Vietnam Update: December 19, 2019

Vietnam Update| December 19, 2019
Authors: Riley Smith and Taylor Dumaine
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

SAVE THE DATE: 2020 Vietnam Business Mission, March 3-5

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

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Vietnam Announces Priorities for UN Security Council Tenure and ASEAN Chairmanship Year

On December 12, Vietnam announced its priorities for its tenure as a non-permanent member of  the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in 2020-2021. In accordance with Article 6 of the UN Charter, Vietnam hopes to work toward preventing conflicts, promoting preventative diplomacy, and dealing with disputes peacefully. Ambassador Dang Dinh Quy leads the Vietnamese Permanent Mission to the UN and in an interview highlighted Vietnam’s commitment to countering the impacts of climate change on peace and security. Additionally, Ambassador Quy has noted Vietnam’s role in encouraging the Democratic Republic of Korea (DPRK) to engage more with the international community. Other questions of defense, specifically issues related to disputed areas in the South China Sea, are top priorities for Vietnam, but the country recognizes the powerful position China has on the UNSC.

In addition to its role as a non-permanent member of the UNSC, Vietnam will also serve as Chair of ASEAN during 2020. Last month, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc announced that the themes for next year will be “cohesive and responsive.” On December 16, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Quoc Dung highlighted that building a strong ASEAN community that can adapt to regional and global challenges is among the highest foreign policy priorities. Specifically, Deputy Minister Nguyen laid out five main priorities for Vietnam’s Chairmanship year:

  1. Strengthening ASEAN solidarity and unity;
  2. Promoting regional connectivity and adaptability for Industry 4.0;
  3. Fostering awareness of the ASEAN community and identity;
  4. Stepping up partnerships for peace and sustainable development;
  5. Improving adaptability and operational efficiency of the ASEAN apparatus.

Vietnam plans to use its chairmanship year to grow the ASEAN community by addressing strategic, political, economic, and social challenges. A strong ASEAN identity is beneficial for all of Southeast Asia. Vietnam previously served on the UNSC in 2008-2009 and as ASEAN Chair in 1998 and 2010. Both Vietnam’s ASEAN Chairmanship and its position on the UNSC are important for the country’s foreign policy goals. The Council will continue to track updates regarding Vietnam’s leadership, and advocate for engagement with the government.

Ministry of Finance Considers Cutting Tariffs on U.S. Agricultural Products

On December 9, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) announced that it is considering lowering tariffs on some U.S. agricultural products. Last month, United States Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross pressed the Vietnamese Government to reduce its trade surplus with the United States, highlighting the Trump administrations’ trade priorities with respect to Vietnam. MOF has stated that tariffs on chicken and processed chicken meat, almonds, grapes, wheat, pork, and potatoes have all been tagged for tariff reductions. The United States has suggested that tariffs for apples, grapes, wheat, and chicken be eliminated entirely. Vietnam has stated it plans to reduce tariffs for apples and grapes to 8 percent, wheat to 3 percent, and chicken to 18 percent.

Vietnam is one of the countries that has benefited the most from trade diversion resulting from the trade conflict between the United States and China. The country’s trade surplus rose 33.66 percent from a year ago, reaching US$38.4 billion (VND 889.9 trillion) in the first 10 months of 2019. MOF has noted that cuts to tariffs are in line with the country’s commitment under the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). Guidelines under the CPTPP require signatories to lower tariffs on CPTPP countries, but the United States is not a member to the CPTPP agreement. The Trump administration has stated that Vietnam is at risk of being labeled a currency manipulator due to is trade surplus, its high foreign exchange reserves, and its purchasing of large amounts of foreign currency. Unsurprisingly, Vietnam hopes to avoid being targeted by the Trump Administration for benefitting from its trade dispute with China, even though a reduction on import tariffs in Vietnam will be beneficial for the country’s trade position.

 
ADVOCACY UPDATE
 
 

US-ASEAN Business Council Board of Directors Meets with Prime Minister Phuc in Hanoi

On December 12, the US-ASEAN Business Council Board of Directors met with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc. The meeting was lead jointly by the Prime Minister and President of the Board Keith Williams. Prime Minister Phuc expressed his sincere hope that United States President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence would visit Vietnam in 2020. The Prime Minister also further voiced Vietnam’s commitment to reduce its trade surplus with the United States and aim for a more balanced trade relationship, especially in the liquid natural gas (LNG) and aviation industries.

