Danang unveils plan to develop e-city project
Danang City has just approved a plan to develop the e-city model in the central coast city, targeting to become a modern e-city by 2020.
Under Decision 10401 issued on Monday, the city’s Government is determined to apply information technology (IT) in all fields.
The project will be implemented in two phases with six main tasks, including an e-city model and an overall legal frame for such tasks, IT application models among enterprises and the community, and IT infrastructure improvement among others.
In the first phase from 2012 to 2015, Danang will set up foundations for IT infrastructure and human resources development. For the second phase that follows up to 2020, the city will finish the connection among models of e-government and social and economic agencies and organizations with the contribution of IT as the spearhead economic sector.
According to the local authority, following the model will help improve the position and image of Danang as an e-city well-matched with other modern e-cities in the world.
Singapore eyes real estate projects in Vietnam
Businesses from Singapore are seeking opportunities and accelerating investment in Vietnam’s real estate market.
CapitaLand Holdings of Singapore says it plans to increase its investment in real estate in Vietnam from more than US$400 million to over US$2 billion in the next five years. Meanwhile, Keppel Land is pouring its investment into the Saigon Centre trade complex and Saigon Sports City residential area projects in Ho Chi Minh City and southeastern Dong Nai province.
Secretary General of the Vietnam Real Estate Association Phan Thanh Mai says that real estate remains a field that attracts Singaporean businesses’ attention. In the context where Vietnam’s projects are in need of capital, it is an opportunity for investors to seek capital and experience from Singaporean partners, he says.
Savills Vietnam Deputy Managing Director Neil MacGregor recently said that despite global financial crisis, Vietnam is ranked as one of the leading destinations for Singaporean investors in Southeast Asia, surpassing Malaysia and India.
According to a survey conducted by the ASEAN Economic Advisory Council in 2010, up to 49 percent of 120 businesses operating in Singapore chose Vietnam to be their investment destination in the next three years.
At present, Singapore is implementing 50 real estate investment projects totalling more than US$7.6 billion in Vietnam.
More American foodstuff companies to come to Vietnam
More American foodstuff brand names will be seen in Vietnam in future, Commercial Counselor of the US Embassy Sarah E. Kemp said at a press conference of the Vietnam-US business forum in Hanoi on December 7.
The counselor said brand name franchising markets have developed strongly in the US and Vietnamese businesses are welcome to come and find investment opportunities.
She said that the Vietnam-US business forum aims to support and connect the two countries’ businesses and promote bilateral cooperation. Representatives from 13 US companies and Vietnamese businesses found cooperative opportunities and some major brand names are expected to be available in Ho Chi Minh City in 2012.
Brent E.Omadahl, former Commercial Counselor of the US Embassy, emphasised that Vietnam is a developing economy with many opportunities for investors. However, they need to pay close attention to consumer demand and the competitiveness of Vietnam’s market to ensure success.
He also said he hopes Vietnam will have lots of its own brand names franchised in the US market in future.
Deputy PM urged high growth in industry and trade
At the meeting, Mr. Hai stressed the great challenges facing the industry and trade sector, when the country restructures its economy and shifts its development model. The Ministry’s 2011-2015 plan plays an important role in the country’s 10-year socio-economic development strategy, which seeks to turn Vietnam into an industrialized country by 2020, he said. Accordingly, the sector will have to maintain high growth in terms of both industrial production and export revenue.
Regarding the threats from 2011-2015, Deputy PM Hai emphasized that the industry and trade sector must ensure energy security for economic development as the country is facing shortages of coal, gas, and electricity. He also noted that over the past five years the sector has not achieved its strategic export targets. Some other problems included low added values, low productivity, growth mainly based on investment expansion, and the slow pace of renovating technology.
Hoang Trung Hai asked the three major groups, namely EVN (Electricity of Vietnam Group), PetroVietnam (Vietnam Oil and Gas Group), and VINACOMIN (Vietnam National Coal and Mineral Industries Group) to work closely together to address challenges ahead. The production and exploitation of gas would give top priority to electricity generation. He told the Ministry of Industry and Trade to join the Ministry of Science and Technology and relevant agencies in formulating legal documents for managing nuclear electricity.
