Vietnam Update: Vietnam Signs onto CPTPP

Vietnam Update | March 8, 2018
Authors: Hai Pham, Meghana Srikrishna
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

March 20: 2nd Planning Call for the 2018 Vietnam Business Mission

March 27-29, 2018 Business Mission to Vietnam

The US-ASEAN Business Council is now registering senior-level executives for its annual Business Mission to Vietnam. The deadline for receipt of registration and mission materials is Tuesday, March 13, 2018. Please contact Hai Pham at hpham@usasean.org with any questions or to express interest.

March 29-30, 2018 Health & Life Sciences Industry Mission to Vietnam

The US-ASEAN Business Council is now registering senior-level executives for its 2018 Health & Life Sciences Industry Mission to Vietnam. The deadline for receipt of registration and mission materials is Tuesday, March 13, 2018. Please contact Hai Pham at hpham@usasean.org and Ying Hui Tng at yhtng@usasean.org with any questions or to express interest.

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Vietnam Signs Onto CPTPP

Eleven of the original twelve Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) members, including Vietnam, signed the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) on March 8 in Santiago, Chile. The United States is notably absent in this revised trade pact, although the Trump Administration has stated publicly that it will consider joining CPTPP if the deal appears to cater to US trade interests. The completion of the CPTPP, which covers a market of nearly 500 million people, could serve as a model for future trade deals. The eleven remaining states, which also include Brunei, Singapore and Malaysia from ASEAN, came to a consensus on CPTPP on January 23 and released the text of the deal less than a month after on February 21. Around 20 clauses of the original TPP were amended or eradicated in the creation of the final CPTPP agreement. Upon ratification by at least six member states, provisions in the CPTPP go into force immediately with many analysts believing that could happen in late 2018 or early 2019.

Projections estimate that CPTPP will increase imports by 3.8%, GDP growth by 1.32%, and export growth by 4% in Vietnam. These numbers are noticeably smaller than what Vietnam would have experienced under the original TPP agreement, which experts say would have created the economic environment to reach the government’s goal of a 6.7% GDP growth rate in 2018. The biggest loss Vietnam will suffer from the changes between TPP and CPTPP, however, is the missed opportunity to strengthen trade relations with the United States, whose absence from CPTPP reduces diplomatic and economic opportunities for Vietnam to leverage for a stronger overall partnership. Furthermore, none of the CPTPP members are currently among Vietnam's top export locations. Thus the CPTPP could serve as a catalyst for shifts in some existing global value and regional supply chains which Vietnam is globally competitive in and offer new opportunities in emerging industries which Vietnam could take advantage of as either an attractive market or competitive FDI location for companies operating in CPTPP members states.

Thus CPTPP has the potential to provide additional impetus for the next generation of institutional reforms in Vietnam through competitive market development. Given the nature of a multilateral trade deal like CPTPP, businesses in each member state feels pressure to perform well, and this competition and drive will lead to sustainable growth in Vietnam. Economists also note that the revised trade pact will not affect Vietnam's state budget but will accelerate economic growth on the global stage, especially export growth.

The World Bank has prepared a study on the economic and distributional impacts of the CPTPP as it relates to Vietnam. The study also compares the impacts of CPTPP to those of the RECEP and original TPP for Vietnam. Please click here to view the World Bank report.
 

Decree 54 Poses Concerns for Foreign Companies

Vietnam’s Decree 54, which was implemented on July 1, 2017, mandates that foreign pharmaceutical companies with approved licenses from the Ministry of Health (MOH) may directly import products to local companies and partners. The Decree also amends previous licensing procedures, requiring foreign pharmaceutical companies to sell products through a local distributor provided these investors prove a specific level of trade experience, including a minimum revenue amount in past business transactions. While Decree 54 attempts to connect local enterprises with foreign companies, certain policies complicate the import process for foreign pharmaceutical companies.

Decree 54 currently restricts foreign companies from providing transportation and preservation services on their own. This requirement is damaging because pharmaceutical companies have the knowledge and technical expertise to set appropriate storage and transportation conditions for their products, and these conditions are often specific to the type of product. Pharmaceutical companies need autonomy to set these conditions themselves to preserve the safety and quality of their products, especially drugs. Requiring foreign companies to operate through a local distributor furthermore complicates the import process through the addition of intermediary steps, specifically partnering with local enterprises. If a foreign company already has an established market in Vietnam and can better operate without the use of a local distributor, then this policy unnecessarily creates more steps in the business process. 

According to legal experts, the policies under Decree 54 furthermore violate international trade agreements and other domestic legislation Vietnam has implemented in the past, including the World Trade Organization (WTO) Accession Commitment and Vietnam's Law on Promulgation of Legal Documents as well as Investment Law. When Vietnam joined the WTO in 2007, it committed to only implement state protections on sectors and transactions that would affect sensitive interests, such as national defense and security. Foreign pharmaceuticals and experts alike have argued that their services and products do not constitute a risk to these sensitive interests, and so do not require the level of regulation stipulated under Decree 54. As pharmaceutical companies continue to decry Decree 54, the Council will monitor any pushback or reforms that may result.
 

