Vietnam Update: January 30, 2019

Vietnam Update | January 30, 2019
Authors: Hai Pham and David Mineo
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

March 12: Cybersecurity and Data Privacy Workshop
For more information, please contact Vu Tu Thanh at tvu@usasean.org

March 12-14: 2019 Vietnam Business Mission
For more information, please contact Hai Pham at hpham@usasean.org.

March 14-15: 2019 Health & Life Sciences Industry Mission to Vietnam
For more information, please contact Lucius Lee at llee@usasean.org.

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc Attends WEF Davos
On the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) conference in Davos, Switzerland, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc met with business executives and foreign leaders from a host of countries to discuss Vietnam’s Industry 4.0 agenda. Prime Minister Phuc also spoke of Vietnam’s aspirations to improve the quality of economic growth by reforming its growth model under an Industry 4.0 framework and strengthening Vietnam’s competitiveness as an investment destination in the Asia-Pacific region. Since the start of this year, the Prime Minister Phuc has touted Vietnam’s strong growth in 2018, which hit a 10-year peak of 7.08%, making the country one of the fastest growing economies in both the ASEAN region and the world. Prime Minister Phuc attributed this strong economic performance to Vietnam’s macro-economic stability, its improving business climate, and low inflation, which has remained under four percent for three consecutive years. He also asserted that Vietnam was an open economy, highlighting the country’s trade-to-GDP ratio of 185% and encouraging international firms to invest in Industry 4.0 products. Prime Minister Phuc also discussed Vietnam’s burgeoning role in the ICT sector and its plan to launch 5G technologies in 2019, with commercial services expected by 2020. In general, the Prime Minister expressed hope that Industry 4.0 will position Vietnam as a global leader in 5G.

Looking ahead to next year and beyond, Prime Minister Phuc indicated that he was excited for Vietnam’s ASEAN chairmanship in 2020 and that fully leveraging the trends and technologies of Industry 4.0 would ultimately require reform. Regarding Vietnam’s ASEAN Chairmanship year, the Prime Minister said that his stewardship would be a wonderful opportunity for Vietnam to promote its cultural identity, as well as its increasingly important role both in the region and around the world. In so doing, Vietnam would make more active contributions to enhance its standing in multilateral forums and organizations. One key aspect of this would be the effective implementation of new trade pacts, such as CPTPP and EVFTA (the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement). In terms of reforms to best leverage emerging technology trends, as a part of Vietnam’s growth strategy, Prime Minister Phuc stated that Vietnam will aim to develop a legal framework to bring new technologies into the Industry 4.0 fold. Vietnam will also aim to enhance public-private cooperation in developing innovative business models that offer new products and services while also being economically and environmentally sustainable. Adding on to the theme of Industry 4.0, Prime Minister Phuc also noted Vietnam’s youthful workforce and placed high importance on human capital development as one of the country’s key goals. To help Vietnam navigate these technological changes, the Government plans to develop a center focusing on Industry 4.0. As a first step, at the Informal Gathering of World Economic Leaders (IGWEL) Prime Minister Phuc and WEF Executive Chair Professor Klaus Schwab signed an agreement between to begin construction on the center.

Vietnam Amending Decree on Radio and Television Services to Regulate OTT
The Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC) announced it would amend The Decree on the Management, Provision and Use of Radio and Television Services (Decree 6/2012). Following MIC’s publication of a draft decree to be used for public consultation from July 23 to September 23, 2018 the Council and industries submitted concerns to Vietnam’s Authority for Broadcasting and Electronic Information (ABEI), noting that some of the provisions under Decree 6 would stifle growth and innovation in over-the-top (OTT) services.

In its comments, the Council suggested that Vietnam engage with industry stakeholders to develop a regulatory framework that could adapt to and accommodate changes in the rapidly evolving media landscape. Specifically, the Council encouraged ABEI to embrace a self-regulatory approach that would satisfy all stakeholders without unduly burdening service providers and consumers. Much of the regulation in Decree 6 that applied toward traditional broadcasting would be difficult to apply toward OTT, where subscribers have greater agency in choosing the content they will upload or consume. The Council highlighted that self-regulation under frameworks such as the Subscription Video on Demand Industry Content Code (SVOD Code) could benefit all stakeholders, allowing Vietnam to better achieve its goal of becoming one of the top 10 global providers of digital content by 2020.

According to Tilleke & Gibbins, local and foreign chambers of commerce convened a workshop on December 12, 2018, to discuss stakeholder concerns on the latest draft of the decree (titled “Draft 4”). Of particular concern were unclear definitions of terms and questions of applicability, opaque licensing requirements that may constitute a barrier to market entry and hinder foreign investment, translation mandates, a restriction on foreign advertisements, and a quota on domestic programs. To date, neither ABEI nor MIC have publicly released details concerning the status of the decree’s development, any revisions made to the content, or the timeline for implementation.

On January 1, 2019, the Government issued Resolution 02/NQ-CP, which aims to improve Vietnam’s business environment and promote competition. In light of this development, it is possible that the Government will tailor Decree 6 to align with the goals of the Resolution. However, in the past, the Government has incorporated very little industry input into its legislation, and final bills have resembled their original versions. Such is the case with the highly controversial Law on Cybersecurity (which went into effect on January 1, 2019) and its implementation decree. The latter is still being finalized, but in the most recently shared drafts it retains many concerning provisions. If amendments to the decree are not significant, industry will have to work closely with the Government to gain greater clarity on how Decree 6 will impact and apply to OTT service providers.

Vietnam Customs’ Reform and Modernization
According to Deputy Director General of Vietnam Customs Hoang Viet Cuong, the agency is looking to implement comprehensive reforms to strengthen the customs-private sector partnership and promote activities that facilitate import and export activities, including adopting modern technologies, implementing an automatic customs supervision system and connecting more domestic ministries to its National Single Window. In a recent survey of over 3,000 domestic, foreign-invested and state-owned enterprises on administrative procedures for import and export activities, administered jointly by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), Vietnam Customs and the US Agency for International Development (USAID), 91% of the survey respondents considered the information provided by Vietnam Customs to be consistent and easily available. Seventy-percent of the respondents noted that they would like simpler administrative procedures for importing and exporting while 53 per cent suggested that technology should be better utilized in customs processes.

 
ADVOCACY UPDATE
 
 
Vietnam Cybersecurity and Data Privacy Decrees
This year, the annual Vietnam business mission will commence with a half-day workshop on cybersecurity and data privacy on the morning of Tuesday, March 12. This workshop will give members the opportunity to engage with key government officials on the progress of the draft cybersecurity decree, which has been delayed to incorporate industry recommendations due to re-examination of several key aspects of the decree (data localization, critical information systems). The Vietnamese government is actively seeking comments and technical assistance on not just the draft cybersecurity decree but also a new draft data privacy decree. The aim of the workshop is to provide industry with the avenue to provide that input. Participants will include MPS, MIC, Office of the Government, National Assembly and other key government agencies. For more information, please contact Vu Tu Thanh at tvu@usasean.org.
 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Regional Affairs
Vietnam Expo 2019 returns to Hà Nội
Vietnam’s Leader Pledges a U.S. Buying Spree to Help Placate Trump
East Sea issue in the spotlight during press meeting

National Affairs
Forum on climate-resilient development in Mekong Delta planned
Party leader lays down gauntlet in war on graft

Customs
VN entitled to steep 86% tariff cuts from Japan
Car importers getting hang of new rules
New circular on certificates of origin issued
Vietnam’s cross-border trade index drops by seven places
Vietnam makes pitch as an investor safe haven in trade war
Vietnam records 1 billion USD trade deficit in first half of Jan
Vietnam makes pitch as investor safe haven in US-China trade war

