Vietnam Update: February 20, 2020

Vietnam Update | February 20, 2020
Authors: Hai Pham, Riley Smith and Minh Vu
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

February 27: Breakfast with the Vietnam Women Entrepreneurs Council (RSVP here) 
USABC members can register for free using code "USABC" - code is entered at checkout. To register, click on the link above, select “Non-Member Registration” and follow prompts.

March 3-5: 2020 Annual Vietnam Business Mission

March 5-6: Health & Life Sciences Industry Mission to Vietnam

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Vietnam Responses to Covid-19 Impact on the Economy
As the novel coronavirus, now officially named Covid-19, recorded over 2,000 deaths globally and over 1,000 cases outside of mainland China, Vietnam was lauded by the World Health Organization (WHO) on February 15 for its effort to contain and control the outbreak. On February 8, the Ministry of Finance (MoF) announced a decision to exempt import tariffs on hygienic supplies needed to prevent virus infection. As of February 19, Vietnam confirmed 16 cases and has quarantined Vinh Phuc province after confirming eight patients infected in the province.

On the other hand, the Vietnamese Government is also assessing the virus disruption to the economy. The Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) stated that Vietnam would potentially lose US$1.82 billion in state budget revenue because of the virus disrupting trading activities, decreasing revenue from domestic taxes and crude oil. MPI also stated in case the Covid-19 epidemic is contained in the coming two or three months, industries such as tourism, transportation, commerce, agricultural export – import, among others, are predicted to be the most vulnerable. This assessment followed a government meeting on February 12 chaired by the Prime Minister in which the MPI said GDP growth rate in 2020 might be as low as 5.96 percent due to the virus. The Prime Minister has not revised the target GDP growth rate of 6.8 percent for 2020. On February 8, the MoF announced that Vietnam recorded a state budget surplus of US$2.04 billion in January.

The Vietnamese Government has also made plans to revitalize the economy after the outbreak and will support affected industries and businesses. On February 6, the State Bank of Vietnam has asked credit institutions to support businesses affected by Covid-19 by offering low-interest loans, fee waivers, and reducing transaction fees. Many banks and fintech firms also promoted non-cash payments to prevent the spread of the virus.

Vietnam Central Bank Drops Plan to Cap Foreign Ownership in E-Payment Companies
As part of the national financial inclusion strategy 2020-2025 which aims to regulate non-cash transaction and increase the number of transactions by 20 to 25 percent annually, the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) in November 2019 released a draft plan to cap foreign ownership of e-payment companies at 49 percent. After consulting with industry experts and participants via a workshop held by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) in December 2019, SBV on February 11, 2020 announced that it will scrap the decision. SBV stated that foreign investment has played a key role in the domestic payments landscape by providing capitals and much needed technology. Limiting foreign ownership would hamper foreign investment in the e-payment sector and fintech in general, as five of 32 non-bank organizations licensed to provide payment services in Vietnam has exceeded the 49 percent cap. It should be noted that in SBV’s recently released Draft Decree to Replace Decree 101 on Non-Cash Payments, SBV proposed a 49 percent foreign ownership cap on intermediary payment service (IPS) companies. 

Investors have poured significant amounts of money into Vietnam’s fintech sector recently—at least US$410 million between January and September last year, according to a report by UOB, PwC, and the Singapore Fintech Association. This is second only to Singapore, where funding totaled US$714 million. The report also noted that Vietnam’s mobile payments market is projected to reach US$70.9 billion by 2025. However, currently, the reliance on cash remains huge as about 80 percent of Vietnamese prefer to use cash for daily transactions, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade. The national financial inclusion strategy, ratified by the Prime Minister on February 2, targets at least 80 percent of adults in the country to have bank accounts by 2025.

 
ADVOCACY UPDATE
 
 

Vietnam Draft Decree on Personal Data Protection (PDP)
On December 27, 2019, the Government of Vietnam published a Draft Decree on Personal Data Protection (PDP Decree) on its government portal. Please click the following links to view unofficial translations of the Draft Decree, and the corresponding Draft Proposal and Draft Report to the Government. 

The Draft PDP Decree broadly covers the following, although some articles still remain as headings:

  1. General provisions on scope, definitions and general principles
  2. Personal Data Processing
  3. Rights of Data Subject
  4. Measures for Protection of Personal Data
  5. Registration of Personal Data Processing
  6. Personal Data Protection Agencies
  7. Implementation

The Council will plan to share our written input with Ministry of Public Security (MPS) by their deadline of March 5, and also look to discuss this during the upcoming Vietnam Business Mission on March 3-5Please submit any input you may have to Jamie Lim at jlim@usasean.org by Thursday, 12PM SGT, February 27

    Timeline for Submission

    • February 27, 12PM SGT: Deadline for member input
      • ​March 2: US-ABC to circulate draft
    • March 3, COB: Deadline for final flaw edits
      • ​March 3-5: US-ABC Vietnam Business Mission
    • March 5: US-ABC submission to MPS

      For questions, please contact Jamie Lim (jlim@usasean.org) and Vu Tu Thanh (tvu@usasean.org).
       

      Vietnam Decree on Administrative Fines for Violation of ICT Regulations
      On February 3, the Government of Vietnam (GOV) issued Decree 15/2020, ND-CP on administrative sanctions for violations of regulations on post telecommunications, radio frequencies, information technology, and electronic transactions. Please find a translated version of the Decree here, which details the various types and levels of violations and corresponding fines and additional punitive measures short of criminalization. The maximum fine is VND 70 million (US$3,000) for a violation by a social media operator and VND 170 million (US$7,400) for an online game service provider. A cloud service provider may also be fined up to VND 100 million (US$4,350) for providing, exchanging, transmitting or storing and using digital information to propagate wrong and untrue information about Vietnam's national territorial sovereignty. Additional punitive measures include suspension or revocation of business/operation licenses and domain names, and confiscation of assets or property associated with the violations.

      The Decree will take effect on April 15, 2020. The Decree affects social media operators/platforms, online game service providers, cloud service providers and any company that runs or hosts a news website (Articles 98-104 on violations regarding online information). While Decree 15/2020 does not mention cross-border service providers, it is unclear if offshore foreign companies would be affected. While the new Decree, which was drafted by the Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC), proclaims to implement the MIC-drafted Law on Network Information Safety (LONIS) of 2015 and a host of other laws, it does not claim to implement the new Law on Cybersecurity drafted by the Ministry of Public Security (MPS); for which an implementing decree (Cybersecurity Decree) is still pending.

      The Council urges members interested in this Decree to join the Vietnam Business Mission (March 3-5) in Hanoi to bring it to the attention of the Prime Minister and other key ministers. We will also be coordinating with the U.S. government in Washington, DC and the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi on this. If there is sufficient interest from members, the Council will also consider submitting a position paper to the government and MIC. For questions or to express interest, please contact Jamie Lim (jlim@usasean.org) or Vu Tu Thanh (tvu@usasean.org).

       
      IN THIS UPDATE
       
       
      Multilateral Trade Agreements
      European Parliament approves historic FTA with Vietnam

      National Affairs
      Proposal suggests removing two ministries, one deputy PM
      Vietnam pledges continued close coordination with WTO
      Vietnam government pushes for new ODA policy
      Central city launches business registration service at home

      ASEAN
      ASEAN 2020: Vietnam chairs first meeting of ACCC in 2020
      ASEAN Defence Senior Officials' Meeting Working Group meets in Hanoi
      Vietnam: Asean economic integration meeting in Hanoi a success

      Customs
      Trade origin fraud in Vietnam remains a problem
      Customs sector targets collecting $14.6 billion in 2020
      Trade origin fraud remains problem for Vietnam despite US-China deal

      Defense & Security
      Malaysia-Vietnam strengthen cooperation on security

      Economics
      Gov't considers giving Vietnam Railways back to transport ministry
      VAT project implementation: WB could pull out funds, partially
      Vietnam state budget faces potential loss of 1.82 billion on Covid-19
      VN might not reach GDP growth target in 2020 due to COVID-19 outbreak: ministry
      Looser monetary policy needed to counter global volatility
      SME Development Fund and MB Bank sign indirect lending contract
      Intellectual property protection drives Vietnamese competitiveness
      Steering committee to guide maritime economy
      Vietnam records fiscal surplus of US$2.04 billion in January
      VN acts to improve labour productivity

