Vietnam Update: January 17, 2020

Vietnam Update | January 17, 2020
Authors: Hai Pham, Riley Smith and Minh Vu
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 


SAVE THE DATE: 

  • Annual Vietnam Business Mission: March 3-5, 2020
  • Health & Life Sciences Industry Mission to Vietnam: March 5-6, 2020
 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 


Vietnam Officially Launches ASEAN Chairmanship Year and Announces Themes, Priorities
On January 6, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc chaired a ceremony in Hanoi to officially launch Vietnam’s 2020 ASEAN Chairmanship under the theme of a cohesive and responsive ASEAN. In his remarks, Prime Minister Phuc commented on the consistent responsible contributions Vietnam has made to ASEAN cooperation throughout its 25 years of membership, and the country looks forward to taking on the major responsibilities this year, both at the regional and international levels. Prime Minister Phuc noted that Vietnam is committed to further building and growing the ASEAN community, with increased connectivity and global integration being key priorities. ASEAN already has signed six Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with seven top trade partners in the world. Vietnam sees its Chairmanship year as an opportunity to foster connectivity and deepen integration within and beyond the region, on the basis of innovation, stability and the growing influence of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

In closing Vietnam’s ASEAN Chairmanship launch ceremony, Prime Minister Phuc identified five priorities in reference to meeting long-term goals of ASEAN. These priorities are:

  • Contributing to a regional environment of peace, security and stability;
  • Bringing prosperity through regional integration, connectivity, and heightening ASEAN’s adaptability to the Fourth Industrial Revolution;
  • Raising the awareness of ASEAN Community and identity;
  • Strengthening partnerships for peace and sustainable development, and promoting the role and contribution of ASEAN in the international community; and
  • Enhancing the capacity and efficiency of ASEAN.

As Vietnam looks forward to 2020, the country will aim to build on the achievements and efforts of Thailand and other previous chairs and work with members to identify the future directions of ASEAN through 2025 and beyond. Boasting the strongest economic growth among ASEAN’s major economies, no major planned political activities in the coming months (with the 13th National Party Congress not slated to take place until 2021), and one of the clear winners of the US-China trade conflict, Vietnam presents much optimism for the region as it takes the helm of ASEAN this year. A unified stance and response to global trends and factors like the evolution of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, effects of climate change, and the fallout from the US-China trade war are exactly what Vietnam wants to tackle under its theme of a cohesive and responsive ASEAN.
 

Vietnamese Government’s 2020 Regulation Resolutions Include Improving Ease of Doing Business, Increasing Tax Compliance, and Tightening Data Security

Entering 2020, the Vietnamese Government continues to prioritize improving the business environment and national competitiveness in pursuant of Government Resolution No.02. During an online conference with the Ministry of Finance to launch 2020 tasks on January 10 in Hanoi, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc highlighted Vietnam’s achievement in its ranking of the World Bank’s Global Competitiveness Index which jumped 10 places to 67, making it the most improved country in 2019. To further boost competitiveness, the Government has announced a range of targets across its Ministries and Offices, including regulations on tax and customs and laws on investment, enterprises and land.

Opportunities for Vietnam could to improve its business environment was also the main topic of the recent Vietnam Business Forum that same day. As demand for public infrastructure increases, foreign investors noted their concerns and suggestions to the ministries in the Vietnam Business Forum 2019. At the forum, foreign investors and other private sector stakeholders noted the importance of having a clear public-private partnership framework in place, so that there is greater clarity on the risk allocation between the government and the partner company and reasonable returns to investors are ensured. The Asian Development Bank estimates that Vietnam will need at least US$16.7 billion per year on average between2015-2025 to finance its infrastructure development needs. As state funding is limited, Vietnam is turning to private investment to make up the difference. Subsequently, Prime Minister Phuc has requested the Finance Ministry to work with the Ministry of Planning and Investment to accelerate public investment disbursement. He requested removing bottlenecks in the restructuring, equitization and divestment in State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs), as well as cracking down on violations in developing land and natural resources and procurement. The Prime Minister has also requested that the Office of the Government promote more startups by cutting by half the number of steps required to start a business, while he requested that the General Statistics Office continue its efforts to reform how Vietnam’s gross regional domestic product (GRDP) data is compiled so the macroeconomic analysis and forecasting for provinces and cities can be improved.

On taxation priorities, the General Department of Taxation plans to inspect tax compliance at 19.5 percent of businesses in 2020, the department’s Director Cao Anh Tuan said on January 14. Focus will be placed on firms operating in sectors at high risk of tax evasion, such as new business lines, companies with related-party transactions, companies that report losses for years, and companies that show signs of transfer pricing. In 2019, more than 96,240 inspections were carried out, which helped collect an additional VND13.8 trillion (US$595 million) for the State budget. Minister of Finance Dinh Tien Dung asked inspections to be enhanced to prevent transfer pricing as well as tax avoidance by big businesses, e-commerce businesses, restaurants and catering services, and other new business lines in the sharing economy.

As Vietnam’s internet use grows rapidly, the Ministry of Public Security has begun drafting a decree on personal data protection in order to protect the legal rights and interests of individual and organizations. The number of internet users accounts for about two thirds of Vietnam’s population of roughly 96 million people. In previous years, customer data from several large companies in the retail and aviation industries has fallen into the hands of hackers, drawing attention to a need for greater data protection. The Draft Decree would attempt to do this by tightening regulations on the transfer of Vietnamese citizens’ personal data to foreign countries and the processing of sensitive personal data, as well as revising a number of existing provisions on personal data protection. The aim of the draft decree is better define the rights and responsibilities of agencies, organizations and individuals in protecting personal data, by providing the necessary legal basis. The draft has been sent to ministries and agencies to collect ideas and opinions. It is expected to be submitted to the Government later this year. The Council is tracking this Draft Decree closely and will work with members to ensure industry input is shared with the MPS drafting team.


MOIT Urges Local Firms to Comply with Rules of Origin Requirements as FTAs Come into Effect
The Vietnam Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT) kicked off 2020 with a reminder to local firms to strictly comply with rules of origin requirements to avoid negative impacts on exports and business. This message came as Vietnamese firms begin taking advantage of tariff reductions from the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), as well as with the rise of trade protectionist measures taken by a number of countries around the world.

While U.S.-China trade tensions have ramped up over the last 18 months, U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He are expected to sign a U.S.-China Phase 1 trade agreement on January 15 that would relieve some of the imposed tariffs between the two countries, showing signs that the rhetoric is being tamped down at least temporarily. It is uncertain how long this will last, and the impact this agreement and the expected Phase 2 agreement will have for the global economy remains unclear. However, the fallout and implications of the tensions over the last 18 months have already heavily affected Vietnam. At the end of December 2019, there were 20 investigations of tax evasion initiated by foreign countries on Vietnamese export goods, with the United States, the EU, and Turkey initiating the most. MOIT predicts this number will only increase as Vietnam implements EVFTA next month, which would drop tax rates on many products from Vietnam to zero. The Ministry acknowledges that many products are shipped to Vietnam before being exported to other countries to enjoy preferential tax rates. As a result, MOIT has urged local firms to strictly comply with regulations related to the origin of goods, as well as develop a modern origin-tracing system to meet the requirements of foreign markets.

The CPTPP and EVFTA will create significant new export pportunities for Vietnamese firms across many industries, such as those in the steel industry, which is forecast to see robust growth. However, rising protectionist measures in the United States and EU present challenges. In December, the U.S. Department of Commerce issued duties of up to 456 percent on steel products produced in Korea and Taiwan but ultimately shipped to the United States from Vietnam after only minor processing. Industry experts urge Vietnam to quickly address any cases of origin fraud among domestic steelmakers if it wants to avoid the high tariffs. Similarly in the garment and textile sector, which is also forecast to be one of the growth leaders with the FTAs and expanded exports, complying with rules of origin requirements will be the only way to enjoy preferential tariffs of the CPTPP and EVFTA.

 
ADVOCACY UPDATE
 
 


Draft Decree to Replace Decree 101 on Non-Cash Payment
In late November, the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) officially released the Draft Decree to replace Decree No. 101/2012/ND-CP on Non-Cash Payment for public consultation. As part of our advocacy effort, the Council is in close discussions with SBV to organize a consultative workshop on non-cash payments, tentatively to be held in Hanoi in February. More details will be shared when available. If you have any questions, please contact Ms. Bui Kim Thuy at tbui@usasean.org
 

Draft Decree on Personal Data Protection (PDP)
On December 27, 2019, the Government of Vietnam published an outline of the draft decree on "Personal Data Protection" (PDP Decree) on its government portal (Vietnamese only; accessible at this link). They are still seeking comments for the draft and no deadline has been set. The PDP draft is currently just an outline, with most of the articles as headings. While the document claims to be based on implementing the Law on National Security of 2004 and the Law on Cybersecurity of 2018, there is very little in these laws that govern data privacy, including principles. The Ministry of Public Security (MPS) and the broader government is developing this decree from scratch, and they are open to comments and inputs from all stakeholders, especially from industry in more developed countries. While no deadline has been set for the comment period, there is an urgency to issue this decree. Without industry involvement, the Government may issue it as soon as later this year. If you have any questions, or for further details, please contact Vu Tu Thanh at tvu@usasean.org and Jamie Lim at jlim@usasean.org
 

Draft Decree on Cross-Border E-Commerce in Customs Operations
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. On January 8, the Council and GDC organized a consultative workshop in Hanoi to discuss the decree. For more information, please contact Ms. Bui Kim Thuy at tbui@usasean.org.

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Regional Affairs
Vietnam promotes Asia-Pacific parliamentary partnership
CLMV senior economic officials meet in Hà Nội
Việt Nam and Japanese LDP agree to step up high level and people-to-people exchanges
Việt Nam, Japan agree to enhance political trust
Vietnamese, Lao PMs: inter-gov’t committee meeting a success
Việt Nam’s diplomacy achievements in 2019

National Affairs
Deputy PM Vuong Dinh Hue receives Chinese Ambassador
Vietnam, China should develop stable ties together: Party official
Commission for Internal Affairs urged to settle serious corruption cases
Việt Nam begins presidency of UN Security Council
Prime Minister orders intensifying fight against crime, smuggling, fraud
Top leader’s message on Việt Nam’s assumption of ASEAN, UNSC positions

ASEAN
Discussion highlights noteworthy issues of Vietnam’s ASEAN chairmanship
ASEAN Chairmanship 2020: For a cohesive and responsive ASEAN
ASEAN committee discusses trade facilitation in Hanoi
ASEAN members and partners discuss defence co-operation
Southeast Asia in 2020: Issues to Watch, Part 1
China turned to ASEAN to cover US trade dip
Asean consumer sector set for soft start to 2020: DBS

Asset Management
PM launches Việt Nam's 2020 ASEAN Chairmanship

Banking
Vietnam does not manipulate currency: central bank
Pending frustrations in M&A unnerve investors
Vietnamese central bank invited to become BIS member
Government backs capital hike plans for four State-owned banks

Customs
Heineken refutes Vietnam taxman
Việt Nam-China import-export turnover reaches $117 billion
Ministry of Industry and Trade issues action programmes for 2020
Vietnam 2019 net crude oil imports 3.64 mln tonnes vs 1.3 mln tonnes in 2018: customs
Car prices fall as supply rises
CPTPP not proving a hit across the board
Firms urged to comply with origin rules amid escalating protectionism
Origin fraud hurt Vietnamese steel in the long run

Defense & Security
Việt Nam boosts defence co-operation among ASEAN members
Việt Nam, China hold negotiations on sea-related issues
PM attends 75th national public security conference

E-Payments
Vietnamese consumers interested in biometric authentication payments: Visa
Winners to take it all in e-wallet race

Economics
Drivers more geared towards luxury cars
WB’s Vietnam Development Report 2019 launched
Prioritised orientations in ASEAN economic pillar in 2020 unveiled
Working groups thrash out solutions for economic growth
SOE equitisation plan likely to be missed in 2017-20
A lot of pressure for inflation control in 2020
Government encourages startup innovation: Deputy PM
PM requests stepping up public investment disbursement
2020 State budget revenue set to be 3 pct higher than estimate
Việt Nam most promising Asian investment destination in 2020: survey
Việt Nam always supports US investors: Party official
Việt Nam’s GDP to ease slightly in 2020

Energy
SCIC plans to divest from Hai Phong Thermal Power
Petrol prices slightly drop
Wind farm blaze puts O&M activities in the spotlight
Vietnam refinery picks contractors for major maintenance work
EVN continues buying power from rooftop solar projects
Deputy PM assigns 2020 tasks for PetroVietnam
Vinacomin forecasts more demand for coal
HCM City’s EVN to become digital business
Leading NGOs urge Vietnam to scrap new coal-fired power projects - VnExpress International

Financial Services
Corporate bonds find more takers in Vietnam
Insurance industry forecast to keep thriving in 2020
Winners to take it all in e-wallet fight
Expand credit to prevent usury, central bank asks
SBV sets cashless payments as top priority for 2020