Economics
VN lures $1.9 billion in FDI in January
HN’s CPI increases 0.22 per cent
Đồng Nai post $300m trade surplus
VN, Thailand head toward $20 billion in trade
Việt Nam to improve investment climate, take advantage of Industry 4.0: PM
Prime Minister meets with foreign leaders in Davos
PM Phuc at Davos: Industry 4.0 a policy revolution for Vietnam
Vietnam seeks more trade with China but will defend interests: PM
Việt Nam records $1b trade deficit in first half of January
Việt Nam urged to become a factory for the world
Digital economy: new driving force for VN’s development
Prospects look good for VN’s economy in 2019

Energy
Vietnam’s dilemma: clean electricity or energy security?
China funds multi-billion dollar coal power plant projects in Vietnam
Energy transition could be VN’s next Đổi Mới: experts
Conference discusses potential impact of Laos’ Pak Lay hydropower project
Private capital key to Vietnam’s energy development: WB report

Financial Services
Business climate needs more work
Petrol imports to be reduced this year
VN to build product origin portal
SBV to end cross-ownership in Vietnamese banks
Central bank net injected $2b to meet high capital demand at year-end
Vietcombank’s charter capital reaches US$1.6 billion
VN stocks rebound on bank purchases
SSC to strengthen handling of stock manipulation
New multi-stakeholder initiative seeks to make finance sector ally of sustainability
Lenders boost consumer loans at year-end
PM agrees to the use of telecommunication accounts for payment

Food & Agriculture
Việt Nam targets to attract 100,000 businesses in agriculture
Việt Nam to host agricultural consumption forum in February
Delta farmers reap high profits from breeding giant river prawn
Bến Tre copra price falls due to oversupply
Hà Nội should move towards self-sufficiency in food
Đắk Nông needs to facilitate investors, says PM
Deputy PM calls for strict management of food
Việt Nam improves animal farming quality

Health & Life Sciences
Vietnam changes rules in medical devices business
India, VN step up pharma ties
Vietnam, India highlight cooperation opportunities in pharmaceuticals
Bright future ahead for private health care sector
Attractive life sciences seeking more headway
Deputy Health Minister requests improvement of population quality
Bitter pill to swallow for pharmaceutical investors
Healthcare sector strives to control epidemic
HCM City: Quality health care services offered for LGBT community

ICT
Digital content revenue estimated at $895 million in 2018
Vietnamese companies hit hard by cyber attacks
First phase of smart city project considered a success
Vietnam to Amend Decree on Broadcasting and TV Services to Regulate On-Demand Content
PM asks ministry to enhance Vietnam’s rankings in ICT

Infrastructure
Work on HCM City’s 1st metro route to be hastened
PM advises Hưng Yên to develop industrial, urban zones
HCM City upgrades water supply system
Hà Nội asked to submit urban administration project
Transport facilities to be enhanced for tourism
Phú Quốc boosts investment in socio-economic development
Bình Dương open for investment

Travel & Tourism
Upgrade of National Highway 5 ordered after deadly accident
Vietnam – rising star in Southeast Asian tourism
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Regional Affairs

Vietnam Expo 2019 returns to Hà Nội Vietnam News 29th Jan 2019
The Việt Nam International Trade Fair (Vietnam Expo 2019) will return to Hà Nội in April, drawing about 550 exhibitors from 20 countries and territories. The forthcoming fair will gather top exporters of plastic, rubber, and construction materials, as well as businesses in support industries, said Nguyễn Khắc Luận, general director of the Việt Nam National Trade Fair & Advertising JSC, the event’s organiser. He said that many foreign businesses – including those from Algeria, India, Cambodia, Canada, Armenia, Russia, Cuba, Taiwan, the Republic of Korea (RoK), Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Japan, and mainland China – have confirmed their participation.

Vietnam’s Leader Pledges a U.S. Buying Spree to Help Placate Trump Bloomberg 18th Jan 2019
Vietnam is importing more U.S. goods from companies like Boeing Co. and General Electric Co. to narrow the trade gap, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said, a move that may help it continue to avoid punitive measures from the Trump administration. The Southeast Asian nation is also happy to host a second summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Pyongyang’s nuclear program, though Vietnam hasn’t yet been chosen as the venue, Phuc said in an interview with Bloomberg TV’s Haslinda Amin late Thursday. South Korean media earlier reported that Hanoi was a likely location for the meeting. Stronger strategic and economic ties with the U.S. would help Vietnam reduce its reliance with China, the nation’s top trade partner, and bolster a burgeoning defense relationship as it pushes back against Beijing’s territorial claims in the South China Sea. An American buying spree would also help ease tensions with Trump over the U.S.’s trade deficit of about $33 billion with Vietnam in the first 10 months of 2018 -- its sixth largest in the world behind China, Mexico, Germany, Canada and Japan.

East Sea issue in the spotlight during press meeting Vietnam News 16th Jan 2019
Việt Nam would remain consistent in its policies regarding the South China Sea, which seek to respect international law, especially UNCLOS 1982, as well as welcome and promote initiatives for the maintenance of peace and stability in the area. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Phạm Bình Minh made the remarks yesterday during a press conference in Hà Nội to discuss diplomatic activities of Việt Nam in 2018 and orientations for 2019. Noting that the “East Sea (internationally known as the South China Sea) is a common concern and actions that could give way to conflicts and incidents must be avoided,” the Vietnamese diplomat said any incident in the South China Sea would have implications for freedom of maritime trade and navigation as well as security and order in the region.

National Affairs

Forum on climate-resilient development in Mekong Delta planned Vietnam News 29th Jan 2019
Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc has agreed in principle to the organisation of a forum on sustainable and climate-resilient development of the Mekong Delta in October 2019. He has asked the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to coordinate with the ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development, Planning and Investment, Finance, Construction, Transport, Home Affairs, and Information and Communications, and relevant agencies to decide on the forum’s theme and prepare the agenda. The work must be reported to the PM in February 2019. The Mekong Delta makes up 12 per cent of the country’s natural land and 19 per cent of national population. As the country’s largest agricultural production centre, the region contributes half of Việt Nam’s rice output, 65 per cent of aquatic products and 70 per cent of fruits. The region accounts for 95 per cent of the country’s rice exports and 60 per cent of total overseas shipments of fish.

Party leader lays down gauntlet in war on graft Vietnam News 22nd Jan 2019
Party General Secretary, President Nguyễn Phú Trọng has urged the central anti-corruption body not to rest on its laurels in 2019. Chairing the 15th meeting of the Central Steering Committee on Anti-Corruption in Hà Nội on Monday to review the Central Steering Committee on Anti-Corruption’s performance in 2018 and etch out missions for 2019, Trọng noted that in 2019 and the coming years, the country’s đổi mới (renewal) and development would be moving to a new and higher stage, making the fight against corruption more difficult and complicated. “We must achieve better results than in 2018 across all agencies and sectors,” said Trọng, who is also head of the committee, adding that in 2019, the committee would focus on speeding up the completion of institutions regarding socio-economic management and anti-corruption, striving to push forward building prevention mechanisms to ensure there was no room for corruption.

Market Development

Petrol imports to be reduced this year Vietnam News 22nd Jan 2019
Petrol imports this year should be sharply reduced as the Nghi Sơn Refinery comes into operation and the output of Dung Quất Refinery meets most of the local demand, said Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Đỗ Thắng Hải. Hải also said the import of crude oil in 2019 and following years would be increased to serve refineries. The output of the two refineries will meet up to 90 per cent of the domestic market demand, gradually reducing the country’s reliance on imported petrol. On December 23, 2018, Nghi Sơn Refinery officially came into full operation. The project has the largest scale and investment – US$9 billion – of a refinery in Việt Nam so far. The first phase of the project supplies 200,000 barrels of oil per day following five years of construction.