March - An Important Month for US-Vietnam Relations

March 2018 will be a busy month for the United States and Vietnam, whose government officials and other stakeholders will be engaged in various political, security and business activities over the month that carry great implications for the relations of the two countries. The busy month kicked off with a historic visit by the USS Carl Vinson to the Tien Sa Port in Da Nang on March 5, marking the first time a US aircraft carrier has docked in Vietnam since the Vietnam War. The visit, spanning the entire week through March 9, also saw the arrival of two other US Navy ships (USS Lake Champlain and USS Wayne E.Meyer) and will include various community activities and exchanges by crew members in Da Nang city, making it the largest U.S. military presence in Vietnam since 1975. 

Later in the month, Vietnam's Minister of Public Security will make a visit to the United States, stopping in Washington, DC to meet with U.S. Government officials on political and security issues, including important topics like defense cooperation and cybersecurity. On the last week of March, the Council will be organizing its annual Vietnam Business Mission and Health-focused Industry Mission, two engagements that meet with the highest levels of government in Vietnam to discuss business challenges and opportunities in the market. The month will end with a US security-focused CODEL to Vietnam and a US-Vietnam energy security forum hosted by the U.S. Embassy in Vietnam.
 

Foreign Firms Dominate Vietnam’s Feed Industry

The animal feed industry of Vietnam, which leads ASEAN and is 10th in the world in terms of feed production, has experienced consistent double-digit growth over the past 20 years. Despite various regulatory and administrative hurdles, this rapid growth in the feed industry has presented tremendous business and commercial opportunities for both domestic and foreign firms alike. However, foreign animal feed companies are generally equipped with stronger financial capacity, production lines, and distribution strategies and have had more success than local producers in expanding their businesses. For example, in the last year, foreign producers from Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand have all made decisions to open additional production plants throughout the country. In turn, this rapid foreign expansion further leaves local producers behind, struggling to compete and hold market share despite their attempts to cut costs and lower prices. This is evident in the 65 percent market share that foreign firms hold despite being outnumbered by the actual number of local animal feed producers, according to the Vietnam Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development Animal Husbandry Department. The Council has been following the development of Vietnam’s animal feed industry as well as the government regulations that follow. As the industry continues to grow, we will track how domestic producers adapt to its new reality and how the Government of Vietnam will choose to support trade and innovation.
 

Gaps in Grassroots Healthcare in Vietnam

Grassroots healthcare in Vietnam has helped the country make significant improvements to ensuring sustainable healthcare for its population, but significant challenges remain. The Health Ministry has stated that commune-level clinics have only met 52.2% of health check-up and treatment demand. Furthermore, there is a shortage of basic medicines and health insurance covered drugs at the commune level. The gap here may indicate that Vietnam will fall short of its 2020 goal of 95% of communal health centers, wards or towns are to undertake the tasks of preventative medicine, health management, and treatment of certain non-communicable diseases (NCDs) according to the 6th Plenum of Communist Party resolution.

The Health Ministry launched the first Essential Medicine List of Vietnam in 1985 and has worked with the World Health Organization to update it regularly in response to changes in Vietnam's disease burden. The government has been working to cover all medicines on the list by a national health insurance system to prevent disease and improve healthcare overall, especially for the poor. In addition the GOV has also sought to increase the supply of domestically produced medicines as a way of reducing costs in the health insurance system. Vietnam has 163 factories manufacturing medicines that meet the Good Manufacturing Practices of the World Health Organization, and the medicines produced are typically 30% cheaper than imported medicines.

The Ministry of Health has been encouraging local drug companies to increase cooperation and conduct research to manufacture more specialty drugs in the future. The use of Vietnamese-made medicines at provincial-level hospitals has risen to 69.4% since the Ministry of Health initiated an ongoing project named “Vietnamese people give priority to use made-in-Vietnam medicines” in 2012. The ongoing project targets the number of people using Vietnam-made medicines at provincial-level hospitals to reach 50% by 2020, and district-level to reach 75%. In some provinces, usage has reached over 80%. Vietnam currently faces some challenges in reaching its goal, including a lack of specialty drugs Approximately 83% of vaccines supplied under the National Expanded Programme on Immunisation for Children are made in Vietnam. Vietnam currently produces enough vaccines for domestic use and oversees demand, but faces technology and capital challenges in producing five-in-one and six-in-one vaccinations.

 
ADVOCACY UPDATE
 
 

Vietnam Draft Law on Cybersecurity

On February 26, the Council, along with partner associations ACT, AmCham Hanoi, BSA, CompTIA, DIGITALEUROPE, ITI, JEITA, SIA, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, submitted comments on Draft 15 of Vietnam’s Draft Law on Cybersecurity. View the final submission here: English | Vietnamese. Among other concerns, the submission highlights the negative security and business implications of proposed data localization requirements.

The Council previously submitted detailed comments on the initial Draft Law in August 2017, and then a supplemental letter in response to Draft 14 in October 2017.

