Vietnam Update: September 6, 2018

Vietnam Update | September 6, 2018
Authors: Hai Pham and Monica Chritton
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 
September 26: Reception and Dinner with H.E. Tran Dai Quang, President of Vietnam (New York)
Please save the date for the US-ASEAN Business Council and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce reception and dinner in honor of His Excellency Tran Dai Quang, President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York. During his first visit to the U.S., President Quang will emphasize the importance of deepening the comprehensive partnership between the United States and Vietnam. The President will discuss U.S.-Vietnam bilateral relations with special emphasis on future cooperation and engagement. Please contact Hai Pham (hpham@usasean.org) for more information or to express interest.
 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Vietnam Active at AEM and RCEP Talks
Vietnam chaired the latest round of talks on investment during the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) meeting at the 50th ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting (AEM) and Related Meetings, which took place from August 28 to September 1 in Singapore. Previously, Vietnam chaired talks on government procurement at the 23rd round of RCEP discussion last July. The AEM and related meetings focused on Asia’s position in deepening multilateral economic cooperation and trade liberalization. RCEP is expected to form the biggest free trade area in the world and continue to support economic growth and development in ASEAN nations.

During AEM, Vietnam’s Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh also met separately with Ministers from Singapore, Indonesia, the Republic of Korea and the Deputy U.S. Trade Representative. Minister Tuan Anh's meeting with Singaporean Minister of Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing covered key measures to improve the bilateral trade balance and to reach agreement on positions in RCEP talks. Minister Tuan Anh’s meeting with Indonesia’s Minister of Trade Enggartiasto Lukit covered boosting trade in commodities and reducing barriers to trade. The trade deficit with the U.S., reinforcing the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) and Bilateral Trade Agreement (BTA), were discussed during the meeting with Deputy USTR Amb. Jeffrey Gerrish. The Government of Vietnam also submitted concrete recommendations to the ASEAN regional negotiations on services, with hopes that an ASEAN agreement on trade in services could be signed later this year.

Legal Complications Remain for Foreign Investment in Vietnam Infrastructure
Vietnam’s more recent openness to Public Private Partnership (PPP) is expected to revitalize infrastructure investment. Legal complications, however, continue to be a concern for implementation of PPPs due to conflicts among relevant local laws.

Currently, there are two decrees affecting the PPP regulatory landscape. Decree 15 allows project contracts to be governed by foreign laws and Decree 63 is concerned with capital contribution responsibility and additional payment methods in build-transfer projects. There are also, however, governing local laws, including the Law on Investment, Law on Land, Law on Public Investment, etc. that may create legal complications. Because PPP regulations are based on decrees and the local laws are the governing laws, private investors are concerned with PPP regulation stability and the subsequent policy risk this entails. The law on PPPs is expected to be promulgated in 2019.

Until Vietnam’s law on PPPs simplifies procedures and reduces risk for foreign investors, some foreign investors can look to Vietnam’s commitments in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and EU-Vietnam FTA (EVFTA) to improve the local ecosystem for PPP projects. The CPTPP and EVFTA both contain disciplines governing certain tender, procurement and enforcement procedures for foreign investors that, if fully followed by the Government of Vietnam, may alleviate some concerns of investors.

Vietnam Prepares to Host World Economic Forum on ASEAN
The World Economic Forum on ASEAN will take place in Hanoi from September 11-13. At a press conference, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son said Vietnam will have the opportunity to deepen cooperation with the World Economic Forum (WEF) and promote the country’s international standing as host of the event.

Vietnam’s proposed theme for WEF on ASEAN 2018 is “ASEAN 4.0 Entrepreneurship and the Fourth Industrial Revolution”. The event’s theme is closely connected to the ASEAN theme for 2018, which is “Resilient and Innovative”. The connected themes demonstrate ASEAN solidarity and has received support from government and business circles.

The event is expected to receive high-level government officials and nearly 1,000 international business executives. Deputy Minister Son said the event and related meetings will help familiarize attendees with Vietnam’s policies and economic reforms.

 
ADVOCACY UPDATE
 
 
  • On August 27, the Council held a strategy planning call to discuss opportunities and strategies for engagement on the Vietnamese Law on Cybersecurity (LOCS) and Over-the-top (OTT) regulations. Notes from the call and key follow up opportunities can be found here. Please contact Ella Duangkaew (eduangkaew@usasean.org), Vu Tu Thanh (tvu@usasean.org) or Shay Wester (swester@usasean.org) with any questions or comments.
 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Regional Affairs
WEF ASEAN among Vietnam’s largest diplomatic events in 2018: Deputy FM
China Finding Vietnam a Demanding Business Partner
Laos to work with VN on bilateral ties
Party chief’s visit to tighten Vietnam’s strategic connectivity with Russia
Laos, Thailand work to promote bilateral trade
PM orders meticulous preparation for WEF ASEAN
Vietnam, Japan IT sectors ink deal
Vietnam actively contributes to negotiations of regional economic pact
Vietnam, China to open new border gate pair
Relocating to Vietnam to Mitigate the Effect of the US - China Trade War
An Important Cog: An India-Vietnam-Taiwan axis could add to the multipolarity narrative in the Indo-Pacific
WEF brings investment opportunities for Vietnam
Mekong Military Ties in Focus with Border Exchange
HCM City, Chongqing set up friendship-city relations
Japan and North Korea met secretly in Vietnam in July, irking U.S.
Can Vietnam Avoid Getting Hurt in the Crossfire When the Tariffs Are Flying?
Vietnam to let traders use yuan along China border
VN, India hold 16th Joint Committee meeting in Hà Nội

National Affairs
Vietnamese Police Attack Crowd Seeking Release of Detained Protesters
Vietnam's economic zones derailed by anti-China protests
Former Hanoi Customs officer gets 16-years following ivory and rhino horn theft from government warehouse
Vietnam arrests exiles group member with weapons: security ministry
Enhancing companies’ production
Ninh Thuận seeks funds to help ethnic minorities

Customs
City fights fake goods, trade fraud

Defense & Security
What’s Behind France’s First Vietnam Air Force Mission?