Customs

VN entitled to steep 86% tariff cuts from Japan Vietnam News 29th Jan 2019
According to commitments in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), Japan will eliminate 86 per cent of tariff lines for Việt Nam as soon as the trade pact becomes effective. The pact became valid in Việt Nam on January 14, 2019. This is the first time Japan has exempted most of Việt Nam’s agricultural and seafood imports from duties. Japan also pledged to abolish taxes once the agreement takes effect for 78 per cent of Việt Nam’s agricultural exports; apply tariff quotas or partial cuts or commitments with trade defence measures for beef, pork, milk, dairy products, wheat, rice and their products.

Car importers getting hang of new rules vietnamnews.vn 28th Jan 2019
Despite initial hiccups, most of Viet Nam’s car firms are now complying with import rules that were tightened early last year, according to Deputy Prime Minister Trịnh Đình Dũng. The official made the comment at a conference to review the implementation of the Government’s Decree 116 held in Hà Nội last week. Under the decree, which came into effect on January 1, 2018, auto importers were required to obtain vehicle type approval (VTA) certification from authorities in the exporting country. This certification aims to ensure the origin, quality and value of the vehicle and often does not come from a state body but an authorised agency or association. Dũng said that after the decree came into effect, the businesses faced difficulties as they struggled to understand its regulations. Their difficulties were eased after the Government directed the ministries of Transport and Industry and Trade to help explain, support and solve difficulties for automobile importers.

New circular on certificates of origin issued vietnamnews.vn 28th Jan 2019
The Ministry of Industry and Trade has issued Circular No 03/2019/TT-BCT stipulating the certificates of origin (C/O) rules in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). According to the ministry’s Import-Export Department, the CPTPP has some differences compared to other Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) which Việt Nam has signed including the rule of origin of goods and rules of origin of refurbished and recycled goods. The C/O form issued to Việt Nam’s exported goods including the minimum information required by the CPTPP was also issued alongside the circular.

Vietnam’s cross-border trade index drops by seven places Vietnam Net 27th Jan 2019
Vietnam edged up 13 spots to 69th place in the World Bank Group’s annual ease of doing business rankings between 2015 and 2018. However, its index on cross-border trade fell by seven spots from 93rd to 100th place among 190 economies. Despite recent improvements, import and export procedures have yet to be on par with those in other countries. In addition, customs clearance procedures on goods subject to specialized inspections are still lengthy, complicated and costly.

Vietnam makes pitch as an investor safe haven in trade war The Business Times 27th Jan 2019
A RED-HOT economy, business-friendly policies and a Communist party led by free-traders: that's the elevator pitch Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc is delivering to global investors amid the United States-China trade war. "We are ready to grab the opportunity," Mr Phuc said in an interview with Bloomberg TV's Haslinda Amin, a few days before departing this week to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Vietnam is quietly positioning itself as a safe haven for manufacturers wary of getting caught in the crossfire of the tariff war between the US and China. With a raft of free trade agreements, relatively cheap labour and close proximity to China, Mr Phuc has a good story to tell global executives he'll meet in Davos.

Vietnam records 1 billion USD trade deficit in first half of Jan vietnamplus.vn 23rd Jan 2019
Vietnam had a trade deficit of about 1 billion USD in the first 15 days of this year, according to the General Department of Customs. The total value of the whole country’s exports reached 9.2 billion USD, marking a slight decrease of 71 million USD compared to the same period in 2018. Meanwhile the total import value reached nearly 10.2 billion USD, an increase of 646 million USD. The nation’s trade deficit in the period, after recording a trade surplus of nearly 6.8 billion USD in 2018, was likely due to the import activity leading up to the Lunar New Year. The holiday causes reduced production and exports coupled with a rise in imports to meet domestic demand.

Vietnam makes pitch as investor safe haven in US-China trade war BusinessMirror 21st Jan 2019
A red-hot economy, business-friendly policies and a Communist party led by free-traders: that’s the elevator pitch Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc is delivering to global investors amid the US-China trade war. “We are ready to grab the opportunity,” Phuc said in an interview with Bloomberg TV’s Haslinda Amin, a few days before departing this week to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Vietnam is quietly positioning itself as a safe haven for manufacturers wary of getting caught in the crossfire of the tariff war between the US and China. With a raft of free-trade agreements, relatively cheap labor and close proximity to China, Phuc has a good story to tell global executives he’ll meet in Davos.

E-Payments

Business climate needs more work Vietnam News 23rd Jan 2019
The Vietnamese Government should focus on promoting electronic payments and online public services together with developing the start-up ecosystem in 2019, attendees heard at a conference by the Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM) on Tuesday in Hà Nội. The conference was held to review results of the Government’s Resolution No 19 on improving the business climate and enhancing national competitiveness. CIEM’s statistics showed that the percentage of cashless payments in Việt Nam remained modest, only accounting for 11.49 per cent of total transactions. Nearly 85 per cent of transactions at ATMs were cash transactions.

Economics

VN lures $1.9 billion in FDI in January Vietnam News 29th Jan 2019
Foreign direct investment (FDI) pledged in Việt Nam witnessed a significant yearly increase of 52 per cent to US$1.9 billion in the first month of this year, according to the Ministry of Planning and Investment. January’s FDI disbursement also rose 9.3 per cent year-on-year to $1.55 billion, thoibaonganhang.vn reported, citing the ministry’s data. Meanwhile, the capital pledged for stake acquisitions reached $761.8 million, up 114 per cent compared to the same month last year, the data noted.

HN’s CPI increases 0.22 per cent Vietnam News 28th Jan 2019
Hà Nội’s consumer price index (CPI) in January grew 0.22 per cent from the previous month and 3.92 per cent year-on-year, according to the city’s Statistics Office. Almost all goods categories recorded price increases, except for transport and postal-telecom services. Notably, after declines for several months, prices of food, and eating and drinking services have rebounded to rise 0.92 per cent from December 2018, making them the group with the strongest price hike, data showed.

Đồng Nai post $300m trade surplus Vietnam News 28th Jan 2019
Đồng Nai Province has maintained its positive trade growth with estimated surplus of US$300 million in January, the province’s Department of Industry and Trade reported. The southern province has exported $1.73 billion in the first month of 2019, representing an increase of 6.74 per cent against the same period of last year. Its import value is expected at $1.43 billion. The key export products included footwear, textiles, furniture, machinery, electronic devices and agricultural products, of which wooden products recorded the highest growth of 35.8 per cent, followed by transport vehicles and spare parts, machinery and footwear with growth of between 15 and 18 per cent.

VN, Thailand head toward $20 billion in trade Vietnam News 26th Jan 2019
Việt Nam and Thailand have agreed to implement measures to boost economic co-operation with the aim of reaching US$20 billion in two-way trade turnover by 2020 at the meeting of their Joint Committee on Bilateral Cooperation in Thailand which wrapped up yesterday. The two-day meeting was co-chaired by Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Phạm Bình Minh and Thai Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai. The two sides agreed to create favourable conditions for businesses of the two countries to increase investment and business cooperation as well as to facilitate agricultural import and export activities between the two countries. They also agreed to promote cooperation and share experience in rice research, production and export.

