Vietnam Update: TPP to Make Vietnam an Attractive Agricultural Market for US

Vietnam Update | November 5, 2015
Authors: Hai Pham, Mindy Duong
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

REQUEST FOR INPUT: Letter on Draft Amended Tax Law in Vietnam  – Please send input to Vu Tu Thanh at tvu@usasean.org by November 6

The Council's MOU with the Ministry of Health of Vietnam
The latest version of the Council’s draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Ministry of Health of Vietnam is available here. The draft is currently being reviewed by the Ministry, after which we expect at least one final opportunity to review and submit a final copy. The target date for either a tentative announcement or signing of this MOU is November 23 in Hanoi with Minister of Health Nguyen Thi Kim Tien. If you have not already, and wish to include your company name and profile (100-150 words) in Appendix A of the MOU, please submit these to Fatimah Alsagoff at falsagoff@usasean.org as soon as possible.

Nov 23:  20th US-VN Anniversary Exhibition and Gala Dinner

Nov 24:  Vietnam Customs and Trade Facilitation Forum

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

TPP to Make Vietnam an Attractive Agricultural Market for US

Vietnam is expected to eliminate tariffs on many agricultural products for the partner countries of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) pact in the next few years, but it is unclear if relevant domestic sectors are ready for such a major change. TPP partners like the U.S. and Canada are optimistic that Vietnam’s potential will help boost their agricultural exports. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), under the TPP agreement, all of Vietnam’s tariffs on beef and beef products, currently as high as 34 percent, will be removed in three to eight years. The U.S. exported $22.1 million USD of beef and beef products and $2.2 million USD of port products to Vietnam in 2014. Vietnam will also will eliminate tariffs on imports of cheese, milk powder, and whey from the U.S. immediately after the ratification of the TPP. However, ratification date of the TPP is still unclear, with some speculating it won’t happen until 2018. From that point, Vietnam will be allowed three to 13 years to implement all of the tariff eliminations. The Council's TPP page can be found here. 

Vietnam Urged to Amend Rules to Facilitate Foreign Workers

In November 2014, the Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade issued the Circular No.41, which set the requirements foreign employees have to meet to be able to move to other positions within the same business without having to reapply for a work permit. The ministry, in collaboration with the European Trade Policy and Investment Support Project (EU-MUTRAP), held a conference last week to suggest changes to the current regulation and to gauge foreign employers’ feedback. The Circular No.41 was issued to improve the Vietnamese legal framework on managing foreign labor and enhance the country’s business environment. The regulation allows foreign laborers of 11 sectors in Vietnam’s WTO Commitments of the General Agreement on Trade in Services to be exempt from work permit requirements, if they move to work at other positions within the same business. The 11 sectors include business, communication, construction, distribution, educational, environment, health, tourism, recreational, cultural and sporting, and transport services. However, Circular No.41 still has some shortcomings that need improvement to be on par with the current development of the global labor market. According to Vietnam’s employment agency, the country had over 76,000 foreign laborers in 2014. The government is reportedly drafting a new regulation that will waive work permit requirements for foreign laborers employed in Vietnam for less than 30 days. The request to revise the current regulations is aimed at simplifying administrative procedures associated with permit issuance and making Vietnam’s business environment friendlier for foreign workers.

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Regional Affairs
Vietnam-Laos border cooperation bears fruit
Vietnamese, Lao foreign ministers chair second consultation
Italian President’s visit to foster strategic partnership witth VN
Vietnam has absolute sovereignty over its border area with Cambodia
Chinese leader to pay State visit to Viet Nam

National Affairs
Ha Noi holds 16th Party Congress with focus on next five-year plan

ASEAN
ASEAN ministers adopt statement on climate change

Customs
Ratification of Vietnam-EU free trade pact to take two years
Tien Sa port set for major upgrade

Defense & Security
Japanese defense minister to visit Vietnam this week
VN watches East Sea case closely
Vietnam buys Israeli-made air defense missile system, radar
VN respects East Sea travel freedom
The First AW189 Helicopter of the VPA in Flight Testing

Economics
NA deputies debate socio-economic development solutions
FDI, domestic sector need better balance
Vietnam urged to amend rules to facilitate foreign laborers

Energy
PetroVietnam exits PVTex; Da Nang Port to invest $45m in upgrading unit
JAKS Vietnam unit achieves financial close of power deal

Financial Services
30 percent of Vietnamese population to join online shopping by 2020
Banking restructuring ramps up activities

Food & Agriculture
TPP to make Vietnam attractive agriculture market for US, Canada
Japanese corporation to introduce farming machinery to Can Tho
Uncompetitive Vietnamese seafood sector to miss $8bn export target
Shrimp exports forecast to fall sharply this year
VN agriculture to benefit from free trade
Food, forestry exports reach almost $25b through October
Promising aquaculture model changes farmer lives
Vietnam yet to take full advantage of Japan ties

Health & Life Sciences
Vietnam pilots HIV testing in community settings
Ministry warns of risk of diphtheria outbreak
Hanoi promotes high-tech application in health care
Vietnam pilots HIV testing in community setting
Vaccine still used after baby deaths
Violence against Viet Nam's health workers seen growing
Vietnam's antibiotic resistance rate among the highest in the world
5,000 Vietnamese women diagnosed with cervical cancer each year: doctors
TPP poses problems for local pharma companies
HIV/AIDS patients reluctant to buy health insurance, fear discrimination
Baby dies after Quinvaxem vaccination
US, VN celebrate healthcare assistance

ICT
Policy support, angel networks & replication of global models key enablers for Vietnam startups
Programme to help increase Vietnamese startup businesses’ capacity
US data protection firm in Vietnam
Vietnam a Laboratory for Emerging Market Tech

