More Japan firms eye local consumer market
More and more Japanese enterprises are looking to enter Vietnam as a consumer market rather than a manufacturing base as before, said a consulting company for Japanese investors.
Speaking at a seminar held by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) in HCMC on Wednesday, Tetsuya Fukumori, vice chairman of Corporate Directions Co. Ltd., said more Japanese enterprises wanted to expand sales in Vietnam.
Companies from both countries earlier cooperated mostly in production or production management but will join hands to promote sales in the future, Fukumori said, and this is expected to be an investment tendency to be embraced by Japanese companies here in Vietnam over the next three years.
The consulting company said many of its Japanese customers sought advice to develop services and trade relations with partners in the country. They will initially target Japanese firms here and then local businesses.
Increasingly large numbers of Japanese companies have bought shares of local firms as they want to deepen their penetration into the local market via the listed enterprises.
Fukumori said a Japanese enterprise’s survey of Japanese firms operating in Vietnam showed 30% of the companies in 2010 carried out trade activities or sold products in Vietnam, which was higher than 2009’s figure of over 25%. Meanwhile, only 20% of them engaged in production activity while the figure was over 20% in 2009.
As the Japanese market is shrinking, its enterprises are focusing on foreign investments. Its population is expected to decline to 90 million by 2055 from 128 million in 2005 with people aged over 65 accounting for 40.5%. Meanwhile, 70% of Vietnam’s population will be under 65 years old in 2055, promising a good manufacturing and consumer market, Fukumori said.
The enterprise also forecast a strong flow of Japanese investment into Asian nations like Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos from this year.
Experts say economy vulnerable this year
Economic experts have predicted Vietnam’s economic outlook this year will suffer from negative external factors and be more vulnerable in terms of macro and financial issues.
At a forum on economic forecasts for the 2012-2015 period organized by the Ministry of Planning and Investment and Kinh te va Du bao magazine in Hanoi on Wednesday, Vo Tri Thanh, vice president of the Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM), said macroeconomic risks remained in Vietnam.
Gross domestic product (GDP) growth is expected to range from 4.7% to 6.5% this year, Thanh added.
Inflation might be contained to a single digit but economic growth would slow as a trade-off. So the challenge is how to stabilize the macro-economy and tame inflation without affecting production and business activities given public investment cuts and shrinking export markets.
“The critical factor is the flexibility in implementing monetary, fiscal and exchange rate policies,” said Thanh.
Professor Nguyen Mai, chairman of the Vietnam Association of Foreign Invested Enterprises, shared Thanh’s view, saying economic experts have described Vietnam as the most vulnerable Asian country to the global economic volatility.
They attributed this vulnerability to high inflation, weak enterprises, big State budget deficit and potential banking system risks.
Vietnam’s economic scenarios this year are dependent on the world’s economic situation and the country’s adaptation to market upheavals, said Mai.
“If failing to change swiftly and synchronously, our country might face more risks as the global economy becomes more volatile. So growth of 5-5.5% looks unachievable, and the risk of falling behind ASEAN and Asian countries is more obvious.”
As for inflation and monetary policy, Vice Chairman Le Xuan Nghia of the National Financial Supervisory Commission said this year’s inflation might drop. However, there is no ground for interest rates to fall as banks are facing liquidity problems and public confidence remains dampened.
Bad debts remain huge and cannot be completely settled overnight. Hence, the amount of capital that will find its way to the banking system will be insignificant, pushing up lending costs.
The important macro-economic target to be fulfilled right in the first quarter of this year is to stabilize liquidity in the banking system.
Deposits at city banks dip, rate cap breached
The total amount of deposits at banks in HCMC is falling sharply, prompting many smaller banks in the city to breach the ceiling of 14% for deposit interest rates to attract more funds, said a senior official of the central bank.
Nguyen Ngoc Thang, deputy director of the State Bank of Vietnam’s HCMC branch, told a year-end review meeting on Wednesday that deposits at local banks have taken a nosedive since September 7 when the central bank enforced the cap.