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 

Multilateral Trade Agreements
CPTPP signing slated for March 8 in Chile

Regional Affairs
​Vietnam, Bangladesh target double bilateral trade by 2020
Vietnamese, Bangladeshi leaders hold talks
President calls for stronger Việt Nam - India ties

ASEAN
First duty-free ASEAN cars arrive in Vietnam
Vietnamese Ambassador applauds growing US-ASEAN ties
Party chief meets ASEAN ambassadors

Customs
Vietnam: Easy seaport procedures lauded

Defense & Security
Thailand, Vietnam look to stronger defence-security cooperation

+ Vietnam officials visit US aircraft carrier

Economics
Growth boosts demand for industrial land
Firms face probable delisting after three-year losses
Real estate sector expects record FDI in 2018
VN exporters start to add value

Energy
Trade ministry begins $158m energy efficiency project
Giant solar power plant to start operation this year
Government focuses on divestment in oil and gas sector
Finance Ministry proposes environmental tax hike

Financial Services
Techcombank to sell treasury shares to foreign investors
Commercial banks boost retail banking segment by adjusting service fees
Banks race for digital technology
Vietnam makes significant progress in sustainable finance reforms - News VietNamNet
Vietcombank to sell 10% stake to foreign investors

Food & Agriculture
Blow for food safety in Việt Nam
Agriculture ministry seeks to surpass targets
Interest in VN food, beverage sector
Organic rice production models to affirm Vietnam’s export status
Agro-forestry-fishery exports exceed US$6 bln in first two months
Việt Nam works to stop illegal fishing

Health & Life Sciences
Pharma Decree a bitter pill for firms
Minister: It’s time to provide more health care services
Việt Nam faces risk of bird flu outbreak
Parents now need ID card to buy kid’s medicine
Made-in-Việt Nam medicine use on the rise

ICT
Deputy PM urges e-Gov’t acceleration
170 Vietnamese websites attacked during Lunar New Year
Digital economy is the future for Vietnam

Infrastructure
HCM City plans infrastructure projects in 2018
Better planning needed for infrastructure: PM
Major infrastructure works begin in new year

Legislation
Vietnam takes first steps towards establishing super committee
VN must bolster anti-bribery laws

Manufacturing
Vietnam’s aviation sector targets ASEAN’s top 4 by 2030
Auto imports plummet over Government’s Decree 116
Thái Bình begins $24.6m auto parts factory

 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Multilateral Trade Agreements

CPTPP signing slated for March 8 in Chile VOV - VOV Online Newspaper 6th Mar 2018
The Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) scheduled to be inked by ministers of the 11 member countries in Chile on March 8. The trade pact is set to take effect in the beginning of 2019 after it is ratified by at least six member countries. The 11 CPTPP economies make up about 13% of the global GDP.

Regional Affairs

​Vietnam, Bangladesh target double bilateral trade by 2020 Tuoi Tre News 6th Mar 2018
Vietnam and Bangladesh have pledged to double two-way trade to US$2 billion by 2020 after Vietnamese State President Tran Dai Quang met with Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina during the former’s state visit to the South Asian country. The leaders held talks in Dhaka on Monday, the second day of President Quang’s three-day stay in Bangladesh from March 4 to 6 to strengthen bilateral cooperation in areas of mutual benefit. As countries that sit at the gateway to their respective regions and possess huge labor forces that are young and dynamic, both Vietnam and Bangladesh are capable of bringing into full play their advantages for better cooperation results, the leaders stressed. President Quang and PM Hasina expressed confidence in the recent growth of bilateral trade, which stood at nearly $900 million in 2017, and hoped that both sides could work to double this number to $2 billion by 2020.

Vietnamese, Bangladeshi leaders hold talks vietnamnews.vn 5th Mar 2018
President Trần Đại Quang and Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina agreed to exert greater efforts to double the two countries’ two-way trade, which hit nearly US$900 million in 2017, during their talks in Dhaka yesterday. At the talks, which took place during the State visit to Bangladesh by President Trần Đại Quang from March 4-6, the leaders outlined major plans and specific measures to enhance bilateral relations. They said that the two countries should bring into full play their advantages to gain better co-operative results as both are potential markets with huge populations, young labour forces and dynamic business communities, and gateways to Southeast Asia and South Asia.

President calls for stronger Việt Nam - India ties vietnamnews.vn 4th Mar 2018
President Trần Đại Quang met with Speaker of the Lower House of India’s Parliament Sumitra Mahajan, Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj and former President of the Indian National Congress Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi on March 3. The meetings formed part of President Quang’s State visit to India from March 2-4. Meeting with Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, President Quang asked the legislative agencies of Việt Nam and India to enhance cooperation, especially organising mutual high-level visits, promote exchanges between their committees, parliamentary friendship groups, and people’s friendship organisations.

ASEAN

First duty-free ASEAN cars arrive in Vietnam VOV - VOV Online Newspaper 5th Mar 2018
Over 2,000 Honda cars from Thailand - the first batches of cars to enjoy zero percent import duty under the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (AFTA) have been imported to Vietnam. Under the AFTA commitments, a 0% tax is applicable to cars imported from the bloc, with a localisation rate of 40% or more in the country of origin, starting January 1 this year. The current batch has Jazz, Accord, CR-V and Civic models.

