Japanese pin hopes on Vietnam's market
New Japanese joint ventures in Vietnam are providing the evidence that Vietnam is becoming a haven for trusting investments as the globe attempts to fight out of the pandemic recessions.
Meiji's infant formula business in Vietnam mainly imports products from Japan and sales are growing steadily. The number of births per year in Vietnam is 1.5 million or approximately 1.7 times higher than that of Japan, and the market is expected to continue to expand in the future.
By establishing a new company in Vietnam, Meiji aims to conduct more timely and effective sales activities and conduct business operations rooted in the region.
Meanwhile, Sojitz Corporation and Vietnam Livestock Corporation JSC (VILICO), a company of the country's leading dairy group Vinamilk, have reached an agreement to establish a new joint venture for the purpose of importing, processing, and selling beef products in Vietnam.
Vietnam's annual beef consumption is currently close to 500,000 tonnes, and is expected to increase as income levels rise and population growth continues.
The joint venture, named Japan Vietnam Livestock Co., Ltd., will be capitalised at $2 million. Equity ownership will be split 49 per cent to Sojitz and 51 per cent to VILICO, while the joint venture is considering importing beef from such markets as Japan, North America, and Australia.
Meanwhile Toppan Cosmo, Inc., a subsidiary of Toppan Printing, has partnered with Osaka-based Studio Tec and Ho Chi Minh City-based Nu Design and Supply Co., Ltd. (NDS) to establish Toppan Equator LLC in Vietnam. The new company is focused on creation of high-quality 3D computer graphics for sales promotion and presentations by Japanese companies in the construction, interior design, and housing equipment and appliance sectors.
"Toppan Cosmo is very pleased to be able to fuse Studio Tec's technical capabilities with NDS' operational know-how to launch an organisation in Vietnam for production of high-quality 3D graphics, VR, and AR content with short lead times," said Koichi Takenaka, Toppan Equator CEO. "We will leverage the visualisation content produced by Toppan Equator to bring new value to communication and contribute to growth in Japan and Vietnam through expansion across diverse sectors."
It is apparent that more Japanese companies are pinning their hopes on the Vietnamese market in the midst of the global crisis. Commenting on the trend, Okada Hideyuki, chairman of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Ho Chi Minh City, said that the pandemic has disrupted the supply chain and manufacturing of accessories and spare parts, but Vietnam's successful containment of the COVID-19 pandemic has captured the attention of Japanese investors, and so this is a big opportunity for Vietnam to woo more Japanese funds.
Data from the Ministry of Investment and Planning revealed that in the first three months of 2021, Japan registered total investment capital value of nearly $2.1 billion in Vietnam. As of present, Japan is the second-biggest foreign investor in Vietnam after South Korea, with 4,666 projects totaling more than $62.51 billion in registered investment capital.
The Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) conducted a survey of over 900 Japanese companies about their business operations in Vietnam. Among them, nearly half plan to increase investment in the country in the next 1-2 years. They will focus investment on general products, high-value goods, sales, logistics, and research.
Although the expansion plan is 17.1 per cent lower than last year, the figure remains high in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Japanese companies are looking for new investment opportunities in line with the growing revenue in the local market (65.9 per cent), rising earnings from export (48.7 per cent), and Vietnam's high economic growth and potential (44.1 per cent).
According to Hirai Shinji, chief representative of JETRO in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam has great potential for growth with a huge population coupled with increasing disposable income of the middle-class, making Vietnam a new darling for Japanese companies. He noted that Japanese companies already operating in Vietnam have started to expand their production here, providing strong evidence that they are placing trust in the economic development of Vietnam for the future.
"Meanwhile, the recent emergence of some top fashion brands like UNIQLO in the country reflects the growing interest of Japanese businesses in the potential domestic market. The expansion of UNIQLO is expected to draw more Japanese investors to Vietnam in the coming time," he said.
Vietnam's biggest wind power plant operational
The Trungnam Group put into operation a wind power plant in Loi Hai and Bac Phong communes, Thuan Bac district, south-central Ninh Thuan province, on April 16.
This is the biggest wind power project in Vietnam that has been combined with a 204MW solar power plant to form a solar and wind farm complex considered the largest and unique one in the country and Southeast Asia.
The solar-wind power farm complex will supply a total 950 million kWh per year for the country's grid.
The first phase of the wind power plant was completed in 2019 with a capacity of 39.95MW. The second phase of the plant has an additional capacity of 64MW, and the third phase, 48MW.
According to Tran Quoc Nam, Chairman of the provincial People's Committee, Ninh Thuan is now taking the lead with 32 solar power projects with a total capacity amounting to 2,257 MW, and three wind power projects with accumulate capacity of 329 MW./.
Wood export expected to hit a new record
Viet Nam's wood exports have increased over the last few years and are expected to reach a new record in 2021.
The export turnover of wood and wood products has seen an average increase of 15.4 per cent per year in the 2017-2020 period, or US$1.35 billion, even greater than the total turnover of many items.