Economics
SBV needs to speed up bad debt resolution
Nearly 87,500 firms enter market in eight months

Energy
Environment tax on fuels to remain unchanged until 2020
Thai investors jump into renewable energy sector in Vietnam
Vietnam goes solar

Financial Services
Government directs capital hike for State-owned banks
90% of social insurance fund invested in G-bonds
Vietnam's Agribank plans IPO in 2020: Chairman
Vietnam lowers reference exchange rate

Food & Agriculture
Vietnam seeks multilateral trade cooperation at AEM-50
Binh Thuan attempts to combat desertification
Vietnam makes biotechnology progress
Japanese pears hit Vietnamese market shelves
VN makes biotechnology progress

Health & Life Sciences
Việt Nam steps up vaccine production programme
Việt Nam develops vaccines for human diseases

ICT
VN to spend $2.9b on advertising
Spam messages plague Vietnam phone users
SSI upgrades stock board and order services for Web Trading
Cybersecurity Becoming Major Concern for Vietnamese Businesses
Banks to work harder on cyber crime
New influx of domain names heating up market
Ministry of Finance tops Vietnam ICT Index for six consecutive years
Vietnam's food delivery market heats up with new players
IT key to Vietnam’s Industry 4.0 future
Japan to lift investment in VN IT sector
Danang leads ICT Index for third consecutive year
Vietnam well-equipped to meet ICT personnel needs of Japan
Information technology helps boost Vietnam`s tourism
E-commerce helps SMEs boost online exports

Infrastructure
Hà Nội replaces old buses with hi-tech, modern vehicles
Legal complications remain for foreign investment in Vietnam infrastructure
Finance ministry calls for higher fees on pickup trucks and vans
Vietnam’s transport projects beckon Japanese investors
$58b for North-South high speed train: consultants

Manufacturing
Rising paper costs hurt printers
Vĩnh Phúc grants investment certificate to Japanese investors
Mitsubishi plans to make electric cars in Việt Nam
PV manufacturers go head to head

Travel & Tourism
Company to invest VNĐ700 billion in Ngã Bảy floating market
Emirates inks codeshare agreement with Jestar Pacific
Vietnam invests in Hue’s airport
Zero-dong tours cause headaches for local authorities
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Regional Affairs

WEF ASEAN among Vietnam’s largest diplomatic events in 2018: Deputy FM Voice of Vietnam 6th Sep 2018
The WEF ASEAN, scheduled to take place in Hanoi from September 11 to 13, is expected to receive high-ranking government representatives, nearly 1,000 executives of regional- and world-leading corporations and hundreds of reporters from global and regional media outlets to cover the event. Son, head of the organising board of the event, said that the WEF ASEAN is taking place as the construction of the ASEAN Community has been accelerated, with the world witnessing rapid and complicated developments, along with the fourth industrial revolution impacting the global economy. He said the theme of the forum “ASEAN 4.0: Entrepreneurship in the fourth industrial revolution” proposed by Vietnam, has gained support of political and business circles and partners, especially ASEAN members, as it is relevant to the ASEAN theme of “resilient and innovative ASEAN”.

China Finding Vietnam a Demanding Business Partner Voice of America 5th Sep 2018
China is finding Vietnam to be a tough partner as Chinese firms try to do more business with the long-time political rival along its southern border. Vietnam’s legislature, faced with public protests, has put off until May 2019 a bill that would let Chinese and other foreign investors use special economic zones. The government in Hanoi also warns against taking out preferential loans from China for infrastructure development. It has cautioned as well against Chinese development aid. Still, the Vietnamese are allowing a surge of private business with China as it benefits their country, experts say. In one sign of that trend, Chinese companies are setting up factories in Vietnam to dodge the Sino-U.S. trade dispute, said Maxfield Brown, senior associate with the business consultancy Dezan Shira & Associates in Ho Chi Minh City.

Laos to work with VN on bilateral ties Viet Nam News 5th Sep 2018
The Lao Party, State and people will do their utmost, together with Việt Nam, to nurture the two countries’ special solidarity and develop it to new heights for the benefit of not only local people, but also for peace, stability, cooperation and development in the region and across the world. The statement was made by President of the Lao Front for National Development (LFND) Saysomphone Phomvihane while he was received by General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) Nguyễn Phú Trọng in Hà Nội yesterday.

Party chief’s visit to tighten Vietnam’s strategic connectivity with Russia VietNamNet 4th Sep 2018
During a visit to Russia from September 5 to 8, General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee Nguyen Phu Trong and President Vladimir Putin and other Russian leaders will discuss measures to promote the countries’ relations. General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee Nguyen Phu Trong The Party leader revealed his plans for the trip during an interview with Russian news agency TASS ahead of the visit.

Laos, Thailand work to promote bilateral trade Vietnam Plus 4th Sep 2018
Measures are sought to increase the value of bilateral trade between Laos and Thailand at a trade meeting that opened in Vientiane, Laos, on September 4. The three-day meeting saw officials from the two countries discussing numerous measures to raise bilateral trade to 10 billion USD by 2021.

