Created 06 March 2019
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More firms suspend operation in two months,Domestic sector shines in exports,Quang Tri licences six renewable energy projects in two months,Hoa Sen Group shuts down ten more branches

Agricultural sector posts trade surplus of 1 billion USD in 2 months

The agricultural sector posted a trade surplus of 1 billion USD in the January-February period despite a year-on-year decrease of 1.6 percent in export value.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the sector earned 5.5 billion USD from the export of farm produce and forestry and aquatic products.

In the two months, the revenue of farm produce exports stood at around 2.7 billion USD, a drop of over 10 percent.

Aquatic products brought home 1.11 billion USD, a rise of 4.4 percent, and forestry products, 1.5 billion USD, up nearly 13 percent.

Meanwhile, 4.5 billion USD worth of agro-forestry-fishery products were imported in the reviewed period, up 3 percent from the same period last year.

Total export-import turnover hit over 73.4 billion USD, a year-on-year rise of 6.7 percent.

Apparel exports increase 19% in Jan-Feb

A worker is seen at a factory of Viet Tien Garment Corporation. Vietnam's apparel exports increased 19% in the first two months of the year 

Vietnam exported US$4.89 billion worth of textile and garment products in the first two months of the year, marking a year-on-year increase of 19%, news site Vietnamplus reported, citing statistics from the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

Some 89.5 million square meters of woven fabric made from natural fibers was shipped to other countries in the two-month period, up 13.8% over the year-ago period. Meanwhile, artificial and synthetic fiber exports grew by 13.5% to 164 million square meters, and clothes were up 10.7%, at 773.9 million items.

According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, many textile and garment enterprises have secured export orders enough for production until the end of the second quarter, even the end of the year.

Foreign investors have helped improve supply chains in the local apparel sector, creating products with high competitiveness.

Le Tien Truong, general director of Vietnam National Textile and Garment Group, stated that last year was remarkable for the local textile and garment sector as the country’s exports of textile and garment products had reached nearly US$36.2 billion last year, up over 16% versus 2017.

To achieve a growth rate of 8% this year, the local textile and garment sector should improve the working conditions for workers, improve productivity and reduce production costs, Truong stressed.

In addition, links among enterprises operating in the sector are important to make full use of opportunities brought by free trade pacts, such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership and the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement.

AI application to create evolution in healthcare sector

Prof. Dr. Ho Tu Bao from Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology. Photo: Nguyen Thang

In 2018, AI market in healthcare reached more than US$2 billion, over US$36 billion in 2025, accounting for 20% of the entire AI market.

The application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to exploit electronic medical data will create an evolution in healthcare sector, said Prof. Dr. Ho Tu Bao from the Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology at the workshop on AI in healthcare sector held by the Ministry of Health and FPT in Hanoi on February 22. 

Prof. Dr. Ho Tu Bao and leading experts on AI provided ways to apply electronic medical records in Vietnam.

AI is considered to be the most important fundamental technology that drives digital transformation in industries, sectors, and corporate organizations. By 2030, AI is expected to contribute US$15.7 trillion to the global economy. In 2019, 40% of digital conversion initiatives will use AI technology, Bao said.

He added that with the support of AI, the healthcare sector will have a remarkable development, not only in the examination, diagnosis and treatment regimen for patients, but also for hospital management.

Bao also talked about building and exploiting electronic medical records in the world and Vietnam with AI. These are the core components of healthcare sector’s digital infrastructure during digital transformation.

He introduced the results of building some AI technologies to exploit electronic medical records in Vietnam, such as using speech recognition to create electronic medical records, researching drug use in Vietnam, suggesting treatment regimens for patients.

For his part, Prof. Nguyen Tien Dung from Toulouse University, France provided an overview of AI development in the world and AI application for detecting skin diseases, skin cancer, 2D, 3D medical images.

Healthcare sector has used the most AI applications, which will completely change the face of the health sector in the coming years. AI market in healthcare reached more than US$2 billion in 2018, and is projected to top US$36 billion in 2025, accounting for 20% of the entire AI market. AI will reduce the cost of medical examination and treatment by 50% and increase effectiveness of medical examination and treatment by 40%. AI will save the world about US$500 billion by 2026, Dung stressed.