The export turnover of wood and wood products reached approximately $3.7 billion in the first quarter of this year, up 41.5 per cent, nearly double the growth rate of the total export turnover of the country at 22 per cent.
It is expected the export turnover of wood will surpass the $14.8 billion milestone, an increase of nearly 20 per cent, or $2.4 billion compared to the previous year.
Export turnover of wood and wood products is the sixth largest among Vietnamese export sectors. Wood and wood products are also the items with the largest trade surplus, contributing to improving the trade balance.
This sector has achieved such great results due to many factors, including the rate of forest cover being kept at around 42 per cent. Every year, the concentrated afforestation area is over 260,000 hectares.
These are among the factors to protect and improve the environment, as well as a fundamental factor to create jobs, reduce poverty rates in the mountainous and midland provinces, and as a source of raw materials for wood processing industry and wood export.
The amount of annual exploited wood has increased, surpassing 10 million cubic metres in 2015 and 16 million cubic metres in 2019.
Exploited wood grew by 33.9 per cent last year compared to 2016, an average annual increase of 7.6 per cent, or 1.07 million cubic metres.
In terms of market, the US is the largest export market, accounting for 60.4 per cent of Viet Nam’s total wood export turnover, followed by China with 9.9 per cent, Japan 9.5 per cent, and South Korea 5.7 per cent. These four markets alone account for 85.5 per cent of the total.
In terms of production capacity, excluding individuals, production groups and cooperatives, Viet Nam currently has nearly 12,000 enterprises, with about 500,000 employees and VND320 trillion (nearly $14 billion) of production-business capital over VND120 trillion in value of fixed assets, and nearly VND360 trillion in net revenue.
Exports to the EU reach nearly $5 billion thanks to EVFTA
Viet Nam’s export turnover of Vietnamese goods to the 27 EU member countries has skyrocketed after eight months of implementing the EU – Viet Nam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), reaching nearly US$4.8 billion.
Goods exported to the EU are mainly aquatic products, textile-garment, footwear, and farm produce, reported the Import and Export Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
Importing markets are mostly countries with ports and distribution and transshipment centres of the EU such as Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, and France.
The EVFTA, which took effect from August last year, has opened up great export opportunities for Vietnamese goods to the market with a GDP scale of $15 trillion.
The EU is Viet Nam’s fourth largest export market. Export turnover of Vietnamese goods to this market reached $43.7 billion last year and imports from the EU totalled $18.5 billion last year.
The proportion of exports to the EU increased by 18 per cent in the first three months of this year, equivalent to an increase of $1.5 billion.
Certificates of origin have been used to help about 32 – 34 per cent of annual export revenue benefit from preferential treatment under FTAs, showing that Vietnamese businesses and goods are increasingly tapping into concessionary tariffs in the markets that have FTAs with the country, said the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
The MoIT noted from August 1 last year, when the EVFTA took effect, to April 4 this year, authorised agencies and organisations in Viet Nam granted about 127,300 sets of certificate of origin form EUR 1 for nearly $4.8 billion of exports to the 27 EU countries.
Enterprises shipping goods to the EU also conducted self-certification of origin for more than $10.88 million worth of commodities to utilise preferential tariffs.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade said that in addition to the EVFTA, new generation trade agreements such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the UK-Viet Nam Free Trade Agreement (UKFTA) would continue to create conditions for Vietnamese goods to enter partner markets with more preferential tariffs, and with commitments to facilitate and minimise barriers.
Efforts to stimulate domestic consumer market continue as pandemic threatens exports
Many provinces and cities have launched programmes this year to promote local consumer demand to support businesses as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect exports.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade will organise conferences to connect producers, suppliers and retailers, and events for producers and traders, especially small traders, to help take goods to residential areas, industrial parks and rural and mountainous regions, Sai Gon Giai Phong (Liberated Sai Gon) newspaper reported.
It will help encourage consumption by fostering the evening economy and holding fairs and exhibitions of products and services. It continues to implement the 'Vietnamese people give priority to using Vietnamese goods' programme.
It will also promote the adoption of IT and foster e-commerce.
Hanoi's Department of Industry and Trade will organise five Vietnamese Goods Weeks this year to stimulate demand.
To be held in the districts of Ha Dong, Hai Ba Trung, Nam Tu Liem, Quoc Oai, and Ba Vi, they will have around 100 standard booths each.
Companies and cooperatives will exhibit food products, textiles, footwear, consumer goods from One Product One Commune programmes from Hanoi and other cities and provinces.
The department will subsidise booth costs by 50 percent.
The city will also support localities and businesses in Hanoi and elsewhere in selling agricultural and aquatic produce that face difficulties in selling due to the pandemic.
It will strengthen communications and promotions, create the best conditions for businesses to reach consumers and expand their market.
Products displayed and sold at the events will all be Vietnamese products with quality, food safety and traceability guaranteed.
To effectively implement the programme, the department has called on people’s committees of districts and towns to review all businesses and co-operatives to participate in the 2021 Vietnamese Goods Week of Hanoi, especially agricultural produce that are difficult to sell and the One Product One Commune programme.