Food & Agriculture
VN cracks down on use of banned substance in fish food
Starbucks, Coffee Bean, and Tea Leaf losing to Vietnamese chains
Japan supports Vietnam’s food value chain development
Farmers earn high incomes from VietGAP pineapples
Pub landlords take fleeting punch for the greater good
Kon Tum focuses on agricultural development
VN wood products must focus on designs, branding, industry insiders say
Việt Nam ranks 9th among countries importing US fresh fruits
Kiên Giang aims to raise value of key farming products
PM urges Hà Nam to make development breakthroughs
Việt Nam aims to ensure water security by 2030
Gov’t chief calls for sterner stance on food safety violations

Health & Life Sciences
Central database to connect all patients' records by 2025
E-prescriptions to replace written versions in Vietnam
Pollution kills over 71,300 in Vietnam in a year - VnExpress International

ICT
MIC gearing up for 2.6 Ghz auction
Vietnam says aims to launch commercial 5G services this year
Market share of Vsmart sees soar
Government decree drafted to protect personal data
M&A in tech drives a digital overhaul
The second centralised IT Zone set up in Đà Nẵng
Việt Nam needs to change policy or lose out in Industry 4.0
5G key for Việt Nam in Industry 4.0
Domestic cybersecurity products on the rise
PM lauds information-communications sector’s achievements
Prime Minister Establishes New IT Park in Central Vietnam
Vietnam wants to cooperate with Japan in developing e-government: PM

Infrastructure
Southern industrial land prices surge amid dwindling supply
Upgrading waste treatment tech urgent requirement for Ho Chi Minh City
Vietnam’s high tech parks in need of financial inspiration
Vietnam Airlines launches self-tag service at 4 airports
Vingroup withdraws from air transport business
Northern expressway welcomes traffic
No State capital for Tân Sơn Nhất Airport’s T3 terminal: Deputy PM
Foreign ownership holdups show urgent need for clarity
Ford Vietnam adds 82 million USD in factory expansion project
Hải Phòng remains attractive for investors: official
Vietnamese infrastructure policy earns investors’ thumbs-up
Luxury apartments more common than affordable housing in HCMC

Legislation
NA talks judicial expertise, court mediation
Six laws being put into effect from beginning of 2020

Manufacturing
Steel industry not likely to have the best of times in 2020
Footwear, handbag sector eyes export target of $24b in 2020
Việt Nam manufacturing sector improves in December
Complying with origin rules critical for garment exports

Travel & Tourism
Hanoi hopes to welcome nearly 32 million tourists in 2020
Indian tourists to Vietnam increase
Luxury hotel segment sees sharp expansion
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Regional Affairs

Vietnam promotes Asia-Pacific parliamentary partnership VOV - VOV Online Newspaper 14th Jan 2020
Addressing the first plenary session of the ongoing 28th meeting of the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum (APPF 28) in Canberra, Australia, Phong said multilateral parliamentary diplomacy creates dialogue opportunities, helps build trust and prevents conflicts on the basis of respect for international law and the United Nations Charter. She proposed fostering parliamentary partnership in 2020 by consolidating mutual trust, understanding and respect, and broadening the partnership between the APPF and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum, the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA), the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and international organisations.

CLMV senior economic officials meet in Hà Nội vietnamnews.vn 13th Jan 2020
Senior economic officials from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Việt Nam (CLMV) gathered in Hà Nội on Sunday for their 18th meeting, hosted by the Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT). The meeting was part of the economic co-operation mechanism of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2020. The biannual event focused on plans to realise the outcomes of the 11th CLMV Economic Ministers’ Meeting that took place in Bangkok, Thailand, on September 5, 2019; the implementation of the 2019-20 CLMV action plan; and necessary procedures for the submission of the CLMV development framework. The officials also discussed with the ASEAN Secretariat the deployment of a plan regarding the third phase of the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (AIA), and other relevant areas. They suggested the ASEAN Secretariat continued to support the four countries in connecting with their development partners, and mapping out a plan to implement the CLMV development framework after it was approved at the CLMV Summit.

Việt Nam and Japanese LDP agree to step up high level and people-to-people exchanges vietnamnews.vn 13th Jan 2020
Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc and Secretary-General of the Japanese Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Nikai Toshihiro agreed to step up high level and people-to-people exchanges at a meeting yesterday, as well as strengthen collaboration in investment, trade, labour and tourism. Diversified exchange activities including workshops, forums on economics, labour and tourism co-operation had demonstrated the strong development of the bilateral strategic partnership, he said. Welcoming the Japanese official who is leading Japanese delegation of 1,000 people, PM Phúc said the Vietnamese Government and localities attached great importance to economic and cultural exchange activities between the two countries.

Việt Nam, Japan agree to enhance political trust vietnamnews.vn 7th Jan 2020
Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Phạm Bình Minh and his Japanese counterpart Motegi Toshimitsu expressed their delight at the development of the Việt Nam-Japan extensive strategic partnership during talks in Hà Nội on Monday. They agreed to enhance political trust via maintaining regular visits, exchanges and dialogues at all levels while bringing into full play the efficiency of existing co-operation and dialogue mechanisms. Informing his guest of Việt Nam’s priorities for internal and external relations in 2020, Minh noted the country’s policy of taking Japan as a partner of top significance. He also invited his guest to ASEAN-related meetings in Việt Nam this year.

Vietnamese, Lao PMs: inter-gov’t committee meeting a success vietnamnews.vn 5th Jan 2020
The 42nd meeting of the Việt Nam-Laos Inter-Governmental Committee was a success, Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc and his Lao counterpart Thongloun Sisoulith said. During a press conference held in Hà Nội on Saturday following the meeting, the two PMs expressed delight at the effective and comprehensive development of bilateral ties. Both sides agreed to realise set agreements and deepen bilateral political, external, national defence – security ties, towards achieving growth of 10-15 per cent in two-way trade next year.

Việt Nam’s diplomacy achievements in 2019 vietnamnews.vn 31st Dec 2019
While the world saw profound global instability in 2019, the Pacific – Asia area proved to be the leading region in terms of economic integration, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Phạm Bình Minh has said. Writing on the achievements of Việt Nam’s diplomacy sector in 2019 as the year ended, Minh said while the global economy has slowed and conflict between globalisation and protectionism has become more fierce, the Association of South East Asia Nations (ASEAN) has stayed united and proved its important role in the policies of many major countries.

National Affairs

Deputy PM Vuong Dinh Hue receives Chinese Ambassador VietnamPlus 15th Jan 2020
Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue received Chinese Ambassador to Vietnam Xiong Bo in Hanoi on January 15, ahead of the 70th founding anniversary of the two countries’ diplomatic ties (January 18). The Chinese diplomat noted the two sides have made thorough preparations for the celebration of the bilateral diplomatic relations’ 70th anniversary, adding that he believes the Vietnam-China comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership will continue developing in the time ahead. On the basis of achievement obtained over the last seven decades, the Deputy PM asked both sides to press on with implementing the agreements and common perceptions reached by their leaders, and promote positive, healthy and stable cooperation in all fields for the sake of the two peoples.

Vietnam, China should develop stable ties together: Party official VietnamPlus 14th Jan 2020
Developing the Vietnam-China traditional relationship in a more fruitful, stable and healthier manner is the common responsibility of both sides and also an inevitable and objective requirement in accordance with the basic interests and aspirations of the two countries’ people, said Politburo member and permanent member of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) Central Committee’s Secretariat Tran Quoc Vuong. He made the remarks at a reception in Hanoi on January 14 for a delegation of the Communist Party of China (CPC) led by Director of the CPC Central Committee’s International Liaison Department Song Tao. The same day, Chairman of the CPV Central Committee’s Commission for External Relations Hoang Binh Quan held talks with Song Tao, during which the two sides exchanged views on relations between the two Parties, States and cooperation activities in the recent past.

Commission for Internal Affairs urged to settle serious corruption cases vietnamnews.vn 7th Jan 2020
The Commission for Internal Affairs of the Party Central Committee has been urged to step up investigations into and the settlement of serious corruption cases and economic crimes. Politburo member and permanent member of the Party Central Committee's Secretariat Trần Quốc Vượng on Monday said the commission needed to continue collaborating with relevant agencies to advise the Party on preventing and fighting petty corruption, and impose strict penalties on unscrupulous officials under the direction of the Party General Secretary, President Nguyễn Phú Trọng.

Việt Nam begins presidency of UN Security Council vietnamnews.vn 3rd Jan 2020
Việt Nam began activities in its capacity as President of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) at the UN headquarters in New York on Thursday (local time), marking the start of the country’s UNSC non-permanent membership for a two-year term. A flag ceremony was held for Việt Nam and four other new non-permanent members of the UNSC for the 2020-21 tenure, comprising Estonia, Niger, Tunisia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

Prime Minister orders intensifying fight against crime, smuggling, fraud vietnamnews.vn 3rd Jan 2020
Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc requested that breakthroughs be made in 2020 in the fight against crime, smuggling and trade fraud at a national conference on Thursday. The event was held by the Government’s steering committee for crime prevention and control (Steering committee 138) and the national steering committee for tackling smuggling, trade fraud and fake goods (Steering Committee 389) to review tasks from last year and look for ways to implement new tasks in 2020.

Top leader’s message on Việt Nam’s assumption of ASEAN, UNSC positions vietnamnews.vn 1st Jan 2020
Party General Secretary, President Nguyễn Phú Trọng has sent a message on the occasion of Việt Nam’s assumption of the roles of ASEAN Chair 2020 and a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for the 2020–21 tenure. Following is a translation of his message. As the country marks major anniversaries and great and important political events in 2020, the entire Party, people and army are striving to accomplish the 2016-20 socio-economic development plan and the resolution adopted by the 12th National Party Congress, and to hold Party congresses at all levels towards the 13th National Party Congress. For the first time, Việt Nam will serve as both the ASEAN Chair and a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council at the same time.

ASEAN

Discussion highlights noteworthy issues of Vietnam’s ASEAN chairmanship VietnamPlus 15th Jan 2020
The Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM) and the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) held a roundtable discussion with press agencies on January 15 to share updated information about ASEAN and Vietnam’s 2020 ASEAN Chairmanship. ERIA Senior Communication Advisor Kavi Chongkittavorn said there are seven important issues during the year Vietnam holds the ASEAN chairmanship, and the country’s success depends on its settlement of these challenges. They are: the ASEAN-US summit to be held in the US in the first quarter, the progress of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the negotiation on the draft Code of Conduct in the East Sea with six meetings planned for 2020, ASEAN’s role in the peace process between the two Koreas and the denuclearisation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, ASEAN’s role in the repatriation of Rohingya refugees, the realization of the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific, and ensuring leaders of some important partners like US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin will take part in the 15th East Asia Summit in Hanoi in November.

ASEAN Chairmanship 2020: For a cohesive and responsive ASEAN vietnamnews.vn 13th Jan 2020
Advancing ASEAN’s contribution to maintaining regional peace, security and stability has been identified as one of five key priorities for Việt Nam’s ASEAN Chairmanship 2020, wrote Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Phạm Bình Minh in an article recently distributed by the Ministry of Foreign. The article wrote that Vietnam wishes to highlight the decisive role of solidarity and unity in maintaining the sustainability of ASEAN by choosing the theme of ‘Cohesive and Responsive’ for ASEAN Việt Nam 2020. The five priorities include maintaining regional peace, security and stability; promoting regional connectivity and integration; fostering the ASEAN sense of community and identity; advancing partnerships for peace and sustainable development; and improving the responsiveness and operational effectiveness of ASEAN organs.

ASEAN committee discusses trade facilitation in Hanoi VOV - VOV Online Newspaper 13th Jan 2020
The 16th Meeting of the ASEAN Trade Facilitation Joint Consultative Committee (ATF-JCC) was recently held by the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) in Hanoi as the first on economic issues under Vietnam’s 2020 ASEAN Chairmanship. Luong Hoang Thai, Director of the MoIT’s Multilateral Trade Policy Department, said the event discussed the cooperation in facilitating intra-ASEAN trade and consulted about initiatives such as simplifying customs procedures with the aim of reducing 10 percent of trading cost within the bloc in 2020. It also discussed ways to double the intra-bloc trade value in the 2017-2025 period as targeted in the 2025 Trade Facilitation Strategic Action Plan of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) and the AEC 2025 Strategic Action Plan for Trade in Goods.

ASEAN members and partners discuss defence co-operation vietnamnews.vn 13th Jan 2020
Deputies from 10 ASEAN member countries, Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, the US and Russia began discussions and shared views on defence co-operation in the region at the opening ceremony of the ASEAN Defence Senior Officials’ Meeting Plus (ADSOM-Plus) Working Group in Đà Nẵng yesterday. The meeting followed the ASEAN Defence Senior Official’s Working Group Meeting on Thursday and involved preparations for the 7th ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting and the ASEAN Defence Senior Officials Meeting (ADSOM) Plus to be held in Hà Nội in August 2020.