Việt Nam to improve investment climate, take advantage of Industry 4.0: PM vietnamnews.vn 25th Jan 2019
Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc said Việt Nam would take advantage of the Fourth Industrial Revolution to push ahead with reforming the country’s investment and business climate, bolstering investment co-operation between the domestic and foreign sectors, and paying more attention to human resources in 2019. The comment was made as he joined President of the World Economic Forum (WEF) Borge Brende in a dialogue themed “Việt Nam and the World” on January 24 in the framework of the ongoing WEF Annual Meeting 2019 in Davos, Switzerland.

Prime Minister meets with foreign leaders in Davos Vietnam News 25th Jan 2019
Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc had bilateral meetings with many foreign leaders and business executives on January 24 (local time) on the sidelines of the annual conference of the World Economic Forum (WEF) 2019 in Davos. The Vietnamese PM attended the Informal Gathering of World Economic Leaders (IGWEL) under the theme The World in the Age of Globilisation 4.0, and held a reception for Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum Professor Klaus Schwab. The two then witnessed the signing of an agreement between the WEF and Việt Nam on building a centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and a letter of intent on developing initiatives for plastic waste treatment. At a bilateral meeting with Dutch Queen Maxima who is the UN Secretary General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development, PM Phúc informed her that Việt Nam was building a national strategy on inclusive finance, which serves as an important foundation for the country to realise its socio-economic development targets and the UN’s sustainable development goals in general and inclusive finance goals in particular.

PM Phuc at Davos: Industry 4.0 a policy revolution for Vietnam VN Express 25th Jan 2019
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc (second, left) greets executives of multinational groups at the Vietnam economic dialogue in Davos on January 23. Photo courtesy of Vietnam News Agency Speaking at a meeting with executives of leading global firms on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos Thursday, he said Vietnam aims to develop a legal framework that will accommodate the new technologies of Industry 4.0 and accelerate public-private partnerships to create environment-friendly breakthrough products and services. Elaborating on Phuc’s message, Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Manh Hung said, "Thus, policies will favor new business models based on new technologies."

Vietnam seeks more trade with China but will defend interests: PM Nikkei Asian Review 24th Jan 2019
Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on Thursday expressed his desire to enhance economic ties with China but reasserted that his country will defend its interests and sovereignty in the South China Sea. Speaking to the Nikkei Asian Review on the sidelines of the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum here, Phuc stated that "China is our neighbor and our friend," and that Hanoi will "try to resolve all issues with them," so that the two countries can expand trade further.

Việt Nam records $1b trade deficit in first half of January Vietnam News 23rd Jan 2019
Việt Nam had a trade deficit of about US$1 billion in the first 15 days of this year, according to the General Department of Customs. The total value of the whole country’s exports reached $9.2 billion, marking a slight decrease of $71 million compared to the same period in 2018. Meanwhile the total import value reached nearly $10.2 billion, an increase of $646 million. The nation’s trade deficit in the period, after recording a trade surplus of nearly $6.8 billion in 2018, was likely due to the import activity leading up to the Lunar New Year. The holiday causes reduced production and exports coupled with a rise in imports to meet domestic demand.9

Việt Nam urged to become a factory for the world Vietnam News 18th Jan 2019
Việt Nam must become a factory for the world and foster a good investment environment for all economic sectors in order to develop production and boost growth. This statement was made by Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc at a meeting of the Ministry of Industry and Trade held in Hà Nội on Thursday. PM Phúc said that after 30 years of renewal, the industry and trade sector has seen impressive growth and has become a key contributor to the country’s development, contributing 80 per cent of the GDP and 7 per cent of the State budget.

Digital economy: new driving force for VN’s development Vietnam News 18th Jan 2019
Living life in a digital age is a key component for the future growth of Việt Nam. That was the message from Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc who was speaking at the Việt Nam Economic Forum (VEF) held by the Central Economic Commission on Thursday in Hà Nội. He said the digital economy would be a new driving force for Việt Nam to achieve the goal of rapid and sustainable growth. “The internet economy of Việt Nam is booming,” Phúc said. “It is forecast that the internet economy of Việt Nam will reach a value of $33 billion by 2025.”

Prospects look good for VN’s economy in 2019 Vietnam News 18th Jan 2019
Việt Nam has experienced a year of socio-economic achievements. For example, economic growth continues at a high level; the macroeconomic environment remains stable; inflation is under control; the trade surplus is at record levels; and the State budget deficit is stable. The statement was made by Nguyễn Đình Cung, director of the Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM), at a conference held in Hà Nội on Thursday. “More importantly, the macroeconomic foundation continues to be strengthened, the balance of monetary and fiscal governance is maintained even in the context of external shocks and cyclical growth risks. Therefore, Việt Nam still has favourable conditions to conduct fundamental reforms to economic institutions as well as its business environment," Cung said.

Energy

Vietnam’s dilemma: clean electricity or energy security? VN Express 18th Jan 2019
Opening a seminar at the 2019 Vietnam Economic Forum in Hanoi Thursday, Nguyen Van Binh, chairman of the Communist Party's Central Economic Commission, stressed the need for Vietnam to address the challenges brought about by climate change. "If we don't effectively respond to climate change, the achievements of our socio-economic development will be damaged and the process of sustainable development will encounter many difficulties." As a country with a long coastline and many large river basins, Vietnam is considered among the five countries most affected by climate change.  The impacts of climate change would accelerate resource depletion and environmental degradation and slow down the country's socio-economic development, Binh said. While renewable energy is environmentally friendly, its sources are still unstable, potentially endangering energy security, while traditional energy sources such as coal help ensure energy security but contribute to the greenhouse effect, a major factor in causing climate change.

China funds multi-billion dollar coal power plant projects in Vietnam VietNamNet Bridge 23rd Jan 2019
Of China's US$36 billion in financing for coal-fired plants in 23 countries, Vietnam has second most proposed coal-fired capacity after Bangladesh, totaling 13,380MW, with the fourth most funding, totaling US$3.6 billion, according to a new report by the US-based Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA). Most of the projects (58%) are fairly advanced, with 4,800MW under construction and 3,000MW permitted, stated IEEFA. Forty-two percent of the capacity (5,580MW) has committed funding. Chinese banks have already funded a number of completed coal plants in Vietnam. In total, Chinese EPC firms have built fifteen coal-fired power plants in Vietnam, with Chinese banks providing US$8.6 billion in funding for them. Many of the current proposed coal projects are an additional phase of already completed plants. While financial institutions around the world are moving away from coal to limit exposure to increasing stranded asset risks, IEEFA found that China is simultaneously funding over one-quarter of coal plants under development outside the country.

Energy transition could be VN’s next Đổi Mới: experts vietnamnews.vn 18th Jan 2019
Increasing energy efficiency together with developing renewable energy is critical for Việt Nam to ensure energy security, according to expert. This was highlighted at a workshop on energy security in the context of climate change during the Việt Nam Economic Forum held by the Central Economic Commission yesterday in Hà Nội. Nguyễn Văn Bình, Chairman of the Central Economic Commission, said climate change was a huge challenge for every country, threatening to drag down socio-economic development. Việt Nam is among five countries most exposed to climate change, given its long coastline and large river basins. Stressing that the development of traditional energy sources was a major cause of greenhouse gas emissions, Bình said it was vital for Việt Nam to improve energy efficiency and develop renewable energy for sustainable development. He said Việt Nam had enormous potential for residential and industrial rooftop solar energy which could rapidly increase renewable energy supply into the grid. However, it was important to ensure the grid could absorb this additional supply.