      Energy
      Made in Vietnam Energy Plan 2.0 to debut next week
      Vietnam looks to more than double power generation capacity by 2030
      Ministry reverts to old proposal on fixing solar power tariffs
      Vietnam to use more coal, oil in 2020 to power growth: government
      HCM City scales up smart city development project to all districts
      New World Bank strategy to help Vietnam scale up solar power
      Deputy PM hosts investors interested in LNG power development in Vietnam
      Quang Tri aims to become regional energy centre by 2025
      Massive investment in wind power plants could overload grid: experts
      Citibank, ING to arrange funds for LNG-fired power units in Vietnam

      Financial Services
      State Bank of Vietnam becomes BIS member
      Vietnam Central Bank Drops Plan to Cap Foreign Ownership in E-Payment Companies
      Vietnam to tighten corporate bond regulations
      Banks, fintech firms promote cashless payments during epidemic
      Hitachi Teams Up with VietCredit to Automate Loan Process in Vietnam
      State treasury offloads more than $409 million of G-bonds in January

      Food & Agriculture
      HCM City promises adequate food supply, says epidemic not a cause for worry
      Asia Rice-Vietnam rates climb to over 1-year high on strong demand
      Việt Nam needs to find new rice markets to replace China: experts
      Seafood exports plummet
      Fruit, vegetable segment needs revamp: agriculture minister
      China’s closure of border markets exerts no impact on formal trade
      Vietnam makes efforts to promote domestic consumption of agricultural products
      Sunkist excited to supply Vietnam

      Health & Life Sciences
      Vietnam's first smart medical center commences operation in Saigon
      Banks provide assistance to businesses affected by epidemic outbreak
      Teleconference updates 700 hospitals on nCoV prevention measures
      Vietnam scraps import tariffs on face masks, liquid hand soaps

      ICT
      Cyber attacks still harm internet users in Vietnam
      Vietnam will commercialise 5G in 2020
      Vietnam's 4G Users To Grow By 10 Million In 2020
      Vietnam introduces hefty fines for spreading fake news

      Infrastructure
      Vietnam condotel owners to get title deeds
      Vietnam slips out of top 10 logistics ranking
      Phú Yên seek investment
      Vietnam's northern port city will develop more economic zones in 2020
      Trung Lương-Mỹ Thuận expressway to be finished this year: contractor
      Sustainable development a $45 billion opportunity for the private sector: Standard Chartered
      Vinalines plans 2020 goals
      Daewoo E&C to Invest $388 Mil. in Star Lake City Project in Vietnam
      Draft Decree proposes new opportunities for private investments in airport and aviation infrastructure projects in Vietnam

      Manufacturing
      Industrial sector’s growth likely to hit almost 3% in Q1
      Vietnam firms look for alternative sources of raw materials as epidemic closes China market
      HCM City aids manufacturing to remain on growth track
      Vietnam should develop high-added value electronics sector, say experts
      Việt Nam keen to develop supporting industries: Deputy PM
      New orders continue to rise solidly at start of 2020

      Travel & Tourism
      Vietnam strives to turn tourism into a key economic sector by 2030
      Porsche Carrera Cup Asia confirmed as Vietnam F1’s supporting race
      Vietnam postpones annual national tourism promotion over novel coronavirus
      Vietnam promotes Vĩnh Long province as new tourism destination
      Saigon Chinese-origin community festival recognized as national cultural heritage
      Vietnam has additional 11 national intangible cultural heritages
       
      ARTICLE CLIPS
       
       
      Multilateral Trade Agreements

      European Parliament approves historic FTA with Vietnam Vietnam Investment Review - VIR 12th Feb 2020
      The European Parliament today (February 12) voted in favour of the landmark free-trade agreement with Vietnam which will eliminate almost all tariffs over the next 10 years. The EVFTA was voted in favour by 401 European Union lawmakers, with 192 votes against and 40 abstentions. The agreement will remove virtually all customs duties between the two parties over the next 10 years, including on Europe’s main export products to Vietnam. Vietnam’s National Assembly is expected to vote on the trade pact in May.

      National Affairs

      Proposal suggests removing two ministries, one deputy PM vietnamnews.vn 20th Feb 2020
      The Vietnamese central Government is recommended to cut two ministries and one deputy prime minister, according to a proposal to comprehensively restructure the Government for the first time in 15 years. The Institute for State Organisational Sciences of the Ministry of Home Affairs announced the proposal on Wednesday at a conference on recommendations for the Government restructuring in the next five-year term of 2021-26. It recommended the Government to cut the number of ministries from the current 22 to 20 by merging the Ministry of Finance with the Ministry of Planning and Investment and the Ministry of Transport with the Ministry of Construction. The newly combined ministries will be named the Ministry of Finance-Planning and Investment and the Ministry of Transport and Construction, respectively.

      Vietnam pledges continued close coordination with WTO VietnamPlus 18th Feb 2020
      Vietnam vows to continue active and close coordination with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in all of its activities, said Vietnamese Ambassador Le Thi Tuyet Mai during her meeting with WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo in Geneva, Switzerland on February 17. The meeting took place right after Mai, new Permanent Representative of Vietnam to the UN, the WTO and other international organisations, presented President Nguyen Phu Trong’s credentials to the WTO leader. Mai reiterated Vietnam’s commitment to work in close coordination with the WTO Secretariat and member states to achieve meaningful outcomes in the fisheries subsidies negotiations and WTO reforms at the 12th Ministerial Conference, to be held in June. Vietnam will complete its second trade policy review this December, the diplomat added.

      Vietnam government pushes for new ODA policy hanoitimes.vn 11th Feb 2020
      Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh has urged the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) to finalize the draft decree governing official development assistance (ODA) management and utilization, which should be submitted to the government before February 20. The new decree should ensure consistency with regulations in the Law on Public Investment (2019), the Law on Public Debt Management (2017), the Law on State Budget (2015), and the Law on Treaties (2016), said Minh in a government meeting on February 10. Under current regulations, the ODA funds and preferential loans from foreign donors are under the category of public investment fund, and therefore, are subject to the enforcement scope of the Law on Public Investment. However, the draft decree providing specific guidance for the implementation of the Law on Public Investment only applies for programs and projects using public investment funds, not those using ODA funds.

      Central city launches business registration service at home vietnamnews.vn 10th Feb 2020
      Da Nang's investment and planning department has officially launched a business registration service at home, saving time and travel costs for households and enterprises, offering completion in three working days. The department’s business support division said all households and enterprises could apply for registration via email or phone from home, and the centre will process the request before sending documents to customers by post. The centre said households and businesses should not come to the city’s administrative centre.

      ASEAN

      ASEAN 2020: Vietnam chairs first meeting of ACCC in 2020 VietnamPlus 18th Feb 2020
      Head of the Vietnam’s Permanent Mission to ASEAN, Ambassador Tran Duc Binh chaired the first 2020 meeting of the ASEAN Connectivity Coordinating Committee (ACCC) in Indonesia on February 18. The meeting spoke highly of progress in the implementation of the 2025 Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity (MPAC 2025), with 12 out of 15 initiatives in five strategic fields of sustainable infrastructure, digital innovation, seamless logistics, regulatory excellence and people mobility already underway, and the remaining in the process of preparation. ASEAN will give priority to projects under the three initiatives that are yet to be implemented, especially schemes on building data on commercial routes, a dictionary on ASEAN open data, developing digital platforms, enhancing vocational and human resources training in the new period.

      ASEAN Defence Senior Officials' Meeting Working Group meets in Hanoi VietnamPlus 18th Feb 2020
      A meeting of the ASEAN Defence Senior Officials' Meeting Working Group (ADSOM WG) was held on February 18 in the framework of the 2020 ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Retreat (ADMM Retreat) in Hanoi. The meeting was attended by defence officials from ASEAN countries and representatives from the ASEAN Secretariat. Following up on the ADSOM WG meeting in Da Nang last January, this ADSOM WG meeting reviewed and completed documents and contents of the ADMM Retreat to take place on February 19, particularly a thematic statement of ASEAN Defence Ministers on defence cooperation in response to epidemics.