Vietnamese Ambassador applauds growing US-ASEAN ties VOV - VOV Online Newspaper 3rd Mar 2018
Vietnamese Ambassador to the US Pham Quang Vinh has hailed the growing ties between the US and Asian nations, including those from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) across a variety of fields. In his address at a Lunar New Year meeting hosted by the US-Asia Institute (USAI) in Washington, D.C. on March 2, the Vietnamese diplomat said the cooperation between the two sides will make considerable contributions to regional peace, security and development cooperation. The USAI's contribution will help augment coordination with Asian and ASEAN embassies in the US towards the stronger Asia-US partnership.

Party chief meets ASEAN ambassadors vietnamnews.vn 24th Feb 2018
Việt Nam Communist Party (CPV)’s Central Committee General Secretary Nguyễn Phú Trọng hosted a reception in Hà Nội on Friday for ambassadors and charges d’affaires of nine ASEAN countries on the occasion of Tết (Lunar New Year). The ASEAN diplomats congratulated the Vietnamese Party, Government and people on their great development and diplomatic achievements in 2017, particularly hosting the APEC Economic Leaders’ Week in the central city of Đà Nẵng. They said they believed that under the leadership of the CPV led by Trọng, the Vietnamese people would reap greater attainments in 2018 and beyond.

Customs

Vietnam: Easy seaport procedures lauded Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide 26th Feb 2018
Dao Trong Hung, a representative of HCM City-based Vietfrach – a shipping company, said that thanks to administrative reforms, especially online procedures, the company submitted few paper dossiers/applications at the ‘single window’ section when its vessels wanted to come or leave seaports. “It’s much simpler than previously to fill and submit maritime applications at the ‘single window’ – a system that allows businesses to declare information and submit documents in a standardised form once at a single location to complete all legal requirements concerning import, export and transit (regarding cargos, transport means and passengers),” Hung said. When time spent performing administrative procedures is reduced, businesses save hundreds of millions of VND per month on renting vessels, while costs for wharfs, berths, commuting and labour are also reduced. Le Van Thuc, director of Vung Tau Port Authority, said the port handles 30 administrative procedures relating to maritime activities and now, it takes business about 15 minutes to complete necessary procedures at the port.

Defense & Security

Thailand, Vietnam look to stronger defence-security cooperation VOV - VOV Online Newspaper 23rd Feb 2018
Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister of Thailand Prawit Wongsuwan has affirmed his nation's readiness to continue working closely with Vietnam in national defence-security. At a February 22 reception in Bangkok for Vietnamese Ambassador to Thailand Nguyen Hai Bang, the Deputy PM appreciated joint preparations for the fourth Vietnam – Thailand Joint Cabinet meeting set for the second half of 2018. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha is due to attend the Summit of Leaders of the Greater Mekong Sub-region to be held in Hanoi in March 2018, Prawit Wongsuwan told his host.

Economics

Growth boosts demand for industrial land vietnamnews.vn 5th Mar 2018
Demand for industrial land around the country is expected to increase thanks to significant growth in terms of both industrial production and FDI. Last year the city’s index of industrial production grew by 7.9 per cent while Hà Nội’s expanded by 7.1 per cent. FDI flows into HCM City topped $6.3 billion while for Hà Nội they were worth $2.4 billion, a national year-on-year increase of 22.5 per cent, and most foreign and domestic investors are seeking to expand production. At HCM City IPs, according to real estate service consultant Colliers International, at the end of 2017 the average annual rent was $142.2 per square metre, an increase of 0.9 per cent from the previous year.

Firms face probable delisting after three-year losses vietnamnews.vn 3rd Mar 2018
A number of listed companies risk being forced to leave the stock market after they reported losses for three consecutive years. Decree No 58/2012/NĐ-CP, issued in July 2012, stipulates that securities shall be delisted if the listing company suffers a loss for three consecutive years, or total accumulated losses in the most recent audited financial statements exceed paid-up charter capital. Seven companies which incurred losses in 2015 and 2016 continued to report losses in the last quarter of 2017 and their shares are in jeopardy of being removed from the stock market this year.

Real estate sector expects record FDI in 2018 vietnamnews.vn 28th Feb 2018
FDI flows into real estate have been very high so far this year, and a new record is expected to be set this year. According to the Ministry of Planning and Investment, US$1.255 billion has come into the sector. “The real estate market has mostly attracted FDI through M&A activities,” Nguyễn Hoàng, R&D director, DKRA Việt Nam, told Đầu Tư (Việt Nam Investment Review) newspaper. “It is more and more popular as it can combine foreign investors’ strength in finance and experience with local enterprises’ huge lands and knowledge of the local investment process.”

VN exporters start to add value vietnamnews.vn 21st Feb 2018
After focusing on exporting large volumes of unprocessed goods for a long time, more and more Vietnamese companies are now turning to export of processed and value-added products and improving their quality to penetrate global markets. According to experts, this is a needed move if "made in Việt Nam" products are to find a place in the global distribution and value chains. After more than a decade of being the world’s largest processor and exporter of cashew nuts, the Việt Nam Cashew Association said it is time for the sector to change its export strategy to penetrate deeper into the global value chain.

