Vietnam Update: December 6, 2019

Vietnam Update | December 6, 2019
Authors: Hai Pham, Taylor Dumaine, and J-Ren Ong
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

January 14-16: 2020 Business Mission to the ASEAN Tourism Ministers Meeting

Save the Date: 2020 Vietnam Business Mission, March 3-5 

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Vietnam Issues National Defense White Paper 2019
On November 25, the Ministry of National Defense of Vietnam released its long-awaited 2019 National Defense White Paper centered on the themes of peace and self-defense. The paper outlines major points in Vietnam’s national defense strategy and outlook, and seeks to increase transparency, understanding and confidence-building between Vietnam and other countries in the international community with hopes of attaching national peace and interests to regional and global peace, security and stability. The White Paper is divided into three parts: strategic context and national defense policy; building the all-people national defense; and the history and development of the Vietnam People’s Army (VPA), and the militia and self-defense force.

The country has reaffirmed its commitment to regional peace and stability, noting that it “resolutely and consistently settles all disputes and divergences through peaceful means on the basis of international law.” Further, according to the White Paper, “Vietnam consistently advocates neither joining any military alliances, siding with one country against another, giving any other countries permission to set up military bases or use its territory to carry out military activities against other countries, nor using force or threatening to use force in international relations.”

In his speech announcing the paper, Deputy Minister of National Defense, Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Chi Vinh, reaffirmed that Vietnam’s defense policy is focused on a “struggle for peace” and that military force will only be used for “self-defense when the country is attacked, and the national independence, sovereignty, unity, territorial integrity and national interests are violated.” While Vietnam still seeks to use peaceful measures to settle international disputes, it has highlighted its commitment to national sovereignty and has built a capable military for self-defense. Additional defense questions are sure to arise, especially with the increase in tensions between Vietnam and China over claims in the South China Sea in recent months.

The release of the White Paper is especially timely with Vietnam’s recent announcement of the theme for their 2020 ASEAN Chairmanship year as “Cohesive and Responsive.” The topic of regional peace and security is sure to play a major role during Vietnam’s Chairmanship year, especially as it coincides with their seat as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. Vietnam has previously published defense white papers in 1998, 2004, and 2009. The 2019 National Defense White Paper has not yet been released publicly as of the writing of this update.

Development of Airports in Vietnam
On November 25, the Ministry of Transport approved the construction of a new airport in Sa Pa in the northern province of Lao Cai. The project is expected to cost around US$254 million (VND5.9 trillion) with funding coming from the state and local budgets and the private sector. Construction is scheduled to start this year with a completion date in 2021. Sa Pa is a popular tourist destination for domestic and foreign tourists alike. Currently, tourists must travel hours by bus from Hanoi to get to the mountainous region. Estimates say about 4.2 million tourists visited the area in 2018, with 5 million expected in 2019. The airport is expected to increase this number even more as traveling to the region becomes easier.

Additionally, on November 27, the National Assembly approved the first phase of construction for the Long Thanh Airport. The government will now work to pick an investor for the project. The first phase is expected to cost US$4.8 billion (VND111.69 trillion). Phase one of construction is scheduled to finish in 2025, phase two in 2035, and the third and final phase after 2035. Currently Tan Son Nhat International Airport is the only airport serving Ho Chi Minh City. Built to support war transportation, it has a maximum capacity of 25 million passengers a year but has consistently handled millions more. Due to its location inside the urban area of the city, it is almost impossible to expand the airport. The construction of Long Thanh Airport in neighboring Dong Nai province, approximately 25 miles east of Ho Chi Minh City, will serve 100 million people when the entirety of construction is finished.

Overall, about 15.5 million foreign tourists visited Vietnam in 2018. In the same year about 80 million domestic tourists traveled the country. Tourism is an important aspect of the GDP with total revenue from tourism reaching about US$26 billion (VND620 trillion), or 7.8 percent of GDP, in 2018. This growth in tourism is expected to continue. It has also sparked a boom in the Vietnamese aviation sector which is growing more than other Asian markets. Currently there are five operational airlines in Vietnam, with a sixth expected to begin operations next year.

The rise in both domestic and international tourists in Vietnam has contributed greatly to not only the growth in the tourism sector, but also the aviation sector. Unfortunately, the current infrastructure is not equipped to address the sheer number of people, with many airports operating above capacity. Insufficient public transportation and highways also increase strain on airports, and Vietnam will continue to need investment in transportation infrastructure to meet the growing demand.

National Assembly Approves Revised Labor Code
On November 20, the National Assembly voted to amend the labor code after months of debate on the subject. The new code adds an additional paid holiday either preceding or following Independence Day, and also includes provisions regarding work duration, retirement age and independent unions. Despite calls to reduce work hours, the approved labor code maintains a 48-hour ‘normal’ work week. The code does recommend a 40-hour work week. It also includes a stipulation that overtime work must be agreed upon by workers and implements caps for overtime work. Certain industries such as garment, footwear, electronics and agribusiness have been granted an extension on overtime caps to accommodate seasonal demands.