Southeast Asia in 2020: Issues to Watch, Part 1 CSIS 15th Jan 2020
The new year was ushered in by record-breaking rainfall in Jakarta on New Year’s Day, resulting in intense flooding that killed dozens, displacing nearly 400,000 residents, and abruptly ending the political honeymoon of Jakarta’s governor Anies Baswedan. It was a stark reminder that Jakarta is one of the most rapidly sinking coastal cities in the world, which is why President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has made the monumental project of relocating the capital city to East Kalimantan a major focus of his second term. Indonesia is hardly alone in facing the growing challenges of rising seas and intensifying weather patterns brought on by climate change. A bombshell New York Times article last October reported new research that showed that several other major population centers in Southeast Asia would be underwater at high tide by 2050, including a swath of Thailand that includes Bangkok and the entire southern half of Vietnam. Meanwhile, the Philippines is facing typhoons of greater intensity, including a devastating storm that hit the central Philippines over the Christmas holiday, while Vietnam faced record-smashing hot temperatures last year. However, the “perfect storm” for calamitous environmental impacts is currently brewing in the Mekong region, where the effects of climate change on traditional weather patterns are combining with the growing ecological impact on water flow of upstream dams in the Mekong River. China’s 11 dams along the upper portions of the Mekong River have affected water levels over the past decade and raised concerns among riparian states about their vulnerability to China’s unilateral water management decisions. Two new hydropower dams in Laos came online last year, including the massive Xayaburi Dam, the first dam on the main stretch of the Lower Mekong River. The river has subsequently seen water levels fall to historically low levels, due in part to the severe droughts underway in the region, but the dams’ effect on the flow of nutrient-rich sediment has also been strikingly visible.

China turned to ASEAN to cover US trade dip Nikkei Asian Review 14th Jan 2020
ASEAN has emerged as a key export destination for China as President Xi Jinping's administration endures a bruising trade war with the U.S. Chinese exports to the U.S. dropped 12.5% for 2019, while imports from the U.S. plunged 20.9%, in dollar-denominated goods trade statistics released Tuesday in Beijing by the General Administration of Customs -- the biggest falls in data going back to 1984. But even as tit-for-tat tariffs pounded bilateral trade, China clearly boosted its trade with the rest of the world, especially members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, to offset the dent. Exports to Vietnam grew 16.7% for the year, while those to the Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore rose 16.3%, 14.9% and 11.6%. As a result, America's share of Chinese imports and exports declined to 11.8% in 2019 -- a 27-year low that traces back to 1992, when the sanctions over the Tiananmen Square crackdown were in full force. Meanwhile, the European Union and ASEAN increased their shares, with the latter overtaking the U.S. to account for 14% of China's imports and exports. U.S. International Trade Commission data shows that Chinese game console exports to the U.S. in the first 11 months of the year dropped 36%. Meanwhile, Vietnam's game exports to the U.S. grew from zero in 2018 to around $200 million in 2019. Separate data shows that game exports from China to Vietnam increased around 80% for the August-November period. The fourth round of U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods was announced in August. The statistics suggest that products from China pass through Vietnam to avoid the American tariffs.

Asean consumer sector set for soft start to 2020: DBS The Business Times 6th Jan 2020
ASEAN'S consumer sector is set to have a soft start to 2020, with the outlook "dampened by macro headwinds and soft consumer sentiments", according to a Jan 6 DBS Group Research report. The Philippines seems like the main outlier, with an expected rebound after consumption was hit in 2018-2019. Even though Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand are expected to see a pick-up in gross domestic product growth this year, this will still be below the countries’ historical trend, said the DBS analysts.

Asset Management

PM launches Việt Nam's 2020 ASEAN Chairmanship vietnamnews.vn 7th Jan 2020
Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc chaired a ceremony in Hà Nội on Monday to launch Việt Nam’s 2020 ASEAN Chairmanship. Speaking at the event, PM Phúc said throughout its 25 years of ASEAN membership, Việt Nam has always made responsible contributions to ASEAN co-operation. In 2020, Việt Nam assumes major responsibilities at the regional and international levels, including the ASEAN Chairmanship. Such responsibility gives Việt Nam an opportunity to contribute more to the building and growth of the ASEAN Community.

Banking

Vietnam does not manipulate currency: central bank Tuoi Tre News 15th Jan 2020
Vietnam has denied using exchange rates and monetary policy to facilitate export after the country was put on a U.S. watch list of currency manipulators. “The State Bank of Vietnam has never used exchange rates to compete with trade partners and never purposely intervened in monetary policy to help with exports,” the central bank said in a statement on Tuesday. “Vietnam does not manipulate currency.” The statement followed the U.S. Department of the Treasury adding Vietnam to a list of ten countries to be monitored for alleged currency manipulation in a report on the macroeconomic and foreign exchange policies of Washington’s major trade partners.

Pending frustrations in M&A unnerve investors Vietnam Investment Review - VIR 15th Jan 2020
Though mergers and acquisitions in Vietnam’s banking sector have ballooned recently, tie-ups between foreign and local lenders are not without their drawbacks. According to a recent report of researchers at the Vietnam M&A Forum, recent shifts in the marketplace have begun to bring large tie-ups back in favour, driving an emphasis on consolidation and scale. The value of M&A deals is expected to reach $7.5 billion this year, equal to the combined deals of two years earlier. Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue recently confirmed that 100-per-cent foreign-invested banks would not be allowed to be established in Vietnam, hence M&A is the quickest way to penetrate the market. However, besides the lack of cultural fit, there are concerns over the long-term health of some local lenders, poor corporate governance, conflict of interest, and portfolio reshuffles taking a bite out of M&A activity in the field.

Vietnamese central bank invited to become BIS member vietnamnews.vn 15th Jan 2020
The State Bank of Việt Nam (SBV) has been invited to become a member of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), the first expansion of the prestigious international financial institution's central bank membership base since 2011. In addition to the central banks of Kuwait and Morocco, the three new additions will bring the number of BIS members to 63. The BIS – popularly known as the ‘central bank of central banks’ – is an international financial institution owned by central banks which fosters international monetary and financial cooperation and serves as a bank for central banks.

Government backs capital hike plans for four State-owned banks VOV - VOV Online Newspaper 13th Jan 2020
The Government supports the policy of allowing four State-owned banks to raise charter capital, said Governor of the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) Le Minh Hung. These four banks are Vietnam Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Agribank), Vietnam Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Industry and Trade (Vietinbank), Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam (Vietcombank) and Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV). He said the Government has allowed the banks to increase capital as they need more funds to ensure growth and provide capital to the economy to help maintain the country’s high economic growth.

Customs

Heineken refutes Vietnam taxman VnExpress International 15th Jan 2020
Heineken Asia Pacific is claiming exemption from the VND917.2 billion ($39.7 million) it forked out to Vietnam tax authorities in recent deal. "Despite making a full payment in line with the tax assessment, Heineken Asia Pacific (Heineken APAC) does not agree with the basis on which it was issued," the company stated Tuesday. The firm has initiated proceedings under Vietnam-Singapore Double Taxation Treaty terms to seek clarification over the taxman’s decision, it said. The statement follows the General Department of Taxation decision to charge the Dutch beer giant VND917.2 billion ($39.7 million) in back taxes and fines for a 2018 transaction. Singapore-based Heineken APAC at the end of 2018 struck a deal valued at over VND4.8 trillion ($207.7 million) with Heineken Vietnam Brewery. Accordingly, the Singaporean firm transferred its entire Vietnamese subsidiary stake to the latter.

Việt Nam-China import-export turnover reaches $117 billion vietnamnews.vn 15th Jan 2020
In a report on import and export activities of Việt Nam last year, announced by the General Department of Customs, the total import and export value of the whole country reached $517.26 billion, a year-on-year increase of 7.6 per cent. Notably, among more than 200 countries and territories with which Việt Nam has foreign trade relations, China maintained its position as the largest market. The Chinese market alone accounted for 22.6 per cent of the country's total import-export turnover last year. The year is also the second consecutive year that the turnover between the two countries surpassed $100 billion. The import-export turnover between the country and China increased by more than $10 billion from $106.71 billion in 2018. However, the increase in turnover was mainly due to a sharp increase in imports from China, while Việt Nam's exports to this market increased insignificantly.

Ministry of Industry and Trade issues action programmes for 2020 VietnamPlus 14th Jan 2020
Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh has asked agencies and organisations in all localities to strengthen the fight against corruption and trade fraud. The call came in the minister's recent decision to implement the National Assembly’s resolution requesting ministries address the issues raised in oral questioning in the 8th meeting of the 14th National Assembly last November. The decision requires the General Department of Market Surveillance to work with other agencies and local authorities to inspect, prevent and control smuggled and counterfeit goods, low-quality goods and goods without clear origin and violating national sovereignty. The Department of Import and Export will build an import and export strategy for 2020-2030. In addition, the minister asked departments of Trade Promotion, Import and Export and Overseas Markets to propose solutions to renovate trade promotion activities to diversify export markets, reducing reliance on certain markets. It also asked the Department of Trade Remedies to support enterprises in handling trade disputes, providing information and market warnings for exporters, as well as implementing trade remedies to protect domestic industries.

Vietnam 2019 net crude oil imports 3.64 mln tonnes vs 1.3 mln tonnes in 2018: customs Tuoi Tre News 14th Jan 2020
Vietnam’s net crude oil imports in 2019 reached 3.64 million tonnes, up from 1.3 million tonnes a year earlier, government’s customs data released on Monday showed. The country’s crude oil imports during the year rose 47.1% to 7.616 million tonnes, while is crude oil exports edged up 0.4% to 3.976 million tonnes, the Customs Department said in a statement. Vietnam’s imports of petroleum products in 2019 fell 14.2% to 9.798 million tonnes, the department said. Its petroleum products exports fell 0.4% to 3.108 million tonnes.

Car prices fall as supply rises VnExpress International 13th Jan 2020
An abundant supply of imports, introduction of new models and stiffer competition have pulled car prices down, industry insiders say. Car imports in the first 11 months of last year doubled year-on-year to almost 133,700 units, most of them from Thailand and Indonesia. Models with the biggest sales, MPV Mitsubishi Xpander and SUV Toyota Fortuner, were all imported. Tightening credit from banks last year had made it more difficult for buyers, leading to an increase in inventory that had to be reduced by lowering prices. Vietnam’s newest car manufacturer VinFast also intensified competition in the market with its SUVs, sedans and hatchbacks. Auto sales in Vietnam last year rose 11.6 percent from 2018 to 322,322 units, with 58.8 percent of them locally-assembled, according to the Vietnam Automobile Manufacturers Association.

CPTPP not proving a hit across the board vietnamnews.vn 13th Jan 2020
Việt Nam has been unable to gain export growth to all CPTPP member countries, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade. In 2019, export value surged by 28.2 percent year on year to US$3.86 billion to Canada and 26.8 percent to $2.84 billion to Mexico. Việt Nam had a slight increase at 1.1 percent in export value to Singapore and faced export value reduction to some other CPTPP countries, such as Australia (down 12 percent to $3.5 billion) and Malaysia (down 3 percent to $3.3 billion). In a Việt Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) survey of 8,600 local enterprises, up to 70 percent of them had little knowledge of the CPTPP, while 84 percent lacked information about the commitments in the free trade agreement.

Firms urged to comply with origin rules amid escalating protectionism vietnamnews.vn 6th Jan 2020
The Ministry of Industry and Trade urged firms to strictly comply with rules of origin to avoid negative impacts on exports amid escalating trade defence measures. 2019 saw increasing applications of trade defence instruments by a number of countries and regions around the world. The US-China trade war had not been showing signs of cooling down, which contributes to nations adopting protectionism. The ministry said that Việt Nam was heavily affected by the trend due to its economic openness.

Origin fraud hurt Vietnamese steel in the long run vietnamnews.vn 4th Jan 2020
International free trade agreements such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) have opened up unprecedented opportunities for Vietnamese steelmakers with the industry forecast to see robust growth. Opportunities, however, will come with challenges as the country’s steel exports have found. A rise in trade protectionism in large markets such as the US and the EU were among the most difficult tasks Vietnamese steelmakers must address. For instance, the US Department of Commerce (DOC) had slapped duties of up to 456 per cent on a number of steel products from Việt Nam including corrosion-resistant steel and cold-rolled steel with S Korean or Taiwanese origin, which had allegedly circumvented US anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties, according to the department.

Defense & Security

Việt Nam boosts defence co-operation among ASEAN members vietnamnews.vn 9th Jan 2020
Việt Nam looks forward to continued support and contributions from ASEAN member states during its chairmanship of the ASEAN Community, and for the common interests and success of ASEAN 2020. Lieutenant General Vũ Chiến Thắng, Director General of the Department of Foreign Relations, under the Ministry of Defence, made the statement at the opening ceremony of the ASEAN Defence Senior Officials (ADSOM) Working Group in the central city of Đà Nẵng on Thursday. Thắng, who chaired the Working Group meeting, said Việt Nam set the following objectives for this year, including in the ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting (ADMM), promoting solidarity, consensus and centrality through consultation, sharing views and practical co-operation.