Energy

Trade ministry begins $158m energy efficiency project vietnamnews.vn 6th Mar 2018
The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) on Monday launched a US$158 million energy project to help key industries and enterprises with energy saving. The “Việt Nam Energy Efficiency for Industrial Enterprises” project (VEEIE) aims to promote efficient energy use and contribute to the country’s overall goals of energy efficiency and conservation, according to deputy minister Hoàng Quốc Vượng. The project, which was established by the World Bank (WB) and MoIT on December 29, 2017, and will last until July 2022, has a total budget of $158 million with two-thirds of the fund being financed by the WB’s International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the rest being provided by the Vietnamese Government.

Giant solar power plant to start operation this year VOV - VOV Online Newspaper 1st Mar 2018
Gia Lai Electricity JSC’s Phong Dien solar power plant is expected to start operation in September and generate power for 32,628 households. Gia Lai Electricity JSC, a subsidiary of TTC Group, has just signed an EPC contract with the consortium of Asian electronics giant Sharp Corporation (Japan), Sharp Solution Asia (SSSA) (Thailand), and NSN Construction and Engineering JSC to construct the Phong Dien solar power plant. Sharp is a multinational electronics corporation based in Sakai, Japan, and has been an integral part of Taiwan-based Foxconn Group since 2016. The plant is located on 45 hectares in Phong Dien district of Thua Thien-Hue province in the Central Coast. The plant is expected to start operations in September 2018, generating enough power for 32,628 average households in Vietnam, or around 0.1 per cent of the country’s population.

Government focuses on divestment in oil and gas sector vietnamnews.vn 26th Feb 2018
Vietnam Oil and Gas Group (Petro Vietnam or PVN) plans to reduce its ownership of Petro Vietnam Gas Joint Stock Company (PV Gas) from the current 97 per cent to 65 per cent. The divestment, scheduled for 2018-20, follows Government instructions for the company to pare its stakes in three State-owned companies to a minimum of 51 per cent by 2020, the other two being Petro Việt Nam Fertiliser and Chemicals Corporation (DPM) and Petro Vietnam Cà Mau Fertiliser Joint Stock Company (DCM). The PV Gas divestment is expected to attract many large investors who would be eager to buy into a company that reportedly contribute 30 per cent of PVN’s profits.

Finance Ministry proposes environmental tax hike VOV - VOV Online Newspaper 24th Feb 2018
The Ministry of Finance has proposed raising environmental protection taxes on oil and petroleum products from the current VND3,000 (US$13 cents) to the ceiling level of VND4,000 (US$17 cents) per litre beginning July 1, 2018. Accordingly, environmental protection taxes have been proposed to increase by VND500 per liter of diesel oil to VND2,000 and by VND1,100 per liter of other oil products to VND2,000. Plastic bags are also expected to see higher environmental taxes, rising from the current VND30,000 to VND50,000 per kilo, if the proposal is approved. Last year, the ministry sought opinions about a draft law on the environmental protection tax hike to the highest level of VND8,000 per litre. The proposal faced fierce opposition from both the public and economists.

Financial Services

Techcombank to sell treasury shares to foreign investors VietNamNet 5th Mar 2018
Vietnam Technological and Commercial Joint Stock Bank (Techcombank) plans to sell more than 158 treasury shares to foreign investors. Techcombank will prioritise investors from the United States and Europe for the treasury share sale. — Photo Techcombank At the bank’s Annual General Meeting of shareholders on Saturday, Chairman Ho Hung Anh said the price of the shares must be at a minimum of VND23,445 (US$1.03), the price at which the bank had bought back the shares from HSBC last year.

Commercial banks boost retail banking segment by adjusting service fees vietnamnews.vn 5th Mar 2018
Commercial banks have adjusted their service fees to individual customers since beginning of the year in order to focus on the retail segment. For money transfer services in the same banking system, some commercial banks, such as VIB, VietinBank and Techcombank, do not charge for individual customers when using electronic services. These banks charge VNĐ8,800 for the maintenance of their accounts. In addition, the fee for money transfer services among different banks is VNĐ9,900 or higher per transaction, or as a percentage of the transaction amount ranging from 0.1 to 0.3 per cent.

Banks race for digital technology The Nation 4th Mar 2018
Winfield Wong, head of wholesale banking at HSBC Vietnam said that country has potential for a high rate of adoption of new technologies. This prospect is triggered by a young population very open to innovation, along with robust Internet penetration. As of November last year, 64 million people or 67 per cent of Vietnam’s population had Internet access. And smartphone ownership has exploded, with 84 per cent of mobile-phone owners in 2017 carrying smartphones, up from 78 per cent in 2016, according to Wong.

Vietnam makes significant progress in sustainable finance reforms - News VietNamNet VietNamNet 28th Feb 2018
Emerging markets have become a major force in driving development and fighting climate change as 34 countries, including Vietnam, have initiated banking reforms to expand sustainable lending, according to the first comprehensive Global Progress Report of Sustainable Banking Network (SBN). These 34 countries account for $42.6 trillion in bank assets—more than 85 per cent of the total bank assets in emerging markets. Some are wealthier than others, but all of them have made progress in advancing sustainable finance. Vietnam, together with Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Colombia, Indonesia, Mongolia, and Nigeria, have reached an advanced stage by implementing large-scale reforms and putting in place systems to measure results. These reforms require banks to assess and report environmental and social (E&S) risks in their lending operations and put market incentives in place for banks to lend to green projects.