Infrastructure
HCM City's first rapid bus line to start in 2017
Model train of Chinese-funded railway in Hanoi gets negative feedback
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Regional Affairs

Vietnam-Laos border cooperation bears fruit VietnamPlus 3rd Nov 2015
Vietnam and Laos have agreed to increase the exchange of experience in poverty reduction and social welfare fulfillments in border areas, thus improving the material and spiritual life for local residents. The consensus was reached during talks between Laos’ National Committee for Rural Development and Poverty Eradication and the Steering Committee for the Northwestern Region of Vietnam in Vientiane on November 3. They also consented to boost collaboration in socio-economic development, education-training, and national defence and security between the two countries’ border provinces. They held that the implementation of the guideline to build a shared border of stability and comprehensive development has reaped significant outcomes, contributing to consolidating and developing the special friendship between the two countries. Hailing the results of cooperation in border areas with Vietnam, the Lao side described these as the model for affiliation in poverty reduction in border, remote and far-flung areas.

Vietnamese, Lao foreign ministers chair second consultation VietnamPlus 3rd Nov 2015
Consultation is an important cooperation mechanism for Vietnam and Laos to strengthen trust and productive coordination to foster relations, as well as intensifying cooperation in regional and international mechanisms. Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh shared the view with his Lao counterpart Thoonglun Sisulith while co-chairing the second consultation at the foreign ministerial level in Hanoi on November 3. The Lao official is in an official visit to Vietnam from November 2-5. For his part, Sisulith emphasised the necessity for the two ministries to maintain trust in exchanging cooperation measures and sharing the stance on regional and international issues, thus contributing to consolidating and nurturing the Vietnam-Laos time-honoured friendship, special solidarity and comprehensive cooperation. Both pledged to encourage relevant ministries and offices to prepare for the 38 th meeting of the Vietnam-Laos Inter-governmental committee slated for the end of this year. The two sides agreed to accelerate the implementation of recently-signed cooperation documents, including the Vietnam-Laos trade agreement, the Vietnam-Laos border trade agreement, and the two Governments’ memorandum of understanding on transportation cooperation strategy for 2016-2025 with a vision towards 2030.

Italian President’s visit to foster strategic partnership witth VN VietnamPlus 2nd Nov 2015
Italian President Sergio Mattarella’s November 5-8 state visit to Vietnam is intended to enhance the strategic partnership between the two countries in various fields, including politics-diplomacy, defence-security, economics, culture, education, science-technology and tourism. The visit, the first made by an Italian President to Vietnam since the two countries set up their diplomatic ties in 1973, will create favourable conditions for Italian businesses to invest in Vietnam. It will also offer a chance for the two countries to increase their collaboration at multilateral forums and international organisations as well as exchange views on regional and global issues of mutual concern. The political ties between Vietnam and Italy have been incessantly consolidated and seen marked developments. Italy was the first Western European country to actively strengthen cooperation between Vietnam and the European Union. In early 2013, the two nations established their strategic partnership during Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong’s State visit to Italy. In September that year, they approved an action plan for the implementation of the strategic partnership from 2013-2014 on the occasion of Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai’s visit to the European country. The two countries’ leaders are currently discussing another action plan for 2015-2016.

Vietnam has absolute sovereignty over its border area with Cambodia VietnamPlus 2nd Nov 2015
Vietnam has absolute sovereignty over the border area of Dak Dam in the Central Highlands province of Dak Nong, which is contiguous with the Cambodian province of Mondulkiri, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Le Hai Binh said. He made the remark on November 2 in response to reporters’ question about recent news posted on Cambodia’s online newspaper vodhotnews.com. The website has reported that Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said in Paris that Vietnam, through unofficial channels, agreed to share a land area between Dak Nong and Mondulkiri. Accordingly, Vietnam would have 60 percent of the Dak Dam – Dak Huyt border region and the remaining 40 percent would belong to Cambodia. Vietnam is verifying the abovementioned information, Binh said. The country has sufficient legal and historical grounds and management in reality to assert its absolute sovereignty over the border area of Dak Dam in Dak Nong province, he stressed.

Chinese leader to pay State visit to Viet Nam Viet Nam News 2nd Nov 2015
Chinese President Xi Jinping will pay a State visit to Viet Nam from November 5-6 at the invitation of Viet Nam's General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong and President Truong Tan Sang, the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced. In April, General Secretary Trong also paid an official visit to China. Viet Nam and China established a diplomatic relationship on January 18, 1950. During the last 10 years, China has continually been Viet Nam's largest trade partner, while Viet Nam has become China's second biggest ASEAN trade partner. In 2014, their trade revenue reached US$58.87 billion. A total investment of $7.94 billion in 1,082 projects made China the ninth largest foreign investor in Viet Nam by the end of last year.

National Affairs

Ha Noi holds 16th Party Congress with focus on next five-year plan Viet Nam News 2nd Nov 2015
Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong has underlined several tasks the city should focus on in the next five years to develop itself as a key economic region in the north and the country. The Party leader was addressing the Ha Noi Party Organisation's 16th Congress that began yesterday, with 495 delegates representing more than 390,000 Party members meeting in the city. The Party chief said Ha Noi had to concentrate on adjusting the growth model. It needed to make breakthroughs in rural modernisation, administrative reform and human resources improvements. Given rapid urbanisation, it was necessary to improve planning management and infrastructure systems, and ensure construction order and traffic safety. The city also needed to deal with pressing social issues, such as accommodation, drainage and waste treatment, he said. The capital should engage in Party-building at all levels while maintaining political stability, social order and safety, and promoting local cultural values, he added. The Party leader described the building and development of the capital as the responsibility of the municipal Party Organisation, authorities, people and national Government. President Truong Tan Sang, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, National Assembly Chairman Nguyen Sinh Hung and other former Party and State leaders also attended the congress.

