Vietnam, Japan look to foster trade cooperation
A workshop was held in Tokyo on October 22 to discuss measures to promote economic and trade cooperation between Vietnam and Japan.
Held by the Department of Trade Promotion (DTP) under the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Japan-ASEAN centre, the event attracted representatives from more than 100 Japanese and 25 Vietnamese enterprises operating in handicrafts, mechanics, plastic, home furniture and gifts.
Speaking at the workshop, Doan Thi Thu Thuy, Deputy General Director of the DTP said Vietnamese goods are present in most markets around the world, and exports are shifting from raw materials to products with higher value such as electronics and smart phones.
Notably, Vietnam’s agriculture has witnessed a long period of stable growth with an average expansion of 4.4 percent in the last decade, with the export value of Vietnamese fruits surpassing those of rice and crude oil.
Assessing Vietnam’s advantages, Thuy said the country has a young and skilled workforce and a stable political situation, as well as rich natural resources, favourable geographic location, active international integration, an impressive growth rate and an improved legal system.
These factors have helped Vietnam attract more foreign investment, she said, noting that in the first nine months of 2018, as much as 25.37 billion USD of foreign capital was poured into Vietnam, mainly concentrated in manufacturing and retail.
Trade Counsellor at the Vietnamese Embassy in Japan Ta Duc Minh highlighted the fruitful development of Vietnam – Japan relations, especially in economic cooperation, over the last 45 years.
Japan is the fourth largest trading partner of Vietnam and the largest investor in the Southeast Asian nation. The two countries are also participating in various economic cooperation deals such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partner (RCEP).
The workshop offered a good chance for Vietnamese and Japanese enterprises to enhance collaboration on the basis of mutual benefits, contributing to promoting trade ties between the two nations.
According to Yusuke Ujike, Chairman of the ALLIED Group – a Japanese distributor of food – said since 2017, his firm has imported Vietnamese vegetables to distribute in Japan.
Vietnam has a good source of raw materials and a large labour force, he said.
Tran Thanh Phong, Director of Sesan Furniture Co., Ltd of Vietnam said Japan is a “hard” market, adding that Vietnamese firms should cautiously approach the market.
Re-export of wheat tainted with thistle seeds on hold
Hoang Trung, head of the Plant Protection Bureau under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, on October 17 said the re-export of wheat tainted with thistle seeds of the Cirsium arvense family, originally scheduled for November 1, has been put on hold based on the proposal of affected enterprises.
VietnamPlus news site cited Trung as saying that the bureau had met with scientists and enterprises to discuss solutions over the imported wheat contaminated with the seeds of Cirsium arvense, a highly invasive weed.
The bureau will work with enterprises and wheat-exporting countries, mainly the United States, Russia and Canada, to resolve the problem and seek appropriate solutions. However, if these solutions prove ineffective, the bureau will apply re-export procedures, giving the wheat-importing enterprises one month’s advance notice.
Between May ad October, some 1.6 million tons of wheat out of four million tons imported into Vietnam were found to be tainted with the seed.
The bureau had appointed a group of officials to collaborate with enterprises to present solutions in terms of goods handling and management, but the problem was not resolved.
Trung claimed the problem of contaminated wheat shipments was attributable to quarantine methods, not food-safety control. If the weed appears in Vietnam, farm produce importers in other countries will be forced to either boycott Vietnamese goods or apply stringent quarantine rules. Vietnam exports more than US$20 billion worth of farm produce each year.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has yet to issue a ban on importing wheat from suspicious sources to date, Trung said, adding that the bureau was in the process of working with enterprises to apply the most feasible solution, so the re-export strategy should be considered normal.
The bureau has mobilized 20-30 quarantine officials to supervise wheat shipments, Trung added.
Duong Minh Tu, director of the Plant Quarantine Diagnostic Centre, pointed out that the thistle had originated in the Mediterranean region of Europe and spread to the United States, Canada and other countries due to the import and transport of wheat tainted with the plant’s seeds. Each plant can disseminate thousands of seeds, while even a small piece of its root can grow into a new plant.
The plant can destroy more than 27 crops, such as corn, carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, cabbage, pumpkins and onions, and has encroached on pastures in 40 nations.