He added that AI development is closely related to data development. Many data is the engine that allows the AI to grow faster. AI in healthcare is associated with medical data development, up nearly 50% per year, more than 2 million T bytes by 2020.

Pham Xuan Viet, deputy director of the Department of Information Technology (IT) under the Ministry of Health, noted that the working out  legal corridor for IT application is a common challenge, the Ministry of Health will consider to solve this problem in the coming time.

20 years ago, research on AI was available, but most of them were theoretical. Nowadays, AI in healthcare sector is different. In Vietnam, there has been a system of AI for cancer diagnosis that has been operated in practice and highly valued by medical experts, Viet said.

He affirmed that the Ministry of Health will create a large database to facilitate research technology community. If the Ministry of Health does not invest in research, the healthcare sector will lag behind.

The Ministry of Health is calling on enterprises to implement research and development applications in practical medical products. A number of foreign software and systems have been piloted, but they respect the systems developed by Vietnamese people, Viet said.

Better business environment makes Japanese firms in Hanoi more efficient: JETRO

Overview of the conference. Source: Nguyen Tung.

Chief Representative of the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) in Hanoi Hironobu Kitagawa highly regarded Hanoi’s local authority efforts in improving business environment, which has contributed significantly to the efficiency of Japanese firms’ operations in Hanoi. 

“As a foreign expert myself, I think Hanoi’s living standard has improved greatly,” Kitagawa told Hanoitimes. 

Kitagawa, however, added that the city should be more active in promoting its potential and attractiveness as an investment destination, so that more Japanese enterprises come to Hanoi.

This showed huge potential for further investments from Japan to Hanoi, as the former currently claims the top spot of foreign investors to the capital city with accumulated investment fund of US$10.4 billion, followed by Singapore with US$6 billion and South Korea with US$5.48 billion.

Nguyen Duc Chung, chairman of the Hanoi People’s Committee, at a conference last October considered FDI essential to the city’s socio-economic development. The city, therefore, has spared no effort in attracting FDI, especially high quality projects, for further development. 

Notably, the Hanoi – Japan Investment and Tourism Cooperation conference is scheduled to take place on March 29, 2019. 

The event is part of Hanoi’s effort to promote the capital’s business environment and investment opportunities, while continuing to attract foreign direct investment from Japan. 

Companies and investors from Japan would be briefed on investment and tourism cooperation between Hanoi and Japan; Hanoi’s vision for socio-economic development in the 2019 – 2020 period and its huge opportunities for investment. 

In the 2019 – 2020 period, Hanoi would focus on encouraging FDI investment in urban infrastructure development, high added value services, trade and education. 

Chairman of the Hanoi People’s Committee Nguyen Duc Chung said Hanoi will continue to establish a favorable investment and business environment so that enterprises and investors can successfully carry out their business and production plans. 

In 2018, Hanoi topped the country in FDI attraction in 2018 with a total amount of US$7.5 billion, up 2.18 times compared to the same period in in 2017 and equivalent to 21.2% of Vietnam’s total FDI. 

Moreover, in the first two months of 2019, among 44 cities and provinces having received foreign investment, Hanoi continued to attract the largest portion of registered capital with over US$4 billion, or 47.3% of total investment, followed by Ho Chi Minh City with over US$1 billion or 12% of the total investment, and Bac Ninh with US$541.7 million, accounting for 6.3% of total investment.  

VND39 billion needed to pay MAUR staff

Two MAUR executives at the construction site of Phuoc Long station of the metro line No. 1 project 

The Management Authority for Urban Railways of HCMC (MAUR) has once again proposed the city government advance VND39 billion (US$1.7 million) from the city’s budget to pay employees their salaries and allowances.

MAUR stated in its proposal that it had submitted a similar proposal in November last year.

Since January 31, employees of the authority have received two months’ basic salary only. The money was sourced from the capital advanced from the city’s budget last year.