The Deputy PM directed the Ministry of Industry and Trade to boost negotiations on signing trans-Pacific partnership agreements, and bilateral and multilateral trade agreements to help export businesses expand their markets and raise revenues. He also requested that the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Ministry of Science and Technology research on technical barriers to replace current administrative barriers.
Regarding the 2011-2015 period, the Ministry of Industry and Trade has set the targets of an annual average growth rate of 9-10 percent in industrial production, 13.5 percent in industrial value, and 12.1 percent in export revenue.
Middle East – a potential market for Vietnam
The establishment of diplomatic ties between Vietnam and all Middle East countries will serve as a foundation for Vietnam to boost economic and trade cooperation with the region, says an official.
Le Thai Hoa, Deputy Head of the Department of African, Western and Southern Asian Markets under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, affirmed this at a seminar on economic and trade relations between Vietnam and Middle East countries, including Saudi Arabia, which was held by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the southern province of Ba Ria – Vung Tau on December 7.
Hoa said that since 2006, Vietnam and Saudi Arabia have signed many cooperative framework agreements on economics, agriculture, animal husbandry and aquaculture, as well as energy security, investment and labour agreements.
Vietnam exports aquatic products, textiles, fiber, footwear, steel products, timber and wood furniture, computers and electronic spare parts, mobile phones, rubber, handicrafts, farm produce and machinery to Arab Saudi Arabia and Middle East countries. It imports liquefied gas, chemicals, fertilisers, cattle feed and raw materials from these countries.
However, Vietnamese businesses still face challenges in this market such as bureaucratic administrative regulations, entry visa, unstable political and security situation and lack of market information.
The seminar provided the participants with an insight into the culture, and communication and business styles in the Middle East.
Experts also presented guidelines to get Halal certificate for products which is essential for businesses to enter Islamic markets.
Vietnam now has Halal certification agencies in both Hanoi and HCM City.
Remittances to Vietnam rise again
The World Bank (WB) has estimated the volume of remittances sent home by overseas Vietnamese will reach nearly US$9 billion in 2011, slightly higher than last year’s figure.
The sum places Vietnam among top ten countries receiving the largest amount of remittances. The others include India, the Philippines, China, Mexico, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Egypt and Lebanon.
The country has seen a considerable increase in the flow of remittances from US$1.34 billion in 2000 to US$8.26 billion in 2010.
The WB said remittances can help address trade deficit and improve the balance of payment if the receiving countries adopt proper policies to mobilise this source for socio-economic development.
Viettel to acquire EVN Telecom next year
Military-run Viettel Telecom Group will take over its failing rival, EVN Telecom, next January 1 in what is Vietnam’s first acquisition in the telecom industry.
The government has given a go-ahead for the acquisition, Saigon Tiep Thi Newspaper quoted an unnamed Viettel executive as saying.
Accordingly, all assets belonging to EVN Telecom, a subsidiary of the power monopoly Vietnam Electricity Group (EVN), including properties, network infrastructures, human resources, business partners, investment projects, as well as outstanding debts, will be taken over by Viettel.
A Viettel representative said Viettel executives had promised to protect EVN Telecom’s customers and jobs, and fulfill all duties of the debt-stricken company.
With the acquisition, EVN Telecom will manage to “transfer” as much as thousands of billions of dong in debt to Viettel, which is another state-run enterprise.
The total debt of EVN Telecom since 2010 is around VND4 trillion ($192 million).
Earlier Hanoi Telecom also sought the government approval to acquire the entire 3G frequency band, infrastructure, and optical cable system.
But the proposal was rejected, and all technical infrastructures of EVN Telecom will be transferred to Viettel.
Insiders have expressed concerns that the merger would create a monopoly in the telecom industry since Viettel holds the largest market share in the sector.
EVN Telecom was the 6th biggest mobile service provider in Vietnam. After seven years of operation, the telecom was stuck with low subscribers and poor revenues and became a debtor to many companies including Viettel and Vietnam’s largest telecom operator VNPT.