PM orders meticulous preparation for WEF ASEAN Viet Nam News 4th Sep 2018
Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc has called for meticulous preparations for the World Economic Forum on ASEAN (WEF ASEAN), which will take place in Hà Nội on September 11-13. Hosting a Government meeting on August 22, PM Phúc told all sub-committees to use the experiences gained through the organisation of APEC 2017, the sixth Greater Mekong Sub-Region (GMS-6) Summit and the 10th Cambodia-Laos-Việt Nam Development Triangle Summit to prepare for WEF ASEAN.

Vietnam, Japan IT sectors ink deal Vietnam Plus 2nd Sep 2018
Quang Trung Software City (QTSC), and the Vietnam Information Technology Outsourcing (VNITO) Alliance have signed an agreement with Japan’s Fukuoka Information Services Industry Association to enhance business cooperation and support trade promotion by members of both sides.

Vietnam actively contributes to negotiations of regional economic pact Vietnam Plus 2nd Sep 2018
The 50th ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM-50) Meeting and Related Meetings, which freshly concluded in Singapore on September 1 after four days of working, is an important event in the context of rising global trade protectionism and unilateralisaiton, said Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh in a recent interview granted to the Vietnam News Agency. The main goal of these meetings is promoting multilateral economic cooperation and trade liberalisation through the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), affirming the central role of ASEAN in creating new regional trade architecture, he added.

Vietnam, China to open new border gate pair VietNamNet 31st Aug 2018
The official opening of bilateral border gates Chi Ma (Vietnam) – Ai Dian (China) is scheduled to be held on September 10. Chairman of the People’s Committee of Lang Son province Pham Ngoc Thuong on August 30 made a fact-finding tour of the Chi Ma border gate and worked with relevant agencies on the preparation for the launching event in Loc Binh district.

Relocating to Vietnam to Mitigate the Effect of the US - China Trade War Vietnam Briefing News 31st Aug 2018
Due to its geographic proximity, lower wages, skilled labor, trade agreements, and regional connectivity, Vietnam has emerged as one of the most preferred alternatives for manufacturers. The Vietnamese government had anticipated that due to higher tariffs on Chinese products, the manufacturers may try to reroute goods through Vietnam in the short term to maintain exports. Hence, the government has taken several steps to ensure the origin of imported and exported products. For example, Decree No. 31/2018/ND-CP which is in effect since March 2018, supplements new regulations related to the origin of exported goods and imported goods. Due to product origin issues, the US government in March 2018 hiked tariffs on steel products from Vietnam that originated from China.

An Important Cog: An India-Vietnam-Taiwan axis could add to the multipolarity narrative in the Indo-Pacific Times of India Blog 30th Aug 2018
External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj’s recent visit to Vietnam again signified growing enhancement of bilateral ties between New Delhi and Hanoi. And apart from holding wide-ranging discussions with her Vietnamese counterpart Pham Binh Minh – with whom she co-chaired the 16th meeting of the joint commission – she also inaugurated the third Indian Ocean Conference in the Vietnamese capital. The latter is important in the context of the evolving geopolitics in the Indo-Pacific region. With China’s island building activities in the South China Sea and Beijing’s push to actualise its Maritime Silk Road of the 21st Century, Asean nations such as Vietnam have become increasingly wary about China’s moves in their peripheral waters. In fact, Vietnam has been raising the issue of freedom of navigation in the South China Sea and flagging China’s assertive manoeuvres since 2011

WEF brings investment opportunities for Vietnam Voice of Vietnam 30th Aug 2018
Nearly 30 years after Vietnam joined the World Economic Forum (WEF), the WEF has become an important venue for the Vietnamese Government to hold dialogues with world leading economic groups, thus bringing investment opportunities for the country. Bilateral meetings between Vietnamese leaders and foreign counterparts as well as with executives of world economic groups provide the chances for discussion on development directions for Vietnam’s economy, thus assisting with the country’s building of development guidelines and policies.

Mekong Military Ties in Focus with Border Exchange The Diplomat 30th Aug 2018
Last week, the countries of the Mekong subregion kicked off another iteration of a key friendship border exchange program in Vietnam. Though the event was just one among many developments within the management of border relations between these countries, its significance nonetheless bears noting within the context of both regional developments on that front as well as Vietnam’s own priorities in this respect. Over the past few years, the countries through which the Mekong River – one of the world’s largest, longest rivers – runs, have been working on ways to manage the opportunities and challenges that come from their shared borders, which extends from the highest levels of government down to local border guard units.

HCM City, Chongqing set up friendship-city relations Voice of Vietnam 30th Aug 2018
Against the backdrop of the growing Vietnam-China ties, the establishment of friendship-city relations between HCM City and Chongqing is in line with the common perceptions of top leaders of both nations to foster collaboration between the two countries’ localities, he noted. The move will help develop the bilateral relationship and create favourable conditions for HCM City to expand cooperation with China’s western region, the vice chairman added.

Japan and North Korea met secretly in Vietnam in July, irking U.S. The Japan Times 29th Aug 2018
Japan and North Korea held a “secret” meeting in Vietnam in July without informing the United States, the Washington Post reported Tuesday. Shigeru Kitamura, head of Japan’s Cabinet Intelligence and Research Office, and a senior North Korean official in charge of reunification, Kim Song Hye, attended the talks, the newspaper said. Senior U.S. officials expressed irritation that Japan was not forthright about the meeting despite Washington’s near-constant updates to Tokyo on its dealings with North Korea, it said.

