Vietnam Update: Key Barriers to Digital Trade in Vietnam

Vietnam Update | April 6, 2017
Authors: Hai Pham, Trixia Apiado
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

April 18: Digitizing the Vietnamese Economy: Empowering SMBs for the Global Market

May 19: APEC Symposium on Trade and Innovation (Hanoi, Vietnam)
If you are interested in attending this APEC engagement hosted by the Vietnam Ministry of Industry and Trade, please contact Hai Pham at hpham@usasean.org.

May 20-21: U.S. APEC Business Coalition side meetings during the APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade Meetings (Hanoi, Vietnam)
If you are interested in attending bilateral meetings with APEC Trade Ministers on the margins of the MRT meeting, please contact Hai Pham at hpham@usasean.org 
  

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Key Barriers to Digital Trade in Vietnam

On March 30, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) released the 2017 National Trade Estimate Report (NTE), a report that emphasizes the importance of enforcing U.S. trade laws as a priority in the Trump Administration’s “America First” trade agenda. The NTE lists trade barriers in promoting free and fair trade in 58 countries. For Vietnam, the following were identified as key barriers to digital trade:

  • Online Advertising: Decree No. 181 of 2013  requires Vietnamese advertisers to contract with Vietnamese-based advertising services. This deters the use of foreign-based advertising services providers.
  • Over-The-Top Services (OTT): OTT services are Internet-based voice and text services. In 2014, the Vietnam Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) released draft regulations for OTT services which requires OTT service suppliers to enter an undefined relationship with a licensed telecommunications supplier in Vietnam.
  • Internet-based Content Services: Internet is only accessible through a limited number of Internet service providers, most of which are state-controlled companies. In July 2013, Decree 72 prohibits the use of internet services to oppose the government and Circular 09 guides the implementation of Decree 72.

For more details, please find the complete 2017 USTR National Trade Estimate Report here.

Growing a Vision for High Tech Agriculture in Vietnam

Vietnam’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, His Excellency Nguyen Xuan Cuong, has articulated a vision of sustainable and smart agriculture through the use of technology. He has already received the support of Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, who executed a directive on a USD$4.39 billion credit package for high tech agriculture on March 23. In line with this, and under the direction of Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue, the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) will require commercial banks to support high tech agriculture enterprises. Commercial banks are to cut interest rates by between 0.5 and 1.5 percent on loans to these enterprises, and must advertise their programs to facilitate access to borrowers.

The Council’s Food & Agriculture (F&A) Committee is well positioned to support the digitalization of the ASEAN agricultural sector, including exploring ways digital platforms can be utilized to transfer knowledge from the agricultural agencies and institutions to smallholder farmers, such as the ability to identify the difference between quality seeds and counterfeit agricultural products. Part of Minister Cuong’s high tech agriculture initiative will need to address the gap between rural and urban access to technology, and also moderate the information made available to the farmers as info needs to tailored and targeted to farmers specifically. It is still early days but the various ASEAN governments have yet to harmonize their digital outlook or collaborate on a cohesive framework to tackle ICT agricultural regulations.This creates an opportunity for Vietnam to play a leadership role during the 39th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Agriculture and Forestry (AMAF) in Thailand. During the Council’s recent meeting with Minister Cuong alongside the 2017 Vietnam Business Mission, members shared plans to enhance access to technology for plant science, education for farmers and other capacity building measures. The Council sees a valuable opportunity for collaboration between the F&A and ICT committees to explore ideas and synergies to promote smart agriculture.

Vietnam leading infrastructure investment in Southeast Asia

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has released figures that mark Vietnam’s public and private infrastructure investment as the highest in Southeast Asia, accounting for an average of 5.7 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). In comparison, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Thailand allocate less than 3 percent of their GDP to infrastructure improvement. The high priority placed on infrastructure development in Vietnam is aimed at helping promote the nation’s attractiveness to foreign investors. Foreign direct investment (FDI) increased to a record $15.8 billion in 2016, with the economy forecasted to expand by more than 6 percent per annum until 2019. In order to support fuel such high levels of investment, Vietnam’s national transport sector has been instructed to mobilize private capital to offset the $32.6 billion difference between the Ministry of Transport’s budget requirements and its real capital allocation. On March 16, Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc highlighted transport infrastructure at a meeting with Ministry representatives, saying that it plays a key role in Vietnam's socioeconomic development. During the Council’s inaugural business mission to the 22nd ASEAN Transport Ministers Meeting in November 2016, Vietnam’s Vice Minister of Transport, Nguyen Hong Truong, updated the delegation that transport infrastructure projects are modeled after public-private partnerships (PPPs) that have a range of 40 to 60 percent sharing; and a feasibility study on high speed railroad projects will be conducted in 2017, with target implementation in 2020.

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Customs
Vietnam to release more spot cargoes for June
VN’s first import-export report released
AirAsia Plans Vietnam Venture on Southeast Asia Travel Boom
TFA execution sub-par: experts
2017 National Trade Estimate Report – Major Developments

Defense & Security
Asian Power Play: India and Vietnam Strengthen Defense Ties
Asia Arms Race Heats Up Over South China Sea

Energy
KS Energy awarded with drilling contract off Vietnam
A 'dark shadow' looms over a key part of Vietnam's economy
Tata Solar plans 100 MW PV project in Vietnam
PetroVietnam surpasses business targets in Q1
Vietnam's coal struggles against imports
EVN and VCCI promote electricity-access index

Financial Services
Vietnamese ’mVisa’ to come out later this year
Foreign investment key to Vietnamese growth: experts
Card payment compulsory soon for e-commerce businesses: MoIT
Japan's Hitachi, SMBC launching e-money system in Vietnam-

Food & Agriculture
Philippines' San Miguel to bid for Vietnam's No. 1 beer-
Việt Nam’s animal feed imports up sharply
$4.4 billion enough to build hi-tech agriculture in Vietnam?
Pangasius industry gets boost
Problems with City pork plan
Agro, forestry, fishery export value up by 7.6%
KKR to Take $250 Million Stake in Vietnam's Masan and Unit
Shandong, Đà Nẵng to seek investment in agriculture
City starts safe supply chains
Korea and Southeast Asia look to expand agricultural trade throughout the region
BIDV offers VNĐ10 trillion loan for high-tech agriculture
Vietnam eyes organic food potential
High-tech agriculture should suit VN conditions
SGGP English Edition- US$4,34 billion credit package to be spent on high-tech agriculture
Slash-and-burn agriculture to rage on in northern mountainous province