ASEAN

ASEAN ministers adopt statement on climate change Viet Nam News 2nd Nov 2015
The 2015 ASEAN joint statement on climate change was adopted by participants of the 13th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Environment, which wrapped up yesterday in Ha Noi. Approving the joint statement on climate change was one of the major aims of the 13th AMME. The statement is scheduled to be submitted at the 27th ASEAN Summit held in Malaysia in November and presented at the 21st Conference of Parties held in Paris in December. It was released yesterday at the press conference held by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, which hosted the meeting. ASEAN Secretary-General Le Luong Minh said at the press conference that the joint statement outlines 17 sustainable development goals that were adopted at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit on September 25. Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Tran Hong Ha said the joint statement was expected to be presented at the 21st Conference of Parties by Malaysia, the chair of ASEAN, after receiving the green light at the 27th ASEAN Summit. The joint statement reaffirmed previous statements by ASEAN on climate change and aligns with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Ha said. Via the joint statement, ASEAN members expressed hopes that the UNFCCC be made aware that ASEAN countries are suffering from climate change, he said. Also at the press conference, the ministry of environment announced main outcomes achieved at the 13th AMME.

Customs

Ratification of Vietnam-EU free trade pact to take two years Tuoi Tre News 2nd Nov 2015
It will take all the member states of the European Union (EU) about two years to ratify the Vietnam-EU free trade agreement, an EU ambassador said in a recent press meeting in Hanoi. "This is an important time for leaders of those EU members to prepare for the implementation process," Bruno Angelet, the new ambassador and head of the EU Delegation to Vietnam, said at the meeting on Wednesday. On August 4 Vietnam and the EU reached agreement in principle for a free trade pact after concluding three years of negotiations, with a view to ensuring an effective environment for trade and investment relations. However, this does not mean that dialogue will stop, as there is a lot of work to do in the two-year period, Angelet said. This will be the time for all 28 member states to finalize all related legal and technical issues, and enable all parties to fully understand the rights and obligations related to the accord, he added. All EU member states have longed for the finalization of the deal, which is expected to create a new wave of investment in Vietnam, especially from high-quality and high value-added resources in the EU, he said. The group wants to promote investment cooperation between its member states and Vietnam, and lauded the Southeast Asian country's role in the cooperation between the EU and ASEAN, Angelet added “We have the political will to enable the accord to be signed and ratified,” local news website VnExpress quoted the ambassador as saying.

Tien Sa port set for major upgrade VietnamPlus 29th Oct 2015
Da Nang port, the largest in central Vietnam, will invest 1 trillion VND (47.6 million USD) for the second phase upgrade of Tien Sa port in the second quarter next year. Chairman of Da Nang Port Company Nguyen Thu told Vietnam News that the upgrade was aimed at raising the port's standards to an international level in the coming years. "We have raised funds ourselves and via shareholders for the second phase of Tien Sa port's upgrade in the 2016-18 period. The port was designed to handle 14 million tonnes of cargo, including 800,000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent unit), in 2025," Thu said. "We decided not to use Official Development Assistance (ODA) funds for the port, and hope to accelerate the construction process to begin operations soon," he said.

Defense & Security

Japanese defense minister to visit Vietnam this week Tuoi Tre News 2nd Nov 2015
Japanese Defense Minister Gen Nakatani will begin his three-day tour of Vietnam at the invitation of his Vietnamese counterpart Phung Quang Thanh on Thursday. The Japanese minister will visit Vietnam after attending the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM+) organized in Kuala Lumpur this week, a source at the Embassy of Japan in Hanoi told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper. ADMM+ was established in 2007 for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its eight Dialogue Partners to strengthen security and defense cooperation for peace, stability, and development in the region, according to the official website of the bloc. ASEAN is a ten-member group which includes Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. The upcoming meeting of the biennial ADMM+ will be held on November 3 and 4, with the participation of defense ministers from ASEAN member states, China, the United States, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Russia and Australia in order to alleviate the heightened tension in the East Vietnam Sea, according to Kyodo News.

VN watches East Sea case closely Viet Nam News 2nd Nov 2015
Viet Nam will keep a close watch on the process of the East Sea-related case filed by the Philippines and reserves the right to use all suitable and necessary peaceful measures to protect its rights and legal interests in the East Sea, said the Foreign Ministry's spokesperson. Spokesperson Le Hai Binh made the statement on Saturday in response to reporters' queries regarding Viet Nam's reaction to the decision issued by Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) on Thursday that it has jurisdiction to hear some territorial claims in the case filed by the Philippines over disputed areas in the East Sea, and the Chinese Foreign Ministry's statement slamming the decision a day later. "First and foremost, I once again affirm Viet Nam's indisputable sovereignty over Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) Archipelagos," Binh said, going on to say that as a coastal nation in the East Sea and a member of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), Viet Nam has sovereignty rights and jurisdiction over the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf as designated in accordance with the Convention. He noted that Viet Nam has presented its views on the case filed by the Philippines many times, particularly in the Foreign Ministry's statement submitted to the PCA on December 5, 2014. The statement said Viet Nam backed the observance and full implementation of all regulations and procedures as prescribed in the UNCLOS, including the settlement of all disputes relating to the interpretation and application of the Convention via peaceful measures.

