Festival to promote hand-crafted products
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development launched the handicrafts village festival on September 18, to honor and promote traditional hand-made products in commercial markets.
A booth in the festival displaying and demonstrating hand-made embroidered products
The festival will be on in the northern province of Nam Dinh from September 25 to 30. Handicrafts made from bamboo, rattan, silk and gold by artisans from dozens of craft villages will be on display at the festival.
An Van Khanh, deputy head of the Department of Processing and Trading of Agro-Aqua-Forestry Products and Salt, said the festival was earlier organized successfully in Hanoi, the central province of Thua Thien-Hue and the highland province of Lam Dong.
Each of the festivals was linked with a specific event. For instance, in Hanoi the display theme was ‘Thang Long-Hanoi Craft Villages and Streets‘ and held at Bach Thao Botanical Park on Hoang Hoa Tham Street to mark the 1000th anniversary of the founding of Thang Long-Hanoi.
The ministry has coordinated with related agencies, local government and art, cultural and photograph experts to launch a competition to choose the most beautiful handicraft product displayed at the festival.
Out of 316 entries, the organizers have decided to give the first prize to Nguyen Phuong Quang for bamboo light sets and two second prizes to Nguyen Dac Thu and Nguyen Tan Phat for their products- – a bamboo cupboard and lacquer jewelry.
HCM City hosts international power exhibitionForeign investment in agriculture sought
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is working on several measures to attract foreign investment in the agricultural sector.
They include a plan to attract and use foreign investment in agriculture and rural development in the period through 2020, which is likely to be submitted to the Government in the third quarter of next year for approval.
It is working with cities and provinces to update a list of agricultural projects requiring foreign investment in 2011-15.
It is trying to complete a legal framework and simplify administrative procedures to smoothen things for foreign investors in agro-forestry and fisheries.
Foreign investment in agriculture remains modest since production depends very heavily on natural conditions.
The country has attracted US$3.3 billion in more than 500 successful agro-forestry and fisheries projects, accounting for just 2 per cent of the overall FDI figure.
Investors from Asian countries like South Korea, Japan, mainland China, and Thailand accounted for 55 per cent of the investment in agriculture.
Luong The Phiet, head of the ministry’s International Cooperation Department, said many foreign investors realise Viet Nam’s advantages in agricultural export, so if the ministry takes the proposed measures simultaneously, it will attract many of them.
The ministry will focus on FDI projects using high technology, in the production chain of high-value products, and to develop fisheries infrastructure.
Besides seeking foreign investment in agriculture, the ministry was also trying to diversify investment forms, including the private-public partnership model, he said.
The ministry was set to review the experience of the private-public partnership existing between itself and its 15 international partners, he said.
It would use the findings to create a private-public partnership model for the agricultural sector, he added.
Companies to press for sale and purchase of bad debts
Establishment of debt purchase-and-sale companies was an effective way to manage bad debts, a conference in Ha Noi was told yesterday.
Handling bad debts associated with corporate finance restructuring was an urgent problem, the conference heard.
There was no exact figure on bad debts, the State Bank of Viet Nam (SBV) figures showed the country’s total bad debts was VND202 trillion (US$9.6 billion), accounting for 8.6 per cent of total outstanding credit, while the National Financial Supervision Committee calculated the figure at 11.8 per cent, equivalent to VND207 trillion ($9.85 billion).
However, Fitch Ratings calculated the bad debt rate at 13 per cent.
Vu Nhu Thang, head of the Finance Ministry’s Institute for Finance Strategy and Policies, said the debt rate showed an increasing trend to nearly double-digit level, though it was lower than other countries in the region. For example, the rate in South Korea was 17 per cent; Thailand, 47.7 per cent; Malaysia, 11.4 per cent ; and Indonesia, 50 per cent.
“If no-one buys the debts in the financial market, the company would be able to buy them,” Thai said.
“In addition, if the Government bought bank bad debts through a debt purchase-and-sale company, it could impose conditions to help a bank restructure their finance and operation,” he said.
Private debt purchase companies would be more flexible in management than State-owned ones.