For Vietnam’s ASEAN Chairmanship in 2020, Prime Minister Phuc articulated his vision for a “Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN” with the goal of upholding stability, solidarity, and unity through economic and cultural links. Furthermore, 2020 will mark the halfway point to completing the Master Plan on building the ASEAN Community by 2025, and Vietnam’s chairmanship is an opportunity to boost the community’s development.

This year marked the 25th anniversary of the establishment of economic relations between the United States and Vietnam, while 2020 will celebrate the anniversary of official diplomatic relations between the two countries. Over the past 25 years, U.S. businesses have brought capital, corporate governance, and training programs to Vietnam. The Council and its members have played an important role in maintaining and growing these robust economic and commercial relationships through engagements such as the meeting with Prime Minister Phuc. 

Vietnam Draft Law on Public Private Partnerships

The Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) of Vietnam recently released the Draft Law on Public Private Partnerships, which stipulates conditions, regulations, and standards around Public Private Partnerships (PPP). In collaboration with Vietbid, the Council has drafted a comparison of the new draft law with the existing law. The comparison can be found here. If you have questions or comments on the Draft Law, please contact Ms. Bui Kim Thuy at tbui@usasean.org.

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Regional Affairs
Việt Nam introduces priorities during tenure on UN Security Council
Việt Nam boosts bilateral, multilateral ties at ASEM FMM14
Việt Nam wants to sustain ASEAN resilience to global challenges: Deputy FM

ASEAN
Nations Aim for Inclusive Trade; Vietnam Uses Small-Business Loans to Get There

Customs
The Ministry of Finance proposes reducing import tax on some foods
Lower tax for imported pork  to benefit consumers
State revenue unlikely to fall despite numerous FTAs
Việt Nam enjoys record trade value
Remittances to Việt Nam to further rise in 2019
VN exporters can only take advantage of CPTPP with preparation

Defense & Security
Việt Nam, US hold defence policy dialogue
VN affirms sovereignty following China's airship deployment to East Sea

Economics
Phú Thọ prioritises investment projects using modern technology
SOE equitisation progress  is “very slow”
Revised GDP in line with international practices
More work needed to popularise Vietnamese goods

Energy
Forum looks into sustainable energy development
Việt Nam prioritises oil and gas cooperation projects with Russia: PM
State to continue support for fuel price fund
New draft document on solar power projects to be filed

Financial Services
Fintech firms worry about possible foreign ownership limit in payment intermediaries
G-bond market aims to become a safe and effective investment tool
Promoting cashless payments to boost internet economy
VN financial sector embraces digital era: conference
Banks issues more chip cards for security
Central bank policies help replenish banking sector liquidity
Banks rush to issue bonds ahead of capital requirement deadline

Food & Agriculture
Nearly 6,000 agricultural products granted traceability codes
Deputy PM asks for stronger efforts to combat IUU fishing
Dioxin remediation project kicks off at Biên Hòa Airbase
Vietnam considers tariff cuts on American agriculture products

ICT
Innovation challenge for SMEs launched
Another 5G network pilot in Vietnam
Creating environment for developing digital products and services
Tech advance to modernize Vietnam tourism

Infrastructure
Corruption-free infrastructure key to sustainable development: Deputy PM
Finance official 'fundamentally wrong' about water price: Hà Nội leader
HCM City to build 8 logistic centres
Aviation sector aims for sustainable development and healthy competition
Sustainable infrastructure investment speeds up growth in Viet Nam
HCM City seeks US businesses’ support for infrastructure development

Travel & Tourism
Better tourist experiences would lead to repeat visits: experts
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Regional Affairs

Việt Nam introduces priorities during tenure on UN Security Council vietnamnews.vn 17th Dec 2019
During its working term as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council (UNSC) in 2020-21, Việt Nam will work hard to contribute to preventing conflicts, promoting preventive diplomacy and dealing with disputes peacefully in the spirit of Article 6 of the UN Charter. Ambassador Đặng Đình Quý, head of the Vietnamese Permanent Mission to the UN, introduced priorities during the country’s tenure on the UNSC at a press conference in New York on Thursday (local time).

Việt Nam boosts bilateral, multilateral ties at ASEM FMM14 vietnamnews.vn 17th Dec 2019
Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Phạm Bình Minh held bilateral meetings with officials from the foreign ministries of Romania, Kazakhstan, Spain, Ireland and Bulgaria within the framework of the 14th ASEM Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (ASEMFMM14) in Madrid, Spain on Monday. At the meeting between Minh and Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu, the two sides expressed their appreciation at the fruitful development of bilateral relations, especially following Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc’s visit to Romania in April. They said the traditional friendship and contributions by overseas Vietnamese in Romania and those who studied in the country are the crucial foundations to promote bilateral cooperation.