Việt Nam, China hold negotiations on sea-related issues vietnamnews.vn 27th Dec 2019
Việt Nam and China held their 12th round of negotiations regarding the seas beyond the mouth of the Gulf of Tonkin and their 9th round of talks for consultation on co-operation for mutual development at sea in Beijing on Wednesday and Thursday. The Vietnamese delegation was led by Phùng Thế Long, vice chairman of the National Boundary Commission under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Chinese side was led by Hong Liang, director of the Department of Boundary and Ocean Affairs under the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In a friendly, straightforward and constructive atmosphere, the two sides exchanged opinions about the two working groups’ activities. They affirmed their serious adherence to common perceptions reached by the countries’ leaders, including the 2011 agreement on basic principles guiding the settlement of sea-related issues and directions given by the heads of Governmental-level delegations for border and territorial affairs.

PM attends 75th national public security conference vietnamnews.vn 25th Dec 2019
Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc asked the public security sector to dedicate resources and efforts to ensure absolute safety and security during the many high-level events that will take place next year. He made the request on Tuesday during the 75th national public security conference in Hà Nội, adding that public security forces must identify challenges, fix shortcomings, take drastic and effective actions to meet the demands in the face of a changing world, including Industry 4.0, non-traditional threats and global instabilities.

E-Payments

Vietnamese consumers interested in biometric authentication payments: Visa VOV - VOV Online Newspaper 13th Jan 2020
A new study commissioned by Visa has found that a strong majority of cardholders in Vietnam are interested in using biometric authentication such as fingerprints or facial recognition to complete transactions, rather than PIN numbers or passwords—with many having already used these technologies to make payments. Survey respondents very clearly ranked biometrics as some of the most secure forms of authentication, with 97% indicating that they felt fingerprint recognition was a secure method, followed by eye scans at 94% and facial recognition at 92%. These ranked above methods such as PIN numbers at 87% and passwords at 84%.

Winners to take it all in e-wallet race VOV - VOV Online Newspaper 10th Jan 2020
According to the Department of E-commerce and Digital Economy, Ministry of Industry and Trade, Vietnam is one of the countries with the highest growth in e-payments in the world, with annual growth of 35 percent. MoMo, which has received 140 million USD of investment from Warburg Pincus, Goldman Sachs and Standard Chartered, leads the market with more than 12 million users, VinGroup’s VinID and Grab-backed Moca follow with 8 million and 7 million users, respectively. There are no clear user figures for the other e-wallet firms in the country, which total about 30.

Economics

Drivers more geared towards luxury cars VnExpress International 15th Jan 2020
Sales of luxury cars in Vietnam surged in 2019 with the rich showing greater preference for premium vehicles in a fast-growing economy. Mercedes-Benz sold the highest number of luxury cars at 6,800 units, up 8 percent from 2018, according to data acquired by VnExpress. Insiders say Vietnam’s fast-growing economy and expanding middle class, along with rising car discounts led to the sales surge last year. Manufacturers plan to export new models this year to Vietnam, giving customers even more luxury options. Auto sales in Vietnam last year rose 11.6 percent from 2018 to 322,322 units, with 58.8 percent of them locally-assembled, according to Vietnam Automobile Manufacturers Association.

WB’s Vietnam Development Report 2019 launched VietnamPlus 15th Jan 2020
The Vietnam Development Report (VDR) 2019: Connecting Vietnam for Growth and Shared Prosperity was co-launched by the World Bank (WB) and the Ministry of Investment and Planning in Hanoi on January 15. In his remarks at the launching event, Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue said the government of Vietnam wants experts to continue bringing out solutions for developing trade infrastructure. “Vietnam hopes to see more for East-West connectivity to foster the development of marine economy following the already-announced Marine Strategy,” he continued, saying the government expects the WB can help Vietnam in this matter. The report is a series of flagship analytical and policy reports by the WB in Vietnam. It outlines nine key recommendations across four priority areas regarding global market integration, domestic market connectivity, inclusive connectivity and climate resilience improvement.

Prioritised orientations in ASEAN economic pillar in 2020 unveiled vietnamnews.vn 14th Jan 2020
Three priority orientations in the economic pillar of ASEAN in 2020 were revealed during the first meeting of ASEAN Senior Economic Officials in 2020 (SEOM 1/51), which is underway in Hà Nội from January 12-14. The event, organised by Việt Nam's Ministry of Industry and Trade and other agencies, is among important events during the year Việt Nam holds the ASEAN Chairmanship. In line with the year’s theme of 'Cohesive and Responsive', the three orientations call for bolstering intra-regional economic linkages and connectivity; promoting partnership for peace and sustainable development; and improving the adaptability and operational efficiency of the ASEAN apparatus.

Working groups thrash out solutions for economic growth Vietnam Investment Review - VIR 14th Jan 2020
Last week, Nobufumi Miura attended the annual Vietnam Business Forum (VBF) for the second time as the new chairman of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Vietnam. This time, he presented environmental protection as the top issue, showing a growing interest in green growth among around 2,000 Japanese businesses operating in the country. “It is estimated that 5 per cent of GDP will be lost due to air pollution, which indicates a possible decrease in investments from foreign companies,” said Miura. “As such, we would like to request the Vietnamese government to set clear and standardised regulations and prioritise health over industry.” Like at the previous VBF, issues such as how to improve the business climate, legal reforms, tax and customs, as well as legal hurdles in electricity, infrastructure, agriculture, education, and tourism were major concerns at this year’s VBF. However, never before has sustainability been so important. This article reported some key recommendations from Working Groups for Investment and Trade, Agri-Business, and Power and Energy.

SOE equitisation plan likely to be missed in 2017-20 vietnamnews.vn 13th Jan 2020
The equitisation of State-owned enterprises (SOEs) has fallen behind the target set by the Government and ministries for 2017-20. There are 92 SOEs left waiting for equitisation plans to be approved, including the Việt Nam Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Agribank), telecoms group Mobifone, and the Việt Nam Post and Telecommunications Group (VNPT). According to the Ministry of Finance, companies had not completed equitisation plans because ministries and Government agencies had not agreed with their land valuations. In addition, some local authorities and SOEs were not ready to leave their businesses to private investors.

A lot of pressure for inflation control in 2020 vietnamnews.vn 13th Jan 2020
The fluctuating price of pork last year had significant impacts on the market, as the price plummeted in the first half of the year then soared in the second half. After the shock of the pork price increasing by more than 50 per cent in the fourth quarter of last year, curbing inflation below 4 per cent this year was no longer certain when the consumer price index (CPI) of last December increased by 5.23 per cent year-on-year, the highest level in the last nine years, Nguyễn Đức Độ, deputy director of the Institute of Economics - Finance, told Kinh tế & Đô thị (Economic and Urban Affairs).

Government encourages startup innovation: Deputy PM VOV - VOV Online Newspaper 11th Jan 2020
The Government will develop an innovative and business-centred ecosystem in three sectors: agriculture, industry and service, Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung said at the annual Vietnam Business Forum 2019 in Hanoi on January 10. The Government will improve the institutional system and not use administrative tools to interfere with enterprises’ innovation activities, he said. Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc will set up a special working group on promoting reform and improving business environment with the aim of reducing 20 percent of unnecessary administrative documents and at least 20 percent of administrative costs each year in accordance with law on business activities.

PM requests stepping up public investment disbursement VOV - VOV Online Newspaper 11th Jan 2020
During a teleconference in Hanoi reviewing the finance-budget work last year and launching 2020 tasks, PM Phuc noted public investment disbursement remained slow, meeting 81.8 percent, 75.8 percent and 73.5 percent of the respective 2017, 2018, 2019 plans set by the National Assembly. He requested removing difficulties in the restructuring, equitisation and divestment in State-owned enterprises, as well as cracking down on violations in land, natural resources and procurement. He suggested that the Finance Ministry pool resources for the nation and achieve the goal of earning 300 billion USD from exports this year. The finance sector was also asked to tackle barriers to production and trade.

2020 State budget revenue set to be 3 pct higher than estimate VOV - VOV Online Newspaper 10th Jan 2020
The Ministry of Finance aims for State budget revenue in 2020 to be 3 percent higher than the estimate set by the National Assembly, said Minister Dinh Tien Dung on January 10. The ministry will strive to maintain the State budget overspending at around 3.44 percent of GDP, public debts no more than 54.3 percent of GDP, government debts less than 48.5 percent of GDP and external debts no more than 45.5 percent of GDP by the end of this year. The State budget revenue approximated 1.55 quadrillion VND (over 66.9 billion USD) in 2019, 9.79 percent higher than the yearly plan and 8.7 percent higher than a year earlier, he said.

Việt Nam most promising Asian investment destination in 2020: survey vietnamnews.vn 9th Jan 2020
Việt Nam has been tapped by Japanese firms as the most promising place in Asia to invest in 2020, with India and Southeast Asian countries dominating other top spots, Kyodo News cited a survey as showing on Wednesday. In the survey, conducted online from November to December 2019 by NNA Japan Co., a Kyodo News group company, Việt Nam received 42.1 per cent of the 820 valid responses, based on factors such as its potential as a growing market and large supply of skilled, low-cost labour. India was second at 12.2 per cent, with expectations for its growing market and its potential as a doorway to the Middle East and Africa among the reasons cited. Myanmar jumped three spots from the previous year to third place at 11.6 per cent, while Indonesia was fourth at 6.6 per cent. China, which appears to have lost its appeal somewhat as an investment location due to concerns about its trade war with the United States and rising labour costs, ranked fifth at 5.1 per cent.

Việt Nam always supports US investors: Party official vietnamnews.vn 9th Jan 2020
Nguyễn Văn Bình, head of the Economic Commission of the Party Central Committee, said that Việt Nam always supported and facilitated investments by US firms and the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) at a reception for Adam Boehler, Chief Executive Officer of the DFC, in Hà Nội on Wednesday. Bình also spoke highly of the DFC’s role in US foreign policy and called for the expansion of its projects in Việt Nam, especially in the fields of energy, infrastructure, healthcare, aviation and finance. The official expressed his belief the organisation would serve as a bridge to provide information on investment opportunities and potential in Việt Nam with US firms and investment funds, and that support from the DFC would be an important catalyst for a stronger wave of investment from the US into Việt Nam. The DFC head pledged his support, and said the US would look for opportunities to invest in Việt Nam’s private economic sector, especially in the fields of energy and infrastructure, thus helping ensure energy security and supporting Việt Nam’s key infrastructure projects

Việt Nam’s GDP to ease slightly in 2020 vietnamnews.vn 8th Jan 2020
Việt Nam’s GDP growth would reach 6.8 per cent from the 7.02 per cent posted in 2019, mainly due to a slowdown in the industrial sector, analysts from Fitch Solutions forecast. The growth of the industrial sector will likely continue to slow this year after easing to 7.3 per cent in the last quarter of 2019, from 10.4 per cent in the third quarter. “Transport and logistical infrastructure and human capital bottlenecks will continue to weigh on the sector's growth, which accounts for around 16.5 per cent of the Vietnamese economy,” Fitch said.

Việt Nam's economy shines in 2019 but concerns exist for 2020 vietnamnews.vn 7th Jan 2020
In 2019, the global economy witnessed a steady deceleration. According to estimates made by the International Monetary Organization (IMF) in October 2019, growth reached only 3.0 per cent compared to 3.6 per cent in 2018, lower than forecasts made in July and April respectively by 0.2 and 0.1 percentage points. Trade flow and foreign direct investment also decreased. Uncertainty and high risks impeded growth momentum as a consequence of geo-political confrontations and a conflict between investment liberalisation and protectionism, not to mention climate change.

Procedures for starting a business to be cut this year vietnamnews.vn 7th Jan 2020
Việt Nam would strongly cutting the number of procedures needed to start a business this year as an effort to improve the country’s business climate. This was stressed at a Government Office meeting on Monday to discuss solutions to improve the country's ranking for starting a business evaluated by the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business report. Government Resolution No 2 issued on January 1 sets a target for Việt Nam jumping 10-15 spots on the ranking.

PM asks statistics office to improve macro-economic analysis, forecasting vietnamnews.vn 7th Jan 2020
Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc asked the General Statistics Office (GSO) to improve macro-economic analysis and forecasting while addressing a conference to launch tasks for the sector this year in Hà Nội on January 6. He stressed the importance of the GSO's mission to collect data and report on the unobserved economy and to keep up-to-date with modern global standards for statistics and IT. He told the GSO to press ahead with the plan on reforming the gross regional domestic product (GRDP) compilation process so as to provide high-quality statistics for provinces and cities. The Government’s top official said he personally looked forward to the office’s findings and reports at the end of each month.

Việt Nam sees positive labour growth in 2019 vietnamnews.vn 3rd Jan 2020
The Vietnamese workforce reached 55.8 million last year, and increase of 417,100 compared to 2018, reported the General Statistics Office. Of the total, 19 million were working in the agro-forestry-fishery sector, accounting for 34.7 per cent; 16.1 million in the industrial and construction sector (29.4 per cent); and 19.6 million in the service sector (35.9 per cent). General Statistics Office (GSO) Director General Nguyễn Bích Lâm said the country had witnessed positive developments last year in terms of labour, with the service sector taking over the agro-forestry-fishery sector as the largest employer.