      Vietnam: Asean economic integration meeting in Hanoi a success The Star Online 18th Feb 2020
      Vietnam's Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Trần Quốc Khánh talks to Vietnam News Agency about what went on at the recent meeting on Asean economic integration in Hanoi. The outbreak of Covid-19 has affected the Asean economy, including the Vietnamese economy. Adding to that, the representative delegation from Singapore, which is the incumbent president of the group, could not attend the Hanoi meeting due to the outbreak of the coronavirus. However, Vietnam did its best to co-chair the video meeting with the Singaporean side. And the meeting took place smoothly. At the year-end meeting in 2019 in Bangkok, all Asean member states adopted a joint statement voicing their commitment to open their markets as was regulated in the agreement. However, India is still facing some problems in discussions about RCEP. Yet all 15 countries have agreed to open their markets for other signatories to the agreement. We have set a target to have the agreement completed by late this year in Vietnam.

      Customs

      Trade origin fraud in Vietnam remains a problem Vietnam Insider 12th Feb 2020
      According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, by December 2019, there have been 20 cases of anti-tax evasion initiated by foreign countries, applied to Vietnam’s export goods, accounting for 12.6 percent of the total number of investigated cases of application of trade remedies of Vietnam’s export products. The places that regularly investigate anti-tax evasion trade remedies with Vietnamese goods include: the US, the EU and Turkey. The Ministry of Industry and Trade stated that to minimise the damage from lawsuits against trade remedies and to protect the interests of genuine businesses, besides the timely support of the Government through exchanges and working with investigating agencies, the preparation and participation of enterprises plays a key role.

      Customs sector targets collecting $14.6 billion in 2020 vietnamnews.vn 4th Feb 2020
      The General Department of Customs hopes to collect VNĐ338 trillion (US$14.6 billion) for the State budget this year, a year-on-year increase of 12.5 per cent. The target is built on the basis of 6.8 per cent GDP growth, crude oil price at $60 per barrel, total export turnover increasing by 7 per cent and import turnover increasing by 9 per cent.

      Trade origin fraud remains problem for Vietnam despite US-China deal Global Trade Review (GTR) 11th Feb 2020
      Vietnam customs says that it is clamping down on trade origin fraud, which has spiked over the past year, as exporters reroute their goods through the country to take advantage of its free trade agreements (FTAs) and circumvent additional duties. In December, Vietnam customs said that it had detected “many cases” of origin fraud within its exports, and that it has identified 19 product groups at high risk of origin fraud in the country. The department cites the US and China trade war as the catalyst for the increased origin fraud, as Chinese exporters routed their US-destined goods via Vietnam to forge their country of origin, side-stepping the hefty duties imposed by the US on Chinese goods in the process.

      Defense & Security

      Malaysia-Vietnam strengthen cooperation on security Malaysiakini 13th Feb 2020
      Malaysia and Vietnam today agreed to strengthen their cooperation in addressing security issues affecting both countries. This was decided upon during a meeting between Home Affairs Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and Vietnamese Public Security Minister General To Lam who paid a courtesy visit to the former at his ministry here. Among other matters, the hour-long meeting also touched on cooperation to address cross-border crime and issues pertaining to territorial waters including advancing the roles of the respective maritime agencies of both countries in combating crime in the waters.

      Economics

      Gov't considers giving Vietnam Railways back to transport ministry vietnamnews.vn 18th Feb 2020
      Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc has ordered an analysis on a proposal to move Vietnam Railways (VR) under the umbrella of the transport ministry following legal confusion that left the corporation with no budget for railway maintenance. The Ministry of Transport (MoT) and the Commission for the Management of State Capital at Enterprises – which currently oversees VR – were specifically asked to weigh in on the proposal voiced by experts and National Assembly deputies. The MoT itself has repeatedly asked to take back VR – which was handed to the commission in September 2018, with its latest request submitted to PM Phúc in June last year.

      VAT project implementation: WB could pull out funds, partially The Financial Express 18th Feb 2020
      The World Bank is unlikely to release the remaining 40 per cent of the NBR's struggling online VAT project. Of the $60 million pledged fund, the multilateral lending agency has so far provided $36 million for the project. Officials have expressed the fear that the National Board of Revenue, or NBR, may not get the remaining fund within the project's tenure. The project, which was launched in May 2014, is scheduled to conclude on June 30, 2020. The achievement of online VAT registration is 75 per cent while online return submission is 37 per cent, according to a recent monitoring and evaluation report of the bank.

      Vietnam state budget faces potential loss of 1.82 billion on Covid-19 hanoitimes.vn 17th Feb 2020
      Vietnam would face a potential loss of VND42.3 billion (US$1.82 billion) in state budget revenue due to the impact of the Covid-19 epidemic, according to the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI). The MPI has said in a report that the outbreak could lead to a decline in revenue from the domestic taxes, trading activities and crude oil, local media reported. In case the Covid-19 epidemic is contained in the coming two or three months, industries such as tourism, transportation, commerce, agricultural export – import, among others, are predicted to be the most vulnerable.

      VN might not reach GDP growth target in 2020 due to COVID-19 outbreak: ministry vietnamnews.vn 13th Feb 2020
      Việt Nam might fail to achieve its 6.8 per cent GDP growth rate target set earlier this year as the novel coronavirus epidemic continues to take a heavy toll on the global economy, according to the Ministry of Planning and Investment. In a meeting on Wednesday chaired by the Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc to look at revised growth scenarios in the wake of the devastating COVID-19 (the new name of the virus), the ministry said if the outbreak is contained within the first quarter this year, 2020’s GDP growth target will be 6.25 per cent, 0.55 percentage points lower than the previous goal. In case the disease is contained in the second quarter, the Việt Nam’s economic growth this year goal will be 5.96 per cent, 0.84 percentage points lower than the original.

      Looser monetary policy needed to counter global volatility vietnamnews.vn 11th Feb 2020
      A looser monetary policy should be instituted to support economic growth in the wake of global volatilities, especially the outbreak of the noval coronavirus (nCoV), experts suggested. Banking and finance expert Nguyễn Trí Hiếu told Việt Nam News that Việt Nam has so far seen initial damage from the virus, with business and production declining in many industries, especially agriculture, retail, tourism and transport. The Ministry of Planning and Investment has so far also estimated the country’s GDP growth rate would be at 6.27 per cent in 2020, 0.53 percentage points lower than the target set by the Government in its Resolution No 1 if the epidemic is controlled promptly in the first quarter of this year.

      SME Development Fund and MB Bank sign indirect lending contract vietnamnews.vn 11th Feb 2020
      The Small- and Medium-sized Enterprise Development Fund (SMEDF) under the Ministry of Planning and Investment and the Military Commercial Joint Stock Bank (MB Bank) signed a framework contract on indirect lending on Monday. SMEs account for 98 per cent of the total number of enterprises nationwide, contributing greatly to national GDP and creating more than 50 per cent of jobs for society, said Phan Thanh Hà, SMEDF director. The purpose of the fund is to help SMEs innovate to develop competitive and eco-friendly products; invest in advanced technical equipment and technologies; and improve corporate governance capacity.

      Intellectual property protection drives Vietnamese competitiveness VnExpress International 11th Feb 2020
      Vietnam's score in intellectual property (IP) protection increased the most of all Asian economies, according to U.S. Chamber International IP Index. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Global Innovation Policy Center (GIPC) released its annual report last week, conducted by U.K-based consultancy Pugatch Consilium. The 8th edition, "Art of the Possible," maps the IP ecosystem in 53 global economies, representing over 90 percent of global GDP, by using 50 indicators across nine categories of protection - patents, copyrights, trademarks, design rights, trade secrets, commercialization of IP assets, enforcement, systemic efficiency, and membership and ratification of international treaties.

      Steering committee to guide maritime economy VietNamNet 11th Feb 2020
      Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has recently issued a decision to establish a national steering committee to implement Viet Nam's marine economic development strategy by 2030, with a vision to 2045.The committee is an interdisciplinary organisation that advises the Prime Minister on studying, directing and solving important and interdisciplinary tasks related to the sustainable development of the Vietnamese marine economy. Viet Nam has set a target of at least 58 per cent of its GDP coming from the maritime economy.