As such, many countries and territories worldwide have imposed stringent rules to ward off the plant. It is said that hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars are spent stateside each year to limit the spread of this invasive weed.
Good export results reported in Jan-Sept period
Vietnam posted a record high trade surplus of some US$5.39 billion in the year’s first three quarters, though the negative impacts still need to be considered, according to data from the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Do Thang Hai stated at a press conference on October 17 that foreign direct investment (FDI) enterprises enjoyed a trade surplus of US$23.65 billion, whereas domestic enterprises suffered a trade deficit of US$18.26 billion.
Markets in which Vietnam recorded trade surpluses in the past nine months are the United States (US$25.13 billion), Europe (US$20.9 billion) and Japan (US$14.1 billion). Meanwhile, Vietnam’s trade deficit was mainly with Asian markets at a combined US$42.73 billion, including a deficit of US$21.5 billion with South Korea, nearly US$19 billion with China and US$4.47 billion with ASEAN countries.
Vietnam’s exports grew by 15.4% in the January-September period versus last year to an estimated US$178.91 billion. Of this value, domestic enterprises made up US$51 billion (up 17.5%) and FDI enterprises contributed US$127.84 billion (up 15%). The FDI sector still accounted for 71% of the country’s total export turnover, but this proportion is 63% if crude oil and cell phones as two major export earners are excluded.
Phones and phone parts, textiles and garments, as well as computers and electronic products and their components contributed to the trade surplus owing to their high values, with US$36.13 billion, US$22.56 billion and US$21.65 billion, respectively, mainly exported by FDI enterprises.
Meanwhile, imports were recorded at US$173.52 billion, marking a year-on-year rise of 11.8%.
Products placed under import restriction still saw a rise of 16.6% year-on-year in value to US$11.35 billion, resulting from the increasing prices of imported fuels, particularly crude oil used by Nghi Son oil refinery.
Crude oil imports in the past three quarters amounted to 2.76 million tons, or US$1.43 billion. Once the refinery is officially put into operation, the figures will surge. In addition, the imports of finished petrol products picked up 23.9% to reach US$6.24 billion. This indicates the strong impact of the free trade agreements (FTAs), under which import tariffs were lowered and imports soared.
With 16 FTAs signed or under negotiation and 10 FTAs already coming into force, the economy’s openness is improving and consumption markets are expanding.
However, many countries have tended to shield their domestic markets, introducing nontariff barriers on imported products, including those from Vietnam. This has negatively affected Vietnam’s exports, according to Tran Thanh Hai, deputy head of the ministry’s Import-Export Department.
Japanese ODA capital remains abundant for Vietnam
Vietnam can still access Japan’s official development assistance (ODA) loans in decades to come, but with fewer incentives, according to a recent report by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
Regading complaints that the requirements and interest rates of Japan’s ODA loans will no longer be attractive to Vietnam when the country becomes a middle-income nation, the report by JICA states that the lending requirements are based on the income levels of borrowing countries.
As such, the interest rate on loans for Vietnam will increase slightly, from 1.4% to 1.45% for nonbinding loans. In addition, grants remain substantial.
Since July last year, multiple donors have stopped offering their preferential ODA loans for Vietnam.
JICA, on the other hand, will continue offering ODA loans to Vietnam until the country achieves upper-middle-income status, with average income per capita exceeding US$12,200 per year.
The agency also stressed that Japanese ODA loans are preferential, with low interest rates and a long repayment period of 30-40 years, which cannot be offered by private financial companies.
Vietnamese borrowers can even choose the most appropriate kind of loan for their projects as well as the payback period. Most borrowers choose fixed interest loans with the longest payback period.
JICA respects borrowers’ choices and does not impose floating interest rates on Vietnam, according to the report.
Fuel prices should have been adjusted higher: ministry
Local fuel prices should have been adjusted much higher if local fuel traders and retailers were not to be allowed to tap the fuel price stabilization fund, said Do Thang Hai, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade, at a regular press briefing last week, news website Lao Dong reported.
In the year to date, Hai said, the ministries of Industry and Trade and Finance had reviewed the fuel price on 18 occasions, bringing fuel prices down twice, hiking them six times and leaving them unchanged 10 times.