Vietcombank to sell 10% stake to foreign investors VOV - VOV Online Newspaper 27th Feb 2018
The Commercial Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam (Vietcombank) is planning to sell more than 350 million shares, or a 10% stake, to foreign investors in the first half of 2018. The bank’s decision comes after a green signal from the Government, Nikkei reports. Vietcombank Chairman NghiemXuanThanh told reporters that the plan for the private equity placement had been approved by the relevant authorities. The shares will be issued by way of public auction or private placement to a limited number of foreign investors.

Food & Agriculture

Blow for food safety in Việt Nam vietnamnews.vn 6th Mar 2018
Food enterprises can now declare their products safe and hygienic, without having to apply for any official certification. Decree 15/2018/NĐ-CP was put into effect last month; with the food safety change one of the most significant parts of the decree. Under the decree, organisations and individuals producing and selling food will announce their product’s safety on multi-media, websites or at their offices themselves, instead of applying for food safety and hygiene certificates like before.

Agriculture ministry seeks to surpass targets vietnamnews.vn 3rd Mar 2018
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) will raise its targets in production and business for this year, said Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Hà Công Tuấn at the ministry’s monthly meeting on Friday in Hà Nội. The ministry expects to gain a growth rate of 3.05 per cent in gross domestic product (GDP) and notch export value of US$40.5 billion for this year. Meanwhile, 39 per cent of communes are expected to meet new rural standards and forest coverage will reach 41.65 per cent. To achieve those targets for fisheries, Tuấn said the fishery industry must strengthen public relations activities as well as boost inspection and control to avoid illegal fishing. The ministry expects the European Commission (EC) to withdraw its warning label regarding illegal, unregulated and undeclared (IUU) fishing in Vietnamese seafood exported to the European Union (EU

Interest in VN food, beverage sector VietNamNet 26th Feb 2018
The food and beverage sector remains a highly attractive one for both foreign and domestic players, many of whom have announced expansion plans. To mark its fifth year in Viet Nam, US beverage giant Starbucks opened a store in Da Nang in January, its 34th in the country. While never disclosing details of the company’s business in Viet Nam, Starbucks boss in the country have always claimed significant growth and that Viet Nam remains a highly promising market. On the occasion of the in Da Nang store opening, Patricia Marques, general manager of Starbucks Vietnam, said: “We have been asked many times when Starbucks will set foot outside of HCM City and Ha Noi: now it is time. And not just this first opening in Da Nang, 2018 will be a remarkable year for Starbucks Vietnam, I believe. There are more exciting plans to be executed this year.”

Organic rice production models to affirm Vietnam’s export status VOV - VOV Online Newspaper 25th Feb 2018
The Mekong Delta is one of Vietnam’s key agricultural hubs, producing masses of rice, seafood, and fruits. Currently rice production occupies 54% of the total farm land in the region, contributing more than 90% of Vietnam’s rice for export and bringing in billions of USD in revenue each year. The agricultural sector and Can Tho City are redesigning the production areas to create large-scale organic rice fields to increase rice revenues. Can Tho now has 240,000 ha for rice cultivation, more than 70% of its agricultural production area, producing an output of 1.4 million tons. Large-scale fields make up 21% of the rice production area, in which qualified rice varieties and advanced technologies combine to create rice of high competitiveness in the domestic and international markets. Pham Thi Minh Hieu, director of the municipal Department for Cultivation and Plant Protection, says that for the winter-spring 2017-2018 crop, Can Tho will reserve 10,000 ha for organic rice production, involving 5,400 farm families. The program aims to improve farmers’ productivity and links between cooperatives and businesses to boost sales.

Agro-forestry-fishery exports exceed US$6 bln in first two months VOV - VOV Online Newspaper 23rd Feb 2018
Export turnover of agro-forestry-aquatic products in February 2018 was estimated at US$2.6 billion, raising the total value in the first two months of 2018 to US$6.1 billion, up 30.2% against the same period last year. According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, export value of key farm produce hit US$3.3 billion, a year-on-year rise of 27.8%. Meanwhile, revenue from aquatic and forestry product shipments reached US$1.2 billion and US$1.43 billion, increases of 29.5% and 28.5%, respectively.

Việt Nam works to stop illegal fishing vietnamnews.vn 22nd Feb 2018
Việt Nam has been actively working to implement the European Commission (EC)’s recommendations since it announced a yellow card on Vietnamese fisheries on October 23 last year. According to Vũ Văn Tám, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, the issuance of the EC’s illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU) yellow card has gained positive results as the number of illegal fishing vessels has decreased. The central coastal province of Khánh Hòa is one of several key provinces for tuna fishing with a large offshore fishing fleet. Being aware of the issue of illegal fishing, the province has tried drastic solutions as well as disseminated information among its fishermen to understand and practise responsible fishing.