Việt Nam wants to sustain ASEAN resilience to global challenges: Deputy FM vietnamnews.vn 17th Dec 2019
Việt Nam attaches great importance to its role as ASEAN Chair 2020, and wishes to build a strong ASEAN Community which is resilient to regional and global challenges, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Nguyễn Quốc Dũng has said. Briefing nearly 70 foreign ambassadors and representatives from embassies of ASEAN member states and ASEAN’s development partners at a conference at the weekend in Hà Nội, Dũng, who is also Secretary General of the National ASEAN 2020 Committee, affirmed joining ASEAN’s activities was among priorities in Việt Nam’s foreign policy, and the country would spare no efforts to successfully act as the ASEAN Chair 2020.

ASEAN

Nations Aim for Inclusive Trade; Vietnam Uses Small-Business Loans to Get There Voice of America 10th Dec 2019
When politicians try to win votes by blaming foreigners for stealing jobs, economists say they ignore technology, which is what is really replacing many of these jobs. However the issue remains that many workers and small businesses do not benefit from foreign trade as much as corporations do, and that is something Vietnam hopes to fix. Hanoi is trying to avoid the mistakes of the U.S., Britain, and other countries where lower income citizens felt left behind by global trade, and one part of its approach is to focus on small business loans. Vietnam hopes to make loans available to family businesses and other small businesses, which in many cases do not have the right connections or the expertise to get these loans. Last week the State Bank of Vietnam cut interest rates in an effort to encourage banks to lend to the less advantaged. The central bank said short term loan rates for small and medium size businesses would decrease to 6% from 6.5%. This decreased rate also applies to other priority areas, such as agriculture, high tech businesses, and supporting industries.

Customs

The Ministry of Finance proposes reducing import tax on some foods vietnamnews.vn 17th Dec 2019
The Ministry of Finance wants to reduce import tax on some foods and has asked ministries and organisations for opinions on the idea. The ministry proposed cutting import tax on some agricultural products such as chicken, pork, fresh apples, fresh grapes and raisins. Some chicken products and by-products would see their import tariffs cut from 20 per cent to 18 per cent, corresponding to the first-year cut in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

Lower tax for imported pork  to benefit consumers vietnamnews.vn 17th Dec 2019
Ignoring pork, 56 -year-old Nguyễn Thị Hà instead selects a pack of chicken at a Lotte Mart in Hà Nội. Since October, due to African swine flu, local pork prices have increased by more than 20 per cent from last year, and for prime cuts the cost is even higher. For example, good quality pork belly now costs nearly double at VNĐ150,000-200,000. As the price of pork increases, so do local favourites like bánh mỳ phố Huế, which is a baguette loaded with pork pâté that has gone up to VNĐ30,000 from VNĐ25,000.

State revenue unlikely to fall despite numerous FTAs vietnamnews.vn 17th Dec 2019
Reduced revenue from cutting taxes on imported goods in accordance with various free trade agreements (FTA) Việt Nam had signed was unlikely to affect State revenue, said the finance ministry in a conference held on Thursday in Hà Nội. Revenue from tariffs and taxes has decreased by VNĐ13 trillion (US$475 million) compared to the same period last year. However, the ministry said earlier forecasts for net revenue to reach VNĐ340 trillion by the end of the year remained unchanged. Lê Mạnh Hùng, deputy head of Vietnam Customs’s tax department, said import/export taxes were not the only revenue source as goods were also subject to other regimes including special consumption taxes, value-added taxes, anti-dumping duties and environmental protections taxes, among others.

Việt Nam enjoys record trade value vietnamnews.vn 17th Dec 2019
Việt Nam’s trade value this year was estimated to touch US$500 billion, two years after hitting the $400 billion threshold, a new milestone for the country that has been striving to improve its business climate and enhance international integration. This was a very impressive result in the context that many countries were seeing a slowdown in trade, reflecting the sustainable growth of international trade in the Việt Nam’s economic structure, Minister of Industry and Trade Trần Tuấn Anh said in an interview with congthuong.vn online newspaper. Tuấn Anh also said that with an average increase of 13 per cent per year in recent years, Việt Nam was among the world’s top 30 countries in terms of trade growth.