      Vietnam records fiscal surplus of US$2.04 billion in January hanoitimes.vn 8th Feb 2020
      Vietnam recorded a state budget surplus of VND47.5 trillion (US$2.04 billion) in January, according to the Ministry of Finance (MoF). In January, state budget revenue collection stood at VND166.7 trillion (US$7.17 billion), equivalent to 11% of the year's estimate and up 4.8% year-on-year. Upon breaking down, domestic revenue reached VND146.1 trillion (US$6.28 billion), equivalent to 11.6% of the year's plan and up 10.2% year-on-year, in which revenue from the state sector reached 11.7% of the estimate, unchanged from the same period last year; revenue from the private sector reached 13.8% of the estimate, up 7.5%; revenue from the foreign-invested sector, 13% of the estimate, up 7.8%.

      VN acts to improve labour productivity vietnamnews.vn 8th Feb 2020
      Việt Nam will launch a national programme to improve labour productivity, a critical factor for the middle-income country to enhance its competitiveness and develop. PM Phúc asked the Ministry of Planning and Investment to develop a plan to implement a national labour productivity campaign to boost national competitiveness. A pilot programme of accelerating productivity will be held in several selected sectors and localities before being implemented nationwide. A national strategy for developing technology enterprises would also be developed and proposed to the Government this year, with a focus on developing digital, hi-tech and innovation enterprises.

      PM asks to handle inefficient State-owned enterprises VietnamPlus 4th Feb 2020
      Inefficient State-owned enterprises must be handled this year, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has said. This was the highlight of the PM’s recent plan to combat waste in 2020 by implementing financial discipline, preventing losses to the State budget, controlling the budget deficit and improving investment development. Checks must be carried out to figure out existing problems at State-owned enterprises to handle them this year, the PM said, stressing that no State capital would be used to bail out loss-making enterprises and projects.

      Energy

      Made in Vietnam Energy Plan 2.0 to debut next week Vietnam Investment Review - VIR 19th Feb 2020
      The Vietnam Business Forum will roll out next week the second edition of the Made in Vietnam Energy Plan (MVEP 2.0), a business case for the primary use of Vietnam’s domestic resources to stimulate investment in clean, secure and affordable energy generation. The MVEP 2.0, based on the groundbreaking 2016 edition – MVEP 1.0, will be released on February 27. The report has been developed during a time of fast-paced transition towards renewable energy and increasing use of natural gas in electricity production in Vietnam. The report recommends Vietnam to prioritise renewable energy in national power planning; increase use of natural gas as the current best-fit baseload for renewable energy; construct a regulatory and permitting environment that attracts private sector and smaller scale off-grid investment in clean energy generation and energy efficiency; invest in grid infrastructure to improve stability and capacity; and halt any new approvals for coal.

      Vietnam looks to more than double power generation capacity by 2030 U.S. 19th Feb 2020
      Vietnam will more than double its power generation capacity over the next decade to support a fast-growing economy, new guidelines for a national energy development strategy show. The Southeast Asian nation aims to boost capacity to 125-130 gigawatts (GW) by 2030, from about 54 GW now, the Communist Party’s powerful decision-making politburo said in a document this month. It will raise the proportion of renewable energy to 15% to 20% by 2030, while trying to cut reliance on coal for electricity production, the strategy document showed. Coal now accounts for about 38% of capacity.

      Ministry reverts to old proposal on fixing solar power tariffs VnExpress International 19th Feb 2020
      The Ministry of Industry and Trade is arguing against using a bidding mechanism for deciding solar power tariffs, saying it could have negative impacts. In its latest report to the government Tuesday, the MoIT has suggested that solar power projects approved before November 23, 2019 that begin operating before January 1, 2021 should enjoy fixed feed-in-tariffs (FIT) of 7.09 cents a kWh for plants on land and 7.69 cents for floating plants. The suggestion is reversing its stand on a proposal it had submitted just last week, under which investors of projects coming online after 2020 would have to bid on solar power prices, and the cheapest one would be chosen.

      Vietnam to use more coal, oil in 2020 to power growth: government Hellenic Shipping News 18th Feb 2020
      Vietnam will generate more electricity from coal and oil this year to compensate for an expected drop in output from hydropower plants because of a lack of rain, the government said on Friday. The Southeast Asian country, which has one of the fastest-growing economies in Asia, is increasingly reliant on climate-warming fossil fuels to support its growth. Output from hydropower plants is estimated to be 2.67 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) below target this year, the government said in a statement on its website.

      HCM City scales up smart city development project to all districts VietnamPlus 17th Feb 2020
      The Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee has urged all districts to conduct programmes on smart city development, with specific targets, roadmaps and implementation measures suited to the characteristics of individual locality. In the first phase of its smart city development, the city selected districts 1 and 12 to pilot the project, and there have been some accomplishments after more than two years, Chairman of the committee Nguyen Thanh Phong said. They include application of cutting-edge technologies in administration, and are a crucial foundation for scaling up the project to the remaining 22 districts, he told a recent meeting.

      New World Bank strategy to help Vietnam scale up solar power Vietnam Investment Review - VIR 13th Feb 2020
      The deployment of new solar generation will be a critical factor for the government of Vietnam to meet its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) emissions reduction target and reduce its need for new coal generation. According to the new World Bank Vietnam Solar Competitive Bidding Strategy and Framework report, supported by the Global Infrastructure Facility (GIF) and the World Bank’s Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP), Vietnam’s solar generation capacity has the potential to improve from the current 4.5GW to the tens of GW range within ten years, while creating thousands of new jobs. The report recommends two new deployment schemes for projects: competitive bidding for solar parks, and "substation-based bidding" – competitive bidding based on available capacity at electrical substations. These approaches would address the curtailment issue as well as improve risk allocation between public and private investors.

      Deputy PM hosts investors interested in LNG power development in Vietnam Vietnam Investment Review - VIR 12th Feb 2020
      Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung on February 11 received a group of investors from the US and the Republic of Korea who are interested in liquefied natural gas (LNG) power development in Vietnam. At the reception in Hanoi, the Deputy PM acknowledged the serious intention of the investors, and affirmed that the Vietnamese Government always encourages and facilitates the participation of domestic and foreign firms in power projects in Vietnam. He informed the guests that the demand for electricity in Vietnam is growing at an average 10 percent a year. Vietnam is diversifying its sources of power in the direction of reducing coal-fired power and raising the share of gas-fuelled power and renewable energy, Dung said, adding that gas-fired power is slated to account for 12 percent of total electricity generation, equivalent to 17,000 MW, by 2030.

      Quang Tri aims to become regional energy centre by 2025 VietnamPlus 11th Feb 2020
      The central province of Quang Tri is working to attract investment to realize its target of becoming an energy centre of the central region by 2025. Vice chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Nguyen Quan Chinh said Quang Tri is giving priority to investment in wind, power, gas and thermal power. The province looks to increase the total electricity generation capacity of local power plants of all kinds to 5,000 MW in 2025, including 3,200 MW of wind power, and around 1,500 MW of solar power. During 2021-2025, Quang Tri will have to build more 500 kV transformers for the transmission of nearly 2,000 MW more of electricity from wind power plants.

      Massive investment in wind power plants could overload grid: experts VietnamPlus 9th Feb 2020
      The rush to invest in wind energy to take advantage of the Government's pricing incentives could lead to overloading of the national grid in a repeat of the solar scenario, experts warn. A well-known renewable energy expert, who did not want to be named, said investing in wind power to enjoy pricing incentives is risky. The preferential rate for wind power only applies to grid-connected plants beginning commercial operations before November 1, 2021, and many investors are racing against time to start operations, but a wind power plant cannot be built as quickly as a solar power plant, he explained.Citing the example of solar farms, he warned that if many wind power plants are built in any place before November 2021, the grid there would surely be overloaded and they would have to operate below capacity.

      Citibank, ING to arrange funds for LNG-fired power units in Vietnam U.S. 7th Feb 2020
      HANOI (Reuters) - PetroVietnam Power Corp has signed a deal to allow a consortium of Citibank and ING Bank [INGBK.UL] to arrange funds for its project to expand a gas-fired power complex in southern Vietnam with two new units, the company said. The funds will be used for the construction of the 1,500-megawatt (MW) total capacity Nhon Trach 3 and 4 plants in Dong Nai province, PetroVietnam Power said in a statement following the signing of the deal earlier this week. The plants - to cost about $1.4 billion - are scheduled to start commercial operations from the fourth quarter of 2022, and will be fired by imported liquefied natural gas (LNG), according to PetroVietnam Power.