The new labor code also incrementally increases the retirement age from 60 to 62 years for men and 55 to 60 years for women. Beginning in 2021 the retirement age will be increased by three months for men and four months for women each year. The new labor code allows laborers to independently set up a labor union or join one of their choosing. Previously, workers were required to join the State-run Vietnam General Confederation of Labour (VGCL). Representative organizations will need to obtain a license in order to be considered legal.

These revisions are a move on the part of the government to adhere more closely with international labor standards, such as those outlined in recent free trade agreements like the EU-Vietnam FTA and CPTPP. The National Assembly Standing Committee has noted that salary increases, reductions in working hours, and improvements work conditions are all global trends, but that the Government has not yet come to a conclusion on how such changes would impact the economy.

These revisions are a move on the part of the government to adhere more closely with international labor standards such as those outlined in recent free trade agreements like the EU-Vietnam FTA. The National Assembly Standing Committee has noted that salary increases, reductions in working hours and improvements work conditions are all global trends, but that the Government has not yet come to a conclusion on how such changes would impact the economy.

Vietnam Expands Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis Programs Against HIV/AIDS
The Vietnam Administration for HIV/AIDS Control (VAAC) shared that its Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) programs, would be extended to include 15 more cities and provinces. Together with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Joint UN program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), VAAC rolled out the first pilot PrEP programs in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City in June 2017. PrEP programs were introduced as a state-led effort to protect communities at high risk of contracting HIV. On November 2018, VAAC expanded PrEP programs to 11 provinces. Currently, there are more than 6000 people who have enrolled in PrEP, with some 3946 people signing up in 2019 alone. This rapid expansion in PrEP program coverage demonstrates both the growth of HIV awareness and strong demand for anti-HIV drugs in Vietnam.

PrEP is a combination of two anti-HIV drugs (tenofovir and emtricitabine) and is highly effective in preventing HIV. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), when taken daily PrEP reduces the risk of contracting HIV from unprotected sexual intercourse by as much as 99%. PrEP can also reduce the risk of contracting HIV through needle sharing, reducing the risk of transmission by 74 percent. In 2018, UNAIDS estimated that there were 230,000 living with HIV in Vietnam. However, HIV prevalence in Vietnam is on the decline. At its peak, there were an estimated 26,000 new HIV infections in 2003, but as of 2018, there were 5700 new HIV infections, marking a decrease of 78 percent between 2003 and 2018. Vietnam’s expansion of its PrEP program is a committed effort towards reaching the goal of eradicating HIV by 2030.

 
ADVOCACY UPDATE
 
 

Call for Input: Draft Decree to Replace Decree No. 101/2012/ND-CP on Non-Cash Payment
In early November, the State Bank of Vietnam officially released the Draft Decree to replace Decree No. 101/2012/ND-CP on Non-Cash Payment for public consultation. The draft decree is attached in English, and other related documents are available for download here in Vietnamese. The Council will plan to submit consolidated comments from members (in both English and Vietnamese) with a target submission deadline of December 20, 2019. If you have any questions, or to submit comments, please contact Vu Tu Thanh (tvu@usasean.org) and Hai Pham (hpham@usasean.org).

Call for Input: Draft Decree on Cross-Border E-Commerce in Customs Operation
The General Department of Customs (GDC) is drafting a decree on cross-border e-commerce in customs operation (Draft Decree). This is an item specified in the Action Plan to Promote the National Single Window, ASEAN Single Window and Reform Specialized Customs Audit for Imports and Exports and to Facilitate Trade during 2018 – 2020, which was issued by Prime Minister Phuc in September 2018. While the key purpose of the Draft Decree is to facilitate trade, its actual structure and language seem to tighten control over cross-border e-commerce activities. Initial consultation between the Council and GDC show that the drafting agency is unclear as to what exactly they want to achieve, and they have not found any other country with a similar system to learn from and so would have to develop their own solution for Vietnam’s unique conditions.

The Council will submit a comment paper to GDC and organize a consultation workshop with the drafting team within GDC, other relevant agencies in the Vietnamese Government, and other various business associations/stakeholders. If you are interested in supporting this effort, or have questions, please contact Thuy Bui at tbui@usasean.org by December 17, 2019.

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
National Affairs
New-style rural area programme improves incomes in HCM City
Vocational training sector seeks to develop
Foreigners allowed to change visa status while in Việt Nam: NA
NA adopts revised Labour Code, adding holiday and allowing independent unions

Defense & Security
Việt Nam, EU step up defence - security ties
Việt Nam highly values comprehensive partnership with US: PM

Economics
Better legal framework needed for small, medium-sized enterprises
Management unit to be set up at Vân Đồn economic zone

Energy
Construction on Quảng Tri 1 thermal power plant kicks off
Gia Lai to develop first wind power plant
Renewable energy projects in Ninh Thuận face overloaded electricity grid
Việt Nam to create mechanisms to attract smart grid investment
Vietnam's coal, crude oil imports surge on rising energy demand
GS Energy to build LNG plant in Vietnam
Vietnam signs crude oil supply deal for 2020 with SOCAR