Vietnam buys Israeli-made air defense missile system, radar Tuoi Tre News 30th Oct 2015
Vietnam has ordered an Israeli-made air defense missile system to enhance its air defense capacity, a senior military official said on the portal of the Vietnam People's Army last week. The Air Defense and Air Force Service of Vietnam has actively carried out many projects to improve the durability and capacity of its weapons and technical equipment, Lieutenant General Le Huy Vinh, Commander of the Air Defense and Air Force Service, said in an article published on the website on October 20. According to the article on building a modern air defense and air force service to protect the national airspace, the Air Defense and Air Force Service is gradually investing in advanced weapons and technical equipment. They include many new radar systems like the ELM-2288/ER air defense radar, the 36D6 radar system, and the Kolchuga passive early warning radar, the article reads. The first radar system is produced by Israel Aerospace Industries, while the remaining systems are manufactured in Ukraine. The article also mentioned new air-defense weapons and aircraft, including surface-to-air Python and Derby (SPYDER) missiles, S-300PMU1 and S-125-2TM, multifunctional fighter Su-30MK2, and twin-turboprop tactical military transport aircraft Casa-295.

VN respects East Sea travel freedom Viet Nam News 30th Oct 2015
Viet Nam has continuously respected the freedom of navigation and aviation in the East Sea, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Le Hai Binh said. Binh made the statement yesterday in reply to reporters' queries on Viet Nam's response to the US ships' recent voyage near a number of geological structures of the Truong Sa (Spratly) islands of Viet Nam. As a sovereign state over the Hoang Sa (Paracels) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagos in the East Sea and a member of the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), Viet Nam has continuously respected the freedom of navigation and aviation in the East Sea in accordance with the Convention and the regulations of the coastal states, he affirmed. Viet Nam is calling for parties involved to actively contribute to the maintenance of peace, stability, security and navigation and aviation safety in the East Sea on the basis of international law, including the UNCLOS and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), he stated.

The First AW189 Helicopter of the VPA in Flight Testing Defense Studies 2nd Nov 2015
The first AW189 helicopter of the Vietnam Helicopter Corporation (Corps 18) of the Vietnamese Ministry of National Defence undergoes flight testing (photo : VNH) Last week, the portal company VNH South (under the Vietnam Helicopter Company, Vietnam People's Armed Forces) has posted photos acceptance of first AW189 transport helicopter fom AgustaWestland SPA (Republic of Italy) on 21/10. In the picture, the first AW189 helicopter of the Vietnam People's Army in flight testing in Italy. This is the first AW-189 delivered among 3 helicopters AW-189 contracted from AgustaWestland, which increases VNH South’s helicopter fleet up to 21 in total, marks amilestone in helicopter fleet of VNH South development process.

Economics

NA deputies debate socio-economic development solutions VietnamPlus 3rd Nov 2015
National Assembly deputies focused their discussion on the country’s socio-economic performance outcomes in 2015 and plans for 2016 during their sitting of the on-going 10th session on November 3. They stressed the importance of determining growth models, and debated measures to quicken the economic restructuring in the near future. How to use and develop effectively resources for socio-economic development and enhance international integration and sustainable development was also on the agenda. Deputies also contributed their opinions on measures to promote regional economic development and administrative reform; policies for science and technology application and development, business development of the private economic area, modernity-oriented industry and maritime-based economic development; and how to improve the quality of human resources and vocational training, among others.

FDI, domestic sector need better balance Viet Nam News 2nd Nov 2015
The development of the foreign direct investment (FDI) sector and the domestic business sector next year need to be better balance, Head of the Central Economic Commission Vuong Dinh Hue said. At a recent discussion in group by National Assembly delegates, Hue said the country's development in 2015 still depended on the FDI sector while domestic businesses still faced many difficulties, particularly businesses operating in the fields of agriculture, services and tourism. In order to tackle the difference in development of the two sectors, Hue said it was necessary to use FDI, focusing on businesses that already had a good value chain, good technology and good management. He noted that attention should be paid to small- and medium-sized FDI businesses to use technology and experiences of other countries. It should be noted that there are not many big corporations that invested billions of US dollars in Viet Nam like Samsung group while it was said that this was now the era of small- and medium-sized businesses. It was also essential to take measures to boost development and improve competitiveness of domestic businesses, he said. There should have had preferential policies and support mechanisms to boost the domestic sector like the FDI sector. The State should quickly build and issue the law on supporting small- and medium-sized businesses as well as provide guidelines to help the business community effectively implement the revised Laws on Investment and Businesses, he said. Promoting the national startup spirit and building a national startup programme was needed, he said. However, it would require speeding up research and innovation and mechanisms to set up the Government risk investment fund as well as to attract risk investment funds both inside and outside the country, he said.

Vietnam urged to amend rules to facilitate foreign laborers Tuoi Tre News 31st Oct 2015
The current regulations on managing foreign labor in Vietnam should be changed in order to meet several reasonable demands from international employers and employees, experts said at a conference in Ho Chi Minh City on Friday. In November 2014, the Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade issued the Circular No.41, which set the requirements foreign employees have to meet to be able to move to other positions within one same business without having to apply for a work permit. The ministry collaborated with the European Trade Policy and Investment Support Project (EU-MUTRAP) to hold the Friday event to introduce such a rule to international businesses and listen to their feedback as to any changes should be made. The Circular No.41 was issued in a bid to improve and perfect the Vietnamese legal framework on managing foreign labor and enhance the country’s business environment, Luu Mai Lan, from the ministry’s planning department, told the conference. The regulations also ensure the right and interest of foreign employees and their employers, Mai said. The circular allows foreign laborers of 11 sectors in Vietnam’s WTO Commitments of the General Agreement on Trade in Services to be exempted from work permit requirements, if they move to work at other positions within their own business. The 11 sectors include business, communication, construction, distribution, educational, environment, health, tourism, recreational, cultural and sporting, and transport services. However, experts pointed out at the event that the Circular No.41 still has some shortcomings that need improvement to be on par with the current development of the global labor market during these times of free trade. The circular does not cover some new investment schemes, such as the Public-Private Partnership, which are stipulated in new laws on investment that came into effect this year, according to experts.