As of November 10 last year, deposits at joint-stock banks had plunged by nearly VND41 trillion, or a drop of 10.5%, after a number of depositors shifted to state-owned commercial banks, where interest rates are more stable.
According to Thang, the sharp fall in deposits from the public and institutions at banks is attributed to the fact that lenders have strictly complied with the interest rate cap.
As of November 3 last year, total mobilization by state-owned commercial banks rose by VND1.44 trillion versus the period before September 7 when the central bank issued Instruction 2/CT-NHNN on the regulatory ceiling.
Moreover, many investors have transferred capital to other investment channels when Vietnam dong deposit rates have significantly shrunk compared to previous times. For instance, the gold price spike over the past time has benefited gold investors and thus they have rushed to withdraw deposits, causing the current liquidity crunch at some credit institutions.
Latest statistics by the HCMC branch of the State Bank of Vietnam shows that the gold amount deposited at 13 banks in the city is equivalent to over VND10 trillion.
To survive the liquidity crunch, several smaller banks have had no choice but to breach the interest rate ceiling.
Dao Hong Chau, deputy general director of the Vietnam Export Import Commercial Joint-Stock Bank (Eximbank), noted some small banks had caused bad impacts on others when offering depositors higher rates than the ceiling. Chau believed that the failure of raising capital on the inter-bank market had forced these lenders to violate the rule.
Local businesses allowed to import 2,100 tonnes of gold
The State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) has allowed local businesses to import 2,100 tonnes of gold, announced the General Department of Customs on January 12.
Accordingly, DI Co. Ltd. will import the largest amount of 450 tonnes, followed by Jewlpark Vina Co. Ltd., 360 tonnes, and Son Duong Vang Co. Ltd., 320 tonnes. Some businesses are permitted to buy 130-180 tonnes from overseas markets, while others are only allowed to import 6-20 tonnes.
The imported gold will be used to make jewelries for export.
Cbank to evaluate local banks credit rating
The State Bank of Vietnam will evaluate the credit rating of local credit institutions and branches of foreign banks, and will publicize the rating results.
The rating will be conducted by the central banks’ inspectorate and supervisory agencies, in a bid to ensure the transparency of monetary and banking operations, Saigon Times Online reported.
The rating results will provide the basis for the central bank to assign credit growth targets to the banks, with those performing well set to be assigned higher growth targets than those with a lower rating.
The central bank’s inspectorate officials will rate the banks on the basis of six factors regarding their ability and operation.
With the credit growth target for the whole banking system this year standing at 15 to 17 percent, the central bank said it will categorize the credit institutions into four groups, including those with healthy operations (grade A), average operations (grade B), below-average operations (grade C), and finally, poor operations (grade D).
Banks belonging to higher grades will have higher credit growth targets, the central bank said.
Ministry initiates securities companies restructuring
This year will see the implementation of the first stage of the securities companies restructuring, which will aim to handle those enterprises that are performing poorly, according to the plan approved yesterday by Minister of Finance Vuong Dinh Hue.
Accordingly, local securities companies will be divided into three groups: the first group, or the “normal group,” will include companies with a usable capital ratio (total usable capital to total risk exposure) of more than 150 percent, and accumulated profits or losses of less than 30 percent of their total registered capital.
Meanwhile, the second group — the “under control” category — will include securities companies with a usable capital ratio ranging between 120 and 150 percent, and accumulated losses accounting for 30 to 50 percent of total registered capital.
Finally, the last group, called “under special control,” will include those companies whose usable capital ratio is less than 120 percent, and whose accumulated losses are greater than 50 percent of total registered capital.
According to the State Securities Commission of Vietnam (SSC), the securities companies restructuring is aimed at boosting operational effectiveness, financial ability, business administration, and risk management.
In the longer term, it is intended to reduce the number of stock companies, and increase the authorities’ management and supervision over their operation.
By April 1, securities companies belonging to the third group are required to submit their operation reports to SSC on a daily basis, while those of the second group must to do so weekly.