Việt Nam gains record number of new firms in 2019 vietnamnews.vn 2nd Jan 2020
Việt Nam this year set a record in newly established enterprises, with 138,100 units in all economic sectors, according to the General Statistics Office (GSO). It also saw the highest average level in registered capital per enterprise in recent years, with VNĐ12.5 billion (US$536,480), bringing the total newly registered capital to VNĐ1.73 quadrillion ($74.2 billion) for this year. Those figures rose by 5.2 per cent in the number of newly established firms, 17.1 per cent in total registered capital and 11.2 per cent in the average capital per enterprise year on year.

Việt Nam targets $300 billion export value for 2020 after four-year trade surplus record vietnamnews.vn 31st Dec 2019
The country’s trade surplus reached a record high of US$9.9 billion in 2019, the highest level seen in the past four years. For the first time, the nation’s trade turnover surpassed the $500-billion mark this year, witnessing the strongest growth of the Vietnamese-invested sector compared to foreign invested sector. At a ceremony on Monday, Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc highlighted the efforts made by ministries, localities and the business community, especially in the context that global trade this year had witnessed a 10-year low of just 1.2 per cent amidst trade conflicts.

Energy

SCIC plans to divest from Hai Phong Thermal Power Vietnam Investment Review - VIR 15th Jan 2020
SCIC will sell its entire stake of 9 per cent, or 45 million shares, at the initial price of no less than VND26,000 per share, nearly two times higher than the current market price. SCIC wants to sell its entire stake at HND to just one investor. SCIC expected to collect more than VND1.17 trillion (US$50,6 million) from the divestment of Hai Phong Thermal Power Joint Stock Company. Currently, Power Generation Corporation 2 was Hai Phong Thermal Power Company’s largest stakeholder, holding 51 per cent of the company’s charter capital, followed by Pha Lai Thermal Power Company with a 26 per cent stake, then SCIC. Hai Phong Thermal Power Company has two plants with a total capacity of 1,200 MW.

Petrol prices slightly drop VietnamPlus 15th Jan 2020
The retail prices of petrol were slightly reduced starting 3.30pm on January 15, in the latest review by the ministries of Industry and Trade, and Finance. The two ministries review fuel prices every 15 days to adjust domestic prices in accordance with fluctuations in the global market. The world’s petrol prices prior to this review recorded many hikes. The two ministries flexibly used the petrol price stabilisation fund as a tool to ensure domestic petrol prices reflect global trend. They decided to subsidise 200 VND per litre for E5RON92, RON95, diesel and 150 VND for kerosene, while decreasing subsidies for mazut.

Wind farm blaze puts O&M activities in the spotlight Vietnam Investment Review - VIR 14th Jan 2020
An investigation is underway to find the root cause of the blaze, which occurred at Phong Dien 1 wind farm in the south-central province of Binh Thuan. The farm is owned by Vietnam Renewable Energy JSC (REVN), which has been forced to halt all other turbines at the project to serve the investigation. No injuries were reported, but damage is believed to amount to over $3 million. According to chairman of the Binh Thuan Wind Power Association Bui Van Thinh, the unexpected issue has created new burdens for power businesses as more costs are expected to surface. “The fire at this wind farm project is the first case in Vietnam and so it is also a lesson for wind power investors,” said Thinh, who suggested that investors need to strictly follow the manufacturer’s operation and repair procedures, no matter the expense – the cost of such procedures can accounts for around 2 per cent of the value of the turbine.

Vietnam refinery picks contractors for major maintenance work Tuoi Tre News 10th Jan 2020
Vietnam’s Binh Son Refining and Petrochemical Co said it has signed deals with seven contractors to conduct major maintenance work at its Dung Quat refinery from June. The 130,000-barrel-per-day refinery will be shut for maintenance from June 12 through August 1 this year, the company said late on Thursday. The contractors include firms from Malaysia, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam, Binh Son said, without disclosing the value of the deals. Dung Quat refinery, Vietnam’s first of its kind, became operational from 2009. This will be the fourth time it undergoes major maintenance.

EVN continues buying power from rooftop solar projects vietnamnews.vn 8th Jan 2020
The Ministry of Industry and Trade has approved Vietnam Electricity (EVN)’s proposal to continue buying power from rooftop solar power projects. The ministry has also asked EVN to be responsible for connecting rooftop solar power systems to the national electricity grid, but it must not overload the grid. Việt Nam currently applies a price of 9.35 US cents per kWh for rooftop solar power.

Deputy PM assigns 2020 tasks for PetroVietnam Voice of Vietnam 7th Jan 2020
Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung chaired a conference in Hanoi on Monday to review 2019 activities of the Vietnam Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam) and launch its 2020 tasks. Mr. Dung requires PVN to become an important technical and economic sector,performing the task of exploration, exploitation, transportation, processing, storage and distribution of oil and gas. “We need to ensure safe, stable and efficient operation of oil and gas projects, striving to achieve higher results than 2019, especially for petrochemical refining projects. It is important to enhance oil and gas exploration and exploitation, strongly develop the gas industry, and accelerate key projects to ensure oil and gas, and electricity supply for the country,” he said.

Vinacomin forecasts more demand for coal vietnamnews.vn 7th Jan 2020
The Việt Nam National Coal – Mineral Industries Holding Corporation Limited (Vinacomin) forecasts another 10 per cent in local consumption demand this year. The firm’s deputy director Nguyễn Hoàng Trung said: “Vinacomin targets a production capacity of 40.5 million tonnes this year, as much as it produced in 2019.” He also forecast about 49 million tonnes of coal will be needed for local consumption in 2020. According the Department of Customs, coal imports increased sharply in 2019 to serve increasing electricity demand. The department calculated in the first eleven months of 2019, Việt Nam spent $3.45 billion on coal imports.

HCM City’s EVN to become digital business vietnamnews.vn 6th Jan 2020
HCM City’s electricity sector has set a target to become a digital business by adopting key technologies such as big data, Internet of Things and artificial intelligence (AI) to improve the local power system. Nguyễn Duy Quốc Việt, deputy general director of Electricity of HCM City (EVNHCMC), said: “Technology has drastically changed the power industry. The group is applying advanced technologies to improve production and business activities, enhance labour productivity and reduce costs."

Leading NGOs urge Vietnam to scrap new coal-fired power projects - VnExpress International VnExpress International 2nd Jan 2020
12 organizations specializing in health and environment together have called on Vietnam to scrap 14 new coal plants. Concerned by the environmental and health toll that coal-fired power plants exact, leaders of 12 networks and non-government organizations collectively urged Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc to stop 14 coal-fired plants in Vietnam. Among the signatories to the statement released Monday are Green Innovation and Development Center (Green ID), World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Vietnam Sustainable Energy Alliance, CARE International and Oxfam Vietnam.

Financial Services

Corporate bonds find more takers in Vietnam VnExpress International 13th Jan 2020
Corporate bonds issuance increased by 25 percent to VND280.14 trillion ($12.12 billion) last year but remained a fraction of bank lending. It was 11.26 percent of GDP, up from 9.01 percent in 2018, according to a report by top brokerage SSI Securities Corporation (SSI). The corporate bonds outstanding at the end of last year were worth almost VND670 trillion ($29 billion). While 211 business made issuances, most of them did so through private placement. In a dong-denominated market, the only international issuance was by VPBank in July last year when it made a $300 million issue and listed it on the Singapore Exchange.

Insurance industry forecast to keep thriving in 2020 vietnamnews.vn 9th Jan 2020
The insurance industry aims to maintain a high growth rate of 18.42 per cent this year, gaining revenue of VNĐ188.73 trillion (US$8.1 billion), according to the Ministry of Finance’s Insurance Supervisory Authority (ISA). Besides the high growth in revenue, insurers have also set to increase their total assets by 13.3 per cent against last year to VNĐ514.80 trillion in 2020, while reinvesting into the economy VNĐ433.06 trillion, up 15.1 per cent against last year. To meet the targets, Phạm Thu Phương, deputy director of ISA, said the authority would continue to improve mechanisms and policies, focusing on restructuring to make the insurance market develop transparently, safely and efficiently as well as in line with international standards.

Winners to take it all in e-wallet fight vietnamnews.vn 9th Jan 2020
An economics expert has said e-wallet firms are breaking out promotions to try and win large chunks of the high potential market in Việt Nam. Banking expert Nguyễn Trí Hiếu said millions of people in Việt Nam already use e-wallet services to pay for everyday items like Grab rides, phone bills and groceries, but e-wallet firms are playing a long game. MoMo, which has received $140 million of investment from Warburg Pincus, Goldman Sachs and Standard Chartered, leads the market with more than 12 million users, VinGroup’s VinID and Grab-backed up Moca follow with 8 million and 7 million users, respectively. There are no clear user figures for the other e-wallet firms in the country, which total about 30.

Expand credit to prevent usury, central bank asks vietnamnews.vn 7th Jan 2020
The State Bank of Việt Nam has asked domestic credit institutions and foreign banks’ branches to expand credit for business, production and consumption as an effort to prevent usury. In a recently-issued Document No 10340/NHNN-TD, the Governor asked credit expansion to focus on production and business as well as prioritised sectors.

SBV sets cashless payments as top priority for 2020 vietnamnews.vn 5th Jan 2020
The State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) has issued a resolution to boost cashless payments in the country. In SBV’s Resolution 01/CT-NHNN, issued on January 3, Governor Lê Minh Hưng asked financial institutions and SBV units to improve their performance, ensure macroeconomic indicators are accomplished and the banking sector operates healthily in 2020. Among key tasks set for 2020 is to boost the use of cashless payments, as the SBV and the Ministry of Information and Communications are working to launch mobile money services this year.

Food & Agriculture

VN cracks down on use of banned substance in fish food Vietnam Investment Review - VIR 15th Jan 2020
Viet Nam will strengthen controls on Ethoxyquin in feed production for the fishery industry to ensure stability in seafood exports to the EU, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD). The ban was brought in due to fears the additive might cause a risk to human, animal health and the environment. The EU regulation is different from the regulations of Japan, the Republic of Korea and the US that have permissible limits of this substance in finished seafood products. According to the Viet Nam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), in 2019, the EU was the largest export market of Vietnamese shrimp with export value of about US$700 million, 21 per cent of national seafood export value. It was also the third largest export market of tra fish with export value of $227 million, accounting for 11.5 per cent.

Starbucks, Coffee Bean, and Tea Leaf losing to Vietnamese chains Vietnam Investment Review - VIR 15th Jan 2020
A report from Euromonitor in last April showed that the five largest coffee chains in Vietnam account for 15.3 per cent of the market, with Highlands holding 7.2 per cent. Previously, data from Vietnam Industry Research and Consultancy (VIRAC) showed that Starbucks Vietnam's revenue in 2018 was VND593 billion ($25.78 million), equal to about one-third of Highlands Coffee’s. Meanwhile, The Coffee House came before Starbucks, for the first time, to stand in the second position in revenue with VND669 billion ($29.1 million). The middle class is rising in Vietnam, and the market value for coffee and tea retailers in Vietnam is greater than $1 billion, according to Euromonitor Worldwide. Native Vietnamese chains are opening in greater numbers and performing better than their foreign counterparts. Native chains charge much less for espresso, adapt faster, to new traits and have an enormous foothold in the market.

Japan supports Vietnam’s food value chain development VOV - VOV Online Newspaper 14th Jan 2020
Addressing the trade promotion event, organised by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Deputy Chief Representative of JICA Naomichi Murooka said concern for clean foodstuff in Vietnam has been on the rise. Japan has provided support for Vietnam in agriculture and food value chain development over the years, contributing to the Vietnam-Japan strategic partnership in the agricultural sector, he added. Meanwhile, Director of the International Cooperation Department of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Do Anh Tuan said Vietnam’s agriculture export turnover in 2019 hit a record of 41.3 billion USD. However, the sector is entering a new phase of development with stricter requirements, the official noted, stressing the need for Japan’s support in market access and building e-commerce platforms and high-tech agricultural development, among others.

Farmers earn high incomes from VietGAP pineapples vietnamnews.vn 14th Jan 2020
Growing Tắc Cậu pineapple under Vietnamese good agricultural practices (VietGAP), a specialty fruit in southern Kiên Giang Province, has offered high profits for farmers in Châu Thành District’s Bình An Commune. Farmers growing pineapples under the VietGAP standards earn a profit of nearly VNĐ50 million (US$2,160) per hectare a year. The cultivation of VietGAP pineapples has enhanced farmer awareness about VietGAP standards and improved the quality of pineapples, he said. Under VietGAP standards, farmers have to strictly follow the processes of choosing seedlings, tending and harvesting under the standards. The output of pineapples under VietGAP standards is 15-25 per cent higher than pineapples planted under traditional farming methods.