Energy

PetroVietnam exits PVTex; Da Nang Port to invest $45m in upgrading unit Deal Street Asia 2nd Nov 2015
The latest in investment activities in Vietnam has seen Da Nang Port Company ploughing in VND1 trillion ($45 million) in expanding the operation of Tien Sa Port. Meanwhile, the oil and gas titan PetroVietnam will divest from its PVTex subsidiary to invite investors who can better manage the business. PetroVietnam to divest from loss-making PVTex Vietnam’s energy major PetroVietnam, which is holding over 75 per cent of the Petrovietnam Petrochemical and Textile Fiber JSC (PVTex), will have to cash out of the Dinh Vu Industrial Zone-based fibre factory, to seek investors who will bring efficiency to the operation of PVTex. This was announced by the head of the Government Office, Nguyen Van Nen. PetroVietnam teamed up with the Vietnam National Textile and Garment Group (Vinatex) to build the factory in 2008, each holding a 50 per cent stake. However, due to the sluggish performance of the joint venture, the textile giant reduced its ownership to 19 per cent, before fully divesting from the plant in September 2014. The total investment in PVTex amounted to $325 million, with an aim to process materials from the Dung Quat oil refinery into fibers, to help Vietnam manufacture a part of essential inputs for the textile industry. However, the factory posed a huge loss of over VND1.7 trillion ($76 million) by the first quarter in 2015 and had been many times abandoned.

JAKS Vietnam unit achieves financial close of power deal The Star 30th Oct 2015
JAKS Resources Bhd’s Vietnam unit has achieved the financial close of the build-operate-transfer (BOT) contract for the US$1.87bil coal-fired thermal power plant project in Vietnam. It said on Friday its unit Jaks Hai Duong Power Company Ltd had informed Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade about the financial close but this also hinged on fulfilling several requirements. They included the registration of the shareholder loan agreement between China Power Engineering Consulting Group (Hong Kong) Investment Co., Limited and Jaks Hai Duong, with the State Bank of Vietnam and the Ministry of Justice of Vietnam’s legal opening. The parties to the subscription agreement had also mutually agreed to extend the cut-off date from Oct 31, 2015 to Jan 31, 2016 to fulfil the conditions precedent of the subscription agreement.

Financial Services

30 percent of Vietnamese population to join online shopping by 2020 VietnamPlus 2nd Nov 2015
The Vietnam E-commerce and Information Technology Agency (VECITA) under the Ministry of Industry and Trade set a goal to get 30 percent of Vietnamese people shopping online by 2020. It also aims to bring annual e-commerce sales to an average of 350 USD per person . In order to boost online consumers’ and businesses’ confidence, VECITA is improving legal frameworks for e-payments and logistics services, as well as developing corresponding application solutions, said Tran Huu Linh, head of VECITA. Linh said current legal frameworks and infrastructure do not meet rising demand for e-commerce growth, adding that the revenue from the field is estimated to reach 4 billion USD in 2015.

Banking restructuring ramps up activities VietnamPlus 2nd Nov 2015
The banking system is racing against time as its major restructuring enters its last phase. It devised a roadmap to restructure credit organisations at the end of 2011, and began implementing the regulations in February 2012. These were the earliest projects under the national economic overhaul. Following the blueprint, the system has yielded positive outcomes, but the overall pace remains slow and requires drastic moves to meet the deadline. Earlier this year, State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) Governor Nguyen Van Binh said several merger and acquisition (M&A) deals would take place, including some between healthy banks in order to expand their scale and boost their performance.

Food & Agriculture

TPP to make Vietnam attractive agriculture market for US, Canada Tuoi Tre News 2nd Nov 2015
Vietnam is expected to eliminate the tariffs on many agricultural products for the partner countries of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) pact in the next few years, but it is unclear if relevant domestic sectors are ready for such a major change. Several TPP countries have announced fact sheets on how their agriculture industries will benefit from the ambitious trade pact, which was reached by 12 countries in the U.S. on October 7. Countries like Canada and the U.S. are optimistic that their agriculture exporters can be boosted through the high potential of Vietnam. The TPP deal, which aims to liberalize commerce in 40 percent of the world's economy, was reached following five years of negotiations between 12 countries, including Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the U.S. and Vietnam. The accord still needs to be ratified by lawmakers in the participating nations. Tax breaks bring new opportunities The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said the trade accord will “provide significant new market opportunities” for U.S. exporters to promote economic growth in the Asia-Pacific region. The TPP also “provides specific new market access commitments for U.S. agricultural exports to Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, New Zealand, and Brunei,” the department said in a report.

Japanese corporation to introduce farming machinery to Can Tho VietnamPlus 2nd Nov 2015
Japan’s Satake Corporation aims to invest in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho’s agricultural equipment, General Director Nguyen Trong Hieu told municipal authorities on November 2. Satake works on high-tech machinery for agriculture, from sowing to post-harvest preservation. It plans to introduce Can Tho to seed-split and drying equipment with a designed capacity of 30-120 tonnes per batch. Municipal People’s Committee Vice Chairman Dao Anh Dung suggested Satake hold seminars to introduce products, support policies and technology transfers. Can Tho will work closely with Satake to launch product displays, he said, adding that Satake should offer affordable prices to compete with Chinese and Thai rivals.