Securities companies that have repeatedly failed to clear payments for customers, or misused their deposits, will have their licenses revoked.
As of April 1, companies belonging to the second and third groups will be required to sell assets that have high risk exposures, stop buying treasury shares and paying dividends, or merge with or be acquired by other securities trading institutions.
The restructuring will be conducted in a careful manner, without harming the stock market, and will ensure customers’ rights, the Ministry of Finance promised.
Regulation of rough diamond import and export amended
The ministries of Industry and Trade and Finance have recently amended their circular on rough diamond import and export and certification.
The amendment is aimed to enforce regulations of the Kimberley process certification scheme, introduced by United Nations General Assembly Resolution 55/56 certifying the origin of rough diamonds be free of conflict.
As for individuals and organisations, when exporting rough diamonds, they will have to give the Customs Office an original certification, one copy issued by the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s import and export management office, and other papers following the customs regulations.
If traders are State agencies, they have to carefully check and ensure that the batch of exported rough diamonds are in accordance with the certification.
The readers can visit http://www.mof.gov.vn to learn more detain.
Government bans mineral ores exports
The government has issued a new fiat banning the export of nine kinds of important minerals that are crucial raw materials for many industries.
Specifically, the government ordered that relevant agencies only grant licenses for coal exploration and exploitation as that has already been planned, while focusing on investment to restore and expand certain mines in the northern province of Quang Ninh.
The agencies are also required to select appropriate technologies for piloting exploration in certain areas of the Red River coal basin, and propose plans for exploring the entire basin after 2020.
As for bauxite, the government ordered that no extractive license be approved in the northern provinces for this mineral.
Only two extractive projects in the Tan Rai and Nhan Co mines, which serve the production of the alumina projects in Lam Dong and Dak Nong provinces, are eligible for implementation, the directive states.
The government also imposed a comprehensive ban on the exports of iron ore, while demanding that the iron extracting projects in the Thach Khe mine, and other projects, serve only local iron and cast iron production facilities.
The directive also stated that operational mines which do not ensure effective and environmentally-friendly standards should be shut down.
The exploration for new titanium mines is also banned, while operational mines will lose their license if they negatively affect the environment.
Other mineral ores subject to the export prohibition include lead-zinc, chromite, manganese, gold, bronze, apatite, and rare earth metals.
The exploration for and exploitation of such ores should go in accordance with in-depth processing by local companies.
WB finances highway, urban projects in Vietnam
The World Bank (WB) will provide Vietnam loans of $973 million to carry out three projects, covering highway, urban development and poverty reduction.
An agreement and related legal documents to the three projects were signed in Hanoi on Thursday by State Bank of Vietnam Governor Nguyen Van Binh and WB Country Director in Vietnam Victoria Kwakwa.
Under the agreements, WB will provide $613 million to a $1.455 billion project to build a highway from Da Nang to Quang Ngai in the central region and build constitutional capacity of highway development for the Transport Ministry.
The bank will also provide $210 million to Vietnam to carry out a project to develop medium-scale urban areas in northern Lao Cai and Phu Ly cities and central Vinh city following a sustainable trend.
WB will give $150 million to the poverty reduction support credit programme 10 (PRSC 10), bringing total capital from WB for 10 poverty reduction programmes to $1.625 billion.
PRSC 10 is the last in a chain of PRSCs which have been carried out in Vietnam since 2001.
PRSC 10 was launched in May 2010, covering 12 areas, including finance and banking, education, healthcare and environment
Dong depreciates by less than 3pct in 2012: Governor
The dong will not depreciate by more than 2 to 3 percent this year, State Bank of Vietnam Governor Nguyen Van Binh told a press briefing Wednesday.
With the country’s export turnovers continuing to rise, and Vietnam expected to enjoy a balance of payment surplus of several billion US dollars, there will not be much cause of concern for the foreign exchange rate, Binh told reporters.
He added that with the deposit interest rate of the dong at 14 percent a year, depositors of the domestic currency will have more benefit than those saving in US dollars, which currently receive a 2-percent interest rate.