Health & Life Sciences
Viet Nam, UN fight drought malnutrition
Clinics lack wastewater treatment
Made-in-Vietnam radioactive drugs cannot meet demand
US institute: Vietnam ranks first on health governance index
Another case of bird flu reported in Vietnam

ICT
Cyber security in fourth industrial revolution urged
Transfer centre to be built in City hi-tech park
TV programme “Startup Nation” to air shortly
HCM City to tax social media commerce
Vietnamese telecoms speed up 4G race
Key Barriers to Digital Trade

Infrastructure
Ho Chi Minh City plans vendor-friendly sidewalks
AirAsia’s Vietnam JV may help enhance route connectivity within Asean region
Vietnam Is Heavyweight Among Asia's Infrastructure Spenders

Legislation
Public property rules need more clarification
Vietnam in Firing Line On Trade with US - New America Media
VN seeks to foster, strengthen US ties
United States and Việt Nam renew trade dialogue
SOE equitisation: Gov’t must work on legal framework

Manufacturing
Formosa Vietnam steel mill meets conditions for test runs a year after spill
Manufacturing Top Performer In Vietnam At End Of First Quarter
Diesels must meet Euro 4 standard
Smooth trade to put $2B exports in reach
City to offer soft loans to manufacturing firms
Manufacturing slump drags on Vietnam growth-
President asks Hyundai to increase localisation rate
What's the future for textiles & garments without the TPP?
VN pursues dream of auto industry
Industry development level low
 
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Customs

Vietnam to release more spot cargoes for June Hellenic Shipping News 5th Apr 2017
The Asia-Pacific crude market remained mired in supplies with Vietnam expected to release more spot barrels for June as the country’s sole refinery heads for a scheduled maintenance. VIETNAM: In addition to Bach Ho, PV Oil could release more of other grades such as Thang Long, TGT and Dai Hung, a trader said. The second round of Bach Ho tender closed on Tuesday. MALAYSIA: Petronas sold a May-loading Kimanis cargo at a discount to its OSP and supplied the other three to an Indian term buyer and its Malacca refinery, a trader said. The producer also sold three spot Miri cargoes for May loading. Two of these were sold at $3.40 a barrel above dated Brent and the third went at a discount to its OSP, he said. The buyers were not immediately known and the deals could not be independently verified. Source: Reuters

VN’s first import-export report released vietnamnews.vn 5th Apr 2017
A report on imports and exports in 2016 was officially launched for the first time yesterday in Hà Nội, with an aim to successfully implement the import-export strategy in the 2011-20 period with a vision to 2030. “The report will be published annually to provide an overall view of accurate and adequate information on the country’s import-exports to management agencies, policymakers, associations and businesses,” said Trần Quốc Khánh, deputy minister of Industry and Trade at the launching ceremony. Earlier, the ministry assigned the Department of Import-Export to co-operate with relevant agencies to publish the report. It would provide information on each product and market to help exporters gain an overall view for their business planning, thus contributing to sustainable import-export activities. Khánh said last year the global economy saw a slow recovery while Việt Nam’s big partners had faced difficulties.

AirAsia Plans Vietnam Venture on Southeast Asia Travel Boom Bloomberg.com 31st Mar 2017
AirAsia Bhd., the low-cost carrier headed by Malaysian tycoon Tony Fernandes, plans to start a Vietnamese carrier in a local partnership, as cheap fares and rising incomes fuel a travel surge in the Southeast Asian nation. The region’s largest budget airline will partner Gumin Co., Hai Au Aviation Joint Stock Co. and businessman Tran Trong Kien for the venture, which is expected to start flying early next year, AirAsia said in a statement to the stock exchange. Gumin will own about 70 percent of the new venture, with AirAsia holding the rest.

TFA execution sub-par: experts vietnamnews.vn 31st Mar 2017
There is basic compatibility between provisions of the WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) and Vietnamese laws, but implementation has been inadequate, experts say. Nguyễn Toàn, director of the International Co-operation Department under the General Department of Customs (GDS), said that Việt Nam has to create an efficient inter-sectoral mechanism that can make needed regulatory improvements and allow strict implementation of TFA provisions. He said the TFA was the most crucial document formulated for facilitating international trade, with more than 100 WTO members as signatories. The agreement can facilitate simplification of export procedures, step up trade co-operation and foster technology transfer, he added. It would make customs clearance and release of goods easier and faster for both domestic and foreign businesses, he said.

2017 National Trade Estimate Report – Major Developments United States Trade Representative 31st Mar 2017
The National Trade Estimate Report (NTE), an annual report on significant barriers to American exports, helps identify and address major roadblocks for American goods and services in markets around the globe. Covering 58 countries, the European Union, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, the NTE highlights both the major developments impacting and impediments to U.S. exports. The findings raise awareness about trade restrictions and help facilitate efforts to remove barriers and open up overseas markets to U.S. goods and services.

Defense & Security

Asian Power Play: India and Vietnam Strengthen Defense Ties The Epoch Times 1st Apr 2017
NEW DELHI, India—In the forests of India’s northeastern region, the Indian Army is training Vietnamese army officers to hone their counter-insurgency fighting skills, an indication of the growing strategic military ties between the two countries. Three Vietnamese officers are currently training at the Counter-Insurgency and Jungle Warfare School near the town of Vairengte in Mizoram. Once trained, the officers will in turn pass on their skills to soldiers back home, which will help the Vietnamese army combat insurgents operating in the country’s jungles. Concerned about China’s growing strategic presence on the frontier along the Himalayas as well as in the Indian Ocean region, New Delhi has been orchestrating a counter-offensive, and assisting Vietnam is part of that. Both India and Vietnam share a border with China.