Conference discusses potential impact of Laos’ Pak Lay hydropower project VietNamNet Bridge 15th Jan 2019
Representatives of Mekong Delta localities, central departments, and agencies, as well as scientists gathered at a conference in the city of Can Tho on January 15 to discuss the potential impacts of the Pak Lay hydropower project in Laos, especially to Vietnam’s Mekong Delta region. The event, the second of its kind so far, was chaired by Le Cong Thanh, Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment and Vice Chairman of the Vietnam National Mekong Commission. Participants were updated on the progress of the Mekong River Commission (MRC)’s technical assessment report on documents related to the project. Experts also gave their ideas on the Pak Lay hydropower plant and other projects in the Mekong River and recommendations to the Vietnam National Mekong Commission. Deputy Minister of Natural Resources Le Cong Thanh said that Vietnam is paying great attention to the possible effects from hydropower plant construction to the environment and the socio-economic situation in the Mekong Delta region, which also go hand-in-hand with impacts from climate change. According to head of the Vietnam National Mekong Commission’s Office Le Duc Trung, the MRC Secretariat will analyse information from the project and consider the ideas of experts as to how to best evaluate the impacts of the project and measures to reduce them. It will then propose that the MRC Joint Committee ask Laos to make appropriate adjustments.

Private capital key to Vietnam’s energy development: WB report vietnamplus.vn 14th Jan 2019
New financial sources, particularly from the private sector, will help Vietnam further develop its energy industry, according to a new World Bank report on maximising finance for Vietnam’s energy development. Titled “Maximising Finance for Development in Vietnam’s energy sector”, the report said the changing macroeconomic and sectoral context in Vietnam requires a new approach to financing electricity and gas investments. It presented an action plan on how to unlock new sources of finance, especially from the private sector, based on a comprehensive analysis of investment needs as well as constraints in the regulatory environment including the capital and forex markets. Between now and 2030, Vietnam’s electricity sector requires new investments of about 10 billion USD annually, higher than the average of 8 billion USD for the 2011–15 period. Meanwhile, the development of the gas sector is estimated to require about 20 billion USD between 2015 and 2035. While Vietnam Electricity (EVN) and PetroVietnam (PVN) will continue to play an important role in developing new infrastructure, the vast majority of new gas and electricity investments will need to come from private players. Moving into this direction is in line with the Government’s strategy and objectives of financing the energy sector in the future, said the report.

Financial Services

VN to build product origin portal Vietnam News 29th Jan 2019
The Prime Minister approved the ‘Scheme of deploying, applying and managing the traceability system’ with the goal to build and operate a portal on national product and goods traceability by 2020. The project aims to improve the system of legal regulations, documents and guidelines on traceability; promote social engagement in traceability activities to serve international integration and improve the efficiency of State management; ensuring the quality and safety of products and goods. At the same time, the project will focus on raising awareness among the public, agencies, organisations and enterprises on traceability through dissemination of information and training for related parties; ensuring publicity and transparency of information on traceability of products and goods on the market; providing essential information and knowledge about traceability.

SBV to end cross-ownership in Vietnamese banks Vietnam News 29th Jan 2019
The State Bank of Việt Nam (SBV) has set a target to stop cross-ownership among credit institutions (CIs) by the end of 2020. Under Circular No 46/2018/TT-NHNN, which will take effect from March 1 this year, major shareholders of a CI and their relatives will not be allowed to hold more than 5 per cent of charter capital in another credit institution from December 31, 2020. Major shareholders and their relatives are also prohibited from increasing their stake holdings in any CI in any form, except for special cases regulated by the central bank. In addition, CIs are not permitted to lend to major shareholders and their relatives after 90 days from the effective date of the new circular until shareholders meet regulations on holding less than 5 per cent of another CI’s charter capital.

Central bank net injected $2b to meet high capital demand at year-end Vietnam News 29th Jan 2019
The State Bank of Việt Nam (SBV) net injected more than VNĐ47.5 trillion (US$2 billion) into the open market operation (OMO) last week to support the liquidity of the banking system amid rising capital demands at the end of the year. According to the latest report from the Saigon Securities Company, the injection was foreseeable as the SBV also pumped a large amount of money to support the liquidity of commercial banks at the end of 2016 and 2017, when the demand for cash increased sharply in the weeks ahead of Tết (Lunar New Year) - the country’s biggest holiday. The SBV’s decision to continuously buy a large amount of US dollars in the past week also supported the supply of Vietnamese đồng. The good liquidity helped overnight interest rate of đồng loans in the inter-bank market last week inch down to 4 per cent from 4.2 per cent in the previous week. One-week and two-week interest rates also dropped by 15 basis points to 4.3 per cent and 4.5 per cent, respectively.

Vietcombank’s charter capital reaches US$1.6 billion Vietnam News 28th Jan 2019
The charter capital of Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Foreign Trade of Việt Nam (Vietcombank) has increased by 3 per cent to VNĐ37.1 trillion (US$1.6 billion) after it sold selling shares to strategic investors Singaporean investment fund GIC Private Limited (GIC) and Japan’s Mizuho Bank. Vietcombank on Monday said Mizuho had completed the transfer to buy more than 16 million shares to increase its holding to 15 per cent. Earlier, GIC bought 94 million shares to maintain its holding at 2.55 per cent. The bank completed the first share sale to foreign investors after receiving approval from the State Bank of Việt Nam (SBV) on December 27, 2018.

VN stocks rebound on bank purchases Vietnam News 23rd Jan 2019
Vietnamese shares advanced on Wednesday on foreign investors’ purchases for listed commercial banks. The benchmark VN-Index on the Hồ Chí Minh Stock Exchange rose 0.18 per cent to close at 908.18 points. The southern market index fell 0.49 per cent on Tuesday. The HNX Index on the Hà Nội Stock Exchange inched up 0.13 per cent to end at 102.67 points. The northern market index bounced back from a 0.80 per cent drop on Tuesday.

SSC to strengthen handling of stock manipulation Vietnam News 23rd Jan 2019
The State Securities Commission of Vietnam (SSC) will strengthen co-operation with the ministry of Public Securities to bolster the inspection and handling of manipulation and insider trading on the stock market. The statement was made by Phạm Hồng Sơn, SSC vice-chairman, at a brief meeting held in Hà Nội on Monday. “One to two cases of manipulation and insider trading will be prosecuted after the Tết (Lunar New Year) holiday,” Sơn said. “These practices cause damage to the market and listed companies and should be strictly punished.”

New multi-stakeholder initiative seeks to make finance sector ally of sustainability Vietnam News 22nd Jan 2019
The Asia Sustainable Finance Initiative was launched in Singapore on Monday to help shift Asia’s financial flows towards sustainable economic, social and environmental outcomes. With WWF as its secretariat, the multi-stakeholder platform will bring together the finance industry, academia, and science-based organisations, to support Singapore-based financial institutions in deepening their sustainable finance expertise. It will provide Southeast Asian financial institutions with the right tools and knowledge to better manage sustainability and climate-related risks and opportunities as well as receive updates on upcoming research, tools and activities.

Lenders boost consumer loans at year-end Vietnam News 19th Jan 2019
Both finance companies and banks are promoting consumer lending to capitalise on high demands ahead of the country’s largest holiday Lunar New Year (Tết). Tiên Phong Joint Stock Commercial Bank (TPBank) has just launched a ‘super speed’ auto loan programme, with a commitment to approve loan appraisals within eight hours. Customers can borrow up to 80 per cent of the value of a car over 84 months. Vietnam Technological and Commercial Joint Stock Bank (Techcombank) is applying an unsecured loan programme, requiring no collateral or deposits. Under the programme, borrowers can get loans at a maximum amount of 10 times of their monthly income, but not exceeding VNĐ300 million (US$12,880).