Uncompetitive Vietnamese seafood sector to miss $8bn export target Tuoi Tre News 31st Oct 2015
High production costs, inadequate quality and unhealthy competition are keeping the Vietnamese seafood sector far away from the export revenue target of US$8 billion, an industry association has said. Vietnam’s seafood sector is forecast to rake in $6.6 billion from exports in 2015, far behind the $8 billion target it set in the beginning of the year, according to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP). The estimated 2015 export turnover is also $1.2 billion lower than the 2014 figure, the VASEP said, adding catfish growers are experiencing the most hardship. While catfish is one of the export staples of the Vietnamese seafood sector, the fish growers in the Mekong Delta are unable to find buyers, whereas catfish processors have to cut production and temporarily lay off employees. Vietnam’s catfish export sector only earned $1.15 billion in the first nine month of this year, down 9.3 percent from a year earlier, according to the VASEP. All of Vietnam’s traditional and major markets, including Mexico, Brazil, the EU, the U.S., and ASEAN countries, have reduced imports, exacerbating the situation, the association remarked.

Shrimp exports forecast to fall sharply this year Viet Nam Net 2nd Nov 2015
The revised projection is US$300 million lower than the full-year estimate announced in July this year by VASEP. The association made the revision based on the outbound sales of shrimp in the past months. VASEP estimated the shrimp export revenue in the final quarter of this year at only US$800 million, down 20-25% compared to a year ago. If this is true, Vietnam can earn shrimp exports of only US$2.9 billion including US$573.9 billion in the first quarter, US$716.2 million in the second quarter and US$840.8 million in the third quarter.

VN agriculture to benefit from free trade Viet Nam News 31st Oct 2015
Officials and economists see Viet Nam's membership of the Trans-Pacific Partnership bringing more opportunities than challenges for the country's agriculture sector. Speaking on the sidelines of a recent seminar on TPP and its impacts on the country's agriculture sector organised by the University of Economics and Law and Van Hien University on Wednesday, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Ha Cong Tuan said: "I don't think the TPP will hurt Viet Nam's agriculture sector; I think it will bring huge opportunities for speedy development.

Food, forestry exports reach almost $25b through October Viet Nam News 31st Oct 2015
Viet Nam's farming, fishery and forestry product export value in the first 10 months of this year was estimated at US$24.6 billion, a year-on-year reduction of 3.8 per cent. According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, most of the key agricultural products saw a tumble in both volume and value. Since January, the country has raked in $2.26 billion from exporting 5.32 million tonnes of rice, dwindling 4.6 per cent in quantity and 11.7 per cent in value compared to the same period last year.

Promising aquaculture model changes farmer lives Viet Nam Net 31st Oct 2015
Since taking part in a pilot project initiated by Van Chai-Ha Long Co-operative, which integrates floating fish farms with eco-tourism, Khuyen and 70 other households in the resettlement area no longer have to deal with risks like fish loss and environmental destruction. The project has provided technical assistance since March this year in VungVieng fishing village, where fish farmers lived before relocation, aimed at stablising farmers' livelihoods and creating tourism products based on fish farmers' culture.

Vietnam yet to take full advantage of Japan ties Asia One 30th Oct 2015
Vietnam should strengthen its government machinery and develop the private sector to ensure more effective co-operation with Japan, economist Pham Chi Lan has said. Speaking at a seminar titled "Vietnam-Japan economic co-operation - actuality and prospect" in Ho Chi Minh City yesterday, she said Vietnam lacked the "inner force" to take full advantage of its relationship with Japan.

Health & Life Sciences

Vietnam pilots HIV testing in community settings VietnamPlus 3rd Nov 2015
The Vietnam Administration of HIV/AIDS Control (VAAC) under the Ministry of Health (MoH) has unveiled a plan to pilot the community-based HIV testing and counseling programme from 2015 to 2017. The programme, from the fourth quarter of 2015 to the end of the third quarter of 2017, will be firstly implemented in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Dien Bien, Nghe An, and Thanh Hoa provinces to study the feasibility of community-based HIV testing models. Its goals are to increase uptake of HIV testing among at-risk individuals who may not have access to health services or hard-to-reach groups and develop a guideline for proper HIV testing and counseling in community settings. The ministry will provide training for non-specialist health workers and adopt a mechanism for coordination between community-based organisations and clinics that perform HIV confirmatory tests and those offering antiretroviral (ARV) treatment.

Ministry warns of risk of diphtheria outbreak VietnamPlus 3rd Nov 2015
The Ministry of Health has warned about the risk of diphtheria outbreaks spreading from Laos through the border area into Vietnam. According to the ministry's Preventive Medicine Department, from June to October, diphtheria outbreaks were reported in six of the 17 provinces across Laos. Until October 27, 2015, Laos has recorded 588 diphtheria infected cases among the total population of 6.7 million people, of which 11 people died. The cases occurred mainly in children under the age of 15, accounting for 61 percent, or who had not been vaccinated against the contagious disease. So far in 2015, Vietnam has recorded only a few cases of diphtheria in some communes in the remote district of K'Bang in the Central Highlands Gia Lai province and two hamlets of Phuoc Loc commune, Phuoc Son district in the central Quang Nam province because people living in these areas had not been vaccinated. However, the diphtheria outbreaks currently occurring in Laos can spread to the border region between Vietnam and Laos then to other areas of the country.

Hanoi promotes high-tech application in health care VietnamPlus 30th Oct 2015
Hanoi’s health sector has focused on developing high-quality medical techniques over the last five years and made significant progress. The sector received technology from central-level and international hospitals to use in its own hospitals. Saint Paul, a leading hospital in the city, has earmarked a substantial amount of funding for modern equipment and the application of advanced technologies in diagnosis and treatment. The funding will focus on thoracic endoscopic surgery, treatment of digestive and urologic diseases, brain tumor surgery using neuronavigation and analgesic treatments for cancer patients. In 2013, the hospital became the 13th in the country and the first in the city to successfully transplant a kidney. To prepare for its first kidney transplants, the hospital sent a total of 100 doctors to Bach Mai Hospital, the Vietnam-Germany Hospital, Military Hospital 103 and the France-based Limoges University to learn about the technique. It has performed eight successful kidney transplants so far. The hospital is now working to develop other transplant techniques with its aim of being able to transplant livers and stem cells by 2016.