If a company was under bank management, debt restructuring would be easier as the bank would have the customer’s debt documents, participants said.
But they pointed out a bank could use the companies to hide their bad debts.
Economist Ngo Tri Long said evaluation of debts was extremely important and would ensure benefits for both buyers and sellers.
He said debt should be settled by a combination of debt purchase-and-sale companies, banks and businesses. As bad debts in Viet Nam often were related to mortgages, the debt-purchase companies would buy the debts and mortgage assets from banks at a value that avoided risks.
“The evaluation was usually equal to 50 to 80 per cent of mortgage asset value,” he said. “However, its value depend much on the time of buying the debt and the macroeconomic situation.”
Bad debts in Viet Nam had been often settled by auction or sale to other credit institutions or debt purchase companies.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister has approved a restructuring of the credit institution system by 2015 with the aim of settling bad debts by 2015.
Since 2007, Viet Nam has a Debt and Asset Trading Corporation (DATC), which operates under the Finance Ministry to settle bad debts.
Conference participants raised questions on whether the establishment of debt purchase-and-sale companies could be effective while DATC existed.
Truong Dinh Tuyen, a member of the Advisory Council for National Monetary Policies, supported the establishment of debt purchase-and-sale companies or an upgraded DATC with special rights to settle debts.
Also, DATC did not have the financial resources to restructure debt-ridden businesses.
Wood processors hunt tech bargains
Local woodworking enterprises yesterday called for State support to acquire technology in other countries as global economic woes have forced many international firms to shut down business and dump their equipment and machinery.
Local firms attending a seminar organized in HCMC yesterday by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the HCMC Handicraft and Wood Industry Association (Hawa) said they needed Government assistance to make use of this global market trend.
This is an opportunity for local firms, especially small- and medium ones, to acquire technologies at low cost to upgrade their production lines, Thang told the seminar “Solutions for the wood processing sector during economic downturns.”
Relocating factories, partly from Japan, to other nations with a lower labor cost, to produce woodwork for the market will open up opportunities and local firms need to be well-prepared, Thanh said.
Ha Cong Tuan, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, describedthe proposal for Governmental support from local companies as rational. He promised to seek approval from the State to launch a credit support mechanism for local processors.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade predicts this year’s export growth of local wood and woodwork will slow down to 11% compared to last year’s 13%, at US$4.3 billion.
The ministry also forecast export growth of the sector will continue to slow next year as a result of negative economic conditions in importing countries, with a total value estimated at US$4.5 billion.
City wants two more passenger ferries
To deal with the current severe traffic congestion at Cat Lai and Binh Khanh ferry terminals, the HCMC government has asked the Ministry of Transport for two more passenger ferries with a capacity of 100-200 tons each, said the municipal Department of Transport.
According to the department, it is estimated that travel demands of local people using Cat Lai ferry station to go to Dong Nai Province and Vung Tau City will continue to rise in the coming time. That is because the route helps shorten the distance by about 20 kilometers as compared to the route that runs through Hanoi Highway and National Highway 51.
Currently, the station only operates two 200-ton ferries and four 400-ton ferries.
The station’s traffic load is around 45,000 passengers on average every day but the number of passengers using the ferry station amounted to up to 87,000 on this year’s National holiday, causing prolonged congestion.
Similarly, Binh Khanh ferry terminal connecting the city’s center with the outlying district of Can Gio also suffers overload at weekends and on holidays. The ferry station now has only one 200-ton ferry and four 400-ton ferries, so it fails to meet strong demands of locals.
Both Cat Lai and Binh Khanh ferry terminals play an important role in linking traffic between the city and neighboring provinces of Ba Ria-Vung Tau and Dong Nai and between the city’ center and Can Gio.
Besides asking for more ferries, the local authorities have allowed the HCMC Bridge and Ferry Works One Member Limited Co. to expand Cat Lai ferry station with total investment of some VND89 billion within the year. The authorities last year also spent VND22 billion rebuilding 200-ton ferries in order to cope with congestion at the station.