PM agrees to the use of telecommunication accounts for payment Vietnam News 16th Jan 2019
Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc said the Government had agreed to pilot the use of mobile phone accounts to pay for goods and services. Speaking at a conference with the Ministry of Information and Communications on Tuesday, the Prime Minister asked units to begin the use of payments via mobile phone. “The government agrees to the use of telecommunication accounts in order to boost e-payment services, making it not the sole responsibility of banks,” the Prime Minister stressed. Nguyễn Mạnh Hùng, Minister of Information and Communications, said that the telecommunication infrastructure was not only for communications, but had become the infrastructure of the digital economy, digital society and of the fourth industrial revolution.

Food & Agriculture

Việt Nam targets to attract 100,000 businesses in agriculture Vietnam News 23rd Jan 2019
Việt Nam wants to attract 100,000 businesses to invest in agriculture. It hopes between 3,000-4,000 businesses will be large scale with the rest medium sized. This information was released by Deputy Director General of the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI)’s Enterprises Development Agency Nguyễn Hoa Cương at the forum entitled “Businesses accompany agriculture, farmers and rural areas in 2019” held in Hà Nội on Tuesday. At the conference, representatives from MPI, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and relevant organisations discussed solutions to boost investment. Cương said the ministry had issued a circular guiding the support and encouragement of enterprises to invest in agriculture, assisting start-ups and removing investment barriers. Cương said: “In order to achieve this, it is necessary to devote resources to support rural areas, farmers and the development of socio-economic infrastructure related to agriculture, in which it should focus on transport system, complete legal framework, create a favourable and stable investment environment for businesses.”

Việt Nam to host agricultural consumption forum in February Vietnam News 23rd Jan 2019
Việt Nam will no longer have to ‘rescue’ agricultural products as their prices drop in the coming years, Nguyễn Quốc Toản, acting head of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD)’s Department of Farm Produce Processing and Development said in Hà Nội on Tuesday. Toản spoke at a press conference introducing the Vietnam Agricultural Product Consumption Promotion Forum 2019, which will be held by MARD in collaboration with the Ministry of Industry and Trade and representatives of cities, provinces, associations and co-operatives in the capital city of Hà Nội on February 22. The consumption of agricultural products will be highlighted at the forum. Toản said Việt Nam must do well in the market, produce clean agricultural products with clear origins and connect production and processing chains. Toản said localities were very important in planning agricultural products.

Delta farmers reap high profits from breeding giant river prawn Vietnam News 22nd Jan 2019
Farmers in the Mekong Delta have had a bumper harvest of giant river prawns at good prices because of favourable weather conditions and high market demand. Under a special cultivation model, farmers breed the giant prawn and grow rice on the same field without using chemicals. The prawns eat natural food in the rice fields. In Sóc Trănng Province, shrimp–rice farmers are now entering the peak harvest season. Lê Việt Thắng, who has a one-hectare rice field in Sóc Trăng’s Phước Long District, said he had a rice yield of seven tonnes per hectare, higher than in the past. The profit from harvesting prawn and rice this year was about VNĐ50 million (US$2,150) per hectare, he said.

Bến Tre copra price falls due to oversupply Vietnam News 22nd Jan 2019
The prices of copra in the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta Province of Bến Tre have dropped sharply in the last few days, worrying growers as Tết (Lunar New Year) draws near. According to Nguyễn Thị Năm, a coconut farmer in Bình Hòa Commune, Giồng Trôm District, normally copra prices increase before Tết due to higher demand for making candies and sweets. But this year, with the traditional holiday less than two weeks away, she could only sell her coconuts for VNĐ26,000 (US$1.12) per dozen, VNĐ10,000 less than a month ago.

Hà Nội should move towards self-sufficiency in food Vietnam News 18th Jan 2019
Architect Hoàng Thúc Hào talks to Tiền Phong (Vanguard) newspaper on how to apply high-tech agriculture in high rises in Hà Nội Will you please explain your idea to develop agricultural production inside Hà Nội’s inner city? A simple yet very important issue here is that prices of agriculture products in Hà Nội are much higher than in other localities. In order to have more products and meet Hà Nội’s demands, the most common course of action is to clear forest land in areas outside the city to grow crops. Many people have even cut down trees in forests close to the city for agricultural production – a very damaging action to the environment that causes big problems with land erosion. Some people think that claiming land from the forest to become self-sufficient is a good practice. But in reality, it is harmful! It is time for Hà Nội’s farmers to think of applying technology in their agriculture and pay more attention to food safety for their consumers.

Đắk Nông needs to facilitate investors, says PM Vietnam News Agency 15th Jan 2019
The Central Highlands Province of Đắk Nông should streamline administrative procedures to create the most favourable conditions for investors, Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc said. The PM delivered the remarks during an investment promotion conference held in the province on Monday. The event – the biggest of its kind so far – witnessed the participation of nearly 1,000 delegates and business people at home and abroad. In order to ensure the success of investors, which should be considered the success of Đắk Nông, the PM urged the locality to have professional staff which could assist investors in dealing with its administrative procedures. That could contribute to improving its investment climate. Such improvement could then compensate for its other disadvantages such as inadequate infrastructure, the PM said.

Deputy PM calls for strict management of food Vietnam News Agency 14th Jan 2019
Deputy Prime Minister Vũ Đức Đam has called for increased management of food, especially imported food products, as the Tết (Lunar New Year) holiday approaches. The Deputy PM asked ministries, central agencies and local authorities to strengthen the inspection and examination of suppliers to ensure they observe food safety laws. He asked agencies and authorities to focus on supervising food safety during the Tết holiday and spring festivals after Tết, with attention paid to preventing food poisoning, especially with alcohol. The units continued to implement measures on controlling the use of plant protection medicine, chemicals and antibiotics in food production and processing, as well as measures to protect the environment, especially in rural areas.

Việt Nam improves animal farming quality Vietnam News Agency 14th Jan 2019
Improving the quality and safety of animal husbandry products remains a major export priority in Việt Nam. Nguyễn Xuân Cường, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that competition in the animal meat market required products not only to be of high quality but also affordable. The country has about 23,000 farms, but only 1,505 facilities have received certification from the ministry as being free of epidemics. Dr Nguyễn Thanh Sơn, former director of the National Institute of Animal Sciences, said that better linkages between producers, processors and consumers would contribute to the sustainable development of animal farming. He said the role of business associations and co-operative groups in monitoring production, processing and selling of animal goods had been insignificant. Instead, governmental authorities had been doing most of the work, so agricultural monitoring would need revamping, Sơn added.

Health & Life Sciences

Vietnam changes rules in medical devices business Vietnam Net 28th Jan 2019
The Ministry of Health (MoH) recently held a meeting to announce Decree No.169/2018/ND-CP, governing the management of medical equipment, which amends some regulations in Decree No.36/2016/ND-CP. Because of its wide impact, the event attracted the participation of hundreds of medical equipment producers and suppliers. “Decree 169 is to create a legal framework for the management of medical equipment in the new development period amidst increasing international integration, while meeting international norms,” said Nguyen Minh Tuan, head of the MoH’s Department of Medical Equipment and Works. Under Decree 169, there are some changes. They include the amendment and supplementation of the concept of ‘medical equipment,’ regulations related to medical equipment containing narcotic and precursor substances, and classification of medical equipment, as well as the supplementation of cases allowed to adjust information in announcement dossiers, and of cases rapidly getting circulation registration numbers.