Without sufficient salary payments, MAUR staff cannot meet their basic daily needs or properly contribute to fulfilling MAUR’s assignments.

Meanwhile, the authority is striving to stabilize personnel and rebuild the confidence of the investors and contractors of the first metro line project in the city to finally put the line into operation in late 2020.

From July 2016 to November last year, 45 MAUR staff resigned, including five executives, 37 specialists and three others who were forced to leave due to layoffs. In addition, several other executives and specialists have submitted resignation letters.

Early this year, the HCMC government appointed Bui Xuan Cuong, director of the municipal Department of Transport, as the head of MAUR, replacing Le Nguyen Minh Quang, who had earlier submitted a resignation request.

The personnel crisis at MAUR was later addressed, so some senior executives of MAUR no longer wish to resign from their posts, including Duong Huu Hoa, chairman of MAUR’s labor union and director of the Project Management Unit No. 1 under MAUR, and Phan Nhat Linh, head of the planning and contract division of MAUR.

TCIT handles largest volume of cargo

The container vessel NYK SWAN docks at TCIT on March 2 

Tan Cang-Cai Mep International Terminal JSC (TCIT) in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province on March 2 received freight of 9,947 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), carried by large container vessel NYK SWAN, setting a new record for cargo capacity for the terminal as well as the local marine sector.

The NYK SWAN container ship, built and launched in 2017, has an intake capacity of 14,026 TEUs and weighs some 140,000 tons. At over 360 meters long and 50 meters wide, it is operated by Singaporean shipping company Ocean Network Express on the FE5 service route.

The route has been operated at TCIT under THE Alliance since April 2017, linking Vietnam’s terminal with European ports in Rotterdam, Antwerp and Southampton.

With its high throughput capacity, the terminal can handle large vessels with a cargo capacity of up to 14,000 TEUs, shortening the time needed to transport goods from Vietnam to ports in Europe to some 23-31 days and allowing importers and exporters in the southern region to save time and money.

Aside from the NYK SWAN, the cargo capacity of other ships operating on the FE5 route is also high, at an average of 7,000-9,000 TEUs, with new vessels trending toward higher capacities. This shows that the volume of cargo transported between Vietnam and European ports is on the rise, according to TCIT.

Regarding plans for this year, a TCIT representative stated that 2019 would be another successful year for ports in the terminal. TCIT will continue operating 10 weekly service routes, with seven of them linked to North American ports, one port in Europe and two ports in Asia.

The terminal last year saw a 12% increase in cargo throughput compared with the 2017 figure, with over 1.6 million TEUs of goods.

Plans to resurrect Thai Binh 2 thermal power plant

plans to resurrect thai binh 2 thermal power plant

Thai Binh 2 thermal power plant would play an important role in ensuring the nation's energy security

With the designed capacity of 1,200MW, Thai Binh 2 thermal power plant will supply 7.2 billion kWh to the national grid once it comes into operation, playing an important role in ensuring the national energy security.

At a recent working session with the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) and leaders of the Thai Binh People’s Committee, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc asked authorities and investors to accelerate dealing with problems, especially difficulties in finance, at Thai Binh 2 thermal power plant so that construction can be resumed soon. The plant is expected to start operations in 2020.

In order to reach this target, PetroVietnam will have to consider two major solutions. The first one would be for PetroVietnam to re-evaluate the effectiveness of the project, which will serve as the new basis for adding capital to complete the construction of the project. The second one would be for PetroVietnam to immediately add capital to resume construction.

The first solution is likely not feasible because the evaluation would take a lot of time, wasting precious resources on management and interest payments after bank loans.

Meanwhile, if the investor implements the second solution, the chances of recouping the investment are quite good. For example, if the investor pours an additional VND2.5 trillion ($108.7 million) to complete the remaining 17 per cent of the work, the plant will add 7.2 billion kWh per year to the national grid. Besides, it will create revenue for PetroVietnam which can be used to repay bank loans.

Thai Binh 2 thermal power plant is an important project in the Thai Binh Power Center. The plant was designed with two units with the total capacity of 1,200MW, invested by PetroVietnam. The plant is located in the south of My Loc commune, Thai Thuy district, about 20km to the east of Thai Binh city. The total investment capital of the project is about VND31.5 trillion ($1.37 billion).