Financial Services
Central bank tightens lending for property sector
Cash habit, poor infrastructure stymie prevent to non-cash economy: conference
Unlicensed moneylending must be managed or just scrapped: NA discussion
State bank to lower foreign ownership in payment intermediaries

Food & Agriculture
Digital farming holds key to solving agriculture paradox
FTAs boost food imports, investments in Vietnam

Health & Life Sciences
Việt Nam faces challenges in fight against HIV/AIDS
Pre-exposure prophylaxis programme for people at high risk of HIV expanded
Germany holds training course for Vietnamese health business managers
Vietnam health minister retires mid-term
Satellite system helps forecast dengue epidemics in Vietnam
Healthy Lung programme improves Asthma & COPD management in Việt Nam
Digital literacy helps to reduce disparities in universal healthcare

ICT
E-commerce helps develop logistics property sector
Hotels must use latest digital technologies to stay ahead of the game
Master technologies to better cybersecurity: Minister
Southern businesses are taking cybersecurity more seriously: report
Việt Nam needs to push digital transformation
Vietnam Airlines takes off with digital transformation

Infrastructure
Resolution on Long Thành International Airport approved: National Assembly
Vietnam Railways to upgrade infrastructure
HCM City, Mekong Delta seek to improve underdeveloped waterway route for goods transport
China funds planning of new railway in northern Việt Nam: ministry
VN aviation industry should focus on infrastructure, innovation: experts
NA permits Gov’t to choose investor Long Thành Int’l airport
Aviation industry seeks private investment amid explosive growth
MoT gives green light to build Sa Pa Airport
North-South Expressway projects draw 32 investors
Aviation industry seeks solutions to serious shortage of professionals
Vietnam, US cooperate to strengthen infrastructure finance
Phu Yen calls for WB’s support in infrastructure, economic development

Travel & Tourism
Tourism helps more airlines take off in Vietnam
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
National Affairs

New-style rural area programme improves incomes in HCM City vietnamnews.vn 2nd Dec 2019
Forty seven of HCM City’s 56 rural communes have met all 19 criteria set in the national target programme on building new-style rural areas, according to the municipal Party Committee. The 56, situated in five outlying districts, have met an average of 18.7 of the criteria related to planning, transport, irrigation, electricity, schools, income, education and training, health, environment and food safety. Under the programme launched in 2008, the city has spent VNĐ73 trillion (US$3.1 billion) building infrastructure for socio-economic development. More than 26,000 households in the five districts have donated nearly 300ha of land worth VNĐ2.2 trillion for building roads.

Vocational training sector seeks to develop vietnamnews.vn 2nd Dec 2019
Viet Nam's vocational training sector is seeking to fix its long-term problems and develop into a strength. The first problem is only 8 per cent of graduates from secondary school want to attend a vocational school. In addition, the structure of vocational training is currently unreasonable. Three quarters of vocational school students take short-term and primary course, while only 25 per cent take long-term and intermediate training.

Foreigners allowed to change visa status while in Việt Nam: NA vietnamnews.vn 26th Nov 2019
The National Assembly (NA) on Monday voted for amendments to the immigration law, for the first time allowing visitors to change their visa status and prolong their stays in Việt Nam without having to fly out of the country. The amendment was approved by an overwhelming 83.6 per cent for the Law on Entry, Exit, Transit and Residence of Foreigners. The law will come into effect on July 1 next year, allowing visitors to apply to change their visas under a number of circumstances. Visitors who can prove they are investors or representatives of foreign organisations that make legal investments in Việt Nam will be allowed to have their purpose of visit switched during their stay in the country.

NA adopts revised Labour Code, adding holiday and allowing independent unions vietnamnews.vn 20th Nov 2019
The National Assembly (NA) this morning voted on the amended labour code with changes to the national holidays and labour practices, after months of heated debate among workers, employers and experts. A total of 435 deputies voted in favour of the new law out of 453 present, translating to an approval rating of 96.06 per cent. Nine voted against the law while nine abstained. According to the new amended labour code, workers will be entitled to another day off with full pay the day following or preceding the Independence Day (September 2) holiday – which so far has been observed as a one-day holiday.

Defense & Security

Việt Nam, EU step up defence - security ties vietnamnews.vn 26th Nov 2019
Measures to boost security – defence co-operation between Việt Nam and the European Union (EU) were discussed at their first ever security – defence dialogue held from November 19-24 in Brussels, Belgium. At the event, both sides spoke highly of the co-operative ties in the field, saying that the establishment of the security-defence dialogue for the first time contributes to promoting mutual understanding and furthering practical and effective co-operation. They reviewed regional and international issues of mutual interest, talked over ways to carry out the EU-Việt Nam Framework Participation Agreement (FPA) inked in October, as well as highlighted Việt Nam’s prospects to engage in the EU’s crisis management activities.