Remittances to Việt Nam to further rise in 2019 vietnamnews.vn 17th Dec 2019
Remittances to Việt Nam are likely to increase in 2019 because overseas Vietnamese people believe in the stability of the economy and see better investment opportunities, economist Nguyễn Trí Hiếu said. He attributed the increasing trust to the Government’s various policies to improve the local business climate by simplifying investment procedures. Remittances have been forecast to reach US$17 billion this year by some organisations, he said. The World Bank forecast that about $16.7 billion in remittances will flow into Việt Nam this year, up 4.6 per cent from a year earlier. The BIDV’s Training and Research Institute also made a similar prediction, which will put the Southeast Asian country among the world’s top ten remittance receivers for a third year in a row.

VN exporters can only take advantage of CPTPP with preparation vietnamnews.vn 17th Dec 2019
With preferential tariffs provided under the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), Việt Nam has the opportunity to increase exports of garments, footwear, timber products, and beverages to other member countries. But Vietnamese enterprises’ ability to take advantage depends on their preparation, Nguyễn Thị Thu Trang, director of the Việt Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s WTO and Integration Centre, said. Speaking at a conference titled 'Opportunities and Challenges from CPTPP for Việt Nam’s Garment and Textile, Footwear, Timber Products and Beverage Sectors' held in HCM City on December 5, she said: “Our exports of footwear, garment and textile, timber products, and beverages to CPTPP member countries account for 12.5 per cent, 16.04 per cent, 20 per cent and 23.46 per cent of their total exports.

Defense & Security

Việt Nam, US hold defence policy dialogue vietnamnews.vn 17th Dec 2019
The Việt Nam-US defence policy dialogue was held at the US Department of Defence in Washington DC on Wednesday (local time), discussing regional and international issues of mutual concern and measures to boost cooperation in the future. The dialogue took place under the chair of Vietnamese Deputy Minister of National Defence Sen. Lieut. Gen Nguyễn Chí Vịnh and US Assistant Secretary of Defence Randall Shriver. Vịnh spoke highly of the efforts made by both sides in implementing the dioxin detoxification project at Biên Hòa airport, which kicked off on December 5.

VN affirms sovereignty following China's airship deployment to East Sea vietnamnews.vn 17th Dec 2019
Việt Nam foreign affairs spokeswoman on Thursday reaffirmed the country’s sovereignty over the Spratly Islands after images showing an airship deployed above the China-occupied Mischief Reef. “Việt Nam has full legal grounds and historical evidence to affirm its sovereignty over the Hoàng Sa (Paracel) and Trường Sa (Spratly) islands,” spokeswoman Lê Thị Thu Hằng told reporters at the regular press briefing. “Việt Nam asked all parties to respect the sovereignty, sovereignty rights and jurisdiction of Việt Nam, to seriously abide by international law and to contribute in a responsible and constructive manner to the sustaining of security, safety, peace and stability in the East Sea (South China Sea),” she added.

Economics

Phú Thọ prioritises investment projects using modern technology vietnamnews.vn 17th Dec 2019
The northern province of Phú Thọ will prioritise investment projects using advanced technology and high-quality labour to improve production value, Phan Trọng Tấn, Vice Chairman of Phú Thọ Provincial People's Committee told Vietnam News Agency. The province resolutely eliminates projects that are likely to cause environmental pollution and waste large amounts of land and labour. Phú Thọ will continue to restructure agricultural production towards increasing added value, applying scientific advances and developing hi-tech agriculture. The agricultural sector will have large-scale production and value chains and strengthen linkage of production, processing and consumption.

SOE equitisation progress  is “very slow” vietnamnews.vn 17th Dec 2019
Only nine state-owned enterprises (SOEs) were given the green light from government for their equitisation plans this year, reported the Ministry of Finance (MoF). The progress was still “very slow”, said Đặng Quyết Tiến, director of Corporate Finance Department, MoF at the ministry’s press conference on the local financial and production situation and the restructuring and equitisation of SOEs yesterday in Hà Nội. Tiến said though equitisation and divestment had a positive impact on the development of the stock market, improving the performance of firms, the slow progress was “concerning”.

Revised GDP in line with international practices vietnamnews.vn 17th Dec 2019
The revision of the size of Việt Nam's gross domestic product (GDP) for 2011-2017 is in line with international practices and serves as a foundation for the country's development path in the next 10 years, an official has said. Chief of the General Statistics Office Nguyễn Bích Lâm made the statement at a seminar in Hà Nội on Friday to announce the results of the revision of the size of Việt Nam’s gross domestic product (GDP) for 2011-2017. “As Việt Nam is developing a 10-year socio-economic development strategy for 2021-30 and a five-year plan for 2021-25, it (the revision) will help the Government address the country’s future path in 5-10 years,” he told the seminar.