      Vietnam working on corporate PPA platform with 1-GW target Renewablesnow.com 7th Feb 2020
      Vietnam is preparing to launch a pilot programme that will facilitate the signing of synthetic power purchase agreements (PPAs) between private power buyers and renewable energy producers, targeting contracts for up to 1 GW in 2020-2022. The size of the direct PPA programme, to be available nationwide, is envisaged in the range of 400 MW to 1,000 MW, under a proposal submitted by the Ministry of Industry and Trade of Vietnam (MOIT). The plan is subject to public comments and approval by the Prime Minister.

      Vietnam seeks greater cooperation with US in infrastructure, energy hanoitimes.vn 6th Feb 2020
      Vietnam is looking to step up cooperation with the US in infrastructure finance and energy, which are in line with agreements between the two countries and of huge potential, according to Nguyen Van Binh, Politburo member and head of the Party Central Committee’s Economic Commission. The move is particularly important as the domestic resources are limited, Binh said in a meeting with Acting Assistant Secretary at the US Department of the Treasury Mitchell Silk on February 5. Binh said the Vietnamese government encourages greater participation of the private sector in the capital market, infrastructure development and energy, which are part of the vision of the Communist Party of Vietnam to transform private economy into a major driving force of the economy.

      Vietnam Goes Big on Solar Power Voice of America 5th Feb 2020
      Solar power is making a strong showing in Vietnam after years of shuttling from one extreme to the other, with the nation looking sometimes like it would revert to coal, and other times like it would invest in renewable energy. By the end of last year Vietnam had surpassed Malaysia and Thailand to reach the largest installed capacity of solar power in Southeast Asia, with 44% of the total capacity, according to figures from Wood Mackenzie, a firm that sells consulting services in the energy industry. Solar supporters were encouraged to see the government offer a high feed in tariff (FIT). This helped push Vietnam to reach 5.5 gigawatts of solar capacity last year.

      Countries urge Laos to conduct dam impact studies Khmer Times 6th Feb 2020
      Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam yesterday reiterated concerns over Laos’ proposed Luang Prabang hydropower dam project and urged the country to conduct more studies on potential environmental and social impacts. The proposed project would be built in Houygno village in the province, approximately 25 kilometres from Luang Prabang town and approximately 2,036 kilometres from the Mekong Delta in Vietnam, according to an MRC statement. The Lao government is aiming for the dam to produce 1,460 megawatts of electricity for export to Thailand and Vietnam. The project is expected to begin next year. Nearly 200 people representing Mekong river countries, civil society organisations, the academic community, the private sector and development partners are currently attending the 9th Regional Stakeholder Forum in Laos and the issue of the proposed dam project was discussed yesterday. Sok Bunheng, a representative of the Cambodian National Mekong Committee, yesterday during the forum said more hydro-meteorological data on social and environmental impacts before the project should continue. Mr Bunheng said these concerns are related to the impact the dam would have on safety and downstream water flow. Representatives of Vietnam said the Lao government should consider halting the project and instead focus on renewable energy to meet power demands.

      Vietnam's draft decision on the pilot program on corporate synthetic (financial/virtual) direct PPA mechanisms provides new opportunities for renewable energy developers and private power consumers Lexology 5th Feb 2020
      The Ministry of Industry and Trade of Vietnam ("MOIT") recently submitted Proposal No. 544 to the Prime Minister along with a new draft Decision on approval of the pilot program on direct power purchase agreement ("DPPA") mechanisms between renewable energy developers/power generation companies and private power buyers/consumers ("Draft DPPA Decision").1 DPPA mechanisms (also known as corporate PPAs) are surging around the world as a new driver and catalyst for renewable energy projects. Following years of studying these mechanisms, MOIT officially submitted Proposal No. 544 and the Draft DPPA Decision to the Prime Minister to propose synthetic DPPA mechanisms (also known as financial, virtual direct or corporate PPAs) for off-site renewable energy projects in Vietnam with a proposed pilot program at a scale ranging from 400MW to 1,000MW. The DPPA mechanism refers to a power purchase agreement arrangement in which the power purchasers (off-takers) are private power consumers. This represents a growing global trend whereby instead of buying electricity directly from the State utility off-taker, private businesses purchase electricity directly from independent power developers (generators) under long-term contracts.

      Financial Services

      State Bank of Vietnam becomes BIS member Nhan Dan Online 18th Feb 2020
      The State Bank of Vietnam has become a member of the prestigious international financial institution, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), following the invitation from the BIS last month. The BIS invited the central banks of Vietnam, Kuwait and Morocco to become members in 2020, bringing its total members to 63. BIS’s admission of new members is very limited as it often expands membership after 5 - 10 years. BIS’s latest membership admission took place in 2011.

      Vietnam Central Bank Drops Plan to Cap Foreign Ownership in E-Payment Companies Fintech Singapore 17th Feb 2020
      The State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) has scrapped its initial plan to limit foreign ownership of locally registered e-payment companies to 49% after consulting with experts and industry participants, according to a VN Express report. In a note released earlier this month, the SBV said it will not submit the proposal to the government in June after hearing feedbacks from fintech players. The central bank said that foreign investment has played a key role in the domestic payments landscape since providers heavily rely on technology. Limiting foreign ownership would hamper foreign investment in the e-payment sector and fintech in general, it said.

      Vietnam to tighten corporate bond regulations VnExpress International 11th Feb 2020
      The Ministry of Finance plans to make regulations for corporate bond issuances more stringent, including the ratio to the issuer’s equity, to protect investors. There is a rising trend of businesses shifting from bank credit to private placement of bonds, with the issuances often worth several times their equity, the ministry said in its proposal. Of 177 businesses that issued bonds in the first 11 months of last year, 28 made issuances worth over three times their share capital, according to the Hanoi Stock Exchange (HNX). They were worth 100 times the equity for six of them, and 50 times for 11. Many businesses did not clarify the purpose of the issuance. This lack of information poses a risk to investors, the ministry said.

      Banks, fintech firms promote cashless payments during epidemic vietnamnews.vn 10th Feb 2020
      To prevent the spread of the new strain of coronavirus in Viêt Nam, customers are encouraged to adopt cashless payment methods. Some banks and fintech firms have taken the opportunity to promote the safety of cashless payments, especially after news that the People’s Bank of China is using ultraviolet light and high-temperature ovens to disinfect incoming cash. The bank also started replacing old notes with newly minted bills on February 4.

      Hitachi Teams Up with VietCredit to Automate Loan Process in Vietnam Mobile ID World 10th Feb 2020
      Hitachi is teaming up with the VietCredit Finance Company to explore the potential for digital financial services in Vietnam. The companies are specifically hoping to use AI to automate key pieces of the personal loan applications process, allowing the financial institution to turn those applications around more quickly. To that end, Hitachi and VietCredit will deploy tablet terminals outfitted with an automatic contract system at VietCredit offices. If the initial phase goes well, the program will then expand to office buildings and industrial parks to make the service more accessible.

      State treasury offloads more than $409 million of G-bonds in January vietnamnews.vn 4th Feb 2020
      The Hà Nội Securities Exchange (HNX) announced it helped sell nearly VNĐ9.53 trillion (US$409.5 million) of G-bonds in 12 bidding sessions in January. The exchange said compared to the previous month, the value was down 15.3 per cent. HNX said 79.4 per cent of bonds issued by the State Treasury were sold at lower interest, with reductions of between 0.6 to 1.71 percentage point per annum for each term. Of which, the interest rates for the 7-year term fell the most at 1.71 per cent per annum. According to HNX, the bidding volume in January was 3.9 times higher than the bidding volume the previous month.

      Food & Agriculture

      HCM City promises adequate food supply, says epidemic not a cause for worry vietnamnews.vn 20th Feb 2020
      HCM City authorities have assured there would be no short supply of foodstuff and other essential goods because of the novel coronavirus epidemic. Nguyễn Huỳnh Trang, deputy director of the Department of Industry and Trade, said the supply of essential goods would increase by 30-40 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter.