PetroVietnam Construction JSC (PVC) is the EPC contractor with a $1.2 billion contract.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) reported to the government that only 83 per cent of the plant has been built, though the work has been going for six years.

PetroVietnam still has difficulties due to a lack of capital. Many machines have exceeded their warranty period without being put into use, causing risks related to the quality of equipment.

PetroVietnam said the difficulties at the project include the fact that PVC has no experience as an EPC contractor for thermal power plants.

The goal of the Revised Power Development Master Plan for 2011-2020 with vision to 2030 is to meet the power demand for the socioeconomic development of the country with the average GDP growth rate of about 7.0 per cent per year in 2016-2030. As of 2020, Vietnam is forecast to need 131 billion kWh of coal-fired thermal power (49.3 per cent of the total power production).

However, so far 19 thermal power plants have been registered and only three has been put into operation, while two others are under construction and one will be kicked off soon. Thus, Thai Binh 2 plays an important role in offsetting power demand across the country.

Hoa Sen Group shuts down ten more branches

hoa sen group shuts down ten more branches

To overcome business difficulties, Hoa Sen Group has just closed ten branches in addition to the 21 units shut down in January to restructure the company.

In its latest announcement, Hoa Sen Group (HSG) announced stopping the operations of ten branches in order to restructure its distribution points in provincial branches to improve performance. Earlier, in the end of January, Hoa Sen also closed down 21 branches for the same reason.

HSG’s move follows the liquidation of land, premises, factories, machinery, and vehicles to mobilise capital and overcome business difficulties.

HSG’s board of management said the move will improve performance as well as strengthen the handling of debts, liquidated contracts, and social welfare activities for the employees of these branches.

According to the annual statement released in early-2019, HSG had 491 branches and stores across the country after 15 years of significant development and success. Moreover, the group has applied the enterprise resource planning (ERP) system in order to optimise organisation and operation, reducing the number of employees to 7,000 from 9,300.

In the time coming, HSG will stop expanding. “In 2019, safety and cautiousness will be the keywords. The board of management decided not to speculate on raw materials as before, but keep inventories at 70-80 per cent of monthly demand to promote cash flows and continuous production,” said Le Phuoc Vu, HSG chairman.

During 2017-2018, the price of steel has been in constant flux, which increased costs. HSG’s profit has also reduced sharply due to fierce competition. A large amount of debts equalling VND14 trillion ($608.7 million), making up 70 per cent of HSG's capital, along with extensive inventory, have decreased the group’s profit.

In 2018, HSG recorded a profit of VND410 billion ($17.8 million), down 69 per cent on-year, which is the smallest profit figure it has reported in the past four years. Particularly, in the fourth quarter, HSG lost VND100 billion ($4.35 million).

In the first quarter of the new fiscal year, HSG targets selling 428,000 tonnes of steel products, earning VND2.6 trillion ($113 million) in revenue and VND60 billion ($2.6 million) in after-tax profit. The group also set the full-year targets of VND31.5 trillion ($1.37 billion) and VND500 billion ($21.7 million), respectively.

Additionally, Hoa Sen Group will take over 60 branches of Hoa Sen Investment Co., Ltd. across the southern provinces of Ninh Thuan, Lam Dong, Long An, Binh Duong, and Dong Nai. Thereby, the group will take over around 161 branches in total (including 101 ones handed over last year).

On the other hand, HSG’s board of management has approved to issue stocks valued VND0.5-1 trillion ($21.75-43.5) to shareholders, strategic partners, and other investors, in order to collect capital for business.

On the stock market, since early this year, HSG’s stock has gained 40 per cent, reaching VND9,300 from VND6,500.

Vietnam - US trade turnover triples over nine-year period

vietnam - us trade turnover triples over nine-year period hinh 0

Bilateral trade turnover between Vietnam and the United States has tripled during a nine-year period, climbing from US$18.01 billion in 2010 to US$60.28 billion in 2018, according to customs data.