Asia Arms Race Heats Up Over South China Sea VOA 2nd Apr 2017
As China expands its influence in the disputed South China Sea, an arms race has developed among other nations with claims in the area. China claims most of the 3.5 million-square-kilometer South China Sea as its territory. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims in the waterway. The sea is rich in fisheries and is thought to hold valuable resources such as oil and natural gas. Since 2010, China has stepped up its military activities in the South China Sea. It has patrolled with coast guard ships and sent its aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, to carry out military drills. China has also deployed oil rigs and created artificial islands in the disputed sea. Satellite images appear to show the country has also constructed major military facilities on some of the islands. Beijing has defended its activities in the South China Sea. Security experts believe Chinese navy and coast guard expansion will continue. In Malaysia, officials announced last November that the Royal Malaysian Navy plans to replace 50 aging vessels to protect its waters from regional threats. There have already been incidents involving Chinese ships entering Malaysian territorial waters. Vietnam, along with other regional nations, is looking to cut defense costs and spend less on the military equipment it needs. This reportedly led Hanoi to consider buying surface-to-air missiles from India, which is looking to become a future world player in military exports. However, most military experts believe it will take years for India to become a large-scale global provider of high-end military equipment. Nations expected to provide new weapons to South China Sea claimants include Japan, South Korea and Australia. Japan was the country of choice for the Philippines in a deal to lease two TC-90 training aircraft to support its maritime defense forces. The agreement is notable because it is the first transfer of equipment from Japan’s Self-Defense Forces to another country. Another driver of the arms race across Asia is the North Korean nuclear dispute. North Korea has angered its neighbors and much of the world by carrying out a number of recent missile tests. American forces have already begun deploying the THAAD anti-missile system to South Korea.

Energy

KS Energy awarded with drilling contract off Vietnam Maritime Herald 5th Apr 2017
KS Drilling Operating Company, which is subsidiary of the offshore supply and services provider KS Energy, was awarded by with drilling contract for jackup rig KS Java Star 2 off Vietnam. The contract value was estimated at 11.1 million USD and the work is scheduled to start in April 2017. The rig is currently ready stacked after completing a contract in Vietnam for the Russian-Vietnam oil and gas exploration company VietsovPetro. The new contract is not expected to have any material effect on the earnings per share and net tangible assets per share of the company KS Energy for the financial year ending December 31, 2017. The contract was won by KS Drilling Operating Company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of KS Drilling, which 80.09%-owned subsidiary of KS Energy and an investment holding company.

A 'dark shadow' looms over a key part of Vietnam's economy Business Insider 5th Apr 2017
Vietnam's economy grew at a 5.1% year-over-year clip in the first quarter of 2017, data released by the General Statistics Office of Vietnam (GSO) showed on Wednesday. That was the slowest growth in three years, and weaker than 2016's full-year growth of 6.21%. While there were a variety of factors that weighed on growth, the big story is the "dark shadow" that looms over the mining industry, the fourth biggest contributor to GDP, according to a note from BMI Research that was sent out to clients on Thursday. Vietnam's mining industry contracted 11.4% during the first quarter, shaving a whopping 2.5 percentage points off GDP. 

Tata Solar plans 100 MW PV project in Vietnam pv magazine International 5th Apr 2017
The government of the Vietnamese region of Binh Phuoc announced that Indian PV developer Tata Solar is planning a 100 MW solar park in its territory. Indian module manufacturer and project developer Tata Solar is planning the construction of a 100 MW solar park in Binh Phuoc, southern Vietnam. According to a press release from the regional government, several local agencies are now working closely with the company to examine the 200 hectares of land selected for the project.

PetroVietnam surpasses business targets in Q1 vietnamnews.vn 3rd Apr 2017
The Việt Nam National Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam) surpassed its business targets by 4 to 16 per cent in the first three months of the year, especially in oil exploitation. Total revenue of the group topped VNĐ117.1 trillion (US$5.14 billion), exceeding its quarterly plan by 16 per cent.

Vietnam's coal struggles against imports Vietnam Net 21st Mar 2017
Vietnam's coal struggles against imports The domestic coal sector is going through a tough time owing to serious competition from cheap imported coal, the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) has said. The local coal industry has faced competition from cheap imported coal.  This had significantly affected the sector’s production and business, the ministry said, adding that companies were trying hard to maintain production, retain employees and maintain labourers’ incomes.

EVN and VCCI promote electricity-access index Vietnam News 3rd Apr 2017
Electricity of Việt Nam (EVN) and Việt Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) on Wednesday signed an agreement on evaluating the electricity-access index and customers’ satisfaction with EVN’s services. Under the agreement signed in Hà Nội, VCCI will provide consultancy and information related to responses of the business community in Việt Nam about power supply to improve the index.

Financial Services

Vietnamese ’mVisa’ to come out later this year vietnamnews.vn 5th Apr 2017
Visa Vietnam on Thursday announced that its mVisa, a quick response (QR) code-based payments service, will soon be expanded to merchants and consumers in 10 countries, including Việt Nam. mVisa is a mobile payments solution that brings the benefits of easy and secure digital commerce to financial institutions, merchants and consumers, helping accelerate global migration from cash to electric payments. The new payment service will also help merchants reduce their investments in expensive point-of-sale infrastructure.

Foreign investment key to Vietnamese growth: experts vietnamnews.vn 5th Apr 2017
Việt Nam should have savvy foreign direct investment (FDI) policies that direct capital to modern and environmentally friendly technologies and promote technology transfer to make local firms more competitive, experts say. They say it was a good sign that the manufacturing and processing industries were drawing significant FDI sums. Statistics compiled by the Việt Nam Foregin Investment Agency show that in the first quarter of this year, nearly 85 per cent of registered FDI, or US$6.54 billion, went to manufacturing and processing industries. According toTrần Văn Thọ, economics professor at Waseda University, Tokyo, FDI has a significant role to play in promoting domestic industries and driving economic growth.

Card payment compulsory soon for e-commerce businesses: MoIT vietnamnews.vn 4th Apr 2017
E-commerce businesses may have to accept card payments as a way to offering more options of payment when shopping online, an official from the Ministry of Industry and Trade said. Võ Văn Quyền, director of the ministry’s Domestic Market Department, was quoted by Thời báo Ngân hàng (Banking Times) as saying that the department was studying amendments to e-commerce business which might include regulations about compulsory payment methods. Accordingly, accepting card payment might be compulsory for e-commerce firms. Việt Nam Banking Card Association’s statistics showed that e-commerce payments had seen breakthrough developments in 2012-16 period.