India, VN step up pharma ties vietnamnews.vn 21st Jan 2019
Significant potential for growth in trade in pharmaceutical and healthcare products exists between India and Việt Nam, experts at the Indian Pharmaceutical Exhibition and B2B Interaction said on Monday in HCM City. Speaking at the opening ceremony, Võ Tân Thành, deputy chairman of the Việt Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), said that Việt Nam’s pharmaceutical industry in recent years had seen a two-digit growth rate and that growth momentum would continue until 2022. “Although the domestic pharmaceutical industry has made strong progress, it only meets 52.5 per cent of domestic pharmaceutical demand,” he said. The country has about 180 domestic and foreign pharmaceutical manufacturing firms, with about 194 factories of 158 enterprises meeting GMP-WHO standards.

Vietnam, India highlight cooperation opportunities in pharmaceuticals vietnamplus.vn 21st Jan 2019
There are a lot of potential for boosting cooperation, trade and investment in pharmaceuticals and health care between Vietnam and India, said experts at the Indian Pharma Exhibition and B2B meeting held in Ho Chi Minh City on January 21. K. Srikar Reddy, Consul General of India in HCM City, said Vietnam is an important market for India’s herbal products and medicine, while highlighting India’s pharmaceuticals development. According to Reddy, Vietnam is among rapid and dynamic economies in Asia with increasing per-capital income along with high demand on health care services.

Bright future ahead for private health care sector Vietnam Net 20th Jan 2019
The research service provider Fitch Solutions Macro Research stated in a recently-released commentary that Vietnam’s private health care sector is undergoing a period of rapid expansion. The long-term rise of household incomes will also provide a boon for private hospitals which generate a substantial amount of their revenues from out-of-pocket payments. The paper indicated that the number of private hospitals has more than quadrupled to 170 over the past decade whilst an additional 200 investment projects in hospitals have been approved. The Vietnamese government also wants to develop the private health care sector, with a view of having privately-owned hospitals account for 20% of the total number of nationwide hospitals by 2020. It noted that French and US companies remain the dominant foreign players running hospitals, while those from Thailand (Bumrungrad Hospital), Indonesia (Lippo Group), Malaysia (IHH Health care and KPJ Health care), and Singapore (Parkway Holdings) are now setting up operations or have expressed an interest in establishing facilities. These private health care players anticipate strong growth within the sector, and Fitch Solutions Macro Research views this as a major driver behind the overall growth in the health care market, and by extension the sales of medicine, over the coming years. The country’s health care market is set for a period of development as reforms within the sector gather momentum. Like many of its Asian neighbours, Vietnam is attempting to achieve universal health care through the implementation of a comprehensive health insurance system.

Attractive life sciences seeking more headway Vietnam Net 20th Jan 2019
Having been working as country president of ­AstraZeneca Vietnam for several months, Nitin Kapoor last week announced a partnership with Plan International Vietnam to bring the award-winning Young Health Programme (YHP), a global disease prevention ­initiative set up in 2010, to the country. “We go beyond innovative medicines, and offer holistic healthcare solutions for patients. We work with regulatory authorities to seek viable solutions in balancing payments and ensuring the quality of medical care in Vietnam, while constantly bringing our innovation,” said Kapoor. The YHP follows many life science programmes that AstraZeneca has been implementing in Vietnam for years, aiming to contribute to healthcare advancement for local patients while enabling the firm to make long-term and sustainable profits. The YHP is being brought under a three-year programme to Vietnam, a country where common non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and respiratory disease take a heavy toll on patients, caregivers and the healthcare system.

Deputy Health Minister requests improvement of population quality vietnamplus.vn 18th Jan 2019
Deputy Health Minister Nguyen Viet Tien requested the improvement of population quality and healthcare for the elderly during a conference in Hanoi on January 18 to launch its 2019 tasks regarding population and family planning. He also asked for maintaining the birth rate and limiting the increase in sex ratio at birth. In 2019, the sector has set the targets of having a 95.7 million population, a 1.06 percent population growth, the average life expectancy of 73.6 years and the sex ratio at birth at 114 boys to 100 girls. The rate of modern contraceptive method adoption should reach 68 percent, while the increase in gender ratio at birth will hit 0.4 percentage point. Meanwhile, the rate of pre-natal testing among pregnant women will hit 45 percent and the rate of unwanted pregnancies among young people will fall by 15 percent. All elderly people will be covered by health insurance. The sector suggested that the Government should ask the Ministry of Finance to amend regulations ensuring the funding of 50,000 VND (2.1 USD) per person per year towards population work and allowing the import of contraceptive tools which are not domestically-produced and without representative offices in Vietnam. –VNA

Bitter pill to swallow for pharmaceutical investors vietnamnews.vn 16th Jan 2019
Pharmaceutical stocks could be a bad bet this year, as the firms are set to report slower earnings growth for 2018. Pharmaceutical companies were once defensive stocks that provided constant dividends and stable earnings regardless of the state of the overall stock market.

Healthcare sector strives to control epidemic vietnamplus.vn 16th Jan 2019
This year, the healthcare sector aims to reduce death rates caused by diseases and epidemics to increase life expectancy. That was the key objective discussed by the healthcare sector during an online conference held on January 15. The sector would focus on improving capacity and performance to help develop a fair, effective, quality and sustainable system to meet high demands of people. This year, the sector has to fulfil two targets set by the National Assembly and the Government of ratio of 2.7 hospital beds per 10,000 persons, and 88.1 percent of people buying medical insurances, heard the conference. In terms of preventive healthcare activity, the sector would strive to achieve early detection and control epidemics to reduce death rates by infectious disease as well as closely supervise and prevent infectious plagues at international border gates to avoid disease coming into the country. It continued to make efforts to ensure safe vaccinations with the rate of 95 percent of children vaccinated, ensure adequate vaccine supply, and develop different types of vaccination services for people.

HCM City: Quality health care services offered for LGBT community vietnamplus.vn 15th Jan 2019
Quality health care services at the public Binh Dan Hospital in HCM City’s District 3 is now being offered to people in the LGBT community. Dr Nguyen Ho Vinh Phuoc of the hospital said: “They can receive services in a private space with respect from the hospital’s health staff.” Nguyen Tan Thu, a doctor specialising in serving LGBT people, said the service at a public hospital was especially important because patients had often complained about discriminatory attitudes at public hospital facilities. Thu said that many of them had avoided health care or sought illegal services. Some of them were seeking medical or surgical treatments to transition physically to their self-affirmed gender. Many of the patients are at high risk of contracting HIV and sexually transmitted diseases and need services in these areas, as well as psychological health care, according to the doctor. The number of transgender people who are clinically depressed or want to commit suicide, or abuse alcohol or stimulants, is very high in Vietnam.

ICT

Digital content revenue estimated at $895 million in 2018 Vietnam News 21st Jan 2019
Digital content revenue was estimated at US$895 million last year, of which revenue from digital content export reached $775 million, according to the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC). The whole digital content industry has more than 3,700 enterprises with nearly 63,000 employees. The average income per capita in the digital content sector is more than $7,000 per person per year.

Vietnamese companies hit hard by cyber attacks Vietnam News 20th Jan 2019
Companies in Việt Nam suffer the highest costs from cyber attacks in Southeast Asia, according to the Cisco 2018 Asia Pacific Security Capabilities Benchmark Study released on Friday. Among firms surveyed, 33 per cent said an attack costs more than US$10 million. This greatly exceeds the average in Asia-Pacific (5 per cent), as well as the worldwide number (3 per cent), suggesting that breaches in Việt Nam are severe. Among Southeast Asian countries, only 2 per cent of respondents in Singapore, 4 per cent in Indonesia, 5 per cent in Thailand and the Philippines and 11 per cent in Malaysia say the cost of an attack exceeds $10 million. The study shows that outages, when systems are down due to a breach, caused by cyber attacks are longer in Việt Nam, with 14 per cent of respondents saying an outage lasts between one to five days. This is the highest number in Southeast Asia. The longer the outage, the greater the financial impact.