Southeast Asian trading link goes live
The ASEAN Trading Link, which will connect exchanges throughout Southeast Asia, went live on Tuesday with a link-up between the Singapore Exchange and Bursa Malaysia.
The trading platform is an initiative by the ASEAN Exchanges, a collaboration of seven ASEAN stock exchanges, to boost regional capital markets and offer more investment opportunities for investors.
“The ASEAN Trading Link marks the first milestone for ASEAN Exchanges in breaking down barriers to cross-border trade,” said Dato Tajuddin Atan, chief executive officer of Bursa Malaysia.
“The trading link is an excellent conduit to tap regional growth opportunities as it allows investors easy access to a wider investment selection across connected markets.”
Under the ASEAN Trading Link, investors in one market will be able to directly access markets in another through their brokers. Analysts believe the new platform will help them save costs since they will not need to pay additional fees charged by brokers on both sides.
The Stock Exchange of Thailand is expected to link-up from next month.
The combined market capitalisation of the three markets reached US$1.4 trillion with 3,000 listed companies.
This accounts for about 70 per cent of the total market capitalisation of the ASEAN exchange group.
Viet Nam’s two exchanges will participate at a later date, together with stock exchanges in the Philippines and Indonesia.
To date, 31 brokers from across Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand have joined ASEAN Trading Link.
Eight-month trade surplus fetches US$134 million
Viet Nam recorded a trade surplus of around US$11.23 billion in the second half of August, up 22% against the first half of the month, according to the Viet Nam Customs.
As a result, in the month, trade turnover was estimated at US$ 148.04 billion, up 13% against the same period last year. Exports hit US$ 74.09 billion, up 19% and imports stood at US$ 73.96 billion, up 7.5%.
In the first eight months of the year, the country made a trade surplus of US$ 134 million.
The FDI sector’s exports in the period were US$ 40.65 billion, showing a year-on-year increase of 40.4% and accounting for 54.9% of the total export value.
Meanwhile, its imports were US$ 38.57 billion, still up by 25.5% against the same period last year and or 52.2% of the total import value./.
Corolla Fukushima to invest in Da Nang City
The company, which operates in car making, real estate and tourism, paid a visit to the city on Tuesday to explore the possibility of building a car making plant there since its plant in Fukushima has yet to recover from the 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami last March.
Banks hike deposit interest
Two leading commercial banks have raised deposit interest rates in a new bid to attract more depositors and accumulate capital for an anticipated rise in demand towards the end of the year.
Asia Commercial Bank began offering up to 13 per cent for a one-year term deposit last week, an increase of one percentage point over their previous top rate. Eximbank also raised its rate for a 13-month deposit from 12 per cent to 12.8 per cent. For deposits of less than one year, the bank is offering 12.3 per cent.
Other banks have continued to maintain long-term deposit rates at 11-12 per cent, but they have begun to offer a number of promotional programmes to offer aditional value to depositors.
HD Bank general director Nguyen Huu Dang said that competition among banks to attract deposits was normally late in the year, when credit needs of business and withdrawals by individual all rose ahead of the Tet (lunar new year) holiday. Banks needed to boost liquidity to avoid risk, he said.
Despite attempting to attract new deposits, banks continued to lend cautiously. Figures from the Ministry of Planning and Investment showed that, while deposits have grown by 11.23 per cent this year through August 20, credit grew by only 1.4 per cent.
Statistics from 69 credit institutions which account for 90 per cent of the market also showed that lending interest rates decreased during the second half of August. The proportion of outstanding loans bearing interest rates in excess of 15 per cent fell by 1.9 per cent to 22.7 per cent during the period.
The director of one bank who asked not to be named attributed the large gap between deposit growth and credit growth to the reason that some banks were using capital to buy Government bonds and T-bills or for liquidity reserves.
Quality, efficiency key to economic future
The launching of a third round of bond buying known as quantitative easing (QE3) by the US Federal Reserve to save the US’s economy raises the question whether Viet Nam should have a similar stimulus.