Japan's Hitachi, SMBC launching e-money system in Vietnam- Nikkei Asian Review 29th Mar 2017
TOKYO -- Hitachi and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. of Japan as well as Vietnam Post in mid-April will begin offering an e-money pension payment system in the Southeast Asian nation. Special smart cards will be issued to pension recipients, who can then use the plastic to automatically receive their monthly payments. The cards will be first handed to beneficiaries in the northern province of Hai Duong. Hitachi has established the system, and SMBC will be responsible for managing the funds. Holders will be able to use the cards to pick up cash at Vietnam Post counters. Currently, pensioners in Vietnam can receive direct deposits or cash at post office counters. Most go to a counter since only 30% or so of Vietnamese are believed to have bank accounts. Plans are for the new cards to be rolled out across the country.

Food & Agriculture

Philippines' San Miguel to bid for Vietnam's No. 1 beer- Nikkei Asian Review 5th Apr 2017
MANILA -- San Miguel, the owner of the Philippines' largest brewer, plans to bid for Vietnam's No. 1 beer maker, an official said on Monday. Confirming a local report, San Miguel Chief Financial Officer Ferdinand Constantino told the Philippine Stock Exchange that the company "shall participate in the public bidding that will be conducted by the Vietnamese government for the sale of 89.59% of Saigon Alcohol Beer and Beverage Corporation," also known as Sabeco. The Vietnamese government plans to divest its stake in Sabeco in two phases, beginning with the initial sale of a 53.59% stake this year, according to reports. San Miguel Brewery controls over 90% of the Philippine beer market, which, according to Euromonitor International, is expected to grow annually by 1.5% until 2020. Vietnam's beer market is expected to grow faster, but competition is expected to become more fierce as foreign companies such as Heineken come in.

Việt Nam’s animal feed imports up sharply vietnamnews.vn 5th Apr 2017
Việt Nam’s import value of animal feed and material for production of animal feed witnessed a year-on-year increase of 41.6 per cent in the first quarter of this year. This was stated by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. The value reached US$955 million in the first three months, including $343 million in March. The ministry said that Việt Nam mainly imported those products from Argentina, accounting for 47.2 per cent of total imports; the United States, 15.7 per cent; India, 4.2 per cent; and China, 3.4 per cent. In another development, the ministry’s Department of Livestock Production sent official letter 468/CN-TĂCN to animal feed importers in Việt Nam to ask them to stop the import of some animal feed products containing antibiotics stimulating growth from January 1, 2018.

$4.4 billion enough to build hi-tech agriculture in Vietnam? Vietnam Net 5th Apr 2017
VietNamNet Bridge - The government has decided to disburse VND100 trillion for farming projects to help develop hi-tech agriculture. It is the biggest-ever credit package given in the field.   Vietnam has 24 million workers in the agriculture sector, but the contribution made by the sector to the country’s GDP is 17 percent, and it has been decreasing for many years.  There are only 4,000 agriculture businesses out of a total 420,000 businesses in Vietnam. The figures show agriculture is losing its position in the national economy. One of the reasons is the modest capital flow into the sector which only accounts for 10 percent of total outstanding loans.  However, the situation will change as the government has designed a VND100 trillion credit package, unprecedented in the history of the agriculture sector. 

Pangasius industry gets boost vietnamnews.vn 5th Apr 2017
The "Establishing a Sustainable Pangasius Supply Chain in Việt Nam" project (SUPA) has brought significant improvement to the pangasius supply chain, resolving environmental concerns, improving efficiency and ensuring consistent quality, a meeting heard in HCM City on Wednesday. The project has also opened up new markets for Vietnamese pangasius products. Before the programme began, pangasius exports had been rising sharply to account for 30 per cent of the country’s total aquaculture exports, but the sector’s development was not steady. The rapid growth had caused concern among stakeholders and the Government, who were wondering how to ensure the sector’s long-term sustainability.

Problems with City pork plan vietnamnews.vn 5th Apr 2017
HCM City’s technology-based programme to control and trace the origin of pork that began recently is encountering difficulties, according to the Department of Industry and Trade. Almost all wholesalers at the city’s Bình Điền and Hóc Môn wholesale markets are taking part in the programme. They meet 70-80 per cent of the city’s pork demand. Consumers can currently check the origin of pork they buy at nearly 385 modern outlets (supermarkets, convenience stores and food shops) and 140 booths at 23 retail markets. The project management board is now working with poultry producers and distributors in the city and neighbouring localities to implement a similar programme in June

Agro, forestry, fishery export value up by 7.6% vietnamnews.vn 5th Apr 2017
Việt Nam gained a year-on-year increase of 7.6 per cent in total export value of agro, forestry and fishery products in the first quarter of this year to US$7.6 billion. This included $2.9 billion in March, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. Of the total figure for Q1, export value of main farming products reached $4.2 billion, a year-on-year surge of 13.5 per cent. However, rice, a key farming product, still faced difficulty in export during the first quarter. The country exported 1.28 million tonnes, earning $566 million. Exports dropped by 18.1 per cent in volume and 17.3 per cent in value year-on-year. Meanwhile, coffee exports increased sharply in value, although volume fell over the same period last year, the ministry said. Coffee exports in the first three months of this year saw a year-on-year increase of 25.6 per cent in value to reach $1 billion but witnessed a year-on-year decrease of 5.4 per cent in volume to 449,000 tonnes.

KKR to Take $250 Million Stake in Vietnam's Masan and Unit Bloomberg.com 2nd Apr 2017
KKR & Co. is investing $250 million in Vietnam’s food and beverage company Masan Group Corp.and its unit to help boost their competitiveness in the country’s $18 billion meat industry. KKR will pay $150 million for a 7.5 percent stake in Masan Nutri-Science, Masan Group’s meat-producing business, the companies said in a statement. The New York private-equity firm will provide the support of its global network and team to Masan Nutri-Science as it accelerates its strategy to build the meat business in Vietnam, it said. KKR will also buy $100 million of Masan Group’s shares from PENM Partners.