Bilateral trade turnover between Vietnam and the US has, on average, edged up 16.3 per cent annually during the nine-year period.

News outlet cited data recently released by the General Department of Vietnam Customs as showing that bilateral trade turnover has, on average, edged up 16.3 per cent annually during the nine-year period.

Exports to the US market rose from US$14.24 billion in 2010 to US$47.53 billion in 2018. Notably, they enjoyed consistent growth with rises of 18.9 per cent in 2011, 21.3 per cent in 2013, and 20.1 per cent in 2014.

In turn, imports from the US tripled from US$3.77 billion in 2010 to US$12.75 billion in 2018.

The statistics indicate that Vietnam has recorded consecutive trade surpluses with the US. Last year, the trade surplus posted US$34.8 billion, or 73.2 per cent of the total value of Vietnamese goods shipped to the US.

Top 10 export staples to the US market in 2018 brought home US$40.58 billion, representing 85.4 per cent of the total export turnover. Garments and textiles were recorded as the highest value exports to the US market, reaching US$13.7 billion in 2018, a rise of 11.6 per cent on year.

Following were footwear with US$5.82 billion, up 13.9 per cent; telephones and their components at US$5.41 billion, up 46.1 per cent; along with wood and wooden items at US$3.9 billion, up 13.9 per cent.

Last year, a total of 7,200 domestic firms sold their goods to the US market, a year on year hike of 7.6 per cent.

Meanwhile, the figure of local enterprises purchasing their goods from the world’s largest economy increased by 6.3 per cent on year to 13,200.

Preliminary statistics show that bilateral trade turnover between the two countries was recorded at approximately US$6.23 billion in January, surging by 38.13 per cent on year.

Of the figure, Vietnam raked in US$5.15 billion from exports to the US market, up 42.2 per cent on year. Meanwhile, imports from the US reached US$1.08 billion, representing an increase of 21.5 per cent against the corresponding period last year.

Cà Mau to expand bulrush growing area

The inner part of the bulrush plant’s lower stalk, which is used as food. Cà Mau Province plans to expand farming of the plant because of the high demand for it. 

The Mekong Delta province of Cà Mau will expand the area under bồn bồn (Typha orientalis), also known as bulrush, because of the high demand for the inner portion of its lower stalk used as food, according to the province People’s Committee.

Bulrush cultivation has helped improve the lives of many farming families in recent years since it fetches high prices.

In Cái Nước District, which has the largest bulrush growing area in the province, more than 150 households grow the wet plant on a total area of 90ha.

They harvest around three tonnes of the inner portion of the lower stalk per hectare annually.

Nguyễn Phi Hùng of the district’s Hưng Đông Commune said the plant has become the main source of income for many local families.

“Bulrush has become a speciality and the demand for it increases year after year.”

Fresh lower stalk inner portions fetch VNĐ30,000 – 45,000 (US$1.3 – 1.9) a kilogramme, he said.

It is used in various dishes such as fresh salad, hotpot and pickles.

Bulrush, a wild plant that grows in shallow water, does not require tending, fertilisers or pesticides and can be harvested more than 10 years.

Its main harvest season is between June and November.

Nguyễn Văn Nhân, who grows the plant on 6,500sq.m in Tân Hưng Đông, said he earns an average of VNĐ400,000 – 500,000 ($17 - 21) a day from the plant.

Households growing the plant earn an average income of VNĐ100 -120 million ($4,300 – 5,170) per hectare per year, according to the Cái Nước Agriculture and Rural Development Division.

Besides, they earn an additional income from breeding giant river prawns or freshwater fish in the bulrush fields.

The district is drafting a plan to expand the area under the plant to 100ha besides improving quality and yields.

The district’s two agricultural co-operatives, Cái Bát and Đông Hưng, are buying bulrush from local farmers. Their partners have been asking for four tonnes a month, but they are unable meet this demand.

The province People’s Committee has instructed the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to review the demand for and quality of the plant.

Lê Văn Sử, deputy chairman of the province People’s Committee, has ordered the department to expand the bulrush growing area to meet the demand.