First phase of smart city project considered a success vietnamnews.vn 14th Jan 2019
The smart city operation centre, which is part of a larger smart city project launched a year ago, is expected to open at the headquarters of the HCM City People’s Committee. Speaking at a meeting with the executive board of the smart city project, Trần Vĩnh Tuyến, deputy chairman of the People’s Committee, said: “I’m delighted to witness initial results of the project, which have been very important to create a foundation for the future development.”

Vietnam to Amend Decree on Broadcasting and TV Services to Regulate On-Demand Content | Lexology Lexology 23rd Jan 2019
Content on demand and video on demand, also known as OTT (over-the-top) TV services, quickly generated interest and support from local users after entering Vietnam. In response to pressing complaints from some local service providers that there is unequal treatment between foreign service providers and domestic service providers (domestic providers have many obligations related to content, taxes, and charges that are not imposed on cross-border providers), the Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC) has plans to amend the current Decree 6 on the management, provision, and utilization of broadcasting and TV services. In this regard, the MIC released a draft decree for public consultation from July 23 to September 23, 2018. After the release of the draft decree, which aims to improve the regulation of OTT TV services and cross-border provision of such services, there were many concerns regarding the potential burdens and unattractive environment the draft could create for businesses and investment. On December 12, 2018, local and foreign chambers of commerce coordinated to organize a workshop to collect comments on the draft decree from stakeholders in the TV industry and relevant state agencies. The draft decree used for this workshop was marked as “Draft 4,” which is the most current available draft to date.

PM asks ministry to enhance Vietnam’s rankings in ICT Vietnam News 16th Jan 2019
Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc has asked the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) to increase Việt Nam’s rankings in information and communication technology (ICT). The Government leader made the request while addressing a conference organised by the MIC in Hà Nội on Tuesday to allocate tasks for 2019. The PM recognised the significant contributions of the ICT industry to the country’s development in recent times, but expressed his dissatisfaction with Việt Nam’s low rankings in the field. He said ICT should be a leading sector for the nation, but had slowed in recent years. The World Economic Forum (WEF) had lowered Việt Nam’s rankings in the field due to the country’s poor preparations for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0), the PM said, adding that this was the ministry’s responsibility.

Infrastructure

Work on HCM City’s 1st metro route to be hastened Vietnam News 29th Jan 2019
The HCM City Urban Railway Management Board (MAUR) will work with contractors, consulting firms and others to speed up the city’s first metro route between Bến Thành and Suối Tiên, a meeting heard last weekend. “We will try to complete the project in 2020,” Bùi Xuân Cường, head of MAUR, said. A cost overrun, audits and delayed payments to contractors caused the delays, he said. “Certain aspects are beyond the ambit of our authority and require intervention by city leaders to resolve.” The project, which began in 2012, was expected to be finished in 2017 and become operational this year.

PM advises Hưng Yên to develop industrial, urban zones Vietnam News 28th Jan 2019
Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc asked the northern province of Hưng Yên to continue creating a better investment environment and developing industrial, service and urban zones during his Tết (Lunar New Year) visit to the province on Saturday. Secretary of the Hưng Yên provincial Party Committee Đỗ Tiến Sỹ reported to the PM the locality’s prominent achievements over the years, including the establishment of 10,000 businesses and the attraction of over 1,800 investment projects. The province has set up big industrial zones, like Hòa Phát and Thăng Long II. Phúc said he hoped the province would continue to make full use of its potential, develop agriculture and services, provide the best environment to attract investment, bring into full play the role of businesses, and rally all available resources for its long-term, stable, and sustainable growth.

HCM City upgrades water supply system Vietnam News 24th Jan 2019
HCM City has upgraded its water supply network with the adoption of advanced technologies in operation and exploitation and supply of clean water. Reducing water waste is one of the measures to save costs since wastage amounts to 16 per cent in HCM City and 22 per cent in Hà Nội. Bùi Thanh Khuyên, member of the management board of the Thủ Đức Water Supply Joint Stock Company (Wasuco), said daily water consumption in HCM City amounts to over 1.8 million cubic metres.

Hà Nội asked to submit urban administration project Vietnam News 23rd Jan 2019
Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc has asked Hà Nội to promptly develop a pilot management project on urban administration and submit it to the Politburo for consideration. During a conference in the capital city yesterday, the PM lauded the municipal Party Committee, People’s Council and People’s Committee for collecting feedback from ministries and agencies and reporting the progress to National Assembly agencies. The project must offer better mechanisms for the city in line with Conclusion No.22-KL/TW by the Politburo and Resolution No.18-NQ/TW by the Party Central Committee, ensuring Party leadership and direction over municipal authorities at all levels, he said.

Transport facilities to be enhanced for tourism Vietnam News 23rd Jan 2019
Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc has approved a project on passenger transport quality supervision and safe traffic. The project’s objective, set for 2025, is to equip 80 per cent of key bus stations, highway stops, railway stations, inland waterway ports and airports with modern facilities and connected tourist locations. All highways and expressways will be operated and managed by smart applications so as to gradually wipe out hotspots of traffic accidents. The project will include investment in building new tourism bus stations, seaports, airports and railway routes in localities which have great potential for tourism.

Phú Quốc boosts investment in socio-economic development Vietnam News 22nd Jan 2019
Phú Quốc island district continues to deploy synchronous solutions, creating favourable conditions, supporting investors and enterprises to implement projects as planned, speeding up construction and contributing to local socio-economic development. This was revealed by Phú Quốc Economic Zone management board in the southern province of Kiên Giang, Vietnam News Agency reported on Monday. In particular, the island is concentrating on investment capital to speed up the construction schedule to complete key infrastructure projects; overcome limitations and weaknesses in planning management, land, construction, compensation and site clearance; drastically handle disputes, compensation, clearance, resettlement and support for people to have "clean land" for investors to implement the projects.

Bình Dương open for investment Vietnam News 22nd Jan 2019
To reach the targets for economic growth for the 2016 – 20 period, the southern province of Bình Dương will focus on eight major works this year to encourage new investment. Provincial authorities will urge site clearance and facilitate construction work to improve the investment climate and help the private sector to develop. The province will open industrial parks and zones to welcome new investment trends, said Mai Hùng Dũng, deputy chairman of Bình Dương People’s Committee.

Travel & Tourism

Upgrade of National Highway 5 ordered after deadly accident Vietnam News 29th Jan 2019
The Directorate for Roads of Vietnam (DRVN) had asked the Vietnam Infrastructure Development and Finance Investment Joint Stock Company (VIDIFI) to conduct repairs to prevent traffic accidents on National Highway 5 ahead of the busy Tết (Lunar New Year) holiday, Vietnam Plus reported. The VIDIFI was instructed to upgrade road markings to delineate lanes and traffic signals before Tết, which falls on February 5 this year. The DRVN also asked the Department of Transport Safety, the Road Administration Department I and the VIDIFI to co-ordinate with transport departments and local authorities in reviewing all pedestrian bridges and report to the Ministry of Transport in February.

Jakarta Post: Vietnam – rising star in Southeast Asian tourism SGGP English Edition 18th Jan 2019
It reported that Vietnam is hosting the 38th ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) from January 14-18 in Ha Long city of northern Quang Ninh province to showcase its impressive achievements in the industry. Themed “ASEAN – The Power of One”, the five-day event has attracted more than 2,000 participants, including tourism ministers from ASEAN and East Asia, top leaders of national tourism agencies, international tourism organisations, high-end hotels and resorts, airlines, and close to 150 journalists and travel writers from Southeast Asia and outside the region.