Pub landlords take fleeting punch for the greater good Vietnam Investment Review - VIR 14th Jan 2020
According to Decree No.100/2019/ND-CP, drunk car drivers shall be fined between VND6-40 million ($260-1,750) instead of the previous fine of about VND19 million ($825) if tests show that alcohol content exceeds 80mg per 100ml of blood or 0.4mg per litre of breath. Drunk motorcyclists shall be imposed fines of VND2-8 million ($87-348) if tests confirm alcohol content in blood or breath. Consequently, bar landlords foresee a fall in revenue, which affects the local night-time economy – especially as pubs and bars account for a sizeable chunk of the sector which is still in need of incentives and policies to truly take off. According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the ranks of Vietnam’s middle-income earners grow by 1.5 million a year, with steadily increasing leisure expenditure. A survey by The Conference Board Inc. and Nielsen showed that 43 per cent of Vietnamese consumers’ inactive money goes to entertainment. SSI research also pointed out that the regulations are forecast to seriously affect the output of the whole industry, particularly new and small brands. Under the new law, beer advertisements will be restricted significantly. Items with less than 5.5 per cent alcohol content will not be allowed to appear on television between 6pm and 9pm.

Kon Tum focuses on agricultural development vietnamnews.vn 13th Jan 2020
The Central Highlands Province of Kon Tum's People’s Committee has instructed district authorities and relevant agencies to promote agriculture and sell their farm produce in the domestic and global markets. Of the province’s 968,961ha of land, 88 per cent is agricultural land, with conditions being suitable for hi-tech farming, animal husbandry, forestry, and aquaculture. It has areas specialising in hi-tech agricultural production, where vegetables, flowers and fruits are grown.

VN wood products must focus on designs, branding, industry insiders say vietnamnews.vn 13th Jan 2020
Speaking at the meeting held in Long An Province last week, Nguyễn Quốc Khanh, chairman of Handicraft and Wood Industry Association of HCM City, said: “Designs and branding will play a vital role in creating competitiveness for the country’s wood and furniture processing industry in the long term.” Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyễn Xuân Cường said the wood industry has set itself an ambitious target of US$20 billion worth of exports by 2025 based on the strong growth and high demand in local and international markets in recent years. The industry’s exports were worth $11.5 billion last year, making it one of only three industries with exports of over $10 billion, he noted.

Việt Nam ranks 9th among countries importing US fresh fruits vietnamnews.vn 13th Jan 2020
Việt Nam has become the ninth largest importer of fresh fruit from the US. The US' fresh fruit exports to Việt Nam reached US$97 million in 10 months of last year, as of October 30, a year-on-year increase of 46 per cent, reported the US Department of Agriculture. Agricultural trade between the two countries was one of the most important areas of the US-Việt Nam bilateral relationship during the past 25 years, said Benjamin Petlock, agricultural attaché at the US Consulate General in Việt Nam at an event in HCM City last Sunday.

Kiên Giang aims to raise value of key farming products vietnamnews.vn 13th Jan 2020
The Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Kiên Giang will focus on increasing the value and competitiveness of its agriculture produce this year, especially key items such as rice and fisheries, according to the province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. Kiên Giang, the country’s largest rice producer, targets producing 4.3 million tonnes of paddy this year, as well as catching and breeding a total of 755,000 tonnes of aquatic species, including 85,000 tonnes of shrimp.

PM urges Hà Nam to make development breakthroughs vietnamnews.vn 13th Jan 2020
Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc on Saturday urged the northern province of Hà Nam to make use of its advantages as a gateway to Hà Nội and make breakthroughs in development. At a working session with provincial leaders as part of his working trip to the province, the PM tasked Hà Nam with balancing its budget in 2020 and becoming a new-style rural province early in the year, which practices clean and organic agriculture.

Việt Nam aims to ensure water security by 2030 vietnamnews.vn 13th Jan 2020
By 2050, 60 per cent of farming areas in Việt Nam will be equipped with water-saving irrigation systems, according to the country's Water Management Strategy, which was recently approved by Deputy Prime Minister Trịnh Đình Dũng. The strategy aims to foster innovations and build action plans to ensure water resources for farming, socio-economic development and daily use.

Gov’t chief calls for sterner stance on food safety violations VGP News 11th Jan 2020
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc called for sterner stance on food safety violations while addressing a teleconference on food safety on Saturday. Phuc said information dissemination and education are not enough, thus inferior levels must apply strict administrative or criminal punishment on any violations in this domain. Unsafe food has no longer been a pressing issue like years ago but ensuring food safety remains challenging due to small-scale production by more than eight million households and use of low-quality pesticides without clear origins, according to the PM.

182 rice traders certified as eligible for rice exports vietnamnews.vn 7th Jan 2020
The Ministry of Industry and Trade has granted 47 certificates of eligibility to rice export businesses over the past year, lifting the number of rice exporters to 182 traders. The move is part of the Government’s efforts to create favourable conditions for rice traders, improve the competitiveness of Vietnamese rice traders and develop the rice industry sustainably, according to the ministry’s Import-Export Department. The department recently reported the assessment of the rice industry after more than one year of implementing a new decree which took effect in October, 2018 on conditions for rice exports.

Industry calls for national technical regulation for raw cashew vietnamnews.vn 6th Jan 2020
The Việt Nam Cashew Association wants the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to draft national technical regulations for raw cashew nuts so that processors can ensure the quality of imported raw material. In a communication to the ministry, it said last year processing companies imported nearly 1.6 million tonnes of raw cashew. “Therefore, the quality of imported raw cashew nuts is a very important factor that decides the efficiency of production and trading, the quality of finished products and the reputation of every Vietnamese business as well as Việt Nam's cashew industry as a whole globally.”

Fisheries sector to focus on standardising production next year for higher value vietnamnews.vn 2nd Jan 2020
The fisheries sector in 2020 will focus on granting certification to brackish shrimp farms (tiger shrimp and white-leg shrimp), tra fish farms and aquaculture in cages, Director of the Directorate of Fisheries Trần Đình Luân said. In addition, the industry will develop key aquatic products, such as tiger shrimp, white-leg shrimp and tra fish, and other high-value aquatic products to increase trade value and sustainable development. In 2020, the Directorate of Fisheries under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, aims to reach a total fisheries output of about 8.2 million tonnes, an increase of 0.6 per cent year on year, including tra fish output at 1.42 million tonnes – the same volume in 2019 – and shrimp output at 850,000 tonnes, up 3.7 per cent.

Digitisation boosts Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu agriculture vietnamnews.vn 31st Dec 2019
Digitisation has brought the agricultural sector in the southern province of Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu to a new stage of development by helping farmers improve cultivation methods and optimise the use of soil, seeds, weather and market information. Provincial authorities said the use of digital farming has enabled farmers to improve quality and thus incomes. They also said they are making efforts to practically use technologies rather than just show them off.

Việt Nam's agriculture sector sets goals for 2020 vietnamnews 6th Jan 2020
Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc has urged Việt Nam's agricultural sector to improve its production quality and expand markets to other countries, especially the EU, next year. Facing trade wars and tightened regulations set by foreign markets, Việt Nam has been still able to record a US$41.3 billion turnover for agricultural and aqua-cultural products, rising 3.5 per cent compared to 2018, according to the report delivered at the conference. Meanwhile, prices of these products were reduced by between 10 and 15 per cent. Three of the four main goals have been achieved including export turnover, forestry coverage of 41.85 per cent and the ratio of new rural area-certified communes of 54 per cent. Minister Cường said in 2020, the ministry expects to accelerate the connection between raw material areas with food processing factories and logistics systems to expand export markets and link with the global value chain. The ministry plans to choose "locomotive" enterprises which possess strong financial and technical capacity and market accessibility to efficiently lead value chains.

Health & Life Sciences

Central database to connect all patients' records by 2025 vietnamnews 31st Dec 2019
All residents in HCM City will have electronic medical records connected to the database of the city's health facilities by 2025, according to the HCM City People’s Committee.The records will be compiled from 2019 to 2025 which was approved by Lê Thanh Liêm, the committee’s vice chairman. The database connections will ensure updated information on patients, and ultimately universal health coverage for all its residents. By 2022, the city will collect initial data on residents’ health including name, age, gender, birth, address, ID, and medical history. The data will be updated year-by-year until 2025. After collecting and setting up the data, relevant agencies will analyse and carry out a surveillance health index of residents to evaluate disease scenarios in the city. Artificial intelligence will be applied in research and will forecast trends relating to health. Then suitable strategies to improve health of residents will be suggested. The committee has instructed relevant agencies to increase investment in IT infrastructure to ensure data security. Software used for electronic medical records will have to match the city’s electronic architecture and the Ministry of Health’s technical standards.

E-prescriptions to replace written versions in Vietnam AsiaOne 26th Dec 2019
Written medical records could be on their way out, as pilot software will allow patients to use codes to access their e-prescriptions on a national online prescription system. Speaking at a workshop last week, Associate Professor Luong Ngoc Khue, Director of Medical Services Administration under the health ministry, said the software would be applied across the country at all public and private healthcare facilities after a recently launched pilot in Ha Tinh and Hung Yen provinces. According to Khue, among nearly 50,000 medical facilities nationwide, 95 per cent have prescription management software. However, the data is not synchronised, making it difficult to share data among facilities. Up to 70 per cent of pharmacies have medicine management software but still sell medicine without prescriptions. All prescriptions sent from healthcare facilities nationwide would be saved on the software and shared with patients and medicine suppliers. The e-prescriptions would be connected with e-medical records. Through the system, only prescribed medicines could be sold to avoid the abuse of antibiotics and controlled medicine.

Pollution kills over 71,300 in Vietnam in a year - VnExpress International VnExpress 24th Dec 2019
An estimated 71,365 Vietnamese people lost their lives to pollution in 2017, the latest year for which data was available, according to the Pollution and Health Metrics report by the Global Alliance on Health and Pollution. It is the first international alliance of its kind to respond to the threat of toxic pollution on a worldwide scale. Drawing its data from the Institute of Health Metrics Evaluation, a Seattle-based institution founded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the report breaks risk factors into four categories: air, water, occupational and lead. Of the total number of pollution-related deaths, air pollution killed 50,232 people in Vietnam, water pollution claimed 3,097 lives, 9,809 died of occupational pollution and 8,227 people were killed by lead pollution, the report said. Vietnam also entered the list of 20 countries with the highest rate of pollution-related deaths in the Western Pacific region per 100,000 people, in 10th position with 75 deaths, according to the report. In the latest move from the government, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Tran Hong Ha has called for urgent measures to reduce air pollution, from improving monitoring system to ending people's use of coal stoves.

ICT

MIC gearing up for 2.6 Ghz auction vietnamnews.vn 14th Jan 2020
Minister of Information and Communications Nguyễn Mạnh Hùng has urged the Authority of Radio Frequency Management to auction off space on the 2.6 Ghz spectrum. Nguyễn Đức Trung, director of the authority, said the authority had met with representatives of Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Planning and Investment to soon complete necessary procedures for the practice. The 2.6Ghz spectrum is an important resource to expand 4G coverage, especially in provinces and cities with a high concentration of 4G subscribers. Therefore, the MIC plans to license the 2.6 GHz spectrum to enable telecommunications firms to improve their 4G networks.

Vietnam says aims to launch commercial 5G services this year Tuoi Tre News 14th Jan 2020
Vietnam aims to launch commercial 5G mobile services this year, the Ministry of Information and Communications said on its website. The government last year awarded its first trial 5G license to Viettel, the country’s largest telecommunication company. In June, Vingroup JSC, Vietnam’s biggest-listed firm by market value, signed a deal with Qualcomm and a unit of Japan’s Fujitsu Ltd to produce 5G smartphones in the country.

Market share of Vsmart sees soar Vietnam Investment Review - VIR 14th Jan 2020
The market share of the Vsmart smartphone brand developed by VinSmart, an arm of Vingroup, was reported to increase by 6 per cent, catching up with Apple at the end of 2019. Vsmart's Live smartphone officially debuted in August 2019. After three months, the price decreased from VND6.99 million ($303) to VND3.49 million ($151) for the version with 4GB RAM and VND3.79 million ($164) for the 6GB version. According to statistics published by market research firm GfK, as of November 2019, the market share of Vsmart reached a record high. Vsmart's market share increased to 6 per cent from 2-3 per cent. Apple’s market share increases to 9.6 per cent, ranking third in the smartphone market in Vietnam. The market share of Samsung and Oppo had light decreases, but still maintain the two highest positions.

Government decree drafted to protect personal data VietnamPlus 14th Jan 2020
The Ministry of Public Security is drafting a governmental decree on personal data protection in order to protect the legal rights and interests of individual and organisations. Vietnam is the country with the highest number of individuals exposed in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Several companies were mentioned in the report regarding their data breaches, including the exposure of VNG Company’s 163 million customer accounts; Mobile World and Dien May Xanh’s breach including five million emails and tens of thousands of payment card numbers; and customer data of FPT Company was posted publicly online. In terms of policies, the draft decree has regulations on personal data protection focusing on regulations licensing the transfer of personal data of Vietnamese citizens to foreign countries, registration of processing sensitive personal data, revising a number of provisions of the law on personal data protection. It will define the rights and responsibilities of agencies, organisations and individuals in protecting personal data, aiming to agree guidelines, policies and laws on personal data protection of agencies, organisations and individuals, and creating a legal basis for them to protect personal data. The draft has been sent to ministries and agencies to collect ideas and opinions. It’s expected to be submitted to the Government later this year.