Can Vietnam Avoid Getting Hurt in the Crossfire When the Tariffs Are Flying? New York Times 29th Aug 2018
Nobody can predict all of the pain and permutations of the trade war. The Vietnamese government is cautious, even projecting negligible declines in growth over the next five years. Others are far more sanguine. In July, Standard Chartered raised its growth forecasts for Vietnam to 7 percent this year, based on the influx of foreign direct investment. In addition to attracting companies hedging their Chinese bets, Vietnam may also pull in American buyers eager to diversify their imports from outside China. “The consensus before was that T.P.P. would be the catalyst,” says Michael Kokalari, chief economist at the Vietnam-focused asset-management firm VinaCapital. “But the trade war could be the thing that really opens the floodgates.” In Vietnam, fighting elephants just might give the nimblest (or luckiest) ants a chance to thrive.

Vietnam to let traders use yuan along China border Nikkei Asian Review 29th Aug 2018
Vietnam plans to officially allow the use of the Chinese yuan for trading goods in its northern border towns, the central bank said on Wednesday. The State Bank of Vietnam announced on its website that merchants, residents and related banks and institutions engaged in cross-border trade will be authorized to use the yuan, or the Vietnamese dong, to settle transactions starting on Oct. 12. The central bank did not provide further details, but many economists see the decision as an attempt to reduce foreign exchange risks from current trading practices. Trade between Vietnam and China exceeds $100 billion, and most transactions are settled in U.S. dollars. This creates a forex hazard for both sides.

VN, India hold 16th Joint Committee meeting in Hà Nội Viet Nam News 29th Aug 2018
Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Phạm Bình Minh and Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj co-chaired the 16th Meeting of the Việt Nam-India Joint Committee on Economic, Commercial, Scientific, and Technological Co-operation in Hà Nội on Tuesday. In their remarks at the meeting, Minh and Swaraj praised the long-standing relations between Việt Nam and India, highlighting that significant progress has been made with several important milestones since the last joint committee meeting in 2013. The two countries lifted their relations to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in September 2016 and successfully hosted the Việt Nam-India Friendship Year 2017 to celebrate the 45th anniversary of diplomatic ties and the 10th year of their strategic partnership.

National Affairs

Vietnamese Police Attack Crowd Seeking Release of Detained Protesters Vietnam News 5th Sep 2018
Police in south-central Vietnam's coastal Quang Ngai province on Monday attacked a crowd of hundreds who had gathered outside government offices to demand the release of 31 protesters detained over the weekend following clashes over pollution from a waste-processing plant, Vietnamese sources say. Many were beaten in the assault, with at least one injured and sent to a hospital, sources at the scene told RFA's Vietnamese Service. "We had invited authorities to come talk to us, but when we got here they sent police out to beat us," one woman said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Vietnam's economic zones derailed by anti-China protests Nikkei Asian Review 3rd Sep 2018
The Vietnamese government's plan to open the country's first three special economic zones have been stalled until next year at the earliest due to large demonstrations by those wary of an influx of Chinese businesses. In early June, protests erupted throughout the country, including in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Factories and shops were destroyed, and at least 1,000 people were arrested -- an unusual display in Vietnam, where public security forces keep a close eye on the public. The national legislature responded by postponing deliberation and voting on laws related to the special zones that month, and recently decided to leave the matter alone once more in an October session.

Former Hanoi Customs officer gets 16-years following ivory and rhino horn theft from government warehouse TRAFFIC 31st Aug 2018
Hanoi’s People’s Court has sentenced former Customs Officer Pham Minh Hoang and accomplice Tran Trong Cuong to 16 years in prison for embezzlement after the two were caught stealing seized ivory and rhino horn from a customs warehouse and replacing the goods with fakes. A third man, Hoang Van Dien, was sentenced to two years for trading prohibited goods, according to Vietnamese media sources.

Vietnam arrests exiles group member with weapons: security ministry Reuters 30th Aug 2018
Police in Vietnam have arrested a man accused of being a member of a “terrorist” group and planning attacks in the country, the Ministry of Public Security said on Thursday. In a statement, it said Le Quoc Binh, 44, was taken into custody early on Wednesday after entering Vietnam from Cambodia bringing a large number of weapons which he intended to carry out terrorist activities. It said Binh was a member of Viet Tan, a U.S.-based exiles group that Communist Vietnam regards as a “terrorist” body.

Enhancing companies’ production VietNamNet 29th Aug 2018
In addition to an expected slight rise in the country’s minimum wage in 2019, a favourable working environment will be also a great contributor to Vietnam’s improved labour productivity in the time to come.  After three working sessions, the National Salary Council, and representatives of employers and employees last week reached a decision to propose for the government approval of the region-based minimum wage hike applied at private companies by 5.3 per cent, equalling an average increase of VND175,000 ($7.74) per worker per month. This hike is a compromise between the 6.1 per cent proposed by the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour (VGCL) representing employees, and the 5.1 per cent proposed by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) representing employers. The council’s chairman Doan Mau Diep stated that this 5.3-per-cent increase would help labourers cover their daily living expenses, even with a 4-per-cent rise in the consumer price index (CPI). The rate will not put great pressure on employers to pay their work staff either.

Ninh Thuận seeks funds to help ethnic minorities Viet Nam News 29th Aug 2018
The coastal province of Ninh Thuận has asked the Government for more funds to improve the quality of life of ethnic minorities and local residents in mountainous regions. Lê Thanh Hùng, deputy head of the province’s Board for Ethnic Minority Affairs, said the province needs VNĐ365.8 billion (US$15.6 million) to provide land, housing and preferential loans to residents. The province has 9,223 poor ethnic minority families who need assistance.

Customs

City fights fake goods, trade fraud Việt Nam News 31st Aug 2018
HCM City authorities are seeking more effective measures in the fight against counterfeit products, smuggled goods and trade fraud as e-commerce grows at a fast pace, an official has said. Speaking at a conference on Wednesday, Pham Thanh Kien, standing deputy chairman of the national steering committee against smuggling, trade fraud and counterfeit, said: “The use of digital signatures must be better managed” as e-commerce booms.