“The central bank guarantees and ensures that dong deposits are more profitable than deposits in US dollars,” the governor promised.
Earlier, in a report released on January 9, the National Committee for Financial Supervision forecast that the foreign exchange rate can slide within a range of 5 to 6 percent.
Also at the meeting, Binh said in the first quarter of this year the central bank is likely to green-light around five to eight banks to be merged or acquired, under the second stage of its former plan to restructure the banking system last year.
“Whether the mergers or acquisitions will take place or not depend on the internal factors of the banks,” Binh said.
Nation to be self-sufficient in urea
Viet Nam could be self-sufficient in urea fertiliser once new plants are built this year, Nguyen Hac Thuy, chairman of the Viet Nam Fertiliser Association, has said.
Ca Mau and Ninh Binh fertiliser plants, financed respectively by PetroVietnam and the Viet Nam Chemical Group, were expected to produce 1.36 tonnes of urea this year, bringing total production in the country to 2.36 million of tonnes – double last year’s figure, Thuy said.
If production reached its target, domestic supply this year would exceed demand, estimated at 1.8 million tonnes, he said.
The association also estimated urea production would rise to 3 million tonnes in 2015, far in excess of national demand and would therefore have to find new export markets.
Cao Hoai Duong, PetroVietnam Fertiliser and Chemical Corp general director, said his company had been focusing on overseas trade promotion in Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.
In addition to opening a new branch in Cambodia, the company had signed a memorandum of understanding with three international urea traders, he said.
Besides promoting nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium (NPK) fertiliser, which saw production rise by 61 per cent last year to 127,000 tonnes, the Viet Nam Chemical Group said it would continue to make further investments in expanding production by 2015.
Meanwhile, the Southern Fertiliser Company planned to raise fertiliser exports by 30 per cent this year, particularly to Thailand and African countries, said its director Nguyen Tan Dat.
The company was also mulling a plan to export its products to Australia and New Zealand, Dat added.
However, Vietnamese fertiliser exporters were facing stiffer competition from China, Thailand, Middle Eastern countries and Russia, industry experts said.
They said local enterprises needed to invest in technical innovation to improve quality and reduce costs, as well as pay more attention to building and developing their trademarks.
Le Quoc Phong, director of Binh Dien Fertiliser Joint Stock Co, emphasised the importance of closer co-operation among domestic fertiliser producers.
Dat said his company needed about 300,000 tonnes of urea each year to make NPK fertiliser.
He also said the Government should sign payment agreements with African countries to help exporters avoid risks during shipping.
Coal industry formulates new strategy
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung on Monday issued a new long-term strategy to develop the coal industry, under which the country would produce 45-47 million tonnes of coal this year, increasing to 55-58 million tonnes by 2015 and 75 million tonnes by 2030.
Most of the coal during 2012-15 would be exploited from mines in the northeastern region. Thereafter, trial exploitation near the Hong (Red) River would add roughly 500,000 to a million tonnes to total annual output by 2020.
To meet the target, ministries and agencies will review mining operations in the northeastern province of Quang Ninh to facilitate sufficient transport and port facilities while ensuring the environmental protection of the area.
The strategy also calls for coal to be used as material for metallurgical and chemical industries.
The Government previously approved a strategy to develop the country’s mineral resources through 2020, with a vision to 2030, with the aim to combine mineral exploitation with processing to create high value-added products and establish centralised mineral processing parks focused on coal, bauxite, rare earths, lead and zinc.
Authority vows to protect consumers
Besides educating the public about the new Law on Consumer Rights Protection, the Viet Nam Competition Authority (VCA) will also take measures to protect consumers, a senior official from the agency has said.
Nguyen Phuong Nam, VCA deputy director, told a conference on consumer protection in HCM City yesterday that the task of safeguarding consumers was not being performed efficiently, with agencies at various levels failing to pull together.
There were two main factors that determined the success of consumer protection, he said: social organisations involved in such protection and an efficient official machinery from the central to grassroots levels to protect consumers’ rights.