      Asia Rice-Vietnam rates climb to over 1-year high on strong demand Successful Farming 20th Feb 2020
      Vietnam's rice export prices surged to a more than one-year high this week on strong demand from the Philippines and Malaysia, while rates for the Indian variety held steady at an over four- month peak.

      Việt Nam needs to find new rice markets to replace China: experts vietnamnews.vn 17th Feb 2020
      Since the novel coronavirus (Covid-2019) epidemic will surely affect exports to China, diversifying markets is an urgent requirement for Vietnamese rice exporters, experts have said. The winter-spring rice crop harvest has begun in the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta.Prices have decreased slightly since the beginning of the season earlier this month because exports to China have ceased, Trần Chí Hùng, director of provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said. The price would continue to drop unless new markets are found, he said.

      Seafood exports plummet VnExpress International 15th Feb 2020
      They fell to $556 million, with exports of pangasius fish falling by 64 percent, octopus by 50 percent and tuna by 30 percent, the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers said in a report. It attributed the drop to the seven-day Lunar New Year (Tet) holiday in January, adding exports would continue to fall in February and March since the epidemic has limited exports to China.

      Fruit, vegetable segment needs revamp: agriculture minister vietnamnews.vn 13th Feb 2020
      The fruit and vegetable farming segment needs to restructure production, enhance linkages among stakeholders in the value chain and invest in modern processing plants, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyễn Xuân Cường has said. Speaking at a meeting with farmers and businesses in Long An Province on Tuesday to discuss measures to resolve difficulties caused by the novel coronavirus epidemic, Cường said the country has 60,000ha under dragon fruit, which yield three million tonnes a year and fetching nearly US$2 billion from exports. But he also pointed to limitations like mainly exporting fresh fruits and relying too much on the Chinese market.

      China’s closure of border markets exerts no impact on formal trade hanoitimes.vn 10th Feb 2020
      Customs clearance of Vietnam’s exports of agricultural products to China, including dragon fruit, via official channels is carried out as usual. The decision of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in China, and possible of Yunnan province, to extend the closure of border markets and suspend informal cross-border trade until the end of February would not affect Vietnam’s agricultural exports to China via formal border gates, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT).

      Vietnam makes efforts to promote domestic consumption of agricultural products Vietnam Insider 10th Feb 2020
      Export turnover is forecast to decrease in the first quarter of this year due to the epidemic and subsequent impact on trade. According to Nguyễn Bích Lâm, director general of the General Statistics Office (GSO), exports are estimated to fall 21 per cent to US$46.5 billion in the first quarter. Items including agricultural products, seafood, wood products and garment and textile products are likely to be the worst hit.

      Sunkist excited to supply Vietnam Fruitnet 4th Feb 2020
      The initial shipment of Sunkist oranges arrived in January and with more than half of the season remaining, there is plenty of time for the supplier to capitalise on its first season in Vietnam. Jim Phillips, president and chief executive of Sunkist Growers, was hopeful about the opportunities the development would bring. According to USDA, US fresh fruit exports to Vietnam without oranges reached US$97m in the 10 months of 2019, a 46 per cent year-over-year growth.

      Health & Life Sciences

      Vietnam's first smart medical center commences operation in Saigon VnExpress International 12th Feb 2020
      A smart medical operating center applying artificial intelligence, a first in Vietnam, launched in HCMC on Tuesday. The pilot project will connect data collected from different medical departments, agencies, hospitals and clinics, conduct analysis and also collate public response. Amid epidemics like the current coronavirus developing complications, the center would join with the city health department to warn citizens and devise a counter strategy. The center will continually update information at 47 hospitals across the city, keeping track of their ability to receive or treat patients. It would also update the number of patients infected by the virus alongside suspected cases globally, keeping city health officials notified.

      Banks provide assistance to businesses affected by epidemic outbreak vietnamnews.vn 10th Feb 2020
      In response to the State Bank of Việt Nam’s appeal, a number of credit institutions have announced plans to support businesses affected by the novel coronavirus epidemic. With the epidemic severely affecting business, production and daily life, the central bank called on credit institutions to ensure they have enough funds to meet the demand for credit and support customers who are affected by the outbreak.

      Teleconference updates 700 hospitals on nCoV prevention measures VietnamPlus 9th Feb 2020
      The Ministry of Health on February 8 held a teleconference to discuss and popularise prevention and treatment measures against the acute respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus (nCoV). The event, which was connected to 700 hospitals at all levels nationwide, saw the participation of experts from the World Health Organisation (WHO), domestic hospitals and universities; representatives from health departments and disease control centres in provinces and cities, and local authorities across the country. Vietnam has successfully cultivated and isolated the novel coronavirus, enabling quicker tests of the virus, Long said.

      Vietnam scraps import tariffs on face masks, liquid hand soaps VnExpress International 8th Feb 2020
      Finance Minister Dinh Tien Dung Friday signed a decision exempting import tariffs on a list of items needed to improve hygiene in the fight against the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) epidemic. The list includes medical masks, liquid hand wash products and the materials needed to produce them, protective clothing, helmets, goggles and gloves approved by health authorities. The import tariff exemptions would apply from Saturday until the end of the epidemic, the decision said. Mask prices have been soaring across the country and drugstores are running out of supply as people seek protection from the deadly pneumonia causing virus.

      ICT

      Cyber attacks still harm internet users in Vietnam Vietnam Insider 17th Feb 2020
      Despite the optimistic report by the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) about cyber security status in Vietnam this January, the reality has shown that various kinds of attacks still exist on the Internet and are able to harm Internet users if they are careless. Accordingly, the MIC report revealed that in January 2020, there were 283 cyber attacks against Vietnamese information systems, a decrease of 11 percent and 17 percent compared to December 2019 and January 2019, respectively. In addition, the number of Vietnamese IP addresses in zombie networks this January was only 432,162, a reduction of 57.69 percent and 59.32 percent compared to December 2019 and January 2019, correspondingly.

      Vietnam will commercialise 5G in 2020 OpenGov Asia 17th Feb 2020
      The Minister of Information and Communication (MIC), Nguyen Manh Hung, stated that Vietnam will be among the first countries to deploy 5G, both in providing services and manufacturing 5G devices. Vietnam will commercialise 5G by 2020 with made-in-Vietnam equipment. Of 131 mobile network operators that are deploying 5G, three are in Vietnam. There are still no standards and official frequency for 5G in the world. It is expected that standards will be set up in 2020. Both Viettel and Vingroup have stated they will commercialise 5G telecom devices this year.

      Vietnam's 4G Users To Grow By 10 Million In 2020 Yahoo Finance 12th Feb 2020
      Viettel Group is planning to accelerate 4G universalization in Vietnam by cooperating with vendor to supply smartphone under $65 and feature phones under $25. Additionally, Viettel will add around 2,400 base stations to fill 3,700 coverage holes across the country. With these two solutions, Viettel forecasts the number of 4G users in Vietnam to increase by 10 million. In 2019, despite a saturated market, Viettel Group telecom revenue grew by 6.4%, twice the average rate of the sector; telecom revenue from oversea markets increased by 24.4%. It's main growth driver in 2019 was revenue from data service, for which the research & consulting firm Frost & Sullivan named Viettel Telecom, the telco arm of Viettel Group, "Vietnam's Mobile Data Service Provider of the Year".

      Vietnam introduces hefty fines for spreading fake news Tuoi Tre News 5th Feb 2020
      Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has signed a decree stipulating sanctions against those spreading fake news and rumors on social media amid a deluge of online misinformation about the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in the Southeast Asian country. The new decree, which specifies fines in the fields of post, telecommunications, information technology, and radio frequency, will take effect on April 15, 2020. Accordingly, an administrative fine of VND10-20 million (US$430-860), around 3-6 months’ worth of basic salary in Vietnam, can be imposed on people who use social networks to provide and share fake, untruthful, distorted, and slanderous information. Those who share information that promotes outdated customs and superstition; describes details of horror, scary accidents, and criminal actions; causes confusion among people; or incites violence, crimes, and social issues face the same penalties. The penalties can also be imposed on those who provide or share publications that infringe upon intellectual property rights or are banned from circulation in Vietnam; images of maps that do not show or improperly display Vietnam's sovereignty; or links to banned content on the Internet. The new decree replaces an older one issued in 2013, which does not contain any article on fake news. Vietnam’s Law on Cyber Security, in effect since January 2019, prohibits the spreading of incorrect information which causes confusion among the people, damages socio-economic activities, creates difficulties for authorities and those performing their duty, or violates the legal rights and legitimate interests of organizations and individuals. However, it does not stipulate specific sanctions against violators. At least nine people have been fined and three celebrities asked to explain their actions over Facebook posts containing false information about 2019-nCoV, which has killed 492 people and infected over 24,500 others globally, mostly in China.