However, the Ministry of Industry and Trade had to tap the fund to stabilize fuel prices during the 10 occasions when the price was unchanged, with total costs exceeding VND18,446 per liter. As of September 25, the fund was tapped at VND5.5 trillion, while it currently stays at VND3.1 trillion.
The ministries no longer pass the cost of fuels to customers to create the needed funding, as seen in the recent fuel price adjustment on October 6, and have increased their use of the fund instead, according to the deputy minister. Accordingly, during the recent adjustment, petrol prices should have been nudged up by more than VND1,500 per liter, but after being subsidized by the fund, the price hike was some VND700 per liter.
This is the advantage of the fund, Hai said. In fact, local fuel price changes would depend on the world’s fuel price fluctuations if there was no fund in place, he said.
Hai also referenced “expected inflation” in Vietnam, which suggests that fuel price hikes cause prices of unrelated products to rise, thus affecting local people’s livelihoods, input costs of enterprises and even the consumer price index.
In the coming days, fuel price adjustments will be based on the economy’s needs, the world’s fuel price movements and the remaining money left in the fuel price stabilization fund, according to the deputy minister.
New European brand enters Vietnam beer market
Heineken Vietnam on October 18 introduced its latest beer brand, Amstel, to the local beer market; it joins the Heineken and Tiger products that have been familiar to local consumers for the past 27 years.
Amstel beer is present in over 100 countries around the world, and Vietnam is the first Southeast Asian market for it.
Addressing the launch event, Alexander Koch, commercial director of Heineken Vietnam, said the special blend of malts and hops differentiated the beer from others.
Amstel beer is now available on all distribution channels in HCMC, ranging from restaurants, bistros and beer clubs to supermarkets and convenience stores.
In launching the new brand, Heineken Vietnam’s market share is forecast to edge up. According to Koch, it has secured second place so far, after Saigon Beer, Alcohol and Beverage Corporation.
The commercial director added that the local beer market is predicted to grow at 6-7%, compared with a year ago. The beer sector in Vietnam continues to see growth higher than 5%, while other markets have either hit the same rate or have seen negative growth in recent years.
Local beer consumption will likely increase in the coming period. Based on forecasts by the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the country will likely consume 4.6 billion liters of beer by 2025 and 5.5 billion liters in 2035. Vietnam has been listed among the 10 largest beer consumption markets since 2016.
In Vietnam, Heineken has six breweries in HCMC, Hanoi, Danang, Quang Nam, Vung Tau and Tien Giang.
Fake products remain rampant
The sale of counterfeit, imitation and poor-quality products on the domestic market seems to have become more complicated with the increasing number of cases reported, especially over ecommerce platforms, remarked participants at a seminar in HCMC on October 19.
At the seminar, themed “The reality of fake and imitation product sales in Vietnam: risks, challenges and solutions,” jointly held by the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s National Steering Committee 389, which is in charge of fighting against smuggling, commercial fraud and counterfeit goods, and Cong Thuong newspaper, representatives of enterprises agreed that fake products have flooded the local market.
Tran Huu Linh, head of the General Agency of Market Surveillance, said the sale of fake and poor-quality products has damaged the confidence of local consumers and has directly affected genuine enterprises and the local investment environment.
Popular counterfeit products are food, functional food, clothing, footwear, pharmaceutical products, cosmetics, agricultural materials, building materials and electronic products, Linh added.
Last year and in the January-September period of this year, the General Agency of Market Surveillance recorded more than 34,700 cases of fake products, collecting total fines of VND121.3 billion (US$5.2 million) for the State budget.
However, the fight against fake products has yet to see success.
Nguyen Van Bach, acting head of the HCMC Market Surveillance Agency, agreed with Linh, adding that traders have taken advantage of ecommerce platforms to openly introduce their fake products.
The competent agencies find it difficult to monitor these business sites and warehouses and to address the violations.
HCMC is considered the largest counterfeit goods production and trading center in the country. A large volume of fake products has been discovered in traditional markets and commercial centers in the city.
Violators tend to be repeat offenders despite their promises to stop trading fake products. This problem is attributed to light penalties being imposed on them and the inefficiency of the management boards of markets and commercial centers.