Việt Nam highly values comprehensive partnership with US: PM vietnamnews.vn 22nd Nov 2019
Việt Nam highly values its comprehensive partnershipwith the US, considering it one of the country’s most important partners, Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc told visiting US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper during a reception in Hà Nội yesterday. The US Defence Secretary’s visit to Việt Nam, from November 19-21, aims to realise co-operation agreements in national defence between the two countries, contributing to enhancing friendship and understanding between their armies and people. During their talks, the Vietnamese PM spoke highly of the talks between Vietnamese Defence Minister Ngô Xuân Lịch and the US official, as well as the results of bilateral defence ties within the framework of the bilateral comprehensive partnership and agreements reached by the two countries’ leaders. Noting that the Vietnamese Government supports bilateral defence ties, the Vietnamese Government leader suggested the two defence sectors work to realise signed agreements, including joint statements between the two countries’ leaders. Hailing defence co-operation as one of the foundations for the Việt Nam-US relationship that contributes to maintaining peace and stability, ensuring navigation and aviation freedom in the East Sea (known internationally as the South China Sea), Esper said the US wants to promote collaboration and defence ties with Việt Nam.

Economics

Better legal framework needed for small, medium-sized enterprises vietnamnews.vn 2nd Dec 2019
A consistent legal framework related to tax deductions, land allocations and credit programmes is needed to support small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), experts have urged. After the Law on Support of SMEs took effect in early 2018, a decree on the fund to promote SMEs and several circulars on human resources and counsellors to help SMEs were issued. However, after nearly two years of implementation, the law has had little positive impact, according to Bùi Thu Thủy, deputy director of the Enterprise Development Department under the Ministry of Planning and Investment

Management unit to be set up at Vân Đồn economic zone vietnamnews.vn 26th Nov 2019
The Vietnamese Government has decided to establish a management unit for the Vân Đồn Economic Zone, located in the northern coastal province of Quảng Ninh. Under its plan for the socio-economic development of Vân Đồn, the locality will be transformed into a smart, modern and green coastal urban area, as well as the region’s economic and cultural hub. Vân Đồn Economic Zone needs some VNĐ171.5 trillion (US$7.4 billion) by 2030 for its investment demands, of which domestic investment accounts for VNĐ75.1 trillion and foreign investment VNĐ96.4 trillion.

Energy

Construction on Quảng Tri 1 thermal power plant kicks off vietnamnews.vn 2nd Dec 2019
A ground-breaking ceremony has been held to kiick off the construction of the 1,320-megawatt Quảng Trị 1 thermal power plant. The project, located in the central province of Quảng Trị, is undertaken by Thailand’s EGAT International Company Limited under a build-operate-transfer contract. The coal-fired plant using supercritical technology will have two turbines, with a capacity of 660 megawatts each. It is expected to generate 7,200 billion kWh of electricity and pre-tax revenue of VNĐ12.5 trillion (over $538 million) per year.

Gia Lai to develop first wind power plant vietnamnews.vn 2nd Dec 2019
Việt Nam-based HBRE Wind Power and Thailand's Super Energy Corporation recently kicked off a wind power project worth VNĐ1.8 trillion (US$ 77.7 million) in the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai. Hồ Tá Tín, chairman of HBRE Group, said phase 1 of the HBRE Chư Prông Wind Power Farm Project would have a capacity of 50MW within 12 months and would contribute 110KV to the Diên Hồng- Chư Sê power grid. Phase 2 of the project with a capacity of a further 50MW is expected to be completed before November 2021.

Renewable energy projects in Ninh Thuận face overloaded electricity grid vietnamnews.vn 26th Nov 2019
The central province of Ninh Thuận has seen a boom in renewable energy projects, especially solar power, but power transmission lines in the province have failed to handle the capacity, experts have said. A number of solar and wind projects in the province have been developed after preferential incentives on prices for renewable power were issued, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade. Many renewable energy projects, however, cannot operate at full capacity. Lưu Xuân Vĩnh, chairman of the province’s People’s Committee, said the Government and the ministry had approved 30 solar power projects in the province with total capacity of more than 1,817MW and total registered capital of over VNĐ50 trillion (US$2.13 billion).

Việt Nam to create mechanisms to attract smart grid investment vietnamnews.vn 26th Nov 2019
Local electricity officials, related firms and international experts discussed a suitable legal framework to develop a smart grid and electricity system in Việt Nam in Hà Nội on November 21. The workshop, held by the Electricity Regulatory Authority of Việt Nam (ERAV), Ministry of Industry and Trade, in collaboration with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH aimed to collect ideas on the development of intelligent power grids in Việt Nam. GIZ’s Project Director Tobias Cossen said: “Việt Nam’s electricity system is facing technical and financial challenges, as we have seen the country’s rapid development of renewable energy sources in the past year and its ambitious plan until 2030, especially the power sources using wind and solar energy which rely on weather conditions.”

Vietnam's coal, crude oil imports surge on rising energy demand Reuters 3rd Dec 2019
Vietnam’s coal and crude oil imports surged in the first ten months of this year, government data released on Tuesday showed, highlighting the Southeast Asian country’s increasing reliance on imported energy to support its fast-growing economy.