Vietnam pilots HIV testing in community setting Vietnam Net 4th Nov 2015
The Vietnam Administration of HIV/AIDS Control (VAAC) under the Ministry of Health (MoH) has unveiled a plan to pilot the community-based HIV testing and counseling programme from 2015 to 2017. The programme, from the fourth quarter of 2015 to the end of the third quarter of 2017, will be firstly implemented in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Dien Bien, Nghe An, and Thanh Hoa provinces to study the feasibility of community-based HIV testing models. Its goals are to increase uptake of HIV testing among at-risk individuals who may not have access to health services or hard-to-reach groups and develop a guideline for proper HIV testing and counseling in community settings. The ministry will provide training for non-specialist health workers and adopt a mechanism for coordination between community-based organisations and clinics that perform HIV confirmatory tests and those offering antiretroviral (ARV) treatment.

Vaccine still used after baby deaths VietNamNews 3rd Nov 2015
A representative of the Ministry of Health confirmed that Quinvaxem vaccine would continue to be used in the national immunisation program when responding to queries on the recent death of babies after being vaccinated.

Violence against Viet Nam's health workers seen growing VietNamNews 3rd Nov 2015
Violence against health workers by patients or patients' families in hospitals has seemed to increase recently, the online Voice of Vietnam (VoV) reported. Violence has become so prevalent that doctors and health workers thought their workplaces weren't safe any more. VoV reported that disruption, insults or attacks to health workers have occurred for many years. But the situation seemed to be getting worse. Health workers and the healthcare sector seem to have no response. So far, no cases of violence against health workers have been brought to court by the workers or their employers.

Vietnam's antibiotic resistance rate among the highest in the world Thanh Nien News 1st Nov 2015
Vietnam has reported an alarming increase of superbugs that are resistant to powerful antibiotics and some of them are able to survive all available drugs, doctors said. The World Health Organization (WHO) has listed Vietnam among countries with the highest antibiotic-resistant infections. Nguyen Vu Trung, deputy director of the Central Tropical Diseases Hospital, said at a conference in Hanoi on October 29 that the resistance rate to carbapenems, the strongest group of antibiotics, has risen to 50 percent, mostly from gram-negative bacteria which have an impenetrable cell wall. Resistance to third-generation cephalosporins, another powerful group of drugs, has surged to more than 60 percent in the country.

5,000 Vietnamese women diagnosed with cervical cancer each year: doctors Tuoi Tre News 1st Nov 2015
Over 5,000 women in Vietnam are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, doctors said at a conference on the disease organized in Ho Chi Minh City on October 30.

TPP poses problems for local pharma companies Vietnam Net 31st Oct 2015
Tariffs on pharmaceuticals imported into Vietnam will be cut from 2.5 per cent to 0 per cent when the TPP comes into effect, putting domestic enterprises under intense competitive pressure. Vietnamese people generally have a preference for foreign pharmaceuticals, according to Mr. Le Van Truyen, former Deputy Minister of Health. The arrival of major global pharmaceutical companies in Vietnam will create problems for local enterprises, with some likely to be forced out of the market. Market research released recently by Business Monitor International shows that Vietnam ranks 13th among 175 countries with the highest growth in medicine spending; evidence of the sector’s potential.Foreign pharmaceutical enterprises dominate the market, accounting for 60-70 per cent.

HIV/AIDS patients reluctant to buy health insurance, fear discrimination VietNamNews 30th Oct 2015
Health insurance has become critically important for HIV/AIDS patients as free anti-retroviral medicine and testing will no longer be readily available because of reduced international aid. Because of Viet Nam's classification as a lower middle-income country by the UN, funds from international aids will continue to fall, and eventually, patients with HIV/AIDS will have to pay for treatment. Nguyen Hoang Long, head of the country's HIV/AIDS Prevention Department, said that health insurance would help reduce the patients' payments. However, only 30 per cent of patients with HIV/AIDS buy insurance, and in HCM City, the figure is 20-25 per cent, according to the city AIDS Prevention Committee. The amended Health Insurance Law on health insurance is also a barrier for HIV/AIDS patients. The law, which took effect earlier this year, requires that insurance must be bought for all members of a family.

Baby dies after Quinvaxem vaccination VietNamNews 30th Oct 2015
A five-month-old girl in northern Hai Duong Province's Paediatric Hospital died on October 27, two days after being vaccinated with the 5-in-1 vaccine Quinvaxem, health authorities reported.

US, VN celebrate healthcare assistance VietNamNews 29th Oct 2015
The US government health programme in Viet Nam has provided funds of more than US$900 million since the 1995 normalisation of relations. This accounts for approximately 75 per cent of the US government's overall assistance to Viet Nam. This information was released October 28 in Ha Noi during the 20th anniversary celebrations of US–Viet Nam health co-operation initiatives and normalised bilateral relations.