M&A in tech drives a digital overhaul VOV - VOV Online Newspaper 10th Jan 2020
Investors are looking to mergers and acquisitions as the fastest route to embracing digital transformation in Vietnam’s flourishing tech scene. The rise of omnichannel retail in Vietnam is witnessed through such investors increasingly turning toward e-commerce startups to bring a seamless shopping experience for consumers. Seck Yee Chung, a partner at Baker & McKenzie Vietnam, told Vietnam Investment Review (VIR) that M&A in retail is mainly driven by Vietnam’s growing middle class, with more disposal income and aspirations toward a more rewarding lifestyle. At the same time, as a highly competitive sector, retailers with physical locations will also have to contend with the growing trend in e-commerce, and adopt digital transformation in their business models.

The second centralised IT Zone set up in Đà Nẵng vietnamnews.vn 8th Jan 2020
The Government has approved the Đà Nẵng Information Technology Park (DITP) as a centralised information technology (CIT) zone following Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc’s decision signed on January 6. Deputy Director of the city’s Information and Communications Department Lê Sơn Phong confirmed the news, stating that the zone was invested and built by Trung Nam Group in the first stage on 131ha with investment of US$82 million. It’s also the second CIT zone in the city after Đà Nẵng’s software park was approved by the PM in 2017, he added.

Việt Nam needs to change policy or lose out in Industry 4.0 vietnamnews.vn 8th Jan 2020
Việt Nam needs a “revolution in its policy-making mind-set” before it can take advantage of the fourth industrial revolution, said Phạm Xuân Hòe from the Banking Strategy Institute, at a forum in Hà Nội yesterday Attending the forum held by the Việt Nam Institute for Economic and Policy Research (VEPR), Hòe said: “if Việt Nam can catch up with the revolution in time, the digital economy can help the country close the gap with other nations around the world.” However, he was concerned about policies to help boost digital transformation, saying: “Việt Nam still applies outdated policies in a new economic context.”

5G key for Việt Nam in Industry 4.0 vietnamnews.vn 4th Jan 2020
As part of plans to catch up with developed economies, Việt Nam is looking to embrace Industry 4.0. Party General Secretary, President Nguyễn Phú Trọng last year signed Resolution 52-NQ/TW on behalf of the Politburo outlining guidelines and policies to actively participate in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. In the resolution, the Politburo set a target of affordable nationwide 5G network coverage by 2030.

Domestic cybersecurity products on the rise vietnamnews.vn 4th Jan 2020
The number of locally-made cybersecurity products increased last year, said the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) yesterday. The MIC said there were 52 Vietnamese cybersecurity products in 2019. This was double the number in 2018 and triple that in 2017. The MIC said it granted new licences to 38 cybersecurity firms, bringing the total number of licenced firms to 84 in 2019, an increase of 82.6 per cent from two years ago. Nguyễn Huy Dũng, director of MIC's Department of Information Security, said Vietnamese firms could master the technology and were able to meet more than 60 per cent of local market demand.

PM lauds information-communications sector’s achievements vietnamnews.vn 29th Dec 2019
Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc hailed comprehensive progress in the information and communications sector this year during its conference in Hà Nội on Saturday. Reviewing the past achievements, PM Phúc said according to the 2019 Integrated Index for Postal Development announced by the Universal Postal Union, Việt Nam ranked 45th out of 172 countries, up five places. In telecommunications, the country leapt to 50th place this year from 100th in 2017 in the Global Cybersecurity Index announced by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). Việt Nam also had the second lowest amount of mobile malware detected in Southeast Asia, only behind technologically-advanced Singapore.

Prime Minister Establishes New IT Park in Central Vietnam Lexology 10th Jan 2020
On January 6, 2020, Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc issued Decision No. 27/QD-TTg establishing the Danang IT Park in the rapidly developing city of Danang on Vietnam’s central coast. The Danang IT Park will be a concentrated industrial park focusing on high-tech sectors. It is envisioned that the IT park will attract both foreign and local investors who want to take advantage of the central region’s excellent talent pool—Danang has a very good engineering university— and relatively low labor costs compared to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Investment is to be promoted in the areas of IT, electronics, and telecommunications. According to the Prime Minister’s Decision, state budget will be allocated to help develop the infrastructure of the IT park, which will be located on 131 hectares of land in Hoa Vang District of Danang. Vietnam’s IT sector has flourished in the northern and southern regions of the country, and with this new decision, it appears the government is hoping to boost the high-tech sector and research and development activities in the central region as well. The Prime Minister has directed that the Danang IT Park should be developed swiftly, and the Ministry of Information and Communications, Ministry of Planning and Investment, and Ministry of Finance have been tasked with roles in developing the IT park, along with local government.

Vietnam wants to cooperate with Japan in developing e-government: PM Nhan Dan 9th Jan 2020
While receiving Japanese Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications Sanae Takaichi in Hanoi on January 9, PM Phuc said the Vietnam-Japan extensive strategic partnership is developing comprehensively while their political trust has been enhanced in many aspects.

Infrastructure

Southern industrial land prices surge amid dwindling supply VnExpress International 15th Jan 2020
Industrial real estate prices across southern localities rose by 12.2 percent in 2019 due to increasing foreign business demand. The average industrial land price surged 12.2 percent year-on-year to $101 per square meter per term in Q4 because no new industrial parks were launched in the last quarter, according to a recent report by real estate consultancy Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL). Landlords have become more confident in raising prices with the lack of available land as a result of difficulties in compensation and site clearance in Ho Chi Minh City and neighboring Dong Nai Province, it said. Demand for industrial land last year rose because U.S.-China trade tension had urged some global companies to shift manufacturing from China to Vietnam, insiders confirmed.

Upgrading waste treatment tech urgent requirement for Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam Investment Review - VIR 15th Jan 2020
The 12,83-hectare Da Phuoc complex project has a daily treatment capacity of 3,000 tonnes of waste. The project aims to convert garbage into electricity and by-products such as liquid fertiliser, compressed natural gas (CNG), and compost, which will help reduce landfill waste as well as carbon and greenhouse gas emissions. Once put into operation, the project will treat 1,000 tonnes of waste to generate 20MWh of electricity, 7MWh of biogas power, and 10,200 kilogrammes of CNG per day. The project also provides 410 tonnes of liquid fertiliser, 410 tonnes of compost per day and soil improvement products up to 900 tonnes per day. The project has a total investment of more than $430 million. Waste will be treated at a price of $33.6 per tonne. It is estimated to take nearly 23 years to get return on investment.

Vietnam’s high tech parks in need of financial inspiration Vietnam Investment Review - VIR 15th Jan 2020
According to the Hanoi’s Hoa Lac High-tech Park (HHTP) Management Board, the park lured in just four domestically-invested projects in 2019, registered at VND7.46 trillion ($324.3 million), thus increasing its accumulative registered total capital to VND86.37 trillion ($3.76 billion) in 91 projects. Currently, the filling rate of the park is 30 per cent of its 1,500 hectares, while foreign direct investment (FDI) accounts for 30 per cent of total investment. “With the sum, we met the whole-year investment attraction target of $300 million, but have yet to meet expectations of attracting investment in social infrastructure such as workers’ housing, hospitals, trade centres, and other services,” Tran Dac Trung, director of HHTP’s Co-operation and Investment Division, told VIR. Similarly, the performance of Saigon High-tech Park (SHTP) and Danang High-tech Park (DHTP) has not been as high as expected. In particular, SHTP saw just one big foreign-invested project last year – the $650 million from Hong Kong’s Techtronic Industries, licensed towards the end of the year.

Vietnam Airlines launches self-tag service at 4 airports Tuoi Tre News 15th Jan 2020
National flag carrier Vietnam Airlines debuted the country’s first-ever self-service bag drop for domestic flyers at four airports on Tuesday as its latest solution to overcrowding. Passengers can now weigh their own baggage when traveling on domestic routes from Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City, Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi, Da Nang International Airport in the namesake central city, and Cam Ranh International Airport in the south-central province of Khanh Hoa. The airline has touted the self-service bag drop as a measure to make the check-in process more efficient and shorten the amount of time passengers have to spend in line to see a ground service agent. This is also the first time such service has been rolled out in Vietnam.

Vingroup withdraws from air transport business vietnamnews.vn 14th Jan 2020
Việt Nam's largest conglomerate Vingroup JSC on Tuesday announced that it is officially withdrawing from the air transport business. The announcement was made after the assessment of Vinpearl Air’s project was submitted to Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc for approval by the Ministry of Planning and Investment. This means Vinpearl Air will not be able to take off. Vingroup did not expand on the future of this aviation project in the announcement, but said it wanted to focus maximum resources on the strategic goal of technology and industry development. Vingroup confirmed that it would continue to participate in construction and aviation infrastructure improvement projects nationwide. The domestic aviation market is considered to be reaching a growth saturation point due to airport infrastructure bottlenecks. Việt Nam has five commercial airlines with significant market share, including Vietnam Airlines, Vietjet Air, Bamboo Airways, Jetstar Pacific Airlines and Vietnam Air Services.

Northern expressway welcomes traffic VnExpress International 14th Jan 2020
A 64-kilometer expressway connecting Bac Giang Province with China-bordering Lang Son Province in opened to traffic Tuesday. The new highway is expected to reduce travel time from Hanoi to Lang Son, via Bac Giang, by an hour to 2.5 hours, and would potentially enhance trade between Vietnam and China. With a total investment of VND12,189 billion ($525.9 million), the expressway is 25 meters wide with four public lanes and two emergency lanes, and a designed speed of 100 km per hour. As a build-operate-transfer (BOT) project, the route will collect toll for 17 years (2020-2037).

No State capital for Tân Sơn Nhất Airport’s T3 terminal: Deputy PM vietnamnews.vn 14th Jan 2020
No State capital will be provided for the construction of Tân Sơn Nhất Airport’s T3 Terminal, Deputy Prime Minister Trịnh Đình Dũng has announced. In a document recently sent to the Ministry of Planning and Investment, Deputy PM Dũng asked the ministry to clarify capital sources for the construction of Tân Sơn Nhất Airport’s T3 Terminal. Under the ministry’s initial proposal, T3 Terminal would be designed with a capacity of receiving 20 million passengers per year, would cover 16.05 hectares and have estimated total capital of VNĐ10.99 trillion (US$474 million), VNĐ440 billion lower than the Airports Corporation of Vietnam’s proposal. The ministry said that as Tân Sơn Nhất International Airport was severely overload, it was necessary to build T3 Terminal to bring the total capacity of the airport to 50 million passengers per year.

Foreign ownership holdups show urgent need for clarity Vietnam Investment Review - VIR 14th Jan 2020
Despite restrictions on foreign ownership of housing in Vietnam having been lifted, concerns have been raised about the slow pace of available projects being released and a lack of updates on the number of units sold. According to a document unveiled at the Vietnam Business Forum (VBF) last week in Hanoi, Fred Burke, head of the VBF’s Investment and Trade Working Group, commented that the snail-paced enactment of available projects and shortages in updates on the number of units sold are preventing foreigners from buying property in Vietnam. The biggest problem right now is the implementation of the restrictions on foreign ownership of housing in Vietnam, which has affected foreign buyers’ right to own housing in the country for over two years.

Ford Vietnam adds 82 million USD in factory expansion project VietnamPlus 14th Jan 2020
Ford Vietnam has announced an additional investment of 82 million USD (over 1.9 trillion VND) to expand its automobile factory in the northern province of Hai Duong. The expansion is expected to increase the plant’s production capacity from 14,000 cars at present to 40,000 per year. It will be divided into two phases and carried out from 2020. It is scheduled for completion in mid-2022.Speaking at the announcement ceremony in Hai Duong on January 14, Ford Vietnam General Director Pham Van Dung said the decision was made based on the growing demand for Ford cars and optimistic forecasts for the development of Vietnam’s auto market. Meanwhile, Vice President at Ford International Markets Group (IMG) Andrea Cavallaro said the additional investment will bring Ford’s total investment in Vietnam to more than 200 million USD.

Hải Phòng remains attractive for investors: official vietnamnews.vn 14th Jan 2020
The northern port city of Hải Phòng continues to an attractive investment destination to domestic and foreign investors thanks to its robust economic growth and sound business climate, chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Nguyễn Văn Tùng said on Monday. Last year, the city recorded more than 1,000 newly-established enterprises with 11 firms in the top 500 largest enterprises in Việt Nam and 13 in the top 500 largest private businesses in the country. "This year Hải Phòng aims to continue to improve the business investment environment and create the best conditions for businesses to expand production and improve competitiveness," he noted. Top priority should be given to enhancing transport and urban infrastructure to aid businesses, and to solving difficulties for businesses in a timely manner.