GS Energy to build LNG plant in Vietnam The Investor 3rd Dec 2019
GS Energy, a unit of energy and retail conglomerate GS Group, said Nov. 28 it has partnered with a Vietnamese asset management firm to build a power plant fired by liquefied natural gas there to tap into the local electricity market.

Vietnam signs crude oil supply deal for 2020 with SOCAR Reuters 3rd Dec 2019
Vietnam’s state-run Binh Son Refining and Petrochemical Co (BSR) has inked an agreement with Azeri state energy company SOCAR to buy five million barrels of crude in 2020, BSR said late on Friday. SOCAR Trading will provide five million barrels of Azeri Light crude to BSR’s Dung Quat refinery during the first half of 2020, BSR said in a statement on its web site.

Financial Services

Central bank tightens lending for property sector vietnamnews.vn 2nd Dec 2019
On November 15 the State Bank of Việt Nam replaced its previous circular on operational safety ratios for the banking sector with Circular No 22. To take effect on January 1 it focuses on two changes that will tighten banks’ lending to the property sector. They are a reduction of the ratio of short-term funds that can be used for medium and long-term loans from the current 40 per cent to 30 per cent by September 2022 in four phases, and the increase in the risk ratios of mortgages from the current 50 per cent to up to 150 per cent and loans for commercial real estate to 200 per cent. Analysts said the central bank’s moves are aimed at cutting off credit to high-risk sectors, especially property.

Cash habit, poor infrastructure stymie prevent to non-cash economy: conference vietnamnews.vn 2nd Dec 2019
While non-cash payments are admittedly on the rise, the cash payment habit and limited development of technology infrastructure are big problems for the country’s non-cash economy, experts have said. According to the State Bank of Việt Nam, as of September there were 32 non-bank organisations licensed to supply intermediary payment services such as e-wallets and e-payment gateways. Banks are also pushing for more payments using new technologies, with 24 enabling QR code payment and having around 50,000 code-scan points.

Unlicensed moneylending must be managed or just scrapped: NA discussion vietnamnews.vn 26th Nov 2019
National Assembly (NA) deputies on Wednesday suggested the Government should tighten the management of loan collections. Deputy Bùi Thị Quỳnh Thơ from Hà Tĩnh said this was a normal because borrowers must pay back loans. But a number of people who have defaulted on their loans had found themselves being threatening by unscrupulous lenders. She said in many cases, this was the only way for people to collect the cash, because taking the case to court would be costly, and if borrowers don’t pay, they end up with criminal convictions, leaving the lender out of pocket.

State bank to lower foreign ownership in payment intermediaries vietnamnews.vn 26th Nov 2019
The State Bank of Việt Nam (SBV) plans to lower the foreign ownership rate in the payment intermediary service sector to 49 per cent instead of leaving it unrestricted to avoid manipulation by foreign investors in the field. The SBV would include the limit in a new draft Decree on intermediary payment services, news site tinnhanhchungkhoan.vn reported yesterday. According to the SBV's Payment Department, the new regulation would help avoid manipulation by foreign investors, ensuring security and safety for banking and financial activities. It will also create favourable conditions for domestic enterprises to seize more investment opportunities in the sector.

Food & Agriculture

Digital farming holds key to solving agriculture paradox vietnamnews.vn 21st Nov 2019
Digitisation of farming is inevitable and Việt Nam should embrace it to resolve the agricultural paradox of producing more while preserving natural resources and to grab the opportunities brought by free trade agreements, experts have said. Reports from research organisations said the world population would increase by 2.2 billion by 2050 and demand for food would increase by 50 per cent. During this period climate change is expected to reduce harvests by 17 per cent while arable land will shrink by 20 per cent. The agricultural sector globally and in Việt Nam is therefore set to face big challenges.

FTAs boost food imports, investments in Vietnam The Phnom Penh Post 2nd Dec 2019
Free trade agreements (FTAs) have created ample opportunities for food imports and foreign investment in Vietnam’s food industry, according to experts. Countries with developed food processing industries, such as Japan, the US, Australia and nations in the EU, have promoted exports of their food products to Vietnam. Last week in Ho Chi Minh City, 18 Canadian food companies met with potential partners. Keith Colwell, Nova Scotia’s Minister of Agriculture and Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, expressed his hope that the trip could provide opportunities for Canadian food companies to export their products to Vietnam thanks to tariff reductions under the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

Health & Life Sciences

Việt Nam faces challenges in fight against HIV/AIDS vietnamnews.vn 2nd Dec 2019
The AIDS epidemic in Việt Nam cannot be eliminated by 2030 if the country fails to reaffirm its commitment and show determination in rolling out innovative solutions to prevent the transmission of HIV. The message was delivered by Deputy Prime Minister Vũ Đức Đam at the National Ceremony on World AIDS Day on December 1 in northern Bắc Giang Province. “In 2007, it sounded like a death sentence for anyone diagnosed with HIV,” said Đam. “Nowadays, thanks to the international community applying healthcare advances, people living with HIV can now live a normal life and even give birth to HIV-negative children.”