At the seminar, Dam Thanh The, chief of the National Steering Committee 389 Office, pointed out four main reasons for the more complicated sale of fake goods: high profits, the poor coordination of the relevant agencies and enterprises, consumers’ low awareness and lack of knowledge in distinguishing between authentic and counterfeit products, and enterprises’ hesitation in denouncing those manufacturing and trading fake and imitation goods.
Danang may inject US$75 million into five healthcare projects
The central coastal city of Danang will invest in five healthcare facility projects worth some VND1.74 trillion (US$75 million) if the municipal People’s Council gives approval in principle to the projects.
These projects include a center for organ and stem cell transplants, costing approximately VND500 billion (US$21.4 million), and a center for neurosurgery, injuries, burns and plastic surgery, worth over VND470 billion (US$20.1 million).
The first center is expected to accommodate 422 patient beds. Doctors at Danang General Hospital plan to perform their first liver transplant there in 2020, noted officials.
The hospital has recently negotiated an agreement with the Medical Round’s under the Vietnam-Japan Medical Association on sharing advanced medical techniques for organ transplants, according to its director, Dr. Le Duc Nhan.
He added that the center is expected to meet the rising demand for organ transplants in Danang and other central provinces. Therefore, patients will no longer have to travel far from their hometowns, or even go overseas, for their treatment.
Meanwhile, the second center will have 435 beds for patients, especially the elderly and children who suffer from neuropathy, physical trauma and burns.
The remaining projects comprise the second phase of a cardiovascular center, worth some VND290 billion (US$12.4 million) at Danang Hospital; as well as the first phase of a healthcare center in Son Tra District, and of another in Cam Le District, each costing VND240 billion (US$10.2 million).
If the municipal People’s Council gives the go-ahead, the local government will use its budget to carry out these projects.
As more healthcare facilities are opened, Danang is likely to become a healthcare hub in central Vietnam, to assist in developing its medical tourism industry.
Local farm produce processing technology remains average
VitaDairy opens second dairy plant in Binh Duong
VitaDairy Company began operating its second dairy factory on October 18 at the My Phuoc Industrial Park in the southern province of Binh Duong. Its first dairy plant is located in the capital city of Hanoi.
The company invested some US$6 million to build the plant, whose capacity is 5,000 tons of dairy products per year.
Binh Duong-based VitaDairy plant, operated by a staff of 200 employees, and its plant in Hanoi, will jointly boost manufacturing and produce a variety of products to meet the milk-drinking demand of customers of all ages.
Binh Duong VitaDairy factory is equipped with advanced technology, and has a closed production line. The company also applies food quality management systems, such as ISO 9001:2000, ISO 22000 and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points, to the manufacturing process at the plant, with an aim at controlling product quality, ensuring food safety and satisfying customers.
Nguyen Tu Anh, founder of VitaDairy, said that the opening of the Binh Duong VitaDairy plant is a reflection of the company’s commitment to bringing the best products to customers and helping them improve their health.
On the occasion of the opening of the factory, VitaDairy will provide 20,000 glasses of milk, worth VND250 million, to Star Kindergarten in Binh Duong Province.
Vietnam’s stock market performs well despite U.S.-China trade war
While massive capital withdrawals have occurred in many stock markets throughout Asia, the Vietnamese stock market has not experienced this problem and is said to benefit from the U.S.-China trade war, according to speakers at a meeting in Hanoi.
Speaking during a discussion between the State Securities Commission and foreign investment funds in Hanoi on October 19, Tran Van Dung, chairman of the commission, said the discussion is taking place while the country is amending its securities law.
The law is set to be presented to the National Assembly for consideration and approval in two sittings this year. It is likely that the law will come into force on January 1, 2020, according to Dung.
Dung said that this year has witnessed fluctuations on world financial markets, mainly resulting from the U.S. Federal Reserve’s (Fed) rate hikes, and potentially more hikes in 2019-2020, as well as complex developments caused by the U.S.-China trade war.
These two events have had impacts on markets in the short term and may continue to affect markets in the medium and long terms, Dung said. “They prompt instability in investment environments,” he noted.
As U.S. treasury yields are high, many funds have tended to withdraw capital, as considerable amounts have been withdrawn from Asian markets. In the Vietnamese market, foreign direct investment (FDI) and foreign indirect investment (FII) capital flows have continued growing, with the latter amounting to US$2.8 billion.