More work needed to popularise Vietnamese goods vietnamnews.vn 17th Dec 2019
While Vietnamese goods have become more popular in the domestic market, there's still a long way to go before local products rule the roost. A recent survey on 10 years of the 'Vietnamese people prioritise using Vietnamese goods campaign' revealed 88 per cent of Vietnamese had interested in the campaign. Sixty-seven per cent said they would buy Vietnamese goods, 52 per cent said they recommended relatives buy Vietnamese goods and 36 per cent said they had shifted from buying foreign goods to domestic goods. However, Nguyễn Văn Thân, chairman of the Việt Nam Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (Vinasme), said that there were still many problems with the campaign.

Energy

Forum looks into sustainable energy development vietnamnews.vn 17th Dec 2019
Policy recommendations for a sustainable energy future in Việt Nam were introduced by the Vietnam Energy Partnership Group (VEPG) at the 3rd High-level Meeting and 1st Stakeholder Forum of the VEPG in Hà Nội on Tuesday. The 40 recommendations focused on renewable energy, energy efficiency, energy sector reform, access to energy, and energy data and statistics. According to Rainer Brohm, an international co-ordinator of the VEPG’s Secretariat, the VEPG Technical Working Groups had worked to support solar feed-in tariff prices and revised solar power purchase agreements, as well as rooftop solar power programme in Việt Nam. They had also helped Việt Nam develop its electricity wholesale market and Direct Power Purchase Agreements.

Việt Nam prioritises oil and gas cooperation projects with Russia: PM vietnamnews.vn 17th Dec 2019
The Vietnamese Government always gives top priority to oil and gas cooperation projects with Russia, said Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc at a reception for General Director of Zarubezhneft JSC Sergey Ivanovich Kudryashov in Hà Nội on Friday. The PM described Russia as a reliable partner of Viet Nam throughout history, and welcomed the Russian company’s willingness to cooperate with Viet Nam. Kudryashov recalled his impression about PM Phúc’s visit to Zarubezhneft headquarters during his official visit to Russia in May 2019.

State to continue support for fuel price fund vietnamnews.vn 17th Dec 2019
The fuel price stabilisation fund helps the central government manage domestic fuel prices for the foreseeable future, said Hoàng Anh Tuấn, deputy head of the domestic market department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade in a recent meeting with industry leaders. The new Government Decree 83, which oversees regulations on fuel trading in the country, will continue to sanction the controversial fund. Fuel traders and transport companies have argued that the fund, which is funded by fuel consumers for the most part and therefore effectively adds to fuel prices, delivers little to no benefits for traders and consumers alike. In addition, it also creates a gap between the domestic price for fuel and that of the international market which may encourage certain fraudulent activities and cross-border smuggling.

New draft document on solar power projects to be filed vietnamnews.vn 17th Dec 2019
A draft document on solar power development will be filed to the Prime Minister for approval on December 15, local media reported. Under the draft, bidding price for the output of solar power production, also known as the feed in tariff (FiT), is set at VNĐ1,916 (8.38 US cents) per kWh for rooftop projects, VNĐ1,620 (7.09 cents) per kWh for ground projects and VNĐ1,758 (7.69 cents) per kWh for floating projects. The new prices are applied for solar power contracts that were signed before November 22, 2019 and those projects operating between July 1, 2019 and December 31, 2020.

Financial Services

Fintech firms worry about possible foreign ownership limit in payment intermediaries vietnamnews.vn 17th Dec 2019
A draft regulation put forward by the State Bank of Việt Nam (SBV) that would limit the foreign ownership rate in the payment intermediary service sector to 49 per cent was discussed at a workshop in Hà Nội yesterday. Legal experts, fintech and e-payment firms attended the workshop held by the Việt Nam Chambers of Commerce and Industry (VCCI). The draft decree includes new policies on the legal synchronisation of cryptocurrencies, managing cross-border payment activities, providing non-account payment services, payment management, perfecting regulations for payment intermediary services, and foreign investment in payment intermediaries.