He has also ordered relevant agencies to create organic farming techniques for growing bulrush singly and together with aquatic species in the same field.

The cultivation and consumption of the plant have to be done co-operatively, he said.

Relevant agencies should study the use of bulrush byproducts to increase the plant’s value for farmers, he said.

In 2016 Cái Nước bulrush was granted a collective brand name by the National Office of Intellectual Property. 

Quang Tri licences six renewable energy projects in two months

The central province of Quang Tri has approved investment plans for four wind and two solar power projects, whose costs amount to more than 7.4 trillion VND (319.1 million USD).  

Among these projects are Gio Thanh Energy JSC’s 50 MW Gio Thanh 1 solar electricity plant, which spans 65 ha in Gio Linh district’s Gio Thanh commune. The investment is estimated to exceed 1.1 trillion VND (47.4 million USD). 

Meanwhile, SECO JSC has been given approval to carry out the 50 MW Gio Thanh 2 solar power plant project. The plant, covering 60 ha in Gio Linh’s Gio Thanh and Gio Hai communes, will be built at a cost of some 1.1 trillion VND. 

Local authorities have also allowed the construction of the Huong Phung 3 wind power plant in Huong Hoa district. The Huong Phung wind power limited company plans to build the 30 MW facility on 9 ha of land, with investment exceeding 1.58 trillion VND (68.12 million USD).   

GELEX Quang Tri Energy JSC was also permitted to invest nearly 3.66 trillion VND (157.38 million USD) into GELEX 1, 2 and 3 wind power plants, with capacity of 30 MW each. The projects will cover some 24 ha in Huong Hoa and Dakrong districts.

Energy development is a priority in Quang Tri, with wind power projects mostly located in the western mountainous area and solar power ones on coastal sand dunes.

The province has zoned off three key areas for wind power, which cover more than 6,700 ha. Its total wind electricity output is expected to reach 800 MW in the near future with the operation of four more plants. 

Three solar projects are underway in Quang Tri at the moment, with the first solar power plant of the province expected to be fully operational by the end of June.

Phu Tho to invest 5 million USD in tea industry development

The northern province of Phu Tho plans to spend 118 billion VND (more than 5 million USD) on developing the tea sector to improve the productivity and quality of local tea products. 

Vice Director of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Tran Tu Anh said tea is one of the locality’s key industrial plants. 

Phu Tho will focus on restructuring the tea industry to improve effectiveness and sustainably develop links between production, processing and consumption; and applying new technologies in production while diversifying products, thus increasing the value of products and income for local farmers. 

The province is currently ranked fourth in terms of area and third in tea output among tea producing localities across Vietnam. 

In 2018, the province's tea plantation area was 16,200 ha and production of fresh tea bud was estimated at nearly 173 thousand tonnes. 

Phu Tho is home to 59 large scale tea processing establishments, with capacity of at least 1 tonne of fresh buds per day, and more than 1,280 smaller ones. 

The locality has 15 craft villages and eight tea production and processing cooperatives. It is building some green tea brands such as Bao Long tea, Ha Trang tea, and Phu Ho tea.

Phu Tho has suitable soil and climate conditions to develop tea. The tea growing area in the locality has been increasing, while the quality of tea has been improved.

The locality has also paid attention to raising public awareness of food safety in producing tea, and asking them to strictly abide by new cultivation techniques.

Domestic sector shines in exports

Harvesting coffee for exports 

The domestic sector exported goods worth 10.72 billion USD in the first two months of 2019, up 9.9 percent on year compared to a 4.3 percent growth posted by the foreign-invested sector.

During the period, the foreign-invested sector’s export value was 25.96 billion USD, accounting for 70.8 percent of Vietnam’s total exports, which hit 36.68 billion USD, an annual increase of 5.9 percent.

Regarding imports in the two months, which rose 7.5 percent year-on-year to 36.76 billion USD, Vietnamese firms contributed 15.29 billion USD, while their foreign peers 21.47 billion USD. Both rose against 2018, at 11 and 5.1 percent, respectively.