Also speaking at the discussion, Jeffrey Goh, a regional head at Maybank KimEng, said Vietnam’s stock market recorded significant growth, compared to other Asian markets last year, and its status is being considered for an upgrade, from frontier to emerging.
According to Goh, investors have seen potential in the Vietnamese market, as tensions between the U.S. and China have made Vietnam an appealing investment destination.
This has been indicated by figures, with Vietnam’s economy growing by 6-7%, particularly 6.98% in this year’s past three quarters, the highest to be recorded in the past eight years.
Vietnam’s geographical location in Southeast Asia gives Vietnam a significant advantage, in terms of FDI attraction, especially FDI of Asia’s developed countries taking advantage of Vietnam’s geographical closeness to China.
Vietnam attracted some US$13 billion in January-September, up 6% against the same period one year earlier and equivalent to 8% of its gross domestic product. Such a result has made Vietnam a country with the highest FDI inflows, according to Jeffrey Goh.
As shared by Vu Chi Dung, director of the commission’s International Cooperation Department, to receive a higher market status, the commission has put forward measures to resolve difficulties, provide favorable conditions for foreign investors, increase ownership rates of foreign investors, and diversify and increase the quality of products on the stock market to attract foreign investors.
In addition, the commission has worked to enhance transparency in the market, ensure equality regarding the access of information, and continue to reduce and simplify administrative procedures, in a bid to help investors minimize their time and costs.
PPP expressway projects to get off ground in 2020
Sections of the north-south expressway project, funded with public-private partnership (PPP) money, will be built in 2020, according to a report on the project implementation for 2017-2020, to be presented to the National Assembly.
Document 489, signed by Minister of Transport Nguyen Van The, shows that the feasibility studies for the eight component projects of the north-south expressway have been completed. Also, procedures, such as the environmental impact assessment, compensation policy and resettlement, have been discussed with relevant ministries, agencies and localities.
Once the feasibility studies are approved, the Ministry of Transport will hire consultants through a public tender.
Regarding site clearance and resettlement, localities will assess and approve compensation and resettlement plans. As planned, when component projects are executed, it is essential that 70% of the site clearance workload be finished and the entire workload be completed by the first quarter of 2020.
As for State investment capital, based on the Government’s Resolution 20/2018 and assessments of feasibility studies, the Ministry of Transport has reported to the Prime Minister about investment capital of three component projects, including Mai Son-National Highway 45, National Highway 45-Nghi Son and Dau Giay-Phan Thiet.
Under the resolution approved by the National Assembly, 654 kilometers of the north-south expressway will be built from 2017-2020. The entire expressway project is split into eight sections invested under the PPP model, while three other sections will receive State budget funding.
The project consists of investments totalling VND118.716 trillion, including VND55 trillion in State capital and VND63.716 trillion from private sources.
Stronger power for successful reform
In view of the power sectionalism in Vietnam, it’s necessary to concentrate power to create a momentum strong enough for overcoming barriers to institutional reform
With the re-recognition of the market economy, the 6th Party Congress has brought about a better life for the people. After overcoming the food crisis and the demand for basic necessities and joining the global market place over the past 30 years, the country needs deeper and broader Doi moi (Renovation) and institutional reform. The 12th Party Congress is closely associated with institutional reform, which some authors call it Reform 2.0. However, apart from clear results in corruption fighting, achievements in institutional reform regarding the business environment and the law-governed state have been unstable. Sub-licenses have been cut but baby permits have sprung up. The situation of “hot at the high level but cool at the low level” and poor coordination among authorities remain due to lackluster improvement in dealing with power sectionalism.
In this context, the concentration of power strong enough to overcome barriers to institutional reform is utterly necessary. The reduction of the decision making powers in the administration system may help policymakers grasp opportunities for national interest quicker and reduce operational costs, but new mechanisms should be in place at the same time to prevent risks.
Division has been common in the Vietnamese history, with examples like the 12 warlords, the war between the Trinh and the Nguyen lords, the French “divide and rule” policy, and the national division at the 17th parallel. Some cultural or religious differences in the Central Highlands and the northwestern region may also threaten national unity and territorial integrity. Therefore, the country seems to continue to need power concentration for some more time to achieve even, stable unification, especially given its geo-political position targeted for separation attempts by powers.