G-bond market aims to become a safe and effective investment tool vietnamnews.vn 17th Dec 2019
Việt Nam’s Government bond (G-bond) market would become a safe, effective and highly lucrative investment mechanism for commercial banks, insurance networks, investment funds and foreign investors. The statement was made by Phan Thị Thu Hiền, director of the Department of Banking and Financial Institutions under the Ministry of Finance, during a conference to review the ten-year operation and development of the G-bond market in Hà Nội on Tuesday. “The goal for the next five years is to meet the demand to raise capital for socio-economic development as official development assistance (ODA) and preferential loans decrease,” Hiền said.

Promoting cashless payments to boost internet economy vietnamnews.vn 16th Dec 2019
Cashless payments would not only increase of the circulation of capital, it would also help boost the internet economy, said Deputy Prime Minister Vũ Đức Đam. He was speaking at the E-payment Eco-system Development Forum 2019 under the theme “Motivation by Chip Technology” in Hà Nội on Tuesday. The forum was co-organised by Thời báo Kinh tế Việt Nam (Việt Nam Economic Times) and the National Payment Corporation of Việt Nam (NAPAS). The Southeast Asian economy was dynamic with an internet economy of US$100 billion that was expected to triple in the next five years,” said Đam.

VN financial sector embraces digital era: conference vietnamnews.vn 16th Dec 2019
Many banks and finance companies have proactively adopted technologies to provide digital financial services, Nguyễn Hoàng Minh, a senior central bank official said. Speaking at a conference organised by Saigon Times newspaper in HCM City on December 5, deputy director of the State Bank of Việt Nam (SBV)’s city branch, said: “The country has seen a growth in population and internet and smart phone users, and banks and finance companies should take advantage to further develop digital services such as mobile and internet payments.” The SBV is strengthening the legal framework to create the best conditions for banks and finance companies to operate more efficiently, he added.

Banks issues more chip cards for security vietnamnews.vn 17th Dec 2019
Despite high costs, domestic banks are issuing more chip cards that meet EMV standards to replace magnetic strip cards in order to improve security and meet the central bank’s regulations. According to Phạm Đăng Khoa, deputy director of Vietinbank’s Card Centre, the biggest problem for banks when it came to replacing magnetic strip cards was the cost. Banks have to pay for the new cards and invest in devices that accept them, such as ATMs and POS machines. Meanwhile, most customers are not willing to pay to switch. With more than eight million existing customers using magnetic strip cards, Khoa estimated his bank would have to spend a large sum as the cost of producing a chip card is roughly eight to ten times higher than magnetic strip cards.

Central bank policies help replenish banking sector liquidity vietnamnews.vn 17th Dec 2019
On December 2 the State Bank of Việt Nam issued 14-day bills worth VNĐ18 trillion (US$782.6 million) at an interest rate of 4 per cent through open market operations. Earlier, from November 18 to November 22, it had made a net cash injection of VNĐ25 trillion ($1.09 billion) into the economy. Experts estimate that around VNĐ62.2 trillion has been pumped through the OMO channel in the last week of November by the central bank after eight straight months of withdrawing money.

Banks rush to issue bonds ahead of capital requirement deadline vietnamnews.vn 17th Dec 2019
Rising medium- and long-term capital demands to meet stricter regulations on credit safety limits and capital adequacy early next year were putting pressure on commercial banks to issue bonds in the final months of the year, experts said. The latest report from Saigon Securities Incorporation (SSI) released on Monday showed that banks continued to issue bonds worth nearly VNĐ14.15 trillion (US$615.17 million) last month, bringing the total in the first eleven months of this year to VNĐ94 trillion. The issuance made banks the main player in the corporate bond market in the period, accounting for 45.5 per cent of the market’s total bond value.

Food & Agriculture

Nearly 6,000 agricultural products granted traceability codes vietnamnews.vn 17th Dec 2019
The Hà Nội Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has so far managed and granted administrative account codes for 2,527 for facilities, co-operatives, businesses and shops which trade safe food, agro, forestry and fishery products in the capital city. That marks an increase of 543 facilities compared to the end of last year. The department also granted QR codes to access information transparently for 495 businesses that have completed the procedure of joining hn.check.net.vn, with a total of managed codes for more than 5,900 products, an increase of 2,700 product codes compared to end of last year.