      Infrastructure

      Vietnam condotel owners to get title deeds VnExpress International 17th Feb 2020
      Condotel owners are finally set to get titles to their properties with the government issuing guidelines to local authorities for the purpose. Ownership of condotels and officetels will be valid for 50 years generally, and for 70 years in localities with difficult economic conditions. Requests for extension will be considered after the period. The guidelines have been issued following repeated requests by condotel developers and buyers to address the lack of a legal framework though development has been rampant since 2016.

      Vietnam slips out of top 10 logistics ranking VnExpress International 15th Feb 2020
      Vietnam has slipped one place to 11th in this year’s global index of emerging logistics markets, falling behind several Southeast Asian peers. The country had an overall score of 5.52 out of 10 in the 2020 Emerging Markets Logistics Index released by the world’s leading logistics company, Agility. The firm ranked 50 countries by factors that make them attractive to logistics providers, freight forwarders, shipping lines, air cargo carriers and distributors. The three factors considered in the ranking were: domestic logistics opportunities, international logistics opportunities and business fundamentals. China remains world's leading emerging logistics market, followed by India. Indonesia (4th), Malaysia (5th) and Thailand (9th) were Southeast Asian peers who did better than Vietnam in the global ranking.

      Phú Yên seek investment vietnamnews.vn 12th Feb 2020
      The south-central province of Phú Yên is encouraging domestic and foreign businesses to invest in Hòa Tâm Industrial Zone, Bãi Gốc Port and a hi-tech park all located in its southern area, according to the provincial People’s Committee vice chairman Nguyễn Chí Hiếu. Hiếu told online newspaper baodautu.vn that many investors have shown interest so the province needed to develop criteria to select investors with experience, financial capacities and effective project plans.

      Vietnam's northern port city will develop more economic zones in 2020 Vietnam Insider 9th Feb 2020
      The Vietnam’s northern port city of Hai Phong planned to establish a number of new industrial zones this year, head of the provincial management board of economic zones Phạm Văn Mợi said. Among these zones are the 752ha Xuân Cầu-Cát Hải industrial and non-tariff zone worth more than US$61 million, and the 93.3ha Cầu Cựu-An Lão industrial zone expected to cost US$36.3 million. The two projects are being verified by the Ministry of Planning and Investment and will be submitted to the Prime Minister for approval later.

      Trung Lương-Mỹ Thuận expressway to be finished this year: contractor vietnamnews.vn 5th Feb 2020
      An expressway in the Mekong Delta running between Tiền Giang Province near HCM City and Cần Thơ city will open to traffic at the end of this year. The Trung Lương-Mỹ Thuận Expressway will have a length of 55.1km and four lanes. It will reduce the travel time between HCM City and the Mekong Delta and reduce congestion on National Highway 1. The construction was begun in 2009, stalled due to a lack of funds and was restarted in 2015.

      Sustainable development a $45 billion opportunity for the private sector: Standard Chartered vietnamnews.vn 5th Feb 2020
      Việt Nam presented a US$45 billion opportunity for the private sector to invest in sustainable development to help achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, according to a recent study by the international banking group Standard Chartered. The Opportunity 2030 study revealed an almost $10 trillion opportunity for private-sector investors across all emerging markets, with Việt Nam presenting $45.8 billion of that total. The opportunities for the private sector would come from contributions to three infrastructure-focused goals between now and 2030, including clean water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy, and industry, innovation and infrastructure.

      Vinalines plans 2020 goals vietnamnews.vn 4th Feb 2020
      Vietnam National Shipping Lines (Vinalines) has announced its growth targets for 2020, a year set to feature various difficulties. According to Nguyễn Cảnh Tĩnh, Vinalines’ director, Vinalines will build more berths at Lạch Huyện Port in Hải Phòng City to receive ships of up to 8,000 TEUs. It will also accelerate ongoing construction projects, renovate infrastructure systems and renovate loading and unloading technology at all ports in its network with a total investment of more than VNĐ1.2 trillion. This year, the firm aims to serve about 30 per cent of the cargo through Việt Nam.

      Daewoo E&C to Invest $388 Mil. in Star Lake City Project in Vietnam BusinessKorea 4th Feb 2020
      Daewoo Engineering and Construction (Daewoo E&C) is planning to invest US$388 million in the Star Lake City project in Hanoi, Vietnam jointly with Korean financial institutions. Daewoo E&C announced on Feb. 3 that it signed an investment development agreement with Korean financial institutions to promote a property development project in Star Lake City, Hanoi, Vietnam on Jan. 20. The project involves building two 35-story edifices, which would accommodate a hotel, serviced residences, business offices, and retail facilities, in a block (B3CC1 Block) of Star Lake City, a new city being developed by Daewoo E&C. The cost of the development project is US$388 million. Construction will start this year for completion in 2024.

      Draft Decree proposes new opportunities for private investments in airport and aviation infrastructure projects in Vietnam Lexology 10th Feb 2020
      The Ministry of Transport of Vietnam ("MOT") recently released a draft of the new decree on the management and operation of airports and airfields in Vietnam ("Draft Decree") to replace Decree No. 102 ("Decree No. 102"). The Draft Decree provides for, among other things, new regulations on investment and construction of airport infrastructure projects. In the context of the global shift from government ownership and operation to private control in the airport and aviation infrastructure sector, and increasing demands to promote private sector investments at airports in Vietnam, the Draft Decree proposes new mechanisms to facilitate new opportunities for private investment at airports in Vietnam. However, there are legal issues that will need to be considered in relation to airport concessions in Vietnam depending on the legal and contractual frameworks involved, whether under public-private partnership ("PPP") or private investment structures on a project-by-project basis. In Vietnam, the grantor is an airport enterprise that has been issued an airport operation business license by the MOT to manage and operate an airport and airfield. An airport enterprise, as the grantor, may grant or hire another licensed provider of aviation services to provide such services at airports and airfields under a concession contractual arrangement to ensure security, safety, service quality, environment and compliance with the operation conditions at airports and airfields under which they can agree on the rights and obligations of each party, concession fees and the term of concession agreement. The provider of aviation services must be licensed by the MOT's Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam to supply the proposed services.

      Manufacturing

      Industrial sector’s growth likely to hit almost 3% in Q1 vietnamnews.vn 17th Feb 2020
      Việt Nam’s industrial sector in the first quarter is projected to grow 2.68 per cent compared to the same period last year if the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is brought under control, according to the General Statistics Office (GSO). Of which, the manufacturing and processing industry, that accounts for the lion’s share of the industrial sector, will be the hardest hit. This industry is likely to expand just 2.38 per cent instead of 10.47 per cent if the virus is handled. Industries using materials imported from China are also badly affected as the country is a major supplier of materials and accessories for Việt Nam.

      Vietnam firms look for alternative sources of raw materials as epidemic closes China market The Star Online 17th Feb 2020
      Vietnamese companies, many of whom are facing a shortage of feedstock and raw materials as a result of the new coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in China, have started looking at alternative sources. The epidemic has had a significant impact on public health, transportation, tourism, education, and, importantly, trade and commerce, experts said. It has affected Việt Nam’s trade not only with China but also other markets, and started hurting Vietnamese businesses. According to the Department of Import and Export under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the impacts include prolonging delivery times and customs clearance due to the quarantine requirements on both sides. In addition, trade by road, rail and air with China has slumped.

      HCM City aids manufacturing to remain on growth track vietnamnews.vn 15th Feb 2020
      HCM City is providing assistance to the manufacturing sector to sustain industrial growth. It will amend the development plans for industrial parks (IPs), build a new IP measuring over 360ha for hi-tech industries, change start-up programmes, and create new support policies. According to its Statistics Bureau, HCM City has more than 50,000 businesses in the manufacturing sector or 13 per cent of all businesses in operation.