Health & Life Sciences

Pharma Decree a bitter pill for firms vietnamnews.vn 2nd Mar 2018
Foreign-invested pharmaceutical companies in Việt Nam and legal experts think there is room for administrative improvement regarding current policies on imports and distribution. This is a timely feedback on a Ministry of Health (MoH)’s ongoing circular draft, regarding the 2016 Law on Pharmacy and the 2017 Pharma Decree 54. The American Chamber of Commerce in Việt Nam (Amcham) and the Việt Nam’s Association of Foreign Invested Enterprises (VAFIE) chaired a discussion on Thursday on new managing policies for foreign invested enterprises in the pharmaceutical field.

Minister: It’s time to provide more health care services Vietnam Plus 27th Feb 2018
Health Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien talks with Thoi Bao Kinh Te Viet Nam (Vietnam Economic Times) about projects to build more hospitals and provide better services for patients.

Việt Nam faces risk of bird flu outbreak vietnamnews.vn 26th Feb 2018
The Department of Animal Health (DAH) under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has warned about the threat of bird flu outbreak following one A/H5N6 bird flu outbreak recorded in the past 21 days in Đại Bản Commune, An Dương District, in the northern port city of Hải Phòng. According to a report of the Hải Phòng Animal Health Division, the disease first broke out in a farm belonging to Mai Văn Tình. Tình raised 3,200 poultries, of which nearly 3,000 chickens tested positive for A/H5N6 virus. The 200 ducks were not affected as they had been vaccinated. Tình bought the chickens from the northern province of Thái Nguyên without any quarantine papers and did not give them any vaccine. When they started dying, Tình did not report it to the local authorities and culled the birds by himself.

Parents now need ID card to buy kid’s medicine Vietnam Net 26th Feb 2018
A new regulation which requires the identity card number of a parent or guardian in the prescription form to buy medicines for a child aged six or less is making parents uneasy. A customer at a pharmacy on Quan Su Street in Hanoi. Parents in Viet Nam will need to present their ID card numbers when buying children’s medicine from March 1.  The new circular regulating prescription for outpatient children will become effective from March 1. According to the new requirement introduced by the Health Ministry, besides mentioning the name and age of the child, the name and age of the parent or guardian, family address, health insurance card number, diagnosis, medicine names and doctor’s advice will also need to be provided to purchase medicines.

Made-in-Việt Nam medicine use on the rise vietnamnews.vn 23rd Feb 2018
The use of made-in-Việt Nam medicines at provincial-level hospitals has risen to 35.4 per cent since the Ministry of Health initiated an ongoing project named “Vietnamese people give priority to using made-in-Việt Nam medicines” in 2012. The ratio was over 33 per cent before the project began. Deputy Minister Trương Quốc Cường said the project was designed to help national medicine develop sustainably in the near future. A report from the ministry said the amount of people using made-in-Việt Nam medicines at district-level hospitals was up from 61.5 per cent to 69.4 per cent. The percentage in some provinces reached over 80 per cent, including Ninh Thuận, Phú Yên, Lai Châu, Lâm Đồng and Long An.

ICT

Deputy PM urges e-Gov’t acceleration vietnamnews.vn 24th Feb 2018
Deputy Prime Minister Trương Hoà Bình has urged ministries, sectors and localities to finish the build-up and carrying out of the e-Government architectural framework at ministerial and provincial levels before September this year, as Việt Nam is determined to accelerate the formation of its e-Government. The e-Government architectural framework displays the overall architecture of all components in the e-Government system of State bodies, their functions and correlations. The establishment of the frameworks at different levels plays an important role in the development of e-Government systems, particularly the improvement of connectivity and data sharing among different State bodies.

170 Vietnamese websites attacked during Lunar New Year Vietnamnews 26th Feb 2018
Up to 170 Vietnamese websites were attacked during the week-long Tết (Lunar New Year) holiday, according to the Authority of Information Security under the Ministry of Information and Communications. Attacks occurred at 55 websites with domains using .vn; 10 governmental agencies and organisations (.gov.vn); and 98 with domains using .com. Hackers mostly performed defacements and planted malicious codes into the source codes of the websites. Also, 116,000 Vietnamese Internet Protocol (IP) addresses remain in the fake network created by malicious codes. According to the Authority of Information Security, the number of fake IP addresses fell dramatically from 234,838 during the week before Tết.

Digital economy is the future for Vietnam VietnamNet 21st Feb 2018
Nhan Dan newspaper talked to some Vietnamese experts about the advantages of the digital economy in the course of applying the fourth industrial revolution. Nguyen Ba An, secretary general of the National Council for Sustainable Development and Competitiveness Improvement At present many countries in the region have carried out their digital strategy including Viet Nam. But China and Singapore are the two leading nations. In our country, an e-Government system was launched several years ago, but the national system still needs further improvements.  More recently, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc signed a decree on advancing the campaign to bring Industry 4.0 to life. But I’m sorry to say there remain many things to be done. When we talk about the digital economy, for many Vietnamese, that economy seems alien. But in real life, the internet of things has penetrated all corners of our socio-economic life.

Infrastructure

HCM City plans infrastructure projects in 2018 vietnamnews.vn 5th Mar 2018
Relocating households living near canals, renovating old apartments and developing transport infrastructure are among major projects the HCM City aims to carry out in 2018, according to the city’s authorities. HCM City still has more than 20,000 households living on and along canals, mostly in District 8, which must be relocated. However, only half of them can be moved by 2020 due to a shortage of capital. Trần Trọng Tuấn, director of the Department of Construction, said at a meeting with representatives of the city’s sectors on March 2 that the department is calling for investment in relocating households living along canals.