Shandong, Đà Nẵng to seek investment in agriculture vietnamnews.vn 31st Mar 2017
Businesses from the Chinese province of Shandong have been seeking more investment and co-operation opportunities with local partners in the fields of agriculture, trade, agricultural machinery production, farm produce export, bio industry, hi-tech farm and food safety in the central city. Head of Shandong’s working delegation, Wang Junmin spoke at a seminar on agriculture and business co-operation in the city yesterday. Wang said Vietnamese fresh fruits are a popular farm produce in Shandong as well as rubber, while garlic, ginger and agricultural machinery have been made available for the Việt Nam market. He said 102 investment projects with total registered investment capital of US$1.22 billion from Shandong have been approved by the central city’s People’s Committee.

City starts safe supply chains vietnamnews.vn 29th Mar 2017
As part of a programme to create an agricultural supply chain by 2020, HCM City will build a safe supply chain each for vegetables, pork and seafood, open shops selling safe agricultural produce and develop brands for safe food markets. The city’s agricultural output meets just 30 per cent of its 10 million people’s demand, and the rest is supplied by other cities and provinces. It had carried out a pilot programme to create a safe food supply chain in 2013-15, and achieved reasonable results. But the supply of products as well as their variety were modest. It is based on this effort that the city is now attempting to create the agricultural supply chain.

Korea and Southeast Asia look to expand agricultural trade throughout the region Far Eastern Agriculture 4th Apr 2017
The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Kim Jae-soo, invited ambassadors to Korea from Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia to its offices in Seoul on 31 March to touch upon the current status of trade in agricultural and food products among the countries. They talked about ways to further expand mutual cooperation across the sector. 'Southeast Asia is among the most beloved tourist sites for the Korean people. There's a growing number of tourists to Korea, too, traveling from the Philippines and Thailand,' said Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Kim Jae-soo. 'Amid these growing tourist activities, we hope to see more exchanges in the agricultural and food industries, as well,' the minister said.

BIDV offers VNĐ10 trillion loan for high-tech agriculture vietnamnews.vn 31st Mar 2017
The Bank for Investment and Development of Việt Nam (BIDV) will offer preferential loans up to a total of VNĐ10 trillion (US$439 million) this year to support high-tech agricultural businesses. Companies and agricultural production establishments will be given loans to invest in agricultural machines and equipment, expand production scale, buy fertilisers and spend on irrigation, harvesting and plant protection products. The development of hi-tech agriculture is considered as one of the Government’s key agendas.

Vietnam eyes organic food potential Vietnam Net 31st Mar 2017
Vietnam eyes organic food potential There is great potential for organic food production in Viet Nam, but the industry faces a number of challenges, experts said. “International customers expect a very high quality of Vietnamese shrimp and other products, and prioritise organic products,” Christian Henckes, programme director of the Integrated Coastal Management Programme implemented by the German Development Agency (GIZ) on behalf of the German and Australian governments, told a two-day workshop titled “Organic Viet Nam: Development Trends”, which ended in Ca Mau City on Tuesday.

High-tech agriculture should suit VN conditions Vietnam Net 29th Mar 2017
High-tech agriculture should suit VN conditions VietNamNet Bridge – Professor Tran Dinh Long, Chairman of Viet Nam Plant Varieties Association tells the Khoa hooc & Doi song (Science & Life) newspaper that hi-tech agriculture should match Vietnamese conditions to ensure sustainable growth. So what’s the difference between hi-tech agriculture in Viet Nam and other countries? It’s obvious that the hi-tech agriculture model or models applicable in Viet Nam will have to be different from other countries, given its unique tropical and subtropical climate, red basalt and alluvial soil in the Red River Delta. We have 12 agricultural, forestry and seafood products that are among the top export revenue earners in the world. Therefore, it is necessary to select technology that suits the particular characteristics of the country and to ensure that the produce has a stable consumption market.

SGGP English Edition- US$4,34 billion credit package to be spent on high-tech agriculture Saigon GP Daily 24th Mar 2017
Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue and related agencies yesterday discussed on the implementation of credit package of VND100 trillion (US$4.34 billion) from commercial banks’ called-up capital for high-tech agriculture development loan. Deputy Governor of the State Bank of Vietnam Nguyen Dong Tien said banks have collected VND3,700 billion from 25 enterprises certified by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development as high-tech agricultural enterprises. SBV and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development will monitor the implementation process of the program. Besides,The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development should liaise with local authority to plan areas for hi-tech agriculture, for breeding key animal, and planting trees and the Ministry of Finance will soon propose the policies of agriculture insurance.

Slash-and-burn agriculture to rage on in northern mountainous province Vietnam Net 24th Mar 2017
VietNamNet Bridge – So far this month, northern mountainous province authorities have detained 56 people allegedly involved in the destruction of 18.6ha of forest in total, Vietnam News Agency reports. These serial offences took place in Dien Bien Province’s Muong Nhe District, an area populated by ethnic minority groups and that is rife with deforestation activities, mostly of the slash-and-burn type. To address this situation, starting from the beginning of the month, concerned agencies have started to step up their efforts to curb this serious violation of natural resources. Awareness raising campaigns are also given a boost to educate ethnic groups regarding State laws and regulations concerning forest protection. Most mountainous regions in the north of Viet Nam are economically challenged, and local authorities will not be able to ensure livelihood and necessity supply for an unexpected number of nomads arriving in their jurisdiction ‘outside of the original plan’. In addition, ethnic groups that have nomadic lifestyle will likely engage in slash-and-burn agriculture, which they might not even know is illegal. Once they have exhausted a place’s natural resources, they will start to relocate elsewhere, starting the vicious cycle again, the agency reported.  Source: VNS

Health & Life Sciences

Viet Nam, UN fight drought malnutrition vietnamnews.vn 5th Apr 2017
Thousands of children under the age of five living in Central region drought-hit areas are recovering from malnutrition due to an Emergency nutrition intervention programme project. The news was revealed in a report from National Institute for Nutrition (NIN) at a seminar held in Hà Nội. The programme, with financial support worth US$4 million from UNICEF and the Government of Japan, has fulfilled its target of improving nutrition conditions for 7,640 children with severe and acute malnutrition (SAM) in 6 provinces of Ninh Thuận, Kon Tum, Gia Lai, Trà Vinh, Hậu Giang and Cà Mau.