Natural gas supply to run out in a decade
Natural gas reserves in mines around Vietnam, most notably those off the southeast coast, are likely to be completely depleted in the next ten years, state-run PetroVietnam Gas Corporation (PV Gas) has warned.
The primary cause of this rapid exhaustion is the current overexploitation of gas for power and fertilizer production, a PV Gas representative told the Saigon Times Online.
The economic newswire also quoted PV Gas CEO Do Khang Ninh as saying that Vietnam currently has two main gas supplies: the Ca Mau-based PM3 mine, capable of extracting around 4 million cubic meters a day; and the Nam Con Son and Bach Ho mines in the southeast region, which produce a total of 20 million cubic meters of natural gas a day.
Ninh said the southern gas reserve is being mobilized by the Vietnam Electricity Group (EVN) at a capacity that doubles the amount promised by PV Gas.
“Technically speaking, we are afraid that the mobilization at such a rapid pace will soon damage the mines,” Ninh said.
Meanwhile, PV Gas inked another contract to supply gas for fertilizers plants based in the southern province of Ba Ria – Vung Tau.
In case the reserve is drained by the over-mobilization of EVN, PV Gas will be fined by the fertilizer-making partners for not providing a steady supply as stipulated in the contract, Ninh said.
“The financial damage could be as high as US$1 billion,” he said.
Ninh added that gas supplies countrywide will be exhausted within the next decade.
For long-term development, PV Gas is eying gas imports from Qatar or Australia to make up for the domestic supply shortage.
However, he added that the greatest obstacle facing this plan is the fact that the import price for natural gas is three times higher than the domestic rate.
“[The domestic price] is around $5 to $7 for one million British Thermal Units (BTU), while the rate for importing one million BTU is as high as $16,” he said.
Private airlines find it impossible to compete
The recent dissolution of Indochina Airlines (ICA) and Trai Thien Air Cargo revealed the difficulties smaller companies face in competing in the country’s civil aviation industry.
Indochine Airlines had its license revoked for failure to ensure operations
Deputy Director of the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam (CAAV) Lai Xuan Thanh said before deciding to revoke ICA’s license, the agency had carried out an inspection and discovered the company was incapable of ensuring the operation of its flights.
ICA only launched its first flight over six months after receiving a license.
During the first year of operation, the airline, owned by Musician Ha Dung, was evaluated at USD67 million. Its brand was valued at USD270 million based on a belief the company would enlarge its aircraft fleet from three to ten in the following year.
Licensed in May 2008, the airline was said to have invested VND570 billion (USD27.12 million) during its first year of operations. However, the closure of the airline meant the investors lost their entire stake.
Trai Thien Air Cargo was licensed in June 2008 with registered capital of VND500 billion (USD23.79 million) but had yet to launch a single flight before having its license recently revoked.
Despite receiving investment from Australia’s Qantas Airways, the budget airline, Jetstar Pacific Airlines (JPA), has absorbed losses for many years.
JPA is in a desperate need of restructuring in order to stave off possible bankruptcy. It may be merged with national carrier Vietnam Airlines in the near future.
Despite running flights for over a year, Air Mekong’s costs have outstripped their returns. This situation may continue, due to a slowdown in the aviation market.
While private airlines are struggling to survive, Vietnam Airlines continues to profit.
Last year, the national carrier profited VND350 billion (USD16.65 million). Its profit in the three first quarters of this year was estimated at VND40 billion (USD1.9 million).
An anonymous aviation official said, “There won’t be much change in the aviation market in the next five years. This means that Vietnam Airlines will probably continue to dominate the market.”
Vietnam Airlines’ position will be greatly strengthened when JPA merges with the national flag-carrier, raising its market share to almost 100% of the domestic market. This may discourage fledging competition in the industry, particularly in term of air ticket prices.
NASA may open space center in HCMC
NASA could choose Ho Chi Minh City to install its third space center, said Michael F. O’ Brien, Associate Administrator for International and Interagency Relations of NASA, at a meeting with the management board of the Saigon Hi-Tech Park Training Center on Tuesday.