Deputy PM asks for stronger efforts to combat IUU fishing vietnamnews.vn 17th Dec 2019
Deputy Prime Minister Trịnh Đình Dũng has ordered relevant ministries, sectors and authorities of 28 coastal localities to implement comprehensive measures to stop illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing by Vietnamese fishing ships in international waters in the next six months. Speaking at a meeting of the National Steering Committee on IUU Fishing Prevention in Hà Nội on Wednesday, Dũng asked for closer coordination among ministries, sectors and localities to strictly follow the European Commission (EC) inspection delegation’s recommendations regarding the settlement of IUU fishing. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) was requested to accelerate the implementation of solutions, and offer advice on the revisions of the legal framework to ensure compliance with the EC’s recommendations.

Dioxin remediation project kicks off at Biên Hòa Airbase vietnamnews.vn 17th Dec 2019
Work on the US-funded Dioxin Remediation at Biên Hòa Airbase Project in the southern province of Đồng Nai began on Thursday. A ceremony, held by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the Việt Nam Defence-Air Force Service and the National Action Centre for Toxic Chemicals and Environmental Treatment (NACCET), was attended by Deputy Prime Minister Trương Hòa Bình, US Deputy Chief of Mission in Việt Nam Caryn R. McClelland, and representatives from ministries and sectors.

Vietnam considers tariff cuts on American agriculture products Reuters 9th Dec 2019
Vietnam is considering cutting tariffs on several American products, the Ministry of Finance said in a statement on Monday, after U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross urged Vietnam to reduce its trade surplus during a visit to Hanoi last month. Tariffs on chicken and processed chicken meat, almonds, grapes, wheat, pork, and potatoes are all earmarked for reductions, in order re-balance bilateral trade. Vietnam’s trade surplus with the United States hit $38.4 billion in the first 10 months of 2019, up 33.66% from a year ago, customs data showed. The Southeast Asia country is at risk of being labeled a currency manipulator by the Washington because of its trade surplus with the country, a highly positive current account balance and because its central bank has been quite active in terms of net foreign exchange purchases. The statement said the ministry has proposed reducing the tariff on chicken to 18% from 20% while the United States is expecting to see it cut to 14.5% next year and eliminated in 2028. Import tariffs on fresh apples and grapes from the United States are expected to be cut to 8%, on wheat to 3%, on potatoes to 12%, and on pork to 22%, which are all equivalent to Vietnam’s commitment to tariff cuts in the CPTPP, the ministry added. The United States has suggested tariffs on apples, grapes and wheat should be abolished next year.

ICT

Innovation challenge for SMEs launched vietnamnews.vn 17th Dec 2019
The Qualcomm Vietnam Innovation Challenge 2020 was officially launched on Thursday to support the development of Việt Nam’s rising technology eco-system. The contest will be open to innovative small- and medium-sized companies and encourage them to design new products in 5G, Internet of Things, machine learning, smart cities, wearable devices and multimedia utilising mobile platforms and technologies of Qualcomm Technologies, a subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated. This will offer an opportunity to help Vietnamese entrepreneurs enter new markets around the globe.

Another 5G network pilot in Vietnam OpenGov Asia 16th Dec 2019
Following the footsteps of other leading mobile network providers in Vietnam, state-owned MobiFone has been piloting the 5G technology in major cities of the country, contributing to the development of its IT infrastructure.

Creating environment for developing digital products and services vietnamnews.vn 16th Dec 2019
Innovation and creation are strategic and decisive factors for Việt Nam's success of digital economic transformation. That was the message from Deputy Minister of Information and Communications Phạm Hồng Hải at the Internet Day 2019. He was speaking as the Việt Nam Internet Association marked Internet Day 2019 with a conference titled “Internet Vietnam: Innovation for digital transformation” in Hà Nội on Wednesday. The deputy minister said the country had been witnessing the birth of many tech businesses operating in a number of fields with new business models this year.

Tech advance to modernize Vietnam tourism VnExpress International 15th Dec 2019
With technology revolutionizing global tourism, insiders are urging Vietnam to follow suit. Application of technology and data collection were mentioned at the recent Vietnam Tourism and Travel Summit as game-changers for the country's tourism and its lost potential. "With millions of incoming visitors and a colossal lack of trained professionals, we can no longer operate manually," said Vu The Binh, vice president of Vietnam Tourism Association. Given the two-digit growth experienced in tourism over the past few years, staff demand is at a premium. However, training and employing more professionals cannot placate the equation. Hiccups with booking and visa services remain, ebbing the overall traveling experience. With limited, scattered information the tourist return rate is calculated at 10 to 40 percent for Vietnam, relatively low next to Thailand and Singapore boasting 60-70 percent, according to the association.