Clinics lack wastewater treatment vietnamnews.vn 5th Apr 2017
Standard medical wastewater treatment systems have been set up in only 60 percent of total 13,000 healthcare clinics nationwide, said Deputy Minister of Health (MoH) Nguyễn Thanh Long at a conference held in the capital city on Thursday. Investment and upgrades are still underway in other hospitals with rudimentary treatment system, Long added, saying that a shortage of capital, hospitals’ concern and social attention remains a major barrier.

Made-in-Vietnam radioactive drugs cannot meet demand Vietnam Net 5th Apr 2017
Made-in-Vietnam radioactive drugs cannot meet demand VietNamNet Bridge - Due to the low capacity of the nuclear reactor, the Da Lat Nuclear Research Institute is only capable of producing enough radioactive drugs to meet the demand for radioactive isotopes and radioactive preparations for 25 medical establishments in Vietnam. It is estimated that 50 percent of radioactive drugs must be imported. WHO warned that the number of cancer cases globally will be increasing by 57 percent to 22 million, in the next 20 years. Vietnam is believed to be one of the countries with the fastest increase in number of cancer cases. According to Globocan, in 2012 alone, Vietnam had 125,000 new cancer cases and 94,700 deaths because of the disease.

US institute: Vietnam ranks first on health governance index Vietnam Net 5th Apr 2017
US institute: Vietnam ranks first on health governance index Vietnam ranked first among 18 developing countries in Asia and Africa on the Health Governance Capacity Index, according to a study conducted by the Brookings Institute of the US. Vietnamese Ambassador to the US Pham Quang Vinh (R)and US experts at a talk at the Brookings Institute Under the study, Vietnam reached a total of 82 points for 25 indicators related to management capacity, regulatory processes, health infrastructure and financing, health systems and policy conditions.  This indicates that Vietnam has a strong ability to attract and leverage private investment in health research and development (R&D). 

Another case of bird flu reported in Vietnam Vietnam Net 4th Apr 2017
Another case of bird flu reported in Vietnam Another case of avian influenza, also known as bird flu, has been reported in Vietnam, health officials said on April 4. The most recent case was reported at a duck farm in the province of Dak Lak. Given the proximity of this outbreak to others previously detected, this is not unexpected, said animal health officials of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

ICT

Cyber security in fourth industrial revolution urged vietnamnews.vn 5th Apr 2017
The fourth industrial revolution which developed science and technology created a great opportunity for Việt Nam but also posed an immense threat to cyber security, heard a security conference. This was important especially in the context of increasing and more complex cyber attacks. The Department of Cyber Security (Ministry of Public Security) and Authority of Information Security (Ministry of Information and Communications) co-ordinated with IDG Việt Nam to organise the Security World 2017 with the theme “Information and Cyber Security in the fourth industrial evolution” on Tuesday.

Transfer centre to be built in City hi-tech park vietnamnews.vn 5th Apr 2017
The Management Board of the HCM City-based Saigon Hi-tech Park (SHTP) on Wednesday awarded an investment licence to the Tây Sài Gòn (Western Sài Gòn) Vocational College to construct a US$25 million technology transfer centre in the city. Covering an area of 17,550 square metres in the park, the Wesgo centre is designed to foster international cooperation, knowledge access, technology transfer, and application of new technologies in domestic production.

TV programme “Startup Nation” to air shortly vietnamnews.vn 4th Apr 2017
Việt Nam Television (VTV) and HCM Communist Youth Union on Monday announced a new TV programme titled “Startup Nation,” which is expected to promote startups in Việt Nam. The announcement was witnessed by Deputy Prime Minister Vương Đình Huệ, Minister of Science and Technology Chu Ngọc Anh, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyễn Xuân Cường, leaders of the youth union and major companies in Việt Nam. The talk show format will air on VTV1 every Friday evening from April 14 and rebroadcast Saturday afternoon.

HCM City to tax social media commerce vietnamnews.vn 1st Apr 2017
The HCM City Taxation Department has announced it will submit a plan for tax collection from online businesses to the City People’s Committee in early April and enact the plan in the same month. Local news site zing.vn quoted Lê Thị Thu Hương, deputy director of HCM City Taxation Department, as saying the department had already begun to tax internet trade and e-commerce. "However, the draft adopted by the City People’s Committee will create a clear co-ordination mechanism and facilitate the implementation of the tax authority," she said. The department said it would work with relevant agencies to enhance the efficiency of tax management for online sales, such as by businesses on Facebook.

Vietnamese telecoms speed up 4G race Tuoitre News 21st Mar 2017
While Vietnam’s three largest mobile carriers prepare to release 4G networks to the public, many mobile users are unsure if it is worth upgrading their data plans from the already expensive 3G. Vietnamese mobile network operators are intensifying their preparations to offer as widely as possible coverage of the fourth generation of the wireless mobile communication network in the country. Military-run Viettel, for instance, said that it had installed nearly 18,000 4G stations in nearly all districts across the country as of mid-March. The company claimed that its 4G network would be available even in remote communes, border areas and islands, adding that the number of 4G stations will rise to 28,000 countrywide by the end of this month. In the meantime, VNPT, the operator of Vinaphone, is also speeding up the pace of its infrastructure development. Some Vietnamese users believe that with 4G, it will take merely minutes for their 600GB data plan to drain, leading to them paying more.