After recording an 816 million USD trade surplus in January, Vietnam returned to a trade deficit of 900 million USD in February, leading to a slight deficit of 84 million USD in the first two months.

On factors impacting import-export activities in January and February, Tran Thanh Hai, deputy head of the Export-Import Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, said agro-fishery exports faced difficulties in terms of distribution and prices. Most of its key exports, like cashew, coffee, rice and rubber, saw a decline in export prices.

Exports of energy and mineral goods, meanwhile, grew mainly due to a surge in crude oil shipments. Vietnam sold 1.19 million tonnes of crude oil in the past two months for 646 million USD, up 76.8 percent in quantity and 82.1 percent in value on year.

Hai said the country had eight products with export value exceeding 1 billion USD, mostly belong to the industrial and processing sector. Notably, garment and textile products’ earnings grew 19 percent to 4.89 billion USD.  

More firms suspend operation in two months

More than 13,500 enterprises suspended operation for fixed periods during the first two months of this year, up 20.8 percent compared to the same period in 2018, according to the General Statistics Office (GSO). 

Besides, more than 3,150 firms completed dissolution procedures during the period, a year-on-year increase of 24.8 percent. Of those firms, some 2,900 had less than 10 billion VND (430,000 USD) in capital. Most dissolved firms operated in wholesale and retail, automobile repair, processing, manufacturing and construction.

Meanwhile, nearly 13,700 enterprises stopped operation pending dissolving procedures. 

The number of new firms established in the January-February period dropped 14.6 percent on a yearly basis to 15,979, but their total registered capital surged 25.4 percent to 247 trillion VND (10.62 billion USD). The new firms employed 164,000 workers, up 4.8 percent from the corresponding period last year.

The wholesale-retail and automobile repair sectors saw 6,000 newly-established enterprises, a reduction of 7.3 percent. The processing and manufacturing sectors had 2,100 new firms, down 9.4 percent, and the construction sector had 2,000 new ones, a decrease of 17 percent. 

In terms of region, the southeast region had the largest number of new firms with 6,400, followed by the northern region with 5,100, the north central and central coastal region had 2,200 and the Mekong delta 1,200. 

At the same time, 10,191 firms resumed operation in the period.

Binh Thuan targets sustainable tourism development

The south central coastal province of Binh Thuan has optimised its potential and advantages to develop tourism sustainably, aiming to turn tourism into an economic spearhead in the time ahead. 

The locality is expected to welcome 6.3 million tourists in 2019, including 750,000 foreigners, and earn 15.4 trillion VND (662.8 million USD) from the sector. 

To that end, the local Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism will continue to improve the investment environment, targeting strategic investors and professional tourism management groups. 

Apart from restructuring the tourism sector in terms of market, product and human resources, Binh Thuan will work to ensure a safe, civilised and hospitable environment for visitors.

To create diverse and typical tourism products, the province has utilised its strength in maritime tourism while developing cultural products, especially Cham culture, and community-based tourism. 

At the same time, Binh Thuan has joined hands with the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong and Ho Chi Minh City to launch regional tours like those exploring Da Lat, Ben Thanh market and Mui Ne beach or central coastal provinces. 

Binh Thuan has 438 accommodation facilities with 14,700 rooms and diverse entertainment services. 

The Mui Ne national tourism site is set to become a tourist attraction of the south central coastal region and the country, and one of the top destinations in Asia-Pacific by 2030. 

In 2018, Binh Thuan served over 5.75 million tourists, a year-on-year increase of 12 percent. The figure included 675,000 foreign arrivals, up 14 percent. 

In the year, the locality earned more than 12.8 trillion VND (550 million USD) from tourism, a rise of 18.8 percent against the pervious year. 

Nine tourism projects were licensed in 2018, raising the total number of tourism projects in the locality to 390 with total investment of over 60 trillion VND (2.58 billion USD). Of them, 184 have been put into operation.

Binh Thuan has a coastline of 192km, with various beautiful landscapes such as Mui Yen, Cau isle, Ke Ga lighthouse, Ganh Son, Gieng Tien, and the Hon Cau Marine Protected Area where hundreds of rare species live.

