekong delta province of Long An has set a target of export revenue up to US$4.8 billion in 2017.
The provincial Department of Industry and Trade said that it has made concerted efforts to boost export in 2017 with revenue goal up to $4.8 billion, an increase of 16 percent compared to last year.
As plan, Long An will increase export of major items such as rice, garment, leather and agricultural produces.
Additionally, the province forecast to achieve industrial production of VND163,700 billion ($7,168,191) and retailed commodity and service revenue of VND75,350 billion.
The province closely coordinates with other agencies in Ho Chi Minh City to help consuming agricultural produces.
At present, the province is implementing measures to improve provincial competitiveness index this year, global competitiveness index and strengthen supporting enterprises by providing information of domestic and international market.
La Residence Hue Appoints Two New Managers
La Residence Hotel & Spa, one of Vietnam’s most highly acclaimed hospitality properties, has hired two new managers to head up operations and manage sales.
Adrien Marie has joined the hotel as operations manager, and Huynh Xuan Hanh comes aboard as director of sales. Each reports directly to General Manager Phan Trong Minh. Marie will be based on site in Hue, and Hanh will work out of Ho Chi Minh City.
The additions come at an auspicious time for the Sofitel MGallery property, which in November won placement on a list of Southern Asia’s top hotels in Condé Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards for the second year in a row.
Marie relocates to Hue from Beijing where he worked in sales and business development at the Sofitel Wanda. Prior to those appointments, he worked at hotels in his native France and in the United States. He was educated in Paris, Chicago and Berkeley.
Hanh has worked at a number of leading hospitality concerns across Vietnam, including Vinpearl, Sofitel Saigon Plaza and Renaissance Riverside Hotel Saigon. She also worked a stint as a relationship manager at HSBC Bank. Hanh studied physics and accounting in college.
$100 million Hanwha Techwin project licensed
Hanwha Techwin Security, a subsidiary of South Korea’s Hanwha Group, has been granted an investment license for a $100 million project in northern Bac Ninh province.
The project covers an area of 6 ha at the Que Vo Industrial Zone and specializes in manufacturing electronic circuits, semiconductors, chips, computers, and cameras.
Bac Ninh’s investment strategy in 2015-2020 focuses on investors in the electrical, electronic and mechanical manufacturing sectors, according to Mr. Bui Hoang Mai, Head of the Management Board of Bac Ninh’s Industrial Parks.
The first phase of the Hanwha project will begin in the first quarter of this year and be completed in 2019, costing $30 million. Once the factory comes into operation it will generate 1,500-2,000 jobs and have an annual capacity of 2 million products.
Chairman of the Bac Ninh People’s Committee, Nguyen Tu Quynh, asked the Kinh Bac Urban Development Corporation, the investor of the Que Vo Industrial Zone, to meet its commitments to enterprises. Investors can report any difficulties to the provincial government to quickly identify solutions.
Hanwha Techwin specializes in providing innovative auto driving and robotic platform solutions, as well as security solutions. It also operates in the energy, industry, and defense sectors. It has 27 facilities with 4,407 employees around the world and in 2015 earned $600 million in revenue.
As at February, industrial parks in Bac Ninh had attracted 1,086 projects with registered capital of $15.87 billion, of which 659 are FDI projects worth $14.13 billion. These projects created jobs for around 230,000 workers and contributed VND7 trillion ($306.7 million) to the State budget last year.
South Korea has more than 400 projects in Bac Ninh, accounting for 50 per cent of all FDI projects, with large companies including Samsung, instant food group Orion, Daewoo, Flexcom, INTOPS, and Nano Tech.
In the first two months of this year, South Korean investors invested in 58 new projects and 26 existing projects added capital, totaling $447.9 million.
Bilateral trade between Vietnam and South Korea is expected to reach $70 billion by 2020 under the Vietnam-South Korea Free Trade Agreement (VKFTA).
South Korea is now the leading investor in Vietnam, with investment capital of about $50 billion.
From this year, 18 items will see tariff reductions under the VKFTA, with a resultant increase in trade expected.
How much is a piece of HCM City's golden land worth?
Ho Chi Minh City's most costly land prices can be found in District 1 around the People’s Committee building and near Ben Thanh Market. A square meter there fetches at least US$30,000, according to the latest report by evaluation company Gachvang.
Take a look at the five most expensive areas in Vietnam's southern metropolis.