Key Barriers to Digital Trade United States Trade Representative 31st Mar 2017
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) works to identify and reduce obstacles for U.S. companies.  In this year’s National Trade Estimate (NTE), USTR maintains and deepens its focus on barriers to digital trade.  Digital trade is a broad concept, capturing not just the sale of consumer products on the Internet and the supply of online services, but also data flows that enable global value chains, services that enable smart manufacturing, and myriad other platforms and applications.  Some portion of nearly every business is digitally enabled, and every industry leverages digital technology to compete internationally.  For example:

Infrastructure

Ho Chi Minh City plans vendor-friendly sidewalks Tuoitre News 21st Mar 2017
Street vendors will no longer have to run away from road inspectors as Ho Chi Minh City authorities are going to allow them to run their business on designated sidewalks. Officials put forward a plan to move street vendors onto certain sidewalks in the city at a meeting on Monday between the People’s Committee and the administrations of District 1 and District 4. According to Tuyen, it is necessary to strike a balance between maintaining order on the sidewalk and facilitating street vending, as they have become an integral aspect of the city’s culture and society.

AirAsia’s Vietnam JV may help enhance route connectivity within Asean region The Edge 4th Apr 2017
AirAsia Bhd, through its wholly-owned subsidiary AirAsia Investment Ltd, will subscribe to a 30% joint venture (JV) for a low-cost carrier in Vietnam for 300 billion Vietnam Dong (RM58.2 million). The remaining stake will be subscribed by Gumin Company Ltd (69.9%) and Tran Trong Kien (one share). The Hai Au Aviation Joint Stock Company, which currently operates a general aviation business in Vietnam, will form the vehicle for the JV, and will be using the AirAsia brand for a fee as agreed between AirAsia and the JV. In addition, AirAsia also has agreed to provide a loan to the JV company amounting to US$2 million (RM8.86 million), while Gumin will provide a loan of US$4 million. The JV is expected to commence operations by early 2018, upon obtaining relevant regulatory approvals.

Vietnam Is Heavyweight Among Asia's Infrastructure Spenders Bloomberg.com 22nd Mar 2017
Vietnam's public and private sector infrastructure investment averaged 5.7 percent of gross domestic product in recent years, the highest in Southeast Asia and compares with 6.8 percent in China, according to the Asian Development Bank. Indonesia and the Philippines spend less than 3 percent, while Malaysia and Thailand spend even less at under 2 percent. The ADB estimates that emerging economies in the region will need to invest as much as $26 trillion through 2030 to build transport networks, boost power supply and upgrade water and sanitation facilities. Vietnam, among the fastest-growing nations in the world, is boosting infrastructure to lure more foreign investors as it positions itself as Asia's next Tiger Economy.

Legislation

Public property rules need more clarification vietnamnews.vn 5th Apr 2017
Adjustments to the draft Law on Management and Use of Public Assets were high on the agenda at the National Assembly full-time deputies’ meeting yesterday in Hả Nội. A majority of the deputies agreed on the scope of the adjustments. They reached a consensus on deciding the name of the laws, settling on the Law on Management and Use of Public Assets, as it is relevant to the current institution and legal system. However, about a dozen deputies were concerned with some regulations on the management of intangible public property, particularly those including natural minerals and resources, saying they were not sufficiently clear. They said unclear and unspecific laws could lead to loose management and result in vast losses for important public assets.

Vietnam in Firing Line On Trade with US - New America Media New America Media 4th Apr 2017
Vietnam is facing the threat of possible trade retaliation from the United States following President Trump’s order of a thorough review of the giant US trade deficit. Vietnam last year ran a $32 billion plus trade surplus with the United States, and was repeatedly identified by Mr Trump on the campaign trail as a threat to American workers. The president signed an executive order on Friday directing US trade officials to conduct a detailed country by country review of the reasons for the deficit. Vietnam will be a high priority for such an investigation, as it runs one of the largest trade surpluses with the United States, behind only China, Japan, Germany, Mexico and Ireland.

VN seeks to foster, strengthen US ties vietnamnews.vn 1st Apr 2017
HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam is ready to co-operate with President Donald Trump’s administration and maintain the impetus for growing bilateral ties, President Trần Đại Quang told US Ambassador to Việt Nam Ted Osius yesterday. The President affirmed that Việt Nam will continue promoting comprehensive partnership with the US in a practical, constructive, stable and mutually beneficial manner on the basis of respect for each other’s political institutions, independence, national sovereignty and territorial integration. He asked Ambassador Osius to convey his thanks to President Trump for the latter’s recent letter on strengthening bilateral co-operation between the two nations.

United States and Việt Nam renew trade dialogue vietnamnews.vn 31st Mar 2017
The United States and Việt Nam met on March 27 and 28 under their Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) to discuss deepening trade ties and address outstanding bilateral trade issues. The United States urged Việt Nam to promptly address bilateral issues, including those related to agriculture and food safety, intellectual property, digital trade, financial services, customs, industrial goods, transparency and good governance, and illegal wildlife trafficking.

SOE equitisation: Gov’t must work on legal framework Vietnam Net 21st Mar 2017
SOE equitisation: Gov’t must work on legal framework The equitisation of State-owned enterprises has been an attractive target for foreign investors, however, there are still challenges that discourage them from participating in those deals. According to a decision issued by the Prime Minister in late 2016 to classify State-owned enterprises (SOEs) and State-invested enterprises and provide a list of SOEs to be equitised in 2016-20, the State will divest from 137 SOEs, such as Viet Nam Rubber Group and telecommunication group MobiFone. In recent years, the Vietnamese government has always targeted investors from the United States and Japan for the initial public offerings (IPOs) of SOEs as those investors have strong financial status, professional qualifications and have expressed interest in Viet Nam’s market. In addition to making direct investment in Viet Nam, investors from the United States have expressed their interest in purchasing stakes in SOEs through their IPOs, especially leading key industries, Marc Mealy, vice president-policy at the US-ASEAN Business Council, told Dau tu Chung khoan (Securities Investment) newspaper.

Manufacturing

Formosa Vietnam steel mill meets conditions for test runs a year after spill Channel NewsAsia 5th Apr 2017
HANOI: Formosa Plastics Corp's steel mill in Vietnam has met environment ministry conditions to start test runs, state television said on Wednesday, a year after a toxic spill from the plant caused the country's worst environmental disaster. State-run Vietnam television VTV said the ministry announced the conclusion after a three-day inspection visit of the Taiwanese company's plant. It will still require approval by the government before it can go ahead with tests of its first blast furnace.