Some economic experts expect the QE3 will have positive effects on Viet Nam’s exports into the US. What do you think?
Theoretically, their opinion is not wrong. However, the situation should be put into reality. Viet Nam’s exports to the US remained stable, even when the US economy was on the downturn.
This was because exports to the US were mainly essential goods, such as garments, footwear, seafood, timber and farm products.
According to the statistics of the General Department of Viet Nam Customs, the US is still Viet Nam’s biggest trading partner. Total export-import turnover in the first seven months of this year reached US$13.9 billion, a rise of 20 per cent compared to the same period last year. So, I don’t think the Fed-led rally will have negative impacts on our exports.
Oil and gold prices around the world rapidly increased after QE3 was approved by the US Government. How will this influence Viet Nam’s economy?
Viet Nam not only exports but also imports oil. Certainly, it would influence oil prices in the domestic market.
In my opinion, the QE3 package is not enough to get the US economy back on track. So, the increases in oil and petrol prices will be as high as many fear.
Viet Nam residents are too concerned with fluctuations of oil prices on the world market, but they should not worry too much because, in my opinion, their impact is not huge. But the price rises are a real concern for fuel-consuming industries.
Under the current management of petrol prices in Viet Nam, enterprises that consume petrol have no choice but to passively accept them. The only way for them to modify the situation is to cut the consumption of petrol and reduce production.
In countries where petrol prices are market-oriented, enterprises that consume a lot of petrol always have a risk-prevention plan to deal with price fluctuations. However, this cannot be applied in Viet Nam because currently, no petrol consumers are allowed to buy oil directly.
The jobless rate in the US is high and the US government adopted an aggressive stimulus package to drive job creation. Should Viet Nam introduce a similar policy to accelerate the domestic economy?
Under the QE3, the Fed will spend $23 billion to buy mortgage bonds for the remainder of September. It will then purchase securities at a clip of $40 billion each month until the job market improves.
This proves that the US focuses on recovering the real-estate market to create stimulus for production and then labour demand. Many have worried that the money flow will get out of control. However, I think that the policy will help improve living for most residents.
The US also has a strong industrial base. So, with this stimulus policy, its economy will recover at higher speed than other countries. Meanwhile, in Viet Nam, the price of housing remain very high, but properties are owned by just a small group of people.
So, most people would fail to benefit if the Government adopted a similar policy to save the real-estate market. In my opinion, that might widen the gap between rich and poor and create injustices in society.
Viet Nam should focus on re-arranging economic resources to enhance quality, efficiency and competitiveness without increasing costs. Restructuring must also go along with improving social security.
Mooncake sales sag 40%
Mooncakes are a traditional delicacy of the Mid Autumn festival and shops selling these sweet meats spring up all over the city.
The festival is celebrated on the 15th of the eight Lunar month, which this year falls on September 30.
Nguyen Huu, who runs a mooncake outlet at the Maximark Cong Hoa Supermarket, said only 10 or so customers visited his shop one day.
Consumption had reduced sharply, Huu said. His shop was selling mooncakes worth VND10-12 million (US$500-600) a day, the same price as last year, even though prices were higher this year.
With less than two weeks to go to the festival, consumption was down by 30-40 per cent over last year, he said. Mooncake producers also confirmed consumption had sharply declined this year, but that this was more at the retail level.
Ngo Thi Phuong Thao, a public relations officer for the Bien Hoa Confectionery Joint Stock Company, told the Tuoi Tre (the Youth) newspaper that the company had achieved 90 per cent of its sales plan.
A representative from the Kinh Do Corporation, another leading confectioner, said 85 per cent of their sales target had been reached, with sales to companies and enterprises increasing by 15 per cent over last year.
VND4.6 trillion earmarked for National Highway 20 upgrade
The Ministry of Transport has agreed to provide VND4.6 trillion (US$220.8 million) for the maintenance and upgrade of National Highway 20 the main arterial route between the Central Highlands and the Southeast.
The first 13 kilometres of the highway were completed in 2011.