Better planning needed for infrastructure: PM vietnamnews.vn 1st Mar 2018
Despite improvements to the country’s infrastructure in recent years, especially in terms of transport, better quality planning that matches economic demands is still sorely lacking. Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc made the comment at a meeting held yesterday in Hà Nội to review the progress made in a key resolution by the Party on infrastructure development. Resolution 13-NQ/TW, passed in January 2012, by the Communist Party’s Central Committee, outlined directions to build a cohesive infrastructure system that would “make Việt Nam a modern, industrialised nation” by 2020. The resolution also marks prioritised resources in four ‘key areas’ – developing transport infrastructure, power supply, irrigation and infrastructure for climate change adaptation.

Major infrastructure works begin in new year VOV - VOV Online Newspaper 23rd Feb 2018
A slew of infrastructure works have begun or been speeded up across the country after Tet (the Lunar New Year) holiday. Besides its metro lines, Ho Chi Minh City has also stepped up the pace of work at many other major infrastructure projects, including Beltway No 3, which is expected to reduce traffic congestion in the city by allowing vehicles to bypass it. In early January, the Ministry of Transport had told the city to begin sub-project No 1 of the Beltway No 3 Project ahead of schedule. The beltway will also shorten the distance between the city and the new urban area of Nhon Trach in Dong Nai and Binh Duong provinces.

Legislation

Vietnam takes first steps towards establishing super committee VOV - VOV Online Newspaper 4th Mar 2018
Though advocating the establishment of a super committee to manage state capital in enterprises, economists remain divided on how exactly it should be done. The government on February 3 released Resolution No 09, officially marking the establishment of a super committee in charge of managing state capital in enterprises. The super committee is an organ of the government, acting as the representative of the state as the owner of 100% state invested enterprises and as capital contributor in joint stock and limited companies.

VN must bolster anti-bribery laws vietnamnews.vn 1st Mar 2018
Việt Nam lacks necessary mechanisms to enforce provisions on bribery of foreign public officials and officials of international public organisations under the 2015 Penal Code, according to research conducted by Hà Nội Law University with support of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The research provides case studies of laws and law enforcement efforts to curb bribery of foreign public officials in five countries – the US, the UK, South Korea, Japan and China - and applications for Việt Nam. These five selected countries criminalize bribery of foreign public officials. Sharing the research outcomes at a discussion in Hà Nội yesterday, Dr Đào Lệ Thu, Director of the Centre for Comparative Research on Public Law at the Comparative Law Institute under Hà Nội Law University said “In the context of international economic integration and globalisation, Vietnamese businesses have increasingly engaged in international economic and investment cooperation. This fact has brought about a risk of bribery of foreign officials of governments, international agencies and organisations to gain business and investment benefits.”

Manufacturing

Vietnam’s aviation sector targets ASEAN’s top 4 by 2030 VietNamNet 27th Feb 2018
Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung has recently signed a decision approving adjustments to the master plan on air transport development till 2020 with vision to 2030. The plan aims for Vietnam’s air transport market to be among the top four in ASEAN by 2030 in terms of volume and with a fleet of modern aircraft. Three passenger and cargo transportation centres on par with ASEAN standards will be established. The number of air passengers is hoped to increase by 16 percent per year for 2015-2020 and 8 percent for 2020-2030 while the volume of cargo is expected to rise 18 percent annually for 2015-2020 and 12 percent for the 2020-2030 period. By 2020, airliners are expected to handle about 64 million passengers and 570,000 tonnes of cargo. The respective figures by 2030 are 131 million passengers and 1.7 million tonnes of cargo.

Auto imports plummet over Government’s Decree 116 VietNamNet 26th Feb 2018
Automobile imports in Viet Nam plummeted in the first month of 2018, also the time before Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday. Only 337 cars of all kinds were shipped to the country, according to data of the General Department of Customs. Of the imports, there were only 17 passenger cars with nine seats or less, amounting to US$567,000. Notably, no cars were imported from Indonesia and India. In 2017, Indonesia was among the top countries after Thailand with the highest number of exported cars to Viet Nam. India too had a relatively large number of exported vehicles in 2016. However, in January this year, both the countries did not export any car to Viet Nam. Meanwhile, Thailand lost its recognition as the largest import car market in Viet Nam, with only 36 vehicles exported to the country since the beginning of the year.

Thái Bình begins $24.6m auto parts factory vietnamnews.vn 21st Feb 2018
Construction on a US$24.6-million auto parts factory is under-way in the northern Thái Bình Province’s Tiền Hải Industrial Zone with completion expected in July 2019. Financed by the Japanese Toyoda Gosei Group, the 11.3ha-factory will manufacture airbags and leather steering wheels which will be mainly exported to Japan, the US and Europe. Work on the factory kicked off early this month, baodautu.vn reports. Once operational, the factory is expected to create about 1,500 local jobs. The company said it believes that the project will contribute to accelerating the development of Thái Bình Province as it will create more jobs for local people and improve their skills.