      Vietnam should develop high-added value electronics sector, say experts VietnamPlus 12th Feb 2020
      Vietnam should pen a general plan to shape up an electronics sector with higher value as the industry is currently assembling and processing simple products, according to experts. In fact, although Vietnam is the world’s 12th largest electronics exporter and the third largest in ASEAN, some 95 percent of the country’s electronic export revenue comes from foreign-invested enterprises instead of domestic firms. According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, export value of the sector increased over 50 percent on average during 2010-2018, the highest level in the world. However, the impressive growth is backed by heavy investment from large multinational groups, particularly those from the Republic of Korea and Japan.

      Việt Nam keen to develop supporting industries: Deputy PM vietnamnews.vn 5th Feb 2020
      Việt Nam is keen to develop supporting industries and the Government has been working towards the goal of having 1,000 enterprises operating in this sector that are capable of supplying assembling enterprises and multinational corporations in 2020, Deputy Prime Minister Vương Đình Huệ said. Huệ said Việt Nam also aims to raise supporting industries’ share in the entire industrial sector’s production value to 14 per cent by 2030. Deputy PM Huệ stressed that supporting industries are the main factor in raising the value of the process-manufacturing industry, the driver of Việt Nam’s economic growth in recent years.

      New orders continue to rise solidly at start of 2020 vietnamnews.vn 4th Feb 2020
      The opening month of this year saw a modest improvement in business conditions in the Vietnamese manufacturing sector, according to a report by a London-based information services firm. IHS Markit released the Việt Nam Manufacturing PMI report on Monday from responses to monthly questionnaires sent to purchasing managers in a panel of about 400 manufacturers. The Việt Nam Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) remained above the 50.0 neutral mark last month, posting 50.6 following a reading of 50.8 in December last year. The index signalled a modest improvement in the health of the manufacturing sector at the start of this year.

      Philippines

      Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam: Philippines’ military models, post-US South China Morning Post 20th Feb 2020
      The unravelling of the US-Philippines alliance and President Donald Trump’s dismissiveness towards it may also engender spillover effects in other key US allies such as Thailand and South Korea. Alliances have been one of America’s traditional strengths. As it rolls out its Indo-Pacific strategy, gaining more – not losing one – would play to its advantage. So with the clock ticking on the 180-day transition window before the VFA is nullified, there is still plenty of time to salvage the agreement. But if the alliance is allowed to wither, there are three possible models already present in the region that Manila could pursue: gravitate towards China, as Cambodia has; follow Indonesia’s example of non-alignment; or become more self-reliant in defence like Vietnam.

      Singapore

      Asian tourism capitals sweat over Chinese travel drought Nikkei Asian Review 13th Feb 2020
      Popular Asian travel destinations face the risk of a prolonged decline in visitors from China, a group that generates around 20% of global tourism spending, as the coronavirus disrupts travel and shows signs of stoking anti-Chinese sentiment. The Philippines on Feb. 2 widened a travel ban covering visitors from Hubei Province to all foreign travelers from China, including Hong Kong and Macao. Singapore has banned the entry of foreigners who traveled to China within the previous 14 days. It expects visitor arrivals to decline 25% to 30% this year, with a roughly $5 billion loss in tourism receipts. Thailand saw a nearly 60% drop in Chinese visitors for the last week of January estimating economic losses at 9.15 billion baht ($294 million) between Jan. 24 and 31. Vietnam's tourism industry could lose up to $7.7 billion in the first three months of 2020 due to cancellations of Chinese tours and a general downturn in domestic travelers and international arrivals. Malaysian tourism faces a loss of over 400 million ringgit ($96.7 million) for February and March alone, as 5,000 tour groups from China have scrapped their trips.

      Travel & Tourism

      Vietnam strives to turn tourism into a key economic sector by 2030 Nhan Dan Online 17th Feb 2020
      Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has recently approved a tourism development strategy by 2030. The strategy aims to turn Vietnam into a renowned destination by 2025, ranking among the three leading countries in terms of tourism development in Southeast Asia and among the top 50 nations with the highest tourism competitiveness in the world. The tourism sector aims to earn VND3.1-3.2 trillion (US$130-135 billion) and create 8.5 million jobs by 2030. Vietnam looks to attract at least 50 million foreigners and serve 160 million domestic tourists by that time.

      Porsche Carrera Cup Asia confirmed as Vietnam F1’s supporting race The Star Online 13th Feb 2020
      The Vietnam Grand Prix Corporation (VGPC) has confirmed that the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia (PCCA) will be a support race for the Formula 1 VinFast Vietnam Grand Prix 2020 in Hanoi in April. The first ever Vietnam Grand Prix, which is the third race of this year’s FIA Formula 1 World Championship, will take place on April 3-5. The PCCA will be the second supporting race together with the Thailand Super Series (TSS) on the weekend’s racing schedule.

      Vietnam postpones annual national tourism promotion over novel coronavirus VnExpress International 10th Feb 2020
      Vietnam has postponed the February 22 opening ceremony of the National Tourism Year due to nCoV epidemic concerns. The now date of the ceremony has not been decided. The northern province of Ninh Binh had been chosen to host the event with the theme of "Hoa Lu – Thousand-year-old Capital." More than 100 activities nationwide had been planned for the year under the latest edition of the National Tourism Year. These included the Trang An festival at the Trang An Landscape Complex, the final round of Miss Capital Asean 2020, and an international conference on Xam singing, a traditional folk music form said to be in danger of being lost. The annual tourism campaign has been held every year since 2003 by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism in tandem with a local administration.

      Vietnam promotes Vĩnh Long province as new tourism destination The Star Online 9th Feb 2020
      This year, the Vĩnh Long province aims to receive 1.6 million tourists, including 220,000 foreigners, while income from tourism is expected to reach VNĐ800 billion (US$34 million). In 2019, Vĩnh Long received 1.5 million tourists, a 15 per cent increase against the previous year. The income from tourism last year was VNĐ525 billion (US$22.5 million), a 54 per cent year-on-year increase. To get tourists to stay longer, the local tourism sector has decided to promote some special tourism products. Director of Vĩnh Long Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism Phan Văn Giàu says hát bội (classical drama) shows have been offered on a trial basis as entertainment for tourists.

      Saigon Chinese-origin community festival recognized as national cultural heritage VnExpress International 9th Feb 2020
      Tet Nguyen Tieu, considered the most important festival of the Vietnamese-Chinese community in Saigon’s District 5, has been recognized as national intangible cultural heritage. The decision was made Saturday by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, following a proposal made by the city administration last September. In District 5, home to the largest Vietnamese-Chinese community in the city, Tet Nguyen Tieu is the biggest and most important festival of the year, marking the final day of the traditional Lunar New Year (Tet) celebration. It is observed on the 15th day of the first lunar month, the first Full Moon day of the New Year.

      Vietnam has additional 11 national intangible cultural heritages VietNamNet 4th Feb 2020
      Vietnam has added 11 more cultural icons to the list of national intangible cultural heritage, according to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. They are 1) a festival of Chu Xa village in Hanoi’s Gia Lam district; 2) the “gau tao” festival of H’Mong ethnic people in Phong Tho, Sin Ho and Tam Duong districts of the northern mountainous province of Lai Chau; 3) the Dai Bi pagoda festival in the northern province of Nam Dinh’s Nam Truc district; 4) the “cap sac” (maturity ritual) of Dao Quan chet ethnic people in the northwest province of Dien Bien’s Tua Chua district; 5) the Linh Quang pagoda festival in the northern province of Nam Dinh’s Truc Ninh district; 6) the “cap sac” (maturity ritual) of Dao Tien ethnic people in the northern province of Phu Tho’s Tan Son district; 7) the “goi au” (Lung ta) ritual of the Thai Trang ethnic group in the northwestern province of Son La’s Quynh Nhai district; 8) the Tra On temple festival in the Mekong delta province of Vinh Long’s Tra On district; 9) and the Nguyen Tieu (Mid-First Lunar Month) festival of the Hoa ethnic people in Ho Chi Minh City; 10) drum making of Dao Do ethnic people in the northwest province of Lao Cai’s Sa Pa district; 11) the art of pattern making on costumes of H’Mong Hoa ethnic people in Son La province’s Moc Chau district.