ICT

Policy support, angel networks & replication of global models key enablers for Vietnam startups Deal Street Asia 3rd Nov 2015
“It is now time to see startups as the driving force of innovation,” according to Vietnam’s deputy minister of investment Dang Huy Dong. While it is true that startups globally are churning out innovative ideas and market-disrupting concepts, the real picture of the startup universe is often not all that rosy and is fraught with challenges. A successful entrepreneurial ecosystem thrives on ideas, talent potential, supporting state policies, infrastructure, access to funds, mentoring, community building and so on. From the government level, Vietnam has tied up with the Finland government through the Innovation Partnership Programme (IPP), which chose the local incubator HATCH! as its partner in delivering the Finnish expertise in technology and starting up an ecosystem for innovation. Through the annual HATCH! FAIR, co-hosted by the two, community builders and foreign experts discussed issues linked with government support and angel investment, believed as the fundamental factors to help startups grow to the next level. Let’s take a look at the factors that will act as enablers to the Vietnamese startup landscape. How the government can help In Vietnamese legisations, currently, there is no “startup” definition though some companies in the science and technology field do enjoy tax exemptions of up to zero per cent. While the local government, most recently through the meeting between deputy PM Vu Duc Dam and several entrepreneurs, is planning to create tax policies for the IT and software sector, and to draw up the national startup ecosystem project, a spate of tech startups in Vietnam are claiming they have to incorporate the companies overseas to take advantage of the policies in other countries, such as Singapore.

Programme to help increase Vietnamese startup businesses’ capacity Vietnam Investment Review 2nd Nov 2015
Microsoft Corporation, Expara Vietnam and the Customer Loyalty and Acquisition Services (CLAS) Company Limited have just introduced startup support programme called “CLAS Expara Startup Accelerator” at Phu My Hung new urban area in District 7 of Ho Chi Minh City. CLAS Expara Startup Accelerator, a programme to help increase capacity for startup businesses, was initiated by Microsoft Vietnam and Expara –Singapore's pioneer and leader in incubation, early-stage venture capital, entrepreneurship, VC and innovation training, mentorship and advisory work; and CLAS – a startup company of SHTP Microsoft Innovation Centre– a hi-tech software service company to make use of the internet and mobile technology whose software can be custom tailored to businesses’ marketing need. Microsoft and its partners –CLAS and Expara will accept applications from startups between November 2 and November 20. Interested startups can apply at www.fundacity.com/clas-expara-vietnam-accelerator/apply/525. The organisers will establish Screening Committee to evaluate participants’ applications and choose up to eight startups for enrollment in the Accelerator’s 2016 Batch 1. Within CLAS Expara Startup Accelerator programme framework, Microsoft Vietnam will provide startups the opportunity to access Microsoft technology including BizSpark and BizSpark Plus package with the total value of $147,000 within three years. Microsoft Vietnam also develops Go-To-Market Plan with startups whose solutions meet the needs of Microsoft customers. CLAS will provide the facilities, management, and operation of the Accelerator. Expara Vietnam will provide the workshops on entrepreneurship, business plan and model, competitive strategy, fundraising and financial plan and investor pitching (valued at $10,500). Expara Ventures III will invest $10,000 into promising startups after the mid-point review and will invest up to $500,000 in successful graduates after Demo Day (subject to Investment Committee approval and successful due diligence).

US data protection firm in Vietnam VietnamPlus 1st Nov 2015
US-based new generation data protection company Acronis has announced a partnership with NTS Group to distribute its products and solutions in Vietnam. Acronis's solutions enable users to safely backup, migrate, protect, and recover critical data from any location and any physical or virtual environment. The growing IT market in Vietnam offers new opportunities to Acronis, whose solutions are used by over 500,000 businesses and five million consumers around the world. According to a country analysis by BMI Research, Vietnam's software sales market will expand from 9.9 trillion VND this year to 16.1 trillion VND (644 million USD) in 2019, driven partly by security products.

Vietnam a Laboratory for Emerging Market Tech VOA 29th Oct 2015
Vietnam punches above its weight, clocking more hours on YouTube than most other countries, the company said Wednesday. Vietnam’s performance helps make Asia a testing ground for YouTube, which for example rolled out an “offline” feature in just a few markets, all of them in Asia. Vietnam's population ranks it 14th in the world, but the country is among YouTube’s top 10 markets for time spent watching videos. The company announced the figures at an event in Ho Chi Minh City to mark the first anniversary of YouTube.vn, the website’s localized version. “We’ve seen in just one year, 120 percent year-on-year growth in terms of watch time,” said Phuong Anh Nguyen, head of marketing for Vietnam at YouTube parent company, Google. That compares with 50 percent growth worldwide.

Infrastructure

HCM City's first rapid bus line to start in 2017 VietnamPlus 3rd Nov 2015
Construction on the first rapid bus line of HCM City is scheduled to begin in January 2017 with total investment of over 137million USD. According to officials, of the amount, 124 million USD will be funded by the World Bank's International Development Association (IDA). The rest will be from the city government's budget. Jen Jungeun Oh, of the World Bank, who spoke during a recent seminar on environmentally-friendly transportation, said the bank would invest in the BRT for use on Mai Chi Tho and Vo Van Kiet boulevards, which run through districts Binh Tan, Binh Chanh, 1, 2, 5, and 6. Linking the An Lac area in the city's southwestern region and the Rach Chiec area in the northeast, the bus line will be about 23 kilometres long with 28 bus stations. The city is now considering a list of contractors and designers. Upon completion at the end of 2018, the system will be able to transport up to 28,300 passengers per day.

Model train of Chinese-funded railway in Hanoi gets negative feedback Tuoi Tre News 30th Oct 2015
Transport authorities in Hanoi are seeking public opinion on the design of the trains that will run on the Chinese-contracted urban railway in the capital, and the very first comments have not been very encouraging. A model train, designed by China's Beijing Subway Rolling Stock Equipment Co., of the Cat Linh – Ha Dong project, will be on display at the Giang Vo Exhibition Center for the next month, according to the Ministry of Transport. Members of the public and experts are encouraged to give their feedback on the design so that the ministry can work with the train maker on changes, Deputy Minister of Transport Vo Hong Truong told reporters after a media trip there on Thursday.