Pre-exposure prophylaxis programme for people at high risk of HIV expanded vietnamnews.vn 2nd Dec 2019
The pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, programme will be expanded to another 15 cities and provinces as part of the country’s commitment to end HIV by 2030, according to the Việt Nam Administration for HIV/AIDS Control. In June 2017 the VAAC together with the Healthy Markets project, a five-year initiative funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), and UNAIDS kicked-off the country’s first PrEP pilot in Hà Nội and HCM City. Last year in November it was expanded to another 11 provinces. More than 6,000 people have so far enrolled in the programme, including 3,946 this year.

Germany holds training course for Vietnamese health business managers VietnamPlus 30th Nov 2019
he Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy of Germany (BMWi), the German Agency for International Cooperation, and the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry held a closing ceremony in Berlin on November 30 for a training course for Vietnamese business managers in the health sector. During the four-week course, 18 Vietnamese managers were trained in c, took fact-finding trips, and set up ties with partners in the fields of health care and pharmaceuticals in German cities. Speaking at the event, a BMWi representative said the ministry will further step up ties with Vietnam in health care, including holding more training courses for Vietnam’s managerial staff.

Vietnam health minister retires mid-term VnExpress International 22nd Nov 2019
Nguyen Thi Kim Tien retires mid-term as Vietnamese Minister of Health on November 22, 2019. The legislative National Assembly made the official announcement of Tien's retirement at its ongoing session in Hanoi. With Tien reaching the retirement age of 60 and not being a committee member, she has to retire midway instead of continuing to work till the term ends in 2021. Her replacement has not been announced. Tien, a native of the central province of Ha Tinh, was appointed Minister of Health in August 2011. She was member of the 11th Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam between January 2011 and January 2016 but was not reelected in the 12th committee for the 2016-2021 term, making her the only minister without such position. During her time as health minister, Tien had assigned herself the task of reducing overload in hospitals. When taking the position, she'd said: "There is no place in the world I have visited, even South Africa, that patients have to lie underneath hospital beds as is happening in our country."

Satellite system helps forecast dengue epidemics in Vietnam The Inquirer 20th Nov 2019
Dengue fever epidemics could be forecast up to eight months in advance by a new satellite-based, early warning system.This system, known as D-MOSS, is being developed by a consortium led by HR Wallingford and sponsored by the United Kingdom Space Agency’s International Partnership Program. D-MOSS is developing a forecasting system in which earth observation datasets are combined with weather forecasts to predict the likelihood of dengue epidemics.The project, which started in Vietnam last year, aims to develop an operational early warning system to improve dengue prevention and increase control capacity.

Healthy Lung programme improves Asthma & COPD management in Việt Nam vietnamnews 20th Nov 2019
A programme on asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) management in Việt Nam has gained remarkable results in reducing the hospitalisation rate of patients in Hải Phòng. The 3-year programme, entitled Healthy Lung programme, is implemented by the Ministry of Health’s Medical Service Administration (MSA) and AstraZeneca Việt Nam to improve the quality of outpatient management of asthma and COPD in nine countries in Asia, including Việt Nam since 2017. After 12 months of implementation, the hospitalisation rate of asthma patients has reduced from 29.3 per cent to 6.2 per cent while the hospitalisation rate of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) patients also decreased from 51 per cent to 32 per cent at the Hải Phòng Tuberculosis & Lung Hospital.

Digital literacy helps to reduce disparities in universal healthcare vietnamnews 20th Nov 2019
Health literacy can contribute to reducing disparities among different groups of people in accessing universal healthcare services, Professor Dianne Levin-Zamir from Israel's University of Haifa said on Monday (November 11) at an international conference held in HCM City.In many countries, communication with patients and the public is increasingly becoming digital. According to the World Health Organisation, health literacy reflects a certain level of knowledge, personal skills and confidence that allows individuals to take action and change their lifestyles and living conditions. Digitalisation, however, requires the ability to seek, find, understand, and appraise health information from electronic sources and apply the knowledge to addressing or solving a health problem.

ICT

E-commerce helps develop logistics property sector vietnamnews.vn 2nd Dec 2019
Growing demand from e-commerce users is putting pressure on existing supply chains, facilities and warehouses. Single’s Day on November 11 saw a surge on local e-commerce sites. E-commerce platform Tiki saw a quadrupling of orders and buyers during its ‘Legendary Sale 11.11’ promotion on the day. In Việt Nam, over 60 per cent of the population use the internet, and this offers brands the opportunity to easily approach target customers.

Hotels must use latest digital technologies to stay ahead of the game vietnamnews.vn 2nd Dec 2019
The hotel industry in HCM City should take advantage of technology to improve management, offer more conveniences to customers and increase profits. Nguyễn Thị Ánh Hoa, deputy director of the city’s Department of Tourism, said that disruptive technology was changing the face of the country’s hospitality sector. Hospitality start-ups and technology firms had great potential to tap into the hotel industry in HCM City, she said at a meeting in HCM City this week. “The (traditional) hotel industry is under pressure because it is using outdated business models and has had to adapt and change much more than many other asset classes."