During the war, all people were fully devoted to national liberation and reunification, so there were no such things as “sub-licenses” and “slush funds.” The need for power sectionalism by ministries and government agencies seemed almost non-existent, as it did not generate benefits like those gained in the infant stage of the market economy.
In the market economy, the state administration model has been maintained, but power can now generate lots of money, especially when it is not properly controlled. Power sectionalism is associated with benefits, and so this practice has grown fast under diverse, sophisticated forms like the chameleon which can change its colors.
For example, after the 1999 Enterprise Law was approved, the then Prime Minister Phan Van Khai formed a task force responsible for supervising the implementation of the law and issued Decision 19/2000/QD-TTg to deal with sub-licenses and unreasonable permits. I had a chance to read the minute of a working session between the Prime Minister and the team, and came to the understanding of the limit of the government leader’s power when a minister ignored his decision regarding the taxi business, simply because he had no power to pick the minister though Article 84 of Clause 7 in the 1992 Constitution states that the Prime Minister can nominate ministers to the National Assembly for approval. In this case, the minister concerned is an official under the management of the Politburo; so the Prime Minister and the majority of National Assembly deputies, as Party members, must observe the Politburo’s lines.
Similarly, after the 2014 Enterprise Law and the 2014 Investment Law were approved, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc issued Decision 1672/QD-TTg dated September 28, 2015 on setting up a task force in charge of supervising the implementation of the two laws.
The Prime Minister and the Government can exercise only part of the executive power, as the ministers are nominated by different agencies and managed by the Politburo. Therefore, two ministries in the Government at times have to sign a cooperation agreement. The drafting of decrees and legal documents is assumed by a separate ministry, which, for its own interest, has created an overlapping legal system, with some 5,600 documents against the law issued in 2017 alone.
Power sectionalism also exists in the relationship between the central Government and local authorities. An example is a Party secretary of a southern province, who ignored the supervision of National Assembly deputies to put it flatly, “As long as I remain the Party secretary, I will not accept this [administrative] sentence.” The case of Vu Nhom, a business tycoon, and violations in other localities reveal the law defiance attitude of a number of local leaders.
Reform is beneficial for the people and the Party, but it also reduces the privileges and benefits of interest groups. They are the very strongest opponents to reform, not any external forces. So, the power concentration must be strong enough to get over those groups. Acemoglu, the author of the famous book “Why Nations Fail?” argues that the central power must be concentrated strong enough to force local powers to abide by the law, and this is a prerequisite for the success of a nation. In this regard, the Philippines is seen as a typical failure.
The executive power always plays the central role among the three powers (legislative, executive and judiciary). The armed forces, the executive tool of this power, assumes the primary role in law enforcement and national defense. A strong executive power is effective in war but easily turns to dictatorship in peace. Therefore, only a few countries with a democratic tradition and synchronous mechanisms for executive power control can accept the presidential system like that in the U.S. Most countries adopt the parliamentary system to ensure the strict control of the legislative power over the executive power, with the rights to form a government and put the no-confidence vote to force it to resign.
However, the no-confidence vote may cause political instability, which is especially critical with regard to national defense and foreign relations. Therefore, General Charles de Gaulle of France made some modification to the 1958 Constitution to create the dual executive system. With this system, the president is directly elected by the people; responsible for national defense, foreign relations and major national policies; and not subject to parliamentary vote of no confidence so as to maintain political stability. Meanwhile, the prime minister, who is in charge of economic and domestic issues, is elected by the parliament and may be subject to its no-confidence vote, which is seen as a way to response quickly to new trends and movements in society as well as to share the executive power of the president to avoid excessive power concentration.
The dual executive system has been a popular choice of eastern European countries since the 1990s. The political institution in Vietnam will have many advantages like those of the dual executive system if the titles of State president and Party general secretary are unified. However, the unification should be made alongside the renovation of the Party leadership, further democratization within the Party, stronger public criticism and media supervision, and better performance of the independent court system.
Interesting stories help enterprises lure consumers
Small-sized enterprises and startups despite their modest budget for promotion and marketing can still make use of interesting stories about themselves or their products to attract customers, and need to have clear directions, heard a workshop in HCMC on October 20.