Defense & Security

What’s Behind France’s First Vietnam Air Force Mission? The Diplomat 29th Aug 2018
This week, a French air force squadron paid its first visit to Vietnam in the contemporary bilateral relationship. The visit highlighted both the ongoing activity within the defense relationship of the two countries as well as France’s efforts to reinforce its security presence in Southeast Asia as well as the wider Indo-Pacific region.

Economics

SBV needs to speed up bad debt resolution Viet Nam News 30th Aug 2018
The State Bank of Việt Nam (SBV) needed to speed up the resolution of non-performing loans (NPLs) to bring down the bad debt ratio of the entire banking system – including both NPLs owned by credit institutions and the Việt Nam Asset Management Company - to below 3 per cent by 2020. Deputy Prime Minister Vương Đình Huệ on Tuesday made the statement at a conference to review application of the National Assembly’s Resolution 42/2017/QH and Prime Minister’s Decision No 1058/QD-TTg on the structure of credit institutions (CIs) system associated with dealing with bad debts in the 2016-20 period.

Nearly 87,500 firms enter market in eight months Viet Nam News 30th Aug 2018
Some 87,448 new enterprises were established in the first eight months of the year, with total registered capital of VNĐ878.6 trillion (US$37.7 billion), a year-on-year increase of 2.4 per cent in number of firms and 6.9 per cent in capital, according to the General Statistics Office (GSO). Read more at http://vietnamnews.vn/economy/464882/nearly-87500-firms-enter-market-in-...

Energy

Environment tax on fuels to remain unchanged until 2020 Saigon Times 30th Aug 2018
The environment tax on fuels will stay unchanged until 2020, as a proposal by the Ministry of Finance to raise the tax will not be included in the law and ordinance making program next year, according to the local media. Minister of Finance Dinh Tien Dung has asked the Legislation and Tax Policy Departments to report the withdrawal of the draft law on amendments and supplements to the Environmental Protection Tax Law, which includes the proposal to hike the environment tax on fuels, from the law and ordinance making program next year.

Thai investors jump into renewable energy sector in Vietnam VietNamNet 30th Aug 2018
In addition to the retail, beer manufacturing, and plastic sector, Thai investors have increased their investment in the renewable energy sector, with the aim to diversify their operations in Vietnam. Most recently, B. Grimm Power Plc., through its subsidiary B Grimm Renewable Power 2 Ltd., has completed the $35.2 million acquisition of its solar photovoltaic power project in Vietnam as part of the expansion of its portfolio of overseas renewable power projects.

Vietnam goes solar The ASEAN Post 29th Aug 2018
With electricity demand in Vietnam growing 12 percent annually, the Vietnamese government has set a goal to generate 265 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity by 2020 and 570 billion kWh of electricity by 2030. This is to meet the surging demand for power resulting from rapid urbanisation and industrialisation in the country. Currently, the country produces more than 170 billion kWh of electricity from fossil energy sources, such as coal and gas – which are speedily being exhausted. According to the Vietnam Energy Outlook Report of 2017, Vietnam is moving over to renewable energy sources in order to sustain high electricity generation without incurring higher energy production costs as its energy demands increase.

Financial Services

Government directs capital hike for State-owned banks VietNamNet 4th Sep 2018
The Government is directing ministries and agencies to raise capital for State-owned commercial banks through the use of dividends or share sales this year, Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue said at a recent meeting. Hue revealed the news after four State-owned banks – Vietcombank, Agribank, BIDV and VietinBank – proposed the capital hike at the meeting on bad debt resolution last week as they are facing difficulties to fulfill the plan.

90% of social insurance fund invested in G-bonds Viet Nam News 4th Sep 2018
About 90 per cent of social insurance funds are currently invested in government bonds (G-bonds), Đào Việt Ánh, deputy general director of Việt Nam Social Security (VSS) said at a seminar last week. The annual average investment interest rate of the entire social insurance fund in 2017 was 7.25 per cent.

Vietnam's Agribank plans IPO in 2020: Chairman VietNamNet 31st Aug 2018
By the end of 2018, state-run Vietnam Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development, known as Agribank, will complete the corporate valuation process, said the bank`s chair. Agribank is expected to have its equitization plan approved by the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) in early October, however, the bank will only launch its initial public offering (IPO) in 2020 at the earliest due to numerous challenges, said Trinh Ngoc Khanh, Agribank's board chairman. By the end of 2018, Agribank will complete the corporate valuation process, Khanh said at a meeting on August 28.

Vietnam lowers reference exchange rate Xinhua 29th Aug 2018
Vietnam's central bank on Wednesday adjusted its reference exchange rate between Vietnamese dong and U.S. dollar down by 5 Vietnamese dong to 22,673 Vietnamese dong per U.S. dollar. With the current trading band of plus or minus 3 percent, the ceiling exchange rate is 23,353 Vietnamese dong per U.S. dollar, and the floor rate is 21,993 Vietnamese dong per U.S. dollar, said the State Bank of Vietnam. Meanwhile, listed rates at big commercial banks in Vietnam remained unchanged from Tuesday. Both Vietcombank and BIDV maintained the rates at 23,255 Vietnamese dong per U.S. dollar for buying and 23,335 Vietnamese dong for selling. Last week, the reference exchange rates saw two ups and three downs with total magnitude of 14 Vietnamese dong and 15 Vietnamese dong, respectively. According to the central bank, as of June 11, the reference exchange rate rose 0.63 percent against the end of 2017, while the average rate offered by commercial banks advanced 0.47 percent.