Master technologies to better cybersecurity: Minister vietnamnews.vn 2nd Dec 2019
It is time Việt Nam mastered technologies to make sure local businesses, organisations and people are protected from cyber-attacks, Minister of Information and Communications Nguyễn Mạnh Hùng said on Friday. The way an organisation reacted to cyber-attacks showed how prepared it was and how well it was protected, the minister told attendees at the Vietnam Information Security Day 2019 in Hà Nội.

Southern businesses are taking cybersecurity more seriously: report vietnamnews.vn 26th Nov 2019
More and more businesses and organisations in southern Việt Nam are focusing on cybersecurity, but there are still limitations such as inadequate procedures and visibility of risks, according to a report tabled at Việt Nam Information Security Day in HCM City on Thursday (November 21). Trịnh Ngọc Minh, deputy chairman of the Việt Nam Information Security Association's southern branch, said a higher percentage of surveyed businesses and organisations are seeking outside professional experts compared to last year -- up from 69 per cent to 84 per cent -- while around 42 per cent utilise both their own workforce and outside help.

Việt Nam needs to push digital transformation vietnamnews.vn 26th Nov 2019
The proportion of Vietnamese enterprises that have not adopted digital transformation is about 1.5 times higher than the global average. The biggest problem for businesses was that they did not know where to start the transformation, said Nguyễn Văn Khoa, FPT director general, speaking at the FPT Techday 2019. He said if businesses failed to get moving, they would be left behind. FPT Techday 2019 under the theme “Smart Start” was held on Thursday in Hà Nội.

Vietnam Airlines takes off with digital transformation vietnamnews.vn 21st Nov 2019
National flag carrier Vietnam Airlines has won the 2019 ICT Award from the Asian-Oceania Computing Industry Organisation (ASOCIO) for its outstanding achievements and important contributions to the development and application of information technology in operation and services. The carrier was the only Vietnamese enterprise to be honoured at the ASOCIO ICT Awards, which were presented at the ASOCIO-PIKOM Digital Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia last week. The ASOCIO ICT Awards are leading prestigious information technology awards, with great influence in the region of 24 member economies. This year marks continuous efforts by Vietnam Airlines to become a digital airline.

Infrastructure

Resolution on Long Thành International Airport approved: National Assembly vietnamnews.vn 2nd Dec 2019
Ninety per cent of all National Assembly deputies on Tuesday approved a Government resolution on the feasibility report for the phase-one development of the Long Thành International Airport. The plans include building a runway, a terminal and other components to serve 25 million passengers and 1.2 million tonnes of goods each year. Total investment of the airport development project should not exceed VNĐ336.63 trillion (US$16 billion) as approved in June 2015. The first phase of the project will cost about VNĐ111 trillion.

Vietnam Railways to upgrade infrastructure vietnamnews.vn 2nd Dec 2019
Vietnam Railways (VNR) plans to upgrade rail infrastructure to satisfy passenger demand by building 300 new carriages and purchasing more locomotives by 2023 to provide better services. Vũ Anh Minh, head of VNR’s council, told Vietnam Plus newspaper that outdated locomotives and carriages led to higher fuel consumption and maintenance costs. In accordance with the 2017 Railway Law, the lifespan of locomotives and carriages should not stretch beyond 40 years for passenger trains and 45 years for cargo trains. This necessitated the purchase of new equipment, he said.

HCM City, Mekong Delta seek to improve underdeveloped waterway route for goods transport vietnamnews.vn 2nd Dec 2019
The waterway links between HCM City and the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta region through river and canal networks, which are proved to be more advantageous to trade than their road counterparts, have not been fully utilised. According to the Việt Nam Inland Waterway Administration, the inland waterway transport system in the delta measures 13,000km but traffic on these parts is not as busy as it should be. Thus, 70 per cent of goods coming from the Delta to HCM City ports and Cái Mép – Thị Vãi Port in Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu Province are transported by road, which costs 10-60 per cent more than waterway transport.

China funds planning of new railway in northern Việt Nam: ministry vietnamnews.vn 2nd Dec 2019
China had funded 10 million yuan (US$1.4 million) for the preliminary planning of a controversial train project in Việt Nam that would connect the northern border region all the way through to a busy eastern port, the transport ministry announced on Monday. The Ministry of Transport in its public statement said that the Lào Cai-Hà Nội-Hải Phòng train line was planned years ago in the Việt Nam Railway Development Strategy towards 2020, which was signed off by then Prime Minister Nguyễn Tấn Dũng in 2008. China in 2015 agreed to provide a non-refundable aid package worth 10 million yuan to help Việt Nam conduct surveys and map out the first blueprint for the line following high-level meetings between the two governments, according to the ministry.

VN aviation industry should focus on infrastructure, innovation: experts vietnamnews.vn 26th Nov 2019
Innovation and investment in infrastructure are required for Việt Nam's aviation industry to develop, experts have told conferences at the Việt Nam International Aviation Expo that opened yesterday (November 20) in HCM City. Darren Hulst, senior managing director, market analysis & sales support, commercial airplanes, at Boeing, said the country’s aviation industry quadrupled in size in the last 10 years. As the middle class expands, the growth potential for the industry also increases, he said. "I think in some cases the challenges for aviation here are really because the market wants to grow so quickly. Investment in infrastructure is needed to continue to facilitate the growth."