At the workshop on brand promotion for small-sized enterprises held by BizGroup of the Saigon Times Club’s 2030 Businessmen Club, Tran Minh Hung, editor-in-chief of the Saigon Times Group, said many small-sized enterprises often ignore building relationships with the media and do not want to appear in the media. However, news organizations’ mandates are to produce news, which is what enterprises need in order to sell products.
Enterprises hence are advised to get connected with media organizations, instead of keeping them at arm’s length.
Another point concerns how enterprises use the media to get themselves known to the public. News outlets always seek new, interesting information for their readers. Several brands have managed to attract the attention of customers thanks to interesting stories they have.
Interesting stories and useful information can help enterprises save promotion costs as newspapers are willing to write and tell stories about those enterprises, Hung said.
Big enterprises have teams responsible for publicity and marketing, whereas those of small size do not care about this.
It is also worth mentioning that each news organization has different tastes of what makes a story good. Therefore, an understanding of newspapers and their readers is needed to decide which information is suitable, according to Hung.
As shared by Nguyen Duc Nghia, board chairman and general director of An Cuong Wood Working Joint Stock Company, small-sized businesses which cannot afford promotion services carried out by agencies need to do everything on their own. Budget for promotion and marketing activities of such enterprises are not fixed numbers each year as it depends on their health and business performance.
An Cuong has learned from ways of doing promotion and marketing used in developed countries many years ago, including sponsoring community activities to introduce its products and promote its brand.
Nghia also stressed the importance of pushing for brand awareness and making use of opportunities to get known to the communities and potential customers. The firm has joined clubs and business groups, which is an easy way to do.
Another way is to tap digital marketing by using social networking sites like Facebook and Instagram among others to introduce products and services. Banner advertisements on particular websites is one more way.
These ways, if not making enterprises successful yet, still can give enterprises a certain position, Nghia said. He added that no matter how enterprises do, it is crucial that they offer quality products and services.
Nghia said he learned such ways from a German firm, where he worked before. “We had clear plans and paths. Therefore, when investment funds looked at our history, they liked it and made decisions quickly.”
On the sidelines of the workshop, Duong Hoan Tuyen, general director of LEO Co., Ltd, said small-sized businesses should cooperate with others as a way to make use of and share their respective resources.
Tra fish exports likely to hit 2.1 billion USD this year
The export turnover of tra fish is forecast to hit 2.1 billion USD in 2018, up 22 percent against the previous year, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Tra fish exports are expected to continue to increase in the last few months of the year.
The ministry said the price of raw tra fish in the Mekong Delta region was at between 35,000-36,000 VND (1.49-1.53 USD) per kg.
With this price, tra fish farmers can earn profits of between 6,000-9,000 VND per kg.
Tra processing enterprises are now purchasing raw materials to process export products amid a higher demand on global markets by the end of 2018.
However, they have faced a shortage of raw material for export processing because many farmers have stopped tra production as they lack young fish, the ministry said.
The ministry called on localities to re-plan their production entirely, encourage the application of science and technology, diversify export products and markets, and give priority to value-added products.
Singaporean firms tap Can Tho
Vietbuild 2018 to open in HCM City
More than 300 domestic and foreign enterprises will display their products at 1,500 pavilions during the 2018 Vietnam International Real Estate Exhibition (Vietbuild 2018) in HCM City from October 25 to 29.
The third Vietbuild 2018 exhibition in the city will be staged at Phu Tho Indoor Sports Stadium.
The five-day expo will see the participation of 216 domestic enterprises, 79 joint-venture enterprises and 20 foreign enterprises from 18 countries and territories, including France, the United States, Russia, Turkey, the United Kingdom, Australia and China.
The exhibitors’ pavilions will range from 36 to 270 square metres in size.
A wide range of products, such as building materials, electrical equipment, doors, and interior and exterior design, will be on display.
Also showcased will be waterproofing, solar panels, balconies, stairs, measuring equipment, and construction accessories.
Vietnamese construction and real estate firms will have opportunities to seek partners and learn about the latest consumer trends.
Seminars, forums and conferences at the event will encourage enterprises to carry out research and produce new hi-tech products for green and sustainable development, according to organisers.