Vietnamese infrastructure policy earns investors’ thumbs-up VOV - VOV Online Newspaper 13th Jan 2020
Many investors have shown their interest in Vietnam’s infrastructure projects as the government has affirmed to continue focusing on infrastructure development with the participation of the private sector. Asian Development Bank estimated that Vietnam would need at least US$16.7 billion per year on average for the 2015-2025 period to finance its infrastructure development needs. As the state funding is limited, Vietnam needs private investment to fill the financial gaps. However, to lure more foreign investment in infrastructure, Nobufumi Miura, chairman of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that it is necessary to have a clear public-private partnership (PPP) framework to deploy infrastructure projects.

Luxury apartments more common than affordable housing in HCMC VnExpress International 13th Jan 2020
Affordable apartments only accounted for 2 percent of housing supply in HCMC last year while luxury apartments made up 6 percent, CBRE says. "Although affordable apartments (under $1,000 per square meter) are the segment with huge demand, there has not been enough supply for several quarters," Duong Thuy Dung, senior director at CBRE Vietnam, said. Profit margins in it are not as high as in the luxury segment ($4,000 per square meter upward), and so developers are not too keen, she explained. Mid-priced apartments ($1,000-2,000) accounted for 67 percent of supply followed by high-end apartments (25 percent), defined as those costing $2,000-4,000).

Phu Tho province to attract investment into new IPs VOV - VOV Online Newspaper 12th Jan 2020
Phu Tho province plans to build three more industrial park (IPs) with a total area of 750ha this year, according to the Phu Tho Industrial Parks Management Board. Currently, Phu Tho is calling for businesses with sufficient capacities and experience to pump investment into developing infrastructures at its IPs. The province said it would offer land rental exemptions for investors that build basic infrastructure facilities. The province offers incentives for investment projects in its IPs including corporate income tax exemption for the first two years and a 50 percent break for the four following years. For projects involved in the high-tech and supporting industries, the province provides exemption stretches to 100 percent over four years and 50 percent for the following nine.

Vietnam aviation industry maintains double-digit growth in 2019 VietNamNet 12th Jan 2020
Vietnam's aviation industry continued to experience healthy double-digit growth in 2019 amid issues at some key airports, according to Viet Dragon Securities Company (VDSC). Overall air traffic volume was up 12% year-on-year and reached approximately 116 million passengers. Although the growth rate of international passenger traffic continued to outpace domestic passenger growth, the gap between the two has contracted. Domestic passenger volume growth rate was estimated at 11% year-on-year, picking up strongly from a 6% expansion in 2018. On the contrary, international passenger volume growth showed a moderate deceleration, rising only 14% year-on-year in 2019 vs 21% year-on-year in 2018.

No bubble but land prices might increase: ministry VietnamPlus 12th Jan 2020
While there are few, if any, signs of the real estate bubble bursting in 2020, the Ministry of Construction said that land prices could increase in some areas. Those areas included planned special economic zones and new urban areas with developed technical and social infrastructure. However, in some provinces and cities, land prices were inflated at rates much higher than the pace of economic and infrastructure development, leading to adjustments in taxes and higher compensation for site clearance, according to the Vietnam Association of Real Estate Brokers. This would negatively affect the market, the association said, pointing out that high land prices would lead to a fall in investment in urban development, and investors would leave the market, which would erode local socio-economic development.

Vietjet Air launches new routes linking Can Tho with Taiwan, RoK VietnamPlus 12th Jan 2020
Budget carrier Vietjet Air on January 12 launched two new air routes linking the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho with Taipei of Taiwan and Seoul of the Republic of Korea (RoK). The Can Tho - Taipei route operates four round trips per week. Meanwhile, the Can Tho – Seoul route has three flights per week. Speaking at the event, Managing Director of Vietjet Air Luu Duc Khanh said the airline currently boasts 80 airplanes and will add 24 others to its fleet this year. It has carried over 100 million passengers on 137 air routes, of which there are nine from/to the Mekong Delta.

Poor infrastructure stymies Southern Key Economic Zone efforts to attract large FDI projects vietnamnews.vn 9th Jan 2020
The Southern Key Economic Zone needs specially tailored policies to attract large amounts of foreign direct investment and improve linkages between localities to ensure sustainable development, experts have said. The zone comprises HCM City and the provinces of Bình Phước, Tây Ninh, Bình Dương, Đồng Nai, Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu, Long An, and Tiền Giang. It attracts a lot of FDI, in fact half of the entire amount coming into the country.

Vietnam to operationalize 2020 with new transport infrastructure VnExpress International 6th Jan 2020
Construction on Hanoi’s Cat Linh-Ha Dong metro line has completed to include 13 km of elevated railway and 12 stations. The project was meant to become operational by April 2019, after missing a previous deadline, but missed the new target due to safety evaluation issues. French consultancy Apave-Certifier-Tricc is currently heading a safety inspection on the line, after which the Chinese contractor will hand over the project to the Ministry of Transport.

Vietnam’s railway industry remains ailing SGGP English Edition 5th Jan 2020
According to the VRC, after being transferred to the Commission for the Management of State Capital at Enterprises (CMSC) for more than a year, its business result was not as optimistic as expected. At the headquarter, revenue nearly reached VND2.4 trillion, equal to 93 percent over the same period and 97 percent compared to the plan. The revenues of transport companies also merely exceeded VND4.2 trillion, equal to 98.7 percent of the same period and 92 percent of the plan. Although transport companies have zealously sought and exploited new goods and launched new products, they were unable to make up for a slump in their traditional goods, such as apatite, fertilizers and cement. For some old goods, including wood, coal and fuel, they have lost their customers.

Saigon hopes to finish four major infrastructure projects in 2020 VnExpress International 3rd Jan 2020
The VND10 trillion ($431 million) anti-flooding project is set to be completed this year after failing to meet the original deadline of April 2018. Six floodgates and a dike will be built in Districts 1, 4, 7, 8, Binh Chanh, and Nha Be along the Saigon River where floods are commonplace when it rains or during high tide, benefiting 6.5 million people, or half the city’s population. The work began in 2016, but was delayed by the drying up of banks credit, disagreements between the consultancy and contractor over materials and land acquisition bottlenecks.

2020 set to be year of major transport projects - VnExpress International VnExpress International 2nd Jan 2020
Construction of the My Thuan 2 Bridge to connect the southern provinces of Tien Giang and Vinh Long will begin this month at a cost of VND5 trillion ($215.6 million) and be completed by 2023. The 6.6-km bridge will be 350 meters upstream from the existing My Thuan Bridge on the Tien River. My Thuan 2 is designed to have six lanes and allow maximum speeds of 100 km per hour. The bridge is a key piece of infrastructure that will improve connection between Ho Chi Minh City and the southern provinces. As one of 11 sections of the North-South Expressway, the bridge will link the Trung Luong-My Thuan Expressway with the My Thuan-Can Tho Expressway, whose construction will also begin this year. from now until 2021.

HCM City to spend more on road infrastructure VietnamPlus 25th Dec 2019
Speaking at a recent meeting in the city, Nhan said that "it would take 150 years to have enough roads for the city’s traffic activities" unless the city speeds up progress of road projects and invests more in transport and roads. Traffic is the most pressing problem as there is an increase of one million motorcycles every five years in HCM City, leading to worsening congestion unless the busy roads are expanded and more roads are built.

Legislation

NA talks judicial expertise, court mediation vietnamnews.vn 11th Jan 2020
The majority of National Assembly (NA) Standing Committee members agreed with the need to amend the Law on Judicial Expertise to address shortcomings at a meeting in Hà Nội on Thursday. Lê Thị Nga, chairwoman of the NA’s Judicial Committee, said the majority of deputies had agreed to amend and supplement regulations relating to urgent issues to address shortcomings in judicial work in order to improve efficiency in addressing corruption cases and economic violations. The committee’s found that shortcomings were mostly found in economic and corruption cases in the construction, banking, finance, natural resources and environment sectors.

Six laws being put into effect from beginning of 2020 vietnamnews.vn 31st Dec 2019
Operating vehicles under the influence of alcohol will be officially banned from Wednesday as part of the Law on Prevention and Control of Alcoholic Beverages’ Harmful Effects. The existing regulations stipulate that drivers are allowed to drink alcohol before setting off in their vehicles providing they are under the limit. The law is among six that are coming into force from the beginning of next year, with the Law on Enforcement of Criminal Judgments, Law on Public Investment, Law on Management and Use of Weapons, Explosives and Combat Gears, Law on Crop Production and Law on Animal Husbandry.

Manufacturing

Steel industry not likely to have the best of times in 2020 vietnamnews.vn 15th Jan 2020
The Vietnamese steel industry is expected to face difficulties this year due to an increase in production capacity, falling demand and protectionist measures by countries to reduce imports, according to experts. Last year was a difficult one for steel exporters due to the increase in protectionism, they said. Exports to the US and the EU markets, the second and third largest markets for Vietnamese steel, fell by a combined 44 per cent in terms of volumes. The Việt Nam Steel Association forecasts China’s steel demand to increase by 1 per cent this year, much lower than the estimated 7.8 per cent growth rate in 2019. Global demand is estimated to grow at 1.7 per cent compared to 3.9 per cent last year. Capacity increases amid a demand slowdown, especially for construction steel, would increase the pressure in the domestic market, making prices to be volatile, it added.

Footwear, handbag sector eyes export target of $24b in 2020 vietnamnews.vn 6th Jan 2020
The footwear and handbag industry aims to reach export revenue of US$24 billion in 2020, after hitting $22 billion last year, the industry association said. According to Việt Nam Leather, Footwear and Handbag Association (Lefaso), footwear export revenue was expected to reach $20 billion while handbags achieved $4 billion this year.

Việt Nam manufacturing sector improves in December vietnamnews.vn 2nd Jan 2020
The Vietnam Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) posted 50.8 in December, signalling a slight improvement in the health of the manufacturing sector, a survey by Nikkei and IHS Markit released on Thursday showed. According to the survey, business conditions in the Vietnamese manufacturing sector have strengthened in all but one month since the end of 2015, the only exception being no change in October 2019. New orders expanded for the forty-ninth month running at the end of 2019, linked by respondents to stronger customer demand. The rate of expansion was solid and the fastest in four months. The increase in total new business was registered in spite of a drop in new export orders, the first in just over four years, the survey showed.

Complying with origin rules critical for garment exports vietnamnews.vn 9th Jan 2020
To take advantage of free trade agreements and expand exports, meeting rules of origin is crucial for the garment and textile sector, industry insiders have said. Lower-than-expected export revenue last year showed the industry was facing problems in participating more deeply in the global value chain and expanding exports to niche markets. Lê Tiến Trường, general director of Việt Nam National Textile and Garment Group (Vinatex), said 2019 was a difficult year for the industry with export revenue of US$39 billion, $1 billion lower than its target.

Travel & Tourism

Hanoi hopes to welcome nearly 32 million tourists in 2020 VietnamPlus 15th Jan 2020
Hanoi hopes to raise the number of tourist arrivals by over 10 percent from last year to nearly 32 million in 2020, according to the municipal Department of Tourism. In particular, it aims to attract more than 8.2 million foreigners and nearly 23.8 million domestic visitors this year, representing year-on-year increases of 17 percent and 8 percent, respectively. The capital city also looks to earn 116.6 trillion – 120 trillion VND (5 billion – 5.2 billion USD) from tourists, up 12.3 – 15.5 percent from the previous year, and have an average occupancy rate of 65 – 68 percent at local accommodation facilities. The Mastercard Asia Pacific Destinations Index gave the city the 15th position among the top 20 destinations in the region.

Indian tourists to Vietnam increase Vietnam Investment Review - VIR 15th Jan 2020
India climbed into the top 16 markets with the highest number of visitors to Vietnam in 2019. In terms of growth, the country ranked third with an increase of 27.7 percent year-on-year to 169,000 tourists, after Thailand (45.9 percent and 510,000 visitors) and Taiwan (29.8 percent and 927,000). In 2019, low-cost airline VietjetAir launched two direct flights from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to New Delhi, becoming the first airline connecting the two biggest economic, cultural and tourist centres of Vietnam and the capital of India. The same year, Indian low-cost airline IndiGo launched its first direct flights between Kolkata-Hanoi and Kolkata-Ho Chi Minh City.

Luxury hotel segment sees sharp expansion vietnamnews.vn 8th Jan 2020
With 50 five-star hotels and 68 four-star hotels being built last year, the luxury segment now has 466 hotels with 97,098 rooms, according to a report released by the Việt Nam National Administration of Tourism. The number of accommodation facilities overall increased by 2,000 to 30,000 with more than 650,000 rooms, the report showed. The rising number of upscale hotels indicated sharp growth in luxury tourism. Last year, Việt Nam won a number of tourism awards, including Asia’s Leading Destination, Asia’s Leading Culinary Destination, the World’s Leading Heritage Destination, and the World’s Best Golf Destination.