Assuring consumers’ rights would contribute to social welfare, he added.
Florian Beranek, chief technical advisor for a UNIDO – Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry corporate social responsibility programme, said market control should be improved to make consumer rights protection more effective.
The law, which came into effect last July, spells out the rights and responsibilities of both consumers and sellers and the role of government agencies in protecting consumer rights.
It requires manufacturers and sellers to provide clear information about their products or services, including third party responsibility for provision of information about products.
It also makes manufacturers responsible for recalling defective items and compensate for any losses caused by defective products.
Sellers must provide customers bills and other documents for their transaction even if the latter does not require them, Vu Thi Bach Nga, head of the VCA’s consumer protection department, said.
The law made third parties jointly liable if they provide inaccurate information about their products or service, she said.
VPBank raises its charter capital to US$240 million
Viet Nam Prosperity Joint Stock Commercial Bank (VP Bank) has officially increased its charter capital from VND4.433 trillion (US$211.1 million) to VND5.050 trillion ($240.47 million).
The increase stemmed from stocks which VP Bank released to reward current shareholders as a bonus.
A surge in the bank’s charter capital will help it build up its financial capacity, widen its network, invest in facilities and diversify its services.
Emirates to open HCM City-Dubai route in June
Emirates Airlines, a leading carrier of the United Arab Emirates, will continue its expansion in Southeast Asia, adding HCM City to its global network starting June 4 of this year.
Emirates will use an Airbus A330-200 in a two class configuration on the route to HCM City, which will be the airline’s 124th destination.
Trade between the UAE and Viet Nam exceeded US$730 million in 2010 and Emirates, through their cargo arm SkyCargo, will allow air freight for imports – largely automotive parts and raw materials – and exports consisting of garments, footwear and seafood.
Vietsovpetro’s revenues exceed US$ 5.6 billion
The Viet Nam-Russia oil and gas joint venture, Vietsovpetro has announced that its crude oil revenues exceeded US$5.6 billion in 2011.
The figure was 57.6 per cent higher than the target set for the whole year and $1.68 billion higher than its earnings recorded in 2010, Vietsovpetro General Director Nguyen Van Tuyen said at a conference in Ha Noi on Tuesday.
For 2012, Vietsovpetro has set a target of pumping up at least 6.14 million tonnes of crude oil, bringing in total revenues of $4.14 billion.
Businesses required to hire appraisal consultants
Equitising enterprises with total assets of more than VND30 billion (US$1.43 million) are required to hire professional consultants to appraise the value of their venture, according to the Ministry of Finance (MoF).
In turn, consultants must be assessed by the MOF and the list of approved organisations will be announced by the Ministry annually.
Equitising businesses holding more than VND10 billion ($0.48 million) in State capital have also been asked to seek consultation.
Hoang Anh Gia Lai targets $81m in profit
Real estate developer Hoang Anh Gia Lai (HAG) has targeted profits this year of VND1.7 trillion (US$81 million), a figure essentially unchanged from last year’s target. In addition to its traditional operations, the group projects earnings from rubber and sugar processing, with rubber plantations in Viet Nam, Laos and Cambodia totalling 51,000ha. The company expects to begin producing its first rubber latex in Laos by July and will put a sugar mill into operation in the fourth quarter of this year with a capacity of 7,000 tonnes per day.
Masan strengthens hold on coffee producer
Masan Consumer, a subsidiary of food processor Masan Group (MSN), has purchased an additional 35,000 shares in Vinacafe Bien Hoa Corp (VCF), increasing its majority interest in the coffee processor from 50.1 per cent to around 50.25 per cent. The transactions were made through negotiation between November 4 and December 4 of last year.
Eximbank becomes top Sacombank shareholder
Eximbank (EIB) has become the largest shareholder in Sacombank (STB) following its acquisition of ANZ Bank’s entire stake of about 103 million shares, representing a 9.6-per-cent interest in STB. Earlier in the week, Refrigeration & Electrical Engineering Corporation (REE) also sold 42 million STB shares to Eximbank.