According to O’ Brien, SERVIR, which is a program supported by NASA and the US Agency of International Development (USAID) to integrate satellite observations, ground-based data and forecast models to monitor and forecast environmental changes, had so far had two space centers, one in Latin America and the Caribbean and one in Kenya.
USAID was searching for a location in Southeast Asia to install the third space center.
NASA suggests that Vietnam should focus on improving high-tech infrastructure and human resources who are able to analyze and process images and data obtained from satellites because there will be a fierce competition among Southeast Asian, O’ Brien said.
NASA is expected to announce its decision next year.
Japan property investor buys into Cotecland
Tama Global Investment Pte., a subsidiary of Japan’s Tama Home Group, will buy a 20% stake in Cotec Housing Development and Investment Joint Stock Co., (Cotecland) as part of a deal the two sides struck in HCMC on Tuesday.
Under the agreement described as strategic, Tama Home will transfer advanced technology of property construction and construction management to the local partner in a bid to shorten building periods, reduce costs, improve product quality and increase profits in cooperation and investment projects of the two sides.
Tama Home is a group of seven member companies active in housing development and real estate business, with Tama Global Investment specialized in realty and finance as the two core business activities.
Cotecland is a subsidiary of Cotec Group, which is developing a number of property projects, such as the five-star resort Blue Sapphire in the southern city of Vung Tau, and the Truong Lam general hospital in Hanoi. On the same day, the group also signed another cooperation agreement with Seaprodex to jointly develop several projects in the coming time.
In related news in the property sector, HVK, a joint venture between Hung Viet Investment Construction Joint Stock Co. and Korea Real Estate Development Fund, on Tuesday started work on The Eastern residential project in HCMC’s District 9.
The US$40 million project is designed with 648 flats covering 56-112 square meters each along with many other facilities, including swimming pool, tennis court, gym and children’s entertainment areas.
This is the third realty project the Korean development fund has got involved in after Hanviet Tower in Hanoi and Luxel serviced apartment scheme under construction in Phu My Hung new urban area in HCMC’s District 7.
The fund so far has injected US$1.2 billion in the stock and property markets in Vietnam with US$130 million set aside for developing real estate projects only.
Hong Kong to support local travel agencies
The Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) this weekend will come to Vietnam with products and supporting policies to help local travel firms attract outbound tour buyers to Hong Kong.
As the arranger of Hong Kong’s tourism promotion programs, Lac Hong Voyage’s director Tran Vinh Loc informed that HKTB and Shenzhen Municipal Bureau of Culture, Sports and Tourism will introduce incentives to related agencies in HCMC and Hanoi tomorrow and Friday. The two partners are expected to offer local tour operators their general destinations and products.
“There will be direct incentives for local businesses, such as financial support allowing them to advertise publicly on the media system,” asserted Loc.
Last month, HKTB led a trade tourism delegation to Vietnam to meet with hundreds of local firms. The tourism agency has mapped out the plan to approach the local market within a year, including direct meetings, tour arrangement to Hong Kong for travel and media agencies.
Besides, the tourism agency has also planed to cooperate with suppliers of services, airlines and entertainment in Vietnam to provide new products and promotion programs to local travelers.
HKTB will establish its representative office in Vietnam at the end of the year, Loc said.
There were 102,000 Vietnamese visitors to Hong Kong last year, up 33.1% from 2009.
TPP creates chances for local fruit exporters
There will be more advantages for fruit export to the U.S. once the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) involving Vietnam, the U.S. and several other countries is concluded, a U.S. expert said on Tuesday.
Matthew Lantz from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) said that in addition to the U.S., Vietnam could accelerate fruit exports to other member countries of TPP after joining this agreement.
The tariff that the U.S. is imposing on fruits from Vietnam is now 2.2%, but it can be lowered to 0% once TPP negotiations end.