NA permits Gov’t to choose investor Long Thành Int’l airport vietnamnews.vn 26th Nov 2019
The Government has the right to choose an investor for the Long Thành International Airport project in the southern province of Đồng Nai, according to the National Assembly (NA) Standing Committee. The decision followed recent heated debate at an NA meeting over the Government’s preferred investor for the project, as the firm will have to borrow billions of dollars to build the airport. The NA Standing Committee, in its report sent to NA deputies last weekend, noted that, under the Bidding Law, investor selection is under the jurisdiction of the Government, but it said that the Government should ensure that its chosen investor abide by principles of national defence and security, national interests and financial efficiency. In addition, the airport investment must not exceed VNĐ336.63 trillion (US$16 billion) at the time of approval by the NA, the committee said.

Aviation industry seeks private investment amid explosive growth vietnamnews.vn 26th Nov 2019
The booming aviation sector in Việt Nam needs investment from the private sector to ensure that it has adequate airport infrastructure for continued expansion, experts have said. With double-digit growth over the last five years, the sector is under pressure because of the rising number of airlines and aircraft now operating in the market. The five airlines that operate in Việt Nam are Vietnam Airlines, VietJet Air, Jetstar Pacific Airlines, Vasco and Bamboo Airways. However, Việt Nam will need about 10 airlines in the near future to meet demand, according to economists.

MoT gives green light to build Sa Pa Airport vietnamnews.vn 26th Nov 2019
The Ministry of Transport has approved a plan to build an airport in Sa Pa in the northern mountainous province of Lào Cai. Construction is scheduled to start this year and will be completed in 2021. The project is worth VNĐ5.9 trillion (US$254 million), including VNĐ 3.09 trillion ($133 million) from the State budget, VNĐ910 billion ($39 million) from the local budget and about VNĐ 1.77 trillion ($76.2 million) from the private sector. The decision was recently signed by Deputy Minister Lê Tuấn Anh. Under the project, the airport will be used for both civil and military purposes and will be located in Cam Cọn Commune, Bảo Yên District.

North-South Expressway projects draw 32 investors vietnamnews.vn 26th Nov 2019
The management boards of the North-South Expressway’s sub-projects have received applications from 32 domestic investors and joint ventures. There are eight public-private partnership (PPP) sub-projects seeking domestic investors. The list of investors has not been revealed. A decision on the pre-qualification round is expected in February next year. The Ministry of Transport has set criteria to mark potential investors with a maximum score of 100. Financial capacity accounts for 60 points, while 30 scores points will be awarded for experience and 10 points for planning.

Aviation industry seeks solutions to serious shortage of professionals vietnamnews.vn 26th Nov 2019
The global aviation industry’s serious shortage of skilled professionals has reached unprecedented levels, experts said on Thursday (November 21) at a seminar in HCM City. “Finding new talent in aviation is the greatest challenge, so retention of current employees has become even more critical,” Nattaporn Chuensuwan, an aviation consultant and lecturer from Thailand, told Việt Nam News. Speaking at a seminar on disruptions in the industry, she said that strikes by aviation workers, challenging training courses, and more competitive markets had affected staff recruitment activities.

Vietnam, US cooperate to strengthen infrastructure finance Nhan Dan 19th Nov 2019
Deputy Minister of Finance Tran Xuan Ha said the framework aims to mobilise private capital and develop financial markets for infrastructure, thus helping Vietnam achieve its priorities in the field in the near future. He added that the country’s need for investment capital for infrastructure in the coming time is extremely huge. According to a report of the Ministry of Planning and Investment, Vietnam will need an estimated US$195 billion for infrastructure development during 2017-2020.

Phu Yen calls for WB’s support in infrastructure, economic development VietnamPlus 16th Nov 2019
The south central coastal province of Phu Yen has called for the World Bank (WB)’s provision of official development assistance (ODA) and soft loans for infrastructure and economic development in the locality. Speaking at a conference on Phu Yen-WB development cooperation in Tuy Hoa city on November 16, Pham Dai Duong, Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee said that Phu Yen is in need of WB’s credit assistance to build transport system and natural prevention works such as sea dykes and reservoirs.

Travel & Tourism

Tourism helps more airlines take off in Vietnam vietnamnews.vn 26th Nov 2019
Việt Nam's booming tourism industry has led to growth in the aviation sector, with more routes and airlines creating a new landscape for the industry. According to data from the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), the number of international tourists visiting the country grew from 4.25 million in 2008 to 15.5 million in 2018, while the number of domestic tourists rose from 20 million in 2009 to 80 million this year. In the last ten years, total revenue from tourism has climbed more than ten times from VNĐ60 trillion (US$2.59 billion) in 2008 to VNĐ620 trillion in 2018, accounting for 7.8 per cent of the country's GDP.