Food & Agriculture

Vietnam seeks multilateral trade cooperation at AEM-50 Viet Nam News 2nd Sep 2018
Vietnam proposed the US pay more attention to the licence of import for some Vietnamese fruits (like mangoes) and consider appropriate application of catfish inspection programme as well as restrict trade protection measures and recognise Vietnam as a market economy.

Binh Thuan attempts to combat desertification VietNamNet 31st Aug 2018
Desertification is when fertile land becomes desert, often due to drought, deforestation, or farming. According to Mai Kieu, director of Binh Thuan Province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, the province is affected by the some of the harshest weather in Vietnam, with the driest climate in the country, annual average temperature of more than 27 degrees Celsius and average rainfall from 1,000 to 1,600 mm per year. It has more than 80,000ha of desertified land (accounting for 11 per cent of the province’s total natural land area). Kieu said desertification was getting worse in coastal districts.

Vietnam makes biotechnology progress Vietnam Plus 30th Aug 2018
Vietnam’s rapid progress in research and application of biotechnology in agriculture is contributing to the country’s goals for green growth and farmers’ demands, according to experts. Nguyen Ngoc Bao Chau of the HCM City Open University’s Faculty of Biotechnology said that in the last five years “many institutes, universities, centres and startups in the country including HCM City have conducted research and developed effective applications for biotechnology in agriculture”.

Japanese pears hit Vietnamese market shelves Voice of Vietnam 30th Aug 2018
Pears grown in Shimotsuma, Ibaraki prefecture in Japan have been granted an export license for Vietnam, effectual from August 29. Accordingly, 1,008 boxes (weighing 10kg each) have been quarantined and transported to Vietnam. Around 160 tons of pears will be exported from Ibaraki prefecture to the Southeast Asian nation from now to the end of this year.

VN makes biotechnology progress Viet Nam News 30th Aug 2018
Việt Nam’s rapid progress in research and application of biotechnology in agriculture is contributing to the country’s goals for green growth and farmers’demands, according to experts. Nguyễn Ngọc Bảo Châu, of the HCM City Open University’s Faculty of Biotechnology, told Việt Nam News that in the last five years “many institutes, universities, centres and startups in the country including HCM City have conducted research and developed effective applications for biotechnology in agriculture”.

Health & Life Sciences

Việt Nam steps up vaccine production programme Viet Nam News 5th Sep 2018
The Ministry of Health plans to use at least seven types of domestically produced vaccines as part of the expanded national immunisation programme by 2020. Multiple vaccines including 5 in 1 and 6 in 1 will be given top priority. Domestic manufacturers can already produce eight out of the twelve vaccines listed in the programme, and with 95 per cent of under-one-year-old children fully vaccinated, Việt Nam is gradually ensuring vaccine safety and proactively controlling dangerous contagious diseases.

Việt Nam develops vaccines for human diseases Viet Nam News 29th Aug 2018
Việt Nam is striving towards producing its own vaccines that can rival foreign ones both in terms of quality and costs by 2020, deputy health minister Nguyễn Thanh Long said. To this end, the made-in-Việt Nam products must fully "leverage the country’s manpower and natural resources advantages", deputy minister Long stated as he was addressing a scientific workshop entitled ’Prospects for research and development of vaccines for human diseases in Việt Nam’, jointly held by the ministries of Health, and Science and Technology yesterday in Hà Nội.

ICT

VN to spend $2.9b on advertising Viet Nam News 5th Sep 2018
More than VNĐ68 trillion (over US$2.9 billion) is expected to be spent on media advertising by companies in Việt Nam, with fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) manufacturers to make up the bulk of the spending. In its recent report, Kantar Worldpanel, a global company specialising in shoppers’ behaviour research, said: “It is very easy to appreciate why advertisers, media agencies and media owners continue to work tirelessly to better understand the media return on investment (ROI) of the dollars they spend.”

Spam messages plague Vietnam phone users The Nation 4th Sep 2018
Congratulation! You are this week's winner. Send DKG to 9183 to receive a top-up card worth VNĐ200,000 (Bt280). This is just one of the many text messages that pop up on the phone screen of Minh Huong in Hoan Kiem district every day. These advertisements encourage users to try multiple services, from data packages to top-up cards, and from English courses to new real estate projects in town.

SSI upgrades stock board and order services for Web Trading Viet Nam News 4th Sep 2018
SSI Web Trading, an online trading service from Saigon Securities, has upgraded its online stock board and updated two more conditional orders for derivative trading. The two new orders, namely OCO and Bull & Bear, are the two most useful orders in derivative trading. With this upgrade, all market data displayed on the board and order screen will be updated consecutively and immediately, helping investors track stock prices and follow transactions quickly and accurately.

Cybersecurity Becoming Major Concern for Vietnamese Businesses Vietnam News 3rd Sep 2018
At one of An Nguyen's old jobs in Hanoi, she had a daily ritual: When she wanted to log in to the computer, she had to answer a cybersecurity question such as "What is spear phishing?" or "How does malware work?" Nguyen did not work in the technology industry, but this was her employer's way of making sure that all staff had at least a basic understanding of good cyber awareness.

Banks to work harder on cyber crime Vietnam Plus 3rd Sep 2018
Cyber security is a hot issue globally and in Vietnam, concerns on the subject have been expressed by the Government and departments, especially in the field of banking – finance, said Le Manh Hung, director of the State Bank of Vietnam’s Information Technology Department. The Vietnam Information Security Association (VNISA), the Information Technology Department and the Financial Services - Information Sharing and Analysis Center (FS-ISAC) co-organised a workshop titled ‘Threat intelligence and responses to cyber attacks in the banking sector’ in Hanoi on last week.