Local exporters can sell fruits directly to buyers in the U.S. to reduce the cost, said Lantz. Besides, to increase the value of fruits, exporters can promote their fruits in the U.S. market through third parties stateside, he added.
The U.S. will import lychee, longan and other Vietnamese fruits grown under the Global Good Agricultural Practice (Global GAP) standard, said the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack in his visit to Vietnam last month. Some fruits favored by Americans include dragon fruit, rambutan, mango and star-apple.
The consumption of vegetables and fruits all year round in this market is predicted to be on the rise with higher demand in off-season fruits in the future.
The TPP is developed on the Trans-Pacific Economic Strategic Partnership Agreement concluded in 2005 between Brunei, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore. The agreement includes many important issues in trade such as tariff reduction, technical barriers to trade, competition policy, intellectual property rights and government procurement.
The U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Peru and Chile are in negotiations over TPP.
Vietnam exports tuna to 87 markets
Vietnam has exported tuna to 87 countries and territories, according to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Processors (VASEP).
Three major markets are the US, EU and Japan, accounting for 46 percent of Vietnam’s total tuna exports worth nearly US$145 million in the first 10 months of this year.
Topping the list of 21 European countries are Germany, Italy and Belgium.
Tuna exports are likely to pick up in the last month of the year. However, VASEP said, the State has urged close cooperation between fishermen and businesses to improve the quality of Vietnamese tuna products.
VASEP establishes trade promotion centre in Dubai
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) on December 8 authorised the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Processors (VASEP) to set up a promotion centre for agro-forestry and seafood products in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Middle East.
VASEP will work with the Vietnamese Embassy and relevant agencies in UAE to go ahead with this plan.
There is high hope that agricultural businesses will have the chance to sign export contracts with their partners.
Vietnam set to improve investment environment
The Vietnamese Government will improve investment environment and create favourable conditions for foreign businesses, including those from the US, to operate in the country.
The pledge was made by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung at a reception in Hanoi on December 8 for a delegation of US businesses in Vietnam and guests who had engaged in negotiations for the signing of the Vietnam-US Bilateral Trade Agreement (BTA) ten years ago.
The PM welcomed the delegation to Hanoi to attend a workshop on Vietnam-US trade relations in the post-BTA period, themed “Looking back to the past – Looking towards the future”, jointly held in Hanoi by the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam, the Vietnam-US Trade Council, the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the US Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam.
He affirmed Vietnam’s willingness to joint efforts with the US in the implementation of the BTA and negotiations for the signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement, with a view to lifting the two countries’ relations to a new height, for the sake of peace, cooperation, prosperous development and mutual benefit.
PM Dung said the signing of the BTA was made possible with goodwill from both sides.
During the past decade, the BTA has brought significant results for trade and investment of the two countries, while improving mutual understanding and trust.
On the occasion, US Ambassador to Vietnam David Shear expressed his delight at achievements Vietnam and the US have gained over the past decade, saying the signing of the BTA has helped raise two-way trade for the benefit of the two countries.
Two-way trade between Vietnam and the US in 2011 recorded an estimated US$20 billion, representing a ten-fold increase compared with 2001.
The Ambassador expressed his wish that the Vietnamese Government would continue supporting US businesses in the country and increasing two-way trade in the interests of both countries.
Can Tho, Danang get French loans for development projects
Can Tho and Danang cities will borrow loans worth EUR10 million each from the French Development Agency (AFD) to implement their development projects.
A document to this effect was signed in Can Tho city on December 8 between representatives from the Ministry of Finance and urban development investment funds of the two cities.
The loans, channelled through the Ministry of Finance, will be paid over 20 years, including a seven-year grace period and with an annual interest rate of 9.17 percent.
They will be used to carry out projects on culture, health care, education and the environment, address urban development issues, and adapt to climate change.
FDI continues to flow into Binh Duong
The southern province of Binh Duong has attracted investment from many foreign companies despite difficulties in the world economy.
In 2011, the province received additional US$889 million for 76 new and 118 existing projects, raising the total number of foreign investment projects to 2,054 capitalized at US$14.6 billion
An official from the Japanese company Tokyo Rope Vietnam said on December 7 that his company will pump another US$45 million into its factory at the second Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Park.