Firm to pay dividends after broker suspended
Khanh Hoi Import-Export Co (KHA) will pay dividends to its shareholders directly via its headquarter in HCM City rather than through their accounts placed with SME Securities Co. The move came after the announcement that SME’s clearing operations had been suspended through February 7.
Infrastructure projects approved
The State Bank of Viet Nam and the World Bank yesterday signed agreements on three projects totalling US$973.5 million to support the development of modern infrastructure.
Given in recognition of recent reforms in Viet Nam, the money will be used to finance the Da Nang-Quang Ngai Expressway Project ($613.5 million), the Medium Cities Development Project ($210 million) and the 10th Poverty Reduction Support Credit ($150 million).
The Da Nang-Quang Ngai Expressway Project will enhance efficiency and safety for drivers travelling between Da Nang City and Quang Ngai Province, and build institutional capacity for further expressway development in Viet Nam’s Ministry of Transport.
The Medium Cities Development Project is expected to provide better urban infrastructure for up to 520,000 people in the cities of Lao Cai, Phu Ly and Vinh. After its completion, people in the three cities are expected to benefit from access to improved water sources, sanitation, transport system, and a more sustainable urban asset management plan.
The 10th Poverty Reduction Support Credit refers to policy and institutional reforms under four main themes of the 2006-11 Socio-economic Development Plan: business development, social inclusion, natural resources management and modern governance. PRSC 10 is the last in a series of 10 credits, aimed at supporting Viet Nam’s reforms in order to reduce poverty and strengthen co-ordination among ministries and Government agencies.
The same day, the Ministry of Construction and the World Bank held a meeting in the southern city of Can Tho to review the results of a project to upgrade six urban areas in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta region.
Approved by the Prime Minister in October of last year, the project is part of a national strategy to improve living conditions for people in the region by 2020.
The strategy involves upgrading the water supply and sewer systems in Can Tho, My Tho, Ca Mau, Tra Vinh, Cao Lanh and Rach Gia cities.
The project has a total investment of $600 million, 65 per cent of which was provided by the World Bank and the remainder from Viet Nam itself.
Once completed, it is expected to benefit 142,000 people directly and nearly 1.4 million indirectly. Approximately 12,100 families will be provided with loans, each worth VND20-30 million ($950-1,430) to repair their houses.
In 2007, the urban upgrading programme was launched in HCM City, Nam Dinh, Hai Phong and Can Tho provinces. About 2.2 million people in the four localities have so far benefited from the programme.
Singapore, Thailand, Australia and South Korea top source markets for Vietnam
With its distinctive culture, beautiful natural scenery and affordable atractions, Vietnam has emerged as one of the top destinations for travelers from Singapore, Thailand, Australia and South Korea for their next vacation.
According to the Visa Global Travel Intentions Survey 2011, 24 per cent of future inbound travelers to Vietnam will be from Singapore and Thailand, followed by Australia.
Natural scenery, good deals and promotions and political stability were cited as the key factors for visiting Vietnam over the next two years. While in Vietnma, future inbound travelers say they will enjoy outdoor activities, undertaking food tours to explore the local cuisine and experiencing the nightlife.
Lorijon Bacchi, country manager of Visa in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, said: “With tourism emerging as one of Vietnam’s key economic drivers, this survey comes at an ideal time to show us where visitors to Vietnam are coming from, their plans and what motivates them.”
The Visa survey asked over 11,000 travelers aged 38 on average across 23 countries their intended travel destinations and preferences over the coming years. Interestingly, large numbers of those surveyed said that would be willing to pay a premium for food (64 per cent), to visit exotic destinations (65 per cent) and to experience the culture (63 per cent).
Similarly, variety of food and dining options and lower cost of travelling were also cited as key reasons for future inbound travel decisions.
Visa is a global payments technology company that connects consumers, businesses, financial institutions and governemnts in more than 200 countries and territories to fast, secure and reliable digital currency.
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