New influx of domain names heating up market VietNamNet 31st Aug 2018
The massive arrivals of new domain name extensions have brought great opportunities to both domestic enterprises and domain name registrars.  Six years have elapsed since ICANN (The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) approved the extension of domain names on internet.  The new domain name extensions not only have to compete with old domain name extensions, but with each other to find their positions in the market.

Ministry of Finance tops Vietnam ICT Index for six consecutive years VietNamNet 31st Aug 2018
The Ministry of Finance has topped 19 governmental agencies with public services in the Vietnam ICT Index for six years in a row after earning 0.926 points this year. The ministry ranks first in ICT human infrastructure (1.000 points), ICT applications (0.900), and internal ICT applications (1.000 points). It is followed by the Vietnam Social Security, the State Bank of Vietnam and the Ministry of Information and Communications. The last three positions are taken by the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources and the Government Inspectorate.

Vietnam's food delivery market heats up with new players Hanoi Times 30th Aug 2018
Vietnam’s US$33 billion food delivery market has remained appealing to investors with more new service providers deciding to jump on the bandwagon. Malaysia-based ride-hailing firm Grab has recently launched GrabFood in Ho Chi Minh City, setting to break into the lucrative food delivery market in Vietnam. The company has 500 partners which are restaurants and food shops in the city.

IT key to Vietnam’s Industry 4.0 future VietNamNet 30th Aug 2018
Vietnam’s great potential in IT and wide-scale smartphone coverage will be the keys for the country to develop its digital economy and seize great opportunities in Industry 4.0. Nguyen Dat reports. Vietnam can learn good lessons from other countries, which are successfully boosting a digital economy The main hall of the InterContinental Hanoi Westlake was packed with several hundreds of people last Tuesday, who arrived as representatives of international organisations, embassies, and the media, as well as experts, to attend the “ASEAN 4.0: Entrepreneurship in the Fourth Industrial Revolution” conference held by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Japan to lift investment in VN IT sector Viet Nam News 30th Aug 2018
Japanese information and technology (IT) firms have been expanding their investment into Việt Nam and hiring more Vietnamese workers, according to experts at the Việt Nam-Japan ICT Day held in Hà Nội on Wednesday.

Danang leads ICT Index for third consecutive year Saigon Times 30th Aug 2018
Danang City has outstripped other parts of the country to take the lead in the Vietnam Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Index 2018 for the third consecutive year, heard attendees of a conference on Vietnam’s ICT cooperation, held in the Mekong Delta province of Vinh Long. Danang won the first position, with 0.9407 points, followed by HCMC, Hanoi and Quang Ninh, with scores of 0.6652, 0.6473 and 0.6396, respectively, according to a report on the Vietnam ICT Index 2018 released at the 22nd conference, which was co-organized by the Ministry of Information and Communications, the Vietnam Association for Information Processing and the provincial People’s Committee.

Vietnam well-equipped to meet ICT personnel needs of Japan Saigon Times 30th Aug 2018
Japan’s shortage of human resources in information and communications technology (ICT) is a major opportunity for Vietnam, heard participants at the 2018 Japan ICT Day in Hanoi on August 29. According to data from Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications presented at the event, Japan currently lacks some 171,000 engineers and will be short of an estimated 369,000 general engineers and 48,000 engineers of new technologies by 2020.

Information technology helps boost Vietnam`s tourism Hanoi Times 29th Aug 2018
The Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0) or the development of information technology (IT) is considered one of the tailwinds that can help Vietnam's tourism industry take a leading position in the region. This is the viewpoint of Chief of Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT)'s Office Vu Quoc Tri on the sidelines of the seminar themed “Application of digital technology solutions for smart tourism approaching the Fourth Industrial Revolution” held by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) and MobiFone held on August 29.

E-commerce helps SMEs boost online exports VietNamNet 29th Aug 2018
In the past, enterprises had to take 19 steps which cost time and money to export products. Therefore, only large enterprises could export, but things are different now thanks to e-commerce. According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT), about 200 Vietnamese enterprises had products on Amazon by the end of 2017.  On Alibaba.com, about 1,000 Vietnamese enterprises pay fees of between VND30 million and VND135 million a year to obtain Gold Supplier membership.

Infrastructure

Hà Nội replaces old buses with hi-tech, modern vehicles Viet Nam News 4th Sep 2018
The bright blue buses have lower floors, modern emission standards, free wifi, modern GPS management software and three security cameras. Four LED boards show bus schedules and other bus route information.

Legal complications remain for foreign investment in Vietnam infrastructure VnExpress International 4th Sep 2018
Vietnam’s infrastructure has struggled to keep up with its robust economic and population growth.  Rapid economic growth and urbanization are driving demand for roads, power, airports, ports, waste and water treatment, hospitals, and other public infrastructure for goods and services. Meanwhile, public funding is unable to meet these needs. The gap would have to be made up from other sources including private investment in the form of public-private partnerships (PPPs).

Finance ministry calls for higher fees on pickup trucks and vans vietnamnews.vn 4th Sep 2018
The Ministry of Finance has proposed an increase in the registration fees for pickup trucks and vans with carriage capacities of less than 1,500kg and fewer than five seats in order to ensure fairness for cars with fewer than nine seats. The fee for pickup trucks and vans, registered for the first time, is only 2 per cent of the value of the vehicle, while cars with nine seats or fewer face fees of 10-15 per cent, depending on the locality in which they’re registered.

Vietnam’s transport projects beckon Japanese investors VietNamNet 31st Aug 2018
Vietnamese government has so far also hoped to attract more Japanese investment in big and influential transport projects. Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung said that Vietnam is looking to attract Japanese investment in the form of public-private partnership (PPP). “With PPP, we want to enlist Japanese investors to important infrastructure projects,” Dung said, adding that the projects of priority are the North-South Expressway, Long Thanh International Airport, and urban transport projects, such as the Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City Metro, and in the future, the North-South Railway. Although showing interest in Vietnam’s transport projects in the PPP investment model, Japanese investors are still concerned about policies to ensure investors’ legitimate rights.