Masaya Asano said Tokyo Rope Vietnam, which came into operation in 2006, produces and exports high-quality bare stranded cable to many countries.
Meanwhile, Aeon group, a well-known retailer in Japan, is preparing to build a 75,000m2 trade centre in Thuan An town in 2012. Another group, GS, will also invest US$30 million in a trade complex comprising hotels, restaurants, offices for lease, supermarkets, and recreational areas in the second My Phuoc Industrial Park the same year.
In addition, there will be projects of businesses from Singapore and the Republic of Korea.
Businesses benefit from integration process
More than 75 percent of Vietnamese businesses have benefited from the international integration process, announced the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) on December 8.
According to a survey conducted by VCCI’s Information Technology Institute, since Vietnam’s admission to the World Trade Organization (WTO) four years ago, local businesses have actively integrated into the global economy, resulting in high competitiveness and effective operations.
Hoang Van Dung, VCCI Vice Chairman, said most Vietnam businesses are small or medium scale and find it difficult to adapt to new mechanisms in the integration process. However, the export market is constantly expanding, with the US emerging as the leading export market of Vietnam, accounting for 24 percent of the country’s total exports, he said.
The VCCI Vice Chairman also pointed out some shortcomings in business operations in the integration process, including poor quality of export products, weak competitiveness, and low proportion of skilled workers. In addition, he emphasized issues of concern during the integration era, such as exchange rates, interest rates and the restructuring of the national economy from a subsidy economy into a market one.
Le Van Loi, Director of VCCI’s Institute of Information Technology for Business, revealed that 3,550 enterprises in 63 provinces and cities nationwide participated in the survey, which showed just more than 1 percent of businesses reporting a negative impact from the integration process.
Many businesses raised concerns over administrative procedures, information technology application and new mechanisms in line with WTO regulations.
France’s cheese factory inaugurated in Binh Duong
Bel Vietnam, a subsidiary of France’s Bel Group, put its factory – the first of its kind in the Asia-Pacific region – into operation on December 8.
Bel Group produces world renowned cheese brands such as Laughing Cow, Kiri, Babybel, Goodi and Regal Picon.
The factory was built on a 5,000 square metre area in My Phuoc Industrial Park in the southern province of Binh Duong, with a total capital investment of EUR5 million. It is designed to churn out 4,000 tones of products per year and double its capacity in the coming years.
The factory uses the latest technologies from Europe including the UHT technology to ensure product quality which meet the EU’s strict standards.
Executive Director of Bel Group, Antoine Fievet said that following Bel Group’s business model in Japan, Bel Vietnam is ready to become the second production base for activities in the Asia-Pacific region.
The group’s products will not only meet local consumer demand, but will also be exported to other countries in the South East Asia region, he added.
First G7-Ministop store debuts in HCM City
The first G7 Ministop store, a joint venture between G7Mart of Trung Nguyen Group and Ministop, a subsidiary of Japan’s largest retailer AEON, made its debut in district 3, HCM City on December 8.
This is also the first time the Ministop trademark has entered Vietnam. Apart from Japan, Ministop has been available in the Republic of Korea, the Philippines and China.
The G7 Ministop store is a model which combines fast food and convenience items with priority given to Vietnamese goods. In addition, some Japanese foods produced in Vietnam are also displayed off the shelf.
The introduction of Made-in-Vietnam goods in the G7-Ministop store chain will pave the way for Vietnamese products to penetrate Japan and other foreign markets.
G7Mart emphasised that Ministop is its strategic partner which has many things in common, including business philosophy and experience in retail, as well as cultural identity.
Through such a cooperation model, G7Mart will learn from its partner experience in setting up the store chain, distribution centres and information technology systems, providing operation manuals, and training human resources.
At the inauguration ceremony, the Executive Director of Ministop Japan, Nobuyuki Abe, said that G7-Ministop will expand its activities in the coming time to meet consumer demand for convenience food in Vietnam.