Infrastructure

Corruption-free infrastructure key to sustainable development: Deputy PM vietnamnews.vn 17th Dec 2019
Deputy Prime Minister Trương Hoà Bình has asked the Government Inspectorate to learn from international experience in combating graft, especially in infrastructure projects, in order to ensure the country's sustainable development. He made the remark on Friday at the closing ceremony of the four-day 10th Regional Conference of the Anti-Corruption Initiative for Asia-Pacific, which was started in 1999 by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and was hosted this year by the Government of Việt Nam with the theme of "Preventing and Combating Corruption in Infrastructure Projects in Asia-Pacific."

Finance official 'fundamentally wrong' about water price: Hà Nội leader vietnamnews.vn 17th Dec 2019
Hà Nội’s top leader has criticised the city's finance director for making a “fundamentally wrong” statement about an unusually high tap water price which sparked a protest from residents last month. The city People’s Committee chairman Nguyễn Đức Chung told a hearing of the municipal People’s Council on Wednesday that tap water issue was a matter many Hanoians cared greatly about. “I asked the Hà Nội finance department director at a work meeting of the city government on November 29 to seriously look back at and learn from his fundamentally wrong statement that cause misunderstanding among the citizens,” he said.

HCM City to build 8 logistic centres vietnamnews.vn 17th Dec 2019
HCM City should draft a master plan to develop its logistics sector, Phạm Thành Kiên, director of its Department of Trade and Industry, said. Speaking at a conference held to discuss the development of the industry from now through 2025 recently, he said the city should learn from experiences in other countries and to develop the industry into one of its major sectors. HCM City should be developed into a logistics hub for the region, and the cost of logistics in Việt Nam should be reduced to 16 per cent of the country’s GDP (gross domestic product) by 2025, he said. Hồ Thị Thu Hoà, head of the Việt Nam Logistics Research and Development Institute (VLI), said researchers for a project to develop the city’s logistics industry have carried out fact-finding tours of eight locations where the city’s logistics centres would come up.

Aviation sector aims for sustainable development and healthy competition vietnamnews.vn 17th Dec 2019
Sustainable development and a level playing field for all are two important objectives for Việt Nam’s aviation sector, said policymakers and industry experts at a conference in Hà Nội on Wednesday. The sector has maintained a 15.8 per cent per annual growth rate during the last 10 years, an impressive feat especially considering it has not suffered any incidents that resulted in lives being lost, said Deputy Minister of Transport Lê Anh Tuấn. Tuấn said the industry has been a key driver for economic growth and has helped expand commercial and cultural exchanges between Việt Nam and the world. Đinh Việt Thắng, head of Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam (CAAV), said the sector’s fast-pace development has offered consumers more travel options, benefits and improved quality of service. Việt Nam is among a handful number of countries that have been able to maintain a perfect safety record for over two decades now.

Sustainable infrastructure investment speeds up growth in Viet Nam vietnamnews.vn 16th Dec 2019
Sustainable infrastructure investments are becoming the norm and enabling stable economic and social growth in Việt Nam, Nirukt Sapru, CEO, Vietnam and ASEAN & South Asia Cluster Markets at Standard Chartered Bank, said at a conference on Friday in HCM City... Sustained availability of clean water, for example, is a concern in the Mekong Basin, he said, adding that financing opportunities exist in water management infrastructure.

HCM City seeks US businesses’ support for infrastructure development vietnamnews.vn 16th Dec 2019
HCM City seeks to attract foreign investment in smart urban projects and urban infrastructure, and looks forward to support from US businesses, a top city leader said. Speaking at a meeting between city leaders and members of the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Việt Nam on Friday, Lê Thanh Liêm, deputy chairman of the city People’s Committee, said over the years US businesses had helped strengthen co-operation between their country and the city.

Travel & Tourism

Better tourist experiences would lead to repeat visits: experts vietnamnews.vn 17th Dec 2019
The number of foreign visitors to Việt Nam has been growing at a two-digit rate, but the return rate is low at somewhere between 10-40 per cent, experts said at the Việt Nam Travel & Tourism Summit 2019, that opened in Hà Nội on Monday. According to statistics of the Việt Nam National Administration of Tourism under the Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism, international visitors’ spending in the country for a nine-day tour averaged only US$1,000, partly due to a lack of diverse products and services. “In the recently released Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index (TTCI) 2019 released by the World Economic Forum (WEF), Việt Nam jumped four places from the latest 2017 ranking, which shows the country has improved in competitiveness,” said Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Lê Quang Tùng.