This is part of a larger project costing a total of VND7.65 trillion (US$367.2 million) to complete the upgrade of the entire 268 kilometres of Highway 20, which ends at the intersection with National Highway 27 in Lam Dong province’s Don Duong district.
Having opened to traffic more than 30 years ago, it is currently in an appalling condition, seriously affecting connectivity between regional provinces.
The first phase of the project is scheduled to be completed in 2014.
Ties with Indonesia stronger
Participants at the sixth meeting of the Viet Nam-Indonesia Joint Commission on Economic, Scientific and Technological Cooperation held in Jakarta, Indonesia, this week, agreed to strengthen economic and technology co-operation for mutual benefits and towards a strategical partnership.
At the two-day event, the two sides discussed exchange activities in the fields of trade, industry, agriculture, energy, health, eduation, transport, finance, banking and tourism.
Viet Nam’s Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang and Indonesian Minister of Trade Giata Irawan Wirjawan co-chaired the meeting, in which they agreed to work further on the draft of an MoU on information sharing and protective trade policies between the two countries.
The two sides also pledged to support each other at international and regional forum such as APEC, ASEAN, and the WTO.
In the document, Viet Nam had agreed to sell up to 1.5 million tonnes of white rice to Indonesia each year from the start of 2013 to the end of 2017.
Regarding energy, oil and gas and coal mining, Viet Nam proposed that Indonesia facilitate PetroVietnam’s existing oil and gas exploitation projects with its Indonesian partners, including the Natuna D-Alpha project.
Both sides encouraged PetroVietnam to increase cooperation in exploiting crude oil, gas and coal as well as providing oil and gas services in Indonesia.
On investment, both sides encouraged cooperation in investment promotion through sharing information on foreign investment policy and environment, and planned to exchange delegations to grasp investment opportunities in both countries and train foreign investment management staff.
The Indonesian side welcomed the involvement of Vietnamese importers and investors in the mining sector in Indonesia and proposed that the nation supply thermal coal to Viet Nam’s power plants and import high-carbon anthracite coal from Viet Nam.
In terms of fisheries, both sides reaffirmed the importance of fishing cooperation in each country’s economic growth, and encouraged bilateral cooperation between the two countries and among localities in the field.
As for agriculture, they agreed to speed up the signing of an MoU between Indonesia’s Ministry of Agriculture and Vietnamese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to lay foundations for co-operation in food diversification and reserves.
Two-way trade between Viet Nam and Indonesia increased from US$2.1 billion in 2009 to $4.7 billion in 2011 and reached $2.57 billion in the first seven months of 2012.
VN businesses remain highly optimistic, says global report
Two-thirds of businesses in Viet Nam have adopted a stronger focus towards the domestic market since the global financial crisis broke out, a new report says.
The latest Grant Thornton International Business Report (IBR), which surveyed over 11,500 businesses in 40 economies around the world, focuses on the experience of businesses and their expectations for the next 12 months.
In Viet Nam, 200 businesses were surveyed across multiple industries and sectors.
The report found domestic businesses are optimistic about the economy over the next 12 months, although less so than in 2010. Business expectations for revenue remains high, at 91 per cent while the Asia-Pacific business average is much lower at 53 per cent.
Ninety per cent of local businesses expect to increase profits in 2012, well above the Asia Pacific average of 37 per cent.
The cost of finance, around 59 per cent, was cited as the most pressing constraint on expansion by businesses in Viet Nam this year, significantly higher than the Asia-Pacific business average of 31 per cent.
A shortage of orders/reduced demand is also a significant worry for 50 per cent of local businesses as it is across for 47 per cent enterprises in the Asia-Pacific region.
Around 19 per cent of businesses in Viet Nam believe that lenders are unsupportive of their business, far higher than the average across the Asia-Pacific region as a whole, only 4 per cent, the report found.
It predicted that in the 2013-2016 period, a more helpful global environment can see the country hit an average growth rate of 7.3 per cent per annum assuming the government and central bank can get a handle on inflation. Remittances from Vietnamese overseas are expected to remain robust in the medium term, boosting private consumption, the report said.
Investment ties with Germany increased
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