A similar store is expected to open before the end of the year. The number of stores in the chain will increase to 30 in HCM City and Hanoi by 2012.
UK firms eye Vietnamese market
Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills Vince Cable and Foreign Secretary William Hague of the UK on December 7 launched a campaign to encourage British businesses to look for investment opportunities in emerging Asian markets, including Vietnam.
The campaign is scheduled to be conducted between February 2012 and March 2013 by the UK Trade and Investment (UKTI).
As part of the project, UKTI will join hands with the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) to deliver a series of programmes with the aim of introducing investment opportunities to UK businesses in 12 key markets in Asia, including Vietnam, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, the Republic of Korea, Taiwan and Thailand.
Vince Cable said that UK firms are successful in many Asian markets, urging companies from all sectors to get involved in this campaign.
Foreign Secretary William Hague said that the country’s businesses should target these markets, and that the UK government always supports their efforts.
A workshop themed “Discovering Asia- a world of opportunities for UK enterprises” will be held by UKTI in London in February, 2012.
In addition, RBS will host four events in different UK localities in order to present potential of Asian markets to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) of the UK.
More Vietnamese businesses invest in Laos
More and more Vietnamese businesses are expanding their operations in Laos thanks to its favourable policies for foreign investors and the traditional relationship between the two countries.
Hoang Anh Gia Lai (HAGL) group has started the construction of a US$100 million industrial cluster in Attepeu, increasing its total capitalization in the country to US$1 billion.
HAGL President Doan Nguyen Duc said the southern region of Laos, with abundant natural resources, will be an attractive investment destination for his group.
The Dak Lak Rubber Company is also implementing a project worth US$50 million to plant 10,000 ha of rubber trees in southern Laos.
According to Vietnamese Ambassador to Laos Ta Minh Chau, Vietnam is now Laos’ third biggest foreign investor, with total capitalization of US$3.7 billion.
He affirmed that there is still great potential in the market and called for more Vietnamese businesses to seek investment opportunities in the neighbouring country.
Textiles and garments enjoy $6.5 billion surplus
With export turnover expected to top US$13.8 billion this year, the textile and garment sector remains the country’s top earner, Le Tien Truong, deputy chairman of the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association, told Tuoi Tre.
Truong said that, even though the country’s trade gap has widened and raw material prices have fluctuated wildly, the sector managed to reap a trade surplus of $6.5 billion this year, $1.5 billion more than last year.
“The localization ratio of the textile and garment sector has also risen by 2 percentage points year-on-year, to 48 percent,” he said. This ratio indicates the percentage of materials used by textile and garment companies that are produced locally.
He said the lucrative operation of the sector is the result of well-conducted market forecasts and efficient investment and production, adding that local exporters have also managed to win the trust of international partners and customers.
However, Truong added that the sector is concerned that it may not be able to maintain such high growth next year, since its main export markets — the US, the EU, and Japan, which account for nearly 80 percent of total export volume – all face serious economic problems.
“Textile and garment exports will face many challenges next year thanks to the global economic slowdown, especially the ongoing European debt crisis,” he said.
As for the domestic market, he said high inflation remains the main obstacle for the textile and garment businesses.
Though the government is aiming to keep inflation below 10 percent next year, the rate is still high enough to threaten businesses operations, he said.
“Certain costs such as power, water, fuel, and labor wages will continue to rise, negatively affecting the sector’s operation and growth,” he said, adding that capital will be the next challenge.
“Most businesses have endured capital shortages in order to maintain production.
“Moreover, although lending interest rates have dropped to around 16-19 percent a year, not many businesses will be able to access these sources of capital.”
Truong said the sector has targeted a $15 billion export turnover in 2012, which would be a 12-percent rise year on year.
“To achieve this goal, the sector has to increase its localization ratio.”
Specifically, the sector has to increase the use of polyethylene (PE) fibers provided by Vietnamese businesses, rather than using imported fibers, which would help save $300 million a year, he said.
“Local businesses are also encouraged to use domestically-sourced raw material, equipment, and machinery to save costs.”
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