Manufacturing Top Performer In Vietnam At End Of First Quarter Seeking Alpha 5th Apr 2017
The manufacturing sector in Vietnam remained a key driver of growth in the first quarter of the year, with latest Nikkei PMI data from IHS Markit suggesting cause for optimism in coming months. The sector is having to do a lot of the heavy lifting for the economy at present, as other areas such as agriculture and mining are struggling.

Diesels must meet Euro 4 standard vietnamnews.vn 5th Apr 2017
New diesel vehicles are required to follow Euro 4 emission standards before December 31 this year, according to the Ministry of Transport (MoT). The information was released in a Government message sent to the MoT last week, urging implementation of the roadmap for application of exhaust emission standards to manufactured, assembled and imported new cars and motorbikes.

Smooth trade to put $2B exports in reach Phnom Penh Post 5th Apr 2017
Smooth trade to put $2B exports in reach Cambodia could expand its foreign trade by up to 16 percent, adding approximately $2 billion worth of exports, by complying with a new international trade protocol that aims to slice through the red tape that slows and complicates cross-border trade. US Ambassador William Heidt said yesterday that Cambodia’s competitiveness would improve significantly once it fully ratifies all 12 articles of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA). He said compliance with the landmark global accord “would reduce the costs of exporting goods and services and ease the flow of commerce across Cambodia’s international borders that would directly boost economic growth”.

City to offer soft loans to manufacturing firms vietnamnews.vn 31st Mar 2017
The HCM City People’s Committee plans to offer low-interest loans of no more than VNĐ200 billion (US$8.8 million) with a maximum seven-year term to enterprises operating in the manufacturing or support industry. The aim is to reduce the number of imports by helping domestic companies buy more advanced equipment that can make high-value products. Vietnamese enterprises and business groups operating under the Enterprise Law and Co-operative Law, and non-business units having investment projects, are eligible to receive the loans. The city would cover 70 per cent of the interest rate on loans taken out for construction projects and 85 per cent of the interest for equipment and technology projects. If companies need more than VNĐ200 billion and a longer loan term, the People’s Committee will consider each case and seek support from other sources.

Manufacturing slump drags on Vietnam growth- Nikkei Asian Review 31st Mar 2017
HANOI -- Vietnam's real gross domestic product grew just 5.1% on the year in the January-March period, the lowest in three years, as the industrial sector stumbled amid trouble at growth driver Samsung Electronics. The General Statistics Office reported the rate, last seen in the first quarter of 2014, a year when annual growth fell below 6%. The slowdown means trouble for Hanoi's target of 6.7% growth this year. Close to a fifth of Vietnam's total exports consists of mobile phones made by Samsung, the South Korean electronics giant, which has major factories in the northern provinces of Bac Ninh and Thai Nguyen accounting for 30% of its global phone production. A series of fires in the company's Galaxy Note 7 devices late last year slammed the brakes on production. Vietnam's industrial sector overall grew at a six-year low pace of 3.85%, with oil and coal development and other areas faltering as well.

President asks Hyundai to increase localisation rate vietnamnews.vn 29th Mar 2017
HÀ NỘI — President Trần Đại Quang yesterday asked the Hyundai group to support its Vietnamese partner in personnel training and technology transfer, and increase the localisation rate of its products made in Việt Nam. Receiving Hyundai Motor Vice Chairman Chung Eui-sun in Hà Nội, he said Việt Nam would create all possible conditions for foreign firms, including those from the Republic of Korea (RoK), to do long-term business in the country.

What's the future for textiles & garments without the TPP? Vietnam Net 21st Mar 2017
VietNamNet Bridge - With the collapse of TPP, the textile & garment industry will have to revise its investment and development strategy. Textiles & garments has been an important export item for many years. In 2005, textiles and garments made up 14.9 percent of export turnover. In 2016, the figure rose to 17.8 percent.  In 2005-2016, Vietnam was one of the countries pioneering in global economic integration. It did not skip any free trade agreement (FTA), meaning that Vietnam has exploited all possible FTAs, at least in the medium term.   However, analysts said that even if the agreement became realistic, TPP would not be a ‘magic wand’ that helps the industry skyrocket. With the ‘yard forward’ principle, Vietnam’s textile and garment exports would enjoy preferential tariffs if they use input materials sourced from TPP member countries. A research work by Vanzetti & Pham in 2014 showed that Vietnam only imports 5.3 percent of input materials from TPP member countries. This means that if the figure cannot improve, only 5.3 percent of Vietnam’s textile & garment output would enjoy preferential tariffs under TPP. It’s still unclear how the textile and industry would work out after TPP collapsed. When TPP was under negotiations, three scenarios for the industry were drawn up.

VN pursues dream of auto industry Vietnam Net 21st Mar 2017
VN pursues dream of auto industry The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) will continue pursuing the dream of a real auto industry in Vietnam despite the failure of 20 years of efforts towards this goal.  The ministry has set the target to increase the local content of cars to 80 percent and turn car production into an important industry in 2025-2035. Director of the MoIT’s Heavy Industry Department Truong Thanh Hoai said Vietnam’s auto industry has a capacity of producing and assembling around 500,000 cars each year at present, meeting 70 percent of the domestic car demand. A supporting industry for this sector is taking shape, providing several kinds of car parts such as mirrors, glass, seats, electric wire, battery, tyres, and plastic details. At the same time, he admitted that the industry failed to meet the set targets. After 20 years, the local content of cars is just about 7 – 10 percent at present while the original targets were 40 percent by 2005 and 60 percent by 2010. 

Industry development level low Vietnam Net 21st Mar 2017
Industry development level low VietNamNet Bridge – Nguyen Chi Sang, director general of the National Research Institute of Mechanical Engineering, speaks to Thoi bao Kinh te Viet Nam (Viet Nam Economic Times) about the need for workable policies. How do you assess our industrial development, particularly in engineering? Looking back at the development of our industrial sector, I’m sorry to say that its development level remains low, including that of the engineering industry. Our industrial development is beset by many limitations and inadequacies. Its growth and quality are unstable. Though the Party and Government have issued many policies and mechanisms to encourage development, their effectiveness is very limited. Why? In my opinion, there is a lack of consistency in the policies developed by Government agencies coupled with poor implementation by agencies and their officers. These are the main things preventing our industry from achieving its goals.