In addition, Binh Thuan boasts Phu Quy island which is known as “the pearl in the middle of the sea” and located about 56 nautical miles off the coast of the province. Meanwhile, Mui Ne beach, with its warm and windy climate, has served as a venue for well-known surfers from the UK, France, Russia, Germany, and Australia.

Vietnam carries out new food safety measures in agricultural sector

Organic cultivation procedures will be improved to ensure food safety in the agricultural sector 

Large-scale production areas for key national products will be expanded this year under the country’s action plan to ensure food safety in the agricultural sector, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. 

Agricultural products are classified into three main groups, including key national products, key provincial products and local specialties.

The ministry this year has expanded the One Commune One Product Programme, in which each rural commune or district will develop its own specialty, apply high technologies, use organic cultivation procedures, and global Good Agricultural Practices in farming and production. 

It is also strengthening chains for “safe” agricultural products and aquatic and forestry products. 

The origin of products continues to be traced, and the ministry has made efforts to seek markets for products. 

According to the ministry’s report, 1,845 farms with a total area of 80,000 ha and more than 500 aquatic farms with an area of 2,618 ha last year were issued Vietnamese GAP (good agricultural practice) certificates. 

The country set up 1,249 chains of safe food with 1,450 products last year. 

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Phung Duc Tien said that food safety in the agriculture sector improved last year thanks to more unannounced inspections. 

More than 70,500 agricultural material production and trade establishments were inspected. Among these, 5,223 were fined 39.8 billion VND (1.7 million USD) for violations.

The number of food safety violations last year fell by 38 percent compared to 2017 and the number of food poisoning cases dropped by 26 percent. 

Nguyen Nhu Tiep, head of the National Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Quality Assurance Department under the ministry, said the Law on Cultivation and Law on Animal Husbandry contain clear criteria on quality and food safety for agricultural products. 

Last year, the department reviewed the list of agricultural materials and rejected 1,774 plant protection products, 1,052 veterinary drugs, and 3,621 fertilisers, all of which were considered substandard and unsafe. 

Tien said that producers and agricultural product traders should learn about the new food safety regulations to avoid problems in the export of vegetable, fruit and seafood. 

The ministry will continue training staff for monitoring and managing food safety while upgrading testing equipment to ensure food safety that meets global criteria.

Last year, export value of agro-forestry and aquatic products reached 40 billion USD. It is expected to increase to between 42 billion USD and 43 billion USD this year.

Vietnam promotes gender equality in domestic firms

A fact-finding trip and a seminar on gender equality were held in Ho Chi Minh City on March 5 by the Institute of Studies on Society, Economy and Environment (iSEE) (Illustrative photo: VNA)

A fact-finding trip and a seminar on gender equality were held in Ho Chi Minh City on March 5 by the Institute of Studies on Society, Economy and Environment (iSEE).

iSEE Deputy Director Hoang Thi Huong said the activities aim to clarify gender equality issue in workload distribution, salary, as well as payment for workers, the extension of retirement age and issues in creating a safe, friendly and equal working environment with welfare benefits, among others.

From those activities, the institute and its partners will submit recommendations promoting gender equality to the revised Labour Code, along with raising public awareness and the voices of labourers in relating issues.

At the seminar, representatives of many firms underlined that workload distribution is mostly carried out in an open and equal manner, based on workers’ capacity rather than their gender. Particularly, businesses focus on job description and guidance for workers from recruitment to facilitate their careers.

Nguyen Xuan Son from ManpowerGroup Vietnam said companies’ leaders must be pioneers in fostering gender equality. In addition, firms are advised to apply the technologies which support women to work from home. 

Participants voiced their ideas that retirement age should be on workers’ demand and capacity instead of their gender. Lawmakers should consider the country’s current situation to set appropriate retirement age, which affects domestic firms and social welfare policy of the nation.

Recent survey by ManpowerGroup Vietnam showed that the demand for female workers accounts for 50 percent in office work and garment-textile and electronic sectors. Meanwhile, the rate of Vietnamese women taking the leading role in businesses stands at about 33 percent.


Source: VNP - Bridge

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