$58b for North-South high speed train: consultants Viet Nam News 30th Aug 2018
Việt Nam’s first-ever high speed train running from Hà Nội to HCM City is projected to cost more than US$58 billion, project consultants unveiled on Tuesday. In a report on the feasibility of the colossal North-South railway project which was once rejected by the National Assembly and only revived recently, a group of State-owned consultant companies including the Transport Engineering Design Incorporation (TEDI), Transport Engineering Design Incorporation in the South (TEDIS) and Transport Investment and Construction Consultant Company (TRICC) suggested building a rail route of 1,545km divided into three sections for separate investment. Rail sections running from Hà Nội to Vinh City in Nghệ An Province (285km) and from Nha Trang City to HCM City (364km) are planned to be built first with investment of more than $24 billion. They are due to be finished within 10 years, from 2020 to 2030.

Manufacturing

Rising paper costs hurt printers VietNamNet 31st Aug 2018
The rising cost of paper materials caused by a fall in supply is presenting a challenge for the printing and paper industry, experts said at a conference held on August 30 in HCM City. Ngo Anh Tuan, chairman of the HCM City Printing Association, said the printing industry continues to grow steadily but faces major challenges, such as an undersupply of paper materials. Many paper manufacturers and suppliers around the world are closing or limiting their supply, he said.

Vĩnh Phúc grants investment certificate to Japanese investors Viet Nam News 30th Aug 2018
The management board of industrial parks in the northern province of Vĩnh Phúc on Wednesday granted an investment certificate to Japanese investors of Kowa Global project in Bình Xuyên Industrial Zone, Bình Xuyên District. The Kowa Global project has a total investment capital of over VNĐ136 billion (US$5.83 million), invested by Kowa Kasei Joint Stock Company and Kowa Rubber Industries Joint Stock Company.

Mitsubishi plans to make electric cars in Việt Nam Viet Nam News 30th Aug 2018
Japan’s Mitsubishi Corporation plans to invest in an electric automobile manufacturing factory in Việt Nam, said Executive Vice President Hiroshi Sakuma during a meeting with Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Vương Đình Huệ in Hà Nội on Wednesday. At the meeting, Sakuma said his firm was evaluating the feasibility of the project and look forward to new regulations on environmental protection taxes to promote investment in the country.

PV manufacturers go head to head VietNamNet 29th Aug 2018
Solar potential mapping projects are underway around the world, and Vietnam could become an attractive destination for solar photovoltaics manufacturers to meet the increasing demand both overseas and domestically. The race between major and minor players is heating up.  Solar photovoltaic (PV) power demand has experienced exponential growth worldwide over the last decade. According to the European Commission’s PV Status Report 2017, with its compound annual growth rate of over 40 per cent over the last decade, photovoltaics has become one of the fastest-growing industries at present. Solar photovoltaic systems today are recognised as a promising renewable energy technology. The overall market for PV solar is expected to continue to grow globally, while the cost of installing and making solar panels and photovoltaic panels continues to drop. This growth has led First Solar, one of the US’ largest solar equipment manufacturers, to return to Vietnam five years after it announced to leave Vietnam, and failed to find a suitable investor to replace it.

Travel & Tourism

Company to invest VNĐ700 billion in Ngã Bảy floating market Viet Nam News 5th Sep 2018
A company has proposed a plan to develop tourism at the famous Ngã Bảy floating market in Nga Bảy Town in Hậu Giang Province, at a cost of more than VNĐ700 billion (nearly US$30 million). At a working session with provincial officials on Tuesday, representatives of Phước Lộc Trade-Construction Limited Company said the plan would be conducted in four phases. The first two phase would be carried out in 2018 and 2019, with the company investing VNĐ100 billion in building a fleet of tourist boats, necessary service facilities and an effective management apparatus for the market.

Emirates inks codeshare agreement with Jestar Pacific Viet Nam News 5th Sep 2018
Dubai-based carrier, Emirates, and Jetstar Pacific on Wednesday announced a new codeshare agreement, expanding their existing partnership. The new partnership allows the former’s passengers to enjoy smooth connectivity on domestic flights within Việt Nam, in addition to flights connecting Việt Nam to Singapore, Thailand as well as Australia.

Vietnam invests in Hue’s airport TTR Weekly 31st Aug 2018
Vietnam has announced a major upgrade for Hue Phu Bai airport the nearest to Hue city, home of the World Heritage Imperial Citadel site. Located 19 km from Hue, the airport handles 14 flights daily mainly to Ho Chi Minh City (84 flights weekly), Hanoi (27 weekly) and Dalat (three weekly). The country’s Aviation Corporation of Vietnam and local authorities in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue agreed, 28 August, to invest USD95 million in the expansion according to the official Vietnam News Agency.

Zero-dong tours cause headaches for local authorities VietNamNet 29th Aug 2018
Commenting about the zero-dong tour boom, the Da Nang City Tourism Department said this is a form of competition in price among travel firms, mostly applied to the Chinese and South Korean markets.  The increase in the numbers of Chinese and South Korean travelers has helped generate more jobs, bring higher income, polish the city’s image, stimulate real estate demand, and encourage investments in hotels and restaurants. However, analysts warned that zero-dong tours and Chinese travelers bring problems rather than benefits and called for a ban on zero-dong tours in Vietnam. Failure to collect tax and a dollar drain are the most visible consequences.