1. Nguyen Hue Street
Average price: US$60,000 per square meter
how much is a piece of hcm city's golden land worth? hinh 0
Nguyen Hue Street tops the list as it has done since a million-dollar makeover in 2014 that earned the famous pedestrian street the title "King of Land Prices".
Real estate hunters are unable to take their eyes off this golden piece of land right in the city center. Nowhere else in this bustling city of motorbikes can one step out of a luxurious hotel to walk freely and drop by a fancy cafe or restaurant.
Monthly lease rates vary from US$50-US$100 per square meter, depending on the area as well as location.
2. Dong Khoi Street
Average price: US$36,000 per square meter
how much is a piece of hcm city's golden land worth? hinh 1
Khoi Street made headlines back in 2007 when a square meter of land there cost VND1 billion, or US$44,000. This busy street blends the iconic colonial buildings -- the Opera House and Vietnam's first hotel,
InterContinental Saigon -- with modern skyscrapers and shopping malls, a testimony to the city's rapidly rising middle class. Not far from Dong Khoi stands the former presidential palace, today known as the Reunification Palace.
3. Le Loi Street
Average price: US$34,000 per square meter
how much is a piece of hcm city's golden land worth? hinh 2
Adjoining Ben Thanh Market, Le Loi Street is famous for its vibrant shophouses selling anything under the sun, from souvenirs to food and fashion. Houses with two sides facing the street can fetch millions of dollars.
Like Dong Khoi Street, along Le Loi, there are big shopping malls such as Saigon Center, Takashimaya Department Store and Saigon Tax Trade Center, which is now under renovation.
A temporary downside is construction work for the city's up and coming metro, which will be completed in 2020.
4. Lam Son Square
Average price: US$33,000 per square meter
how much is a piece of hcm city's golden land worth? hinh 3
Lam Son Square is home to the iconic Opera House and two 5-star hotels with impressive architecture, the Park Hyatt Saigon and the Caravelle Saigon.
A lease for shophouses and showrooms which are closely packed along the street cost a staggering US$50-US$60 per square meter, just behind Nguyen Hue and Dong Khoi streets.
5. Le Anh Xuan Street
Average price: US$29,600 per square meter
how much is a piece of hcm city's golden land worth? hinh 4
There are no city monuments on Le Anh Xuan Street. It's earned the fifth spot on the list for the numerous mini hotels that are just a short walking distance from Ben Thanh Market.
A property on this street costs from US$2 million to US$22 million.
Vietnam's super-rich population is growing faster than anywhere else
Vietnam’s ultra-rich population is growing faster than any economy in the world, and is on track to continue leading the growth in the next decade, based on a new international research.
The Wealth Report by the UK’s independent real estate consultancy Knight Frank found there are 200 ultra high net worth individuals (UHNWI) in Vietnam, who are defined as people with investable assets of at least US$30 million, excluding personal assets and property such as a primary residence, collectibles and consumer durables.
UHNWIs are the richest people in the world who control a disproportionate amount of global wealth.
In Vietnam, this super rich group has grown by 320% between 2000 and 2006, the fastest in the world compared to India’s 290% and China’s 281%, the report said.
The number is expected to continue rising to 540, or by 170%, in 2026, the highest growth rate in the world. Millionaires in Vietnam are expected to jump to 38,600 from 14,300 over the same period.
Andrew Amoils, Head of Research at the global wealth intelligence and market research firm New World Wealth, highlighted Vietnam as the market whose “stellar” growth rate is set to reinforce “dramatic growth” of the super-rich population in Asia.
“We expect Vietnam’s millionaire numbers to be boosted by strong growth in the local healthcare, manufacturing and financial services sectors,” Amoils was quoted in the report as saying.
It also cited World Bank remarks as describing Vietnamese economy with “remarkable” transformation over the last 25 years, with economic and political reforms translating into higher incomes. The bank has projected Vietnam’s average GDP growth of around 6% annually until 2020.
Knight Frank report reflects considerable variation between UHNWIs growth rates in different regions and countries, due to local factors that underpin wealth creation and the mobility of ultra-wealthy people.
The number of ultra-wealthy people is predicted to climb by an average of 12% over the next decade in Europe, compared with a forecast 91% growth in Asia.
The number of ultra-wealthy people worldwide, which has grown 42% over the past decade, is expected to grow another 43% to 275,740 in 2020.