According to the newspaper, Can Tho city's Department of Industry and Trade also plans to organise a promotional month programme, possibly from April 10 to May 10.
It will seek the participation of businesses, supermarkets, commercial centers, convenience stores, restaurants, hotels and entertainment venues.
HCM City plans to focus on digitisation of industry and promotion of domestic tourism.
Deputy director of the HCM City Department of Tourism Bui Thi Ngoc Hieu said her agency is stepping up digitisation, and the sector would continue its efforts to boost domestic tourism to drive the recovery of the industry.
Tourism cooperation and linkages between HCM City and the north-east, north-west and the central regions would also serve to boost domestic travel, she added.
HCM City advised to prioritise key transport works
Ho Chi Minh City needs to prioritise resources for transportation infrastructure, especially major roads linking its seaports, the municipal Transport Department has suggested.
The department said that during the 2020-2030 period, priority should be given to six projects at a total cost of nearly 27 trillion VND (1.17 billion USD), including My Thuy Road in Thu Duc city, the first and second sections of Belt Road No 2, the Nguyen Van Linh Road – Ba Chiem Bridge with total investment of over 7 trillion VND, the Phu My Bridge – My Thuy Road with more than 1.21 trillion VND, and the My Thuy – Nguyen Duy Trinh intersection, with over 1 trillion VND.
It suggested that municipal authorities assign the Department of Planning and Investment to allocate capital for these projects in accordance with the 2021-2025 mid-term public investment plan.
In late 2020, the municipal People's Council adopted a resolution on collecting fees for the use of infrastructure and public utilities at the city's border gates and seaports
The Transport Department is working to collect fees starting from July 1.
COVID-19 containment contributes to Vietnam's upgraded outlook: Fitch Ratings
Strong export growth and a successful campaign to contain the spread of COVID-19 have supported Vietnam's economy through the pandemic and allowed the government to adopt a restrained fiscal policy response, says Fitch Ratings.
These factors have contributed to upward pressure on the sovereign's rating, reflected in its decision to revise Vietnam's Outlook to Positive, from Stable, when the agency affirmed the rating at 'BB' on April 1.
According to Fitch Ratings, Vietnam's public finance metrics have improved markedly relative to peers since the start of the pandemic. In December 2019, prior to its April 2020 decision to revise the rating Outlook to Stable from Positive amid uncertainties associated with the pandemic, Fitch Ratings had expected that Vietnam's general government (GG) debt/GDP would stand at 40.3 percent of GDP in 2021, against a median of 41.7 percent for 'BB' sovereigns and 43.8 percent for 'BBB' sovereigns.
Fitch Ratings now expects Vietnam's GG debt/GDP to average around 39 percent in 2021-2022, but the equivalent peer median forecasts have risen to around 60 percent and 58 percent for 'BB' and 'BBB' sovereigns, respectively.
The improved fiscal position reflects Vietnam's broader economic strength. Tourism earnings have been severely hit by the pandemic, but other parts of the economy have proved robust. Vietnam was one of only a few countries globally to post positive economic growth in 2020, of 2.9 percent. Growth was buoyed by external demand, with goods exports rising by 6.9 percent. Domestic activity was also supported by the limited spread of COVID-19 in the country.
Fitch Ratings expects growth to remain strong, at around 7 percent annually, in 2021-2022, buoyed by continued export expansion and higher investment. A pandemic fiscal package covering 2020-2021, worth about 292 trillion VND (about 3.6 percent of 2020 GDP), will reinforce growth prospects.
Goods exports rose by 23.8 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2021, supporting real GDP growth in the quarter of 4.5 percent year-on-year. Vietnam is benefiting from trade diversion, new trade agreements such as the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), and Vietnam's cost competitiveness. Rapid increases in public infrastructure investment and FDI should bolster the sustainability of strong medium-term growth.
Fitch Ratings points out that sustained high growth that reduces Vietnam's GDP per capita gap against its peers while maintaining macroeconomic stability could put upward pressure on the sovereign rating. Upward pressure could also stem from sustainable fiscal consolidation, a reduction in contingent sovereign liabilities, or improvements in banking-sector capitalisation, transparency and regulation.
Vietnamese firm launches nutrition research institute in Sweden
On the occasion, it also inked a communication agreement with the Ministry of Health (MoH) and strategic cooperation deals with seven medical associations and five universities.
NutiFood Chairman Tran Thanh Hai said through the activities, the company hopes to work with leading scientists and nutritionists of the world and apply European high standard solutions nutrified to be compatible with physical conditions of Vietnamese people, in a bid to maximise their stature and intelligence.
He added that the nutrition research institute groups more than 50 leading experts in Vietnam and Europe and partners with major firms across the world like BASF of Germany, DuPont of the US, and DSM of Switzerland, along with Vietnamese medical associations and universities.
Deputy Minister of Health Do Xuan Tuyen said that the MoH and NutiFood have joined hands in a programme to raise awareness of a fight against overweight and obesity among Vietnamese children for 2021-23.
Activities planned for Hanoi stimulus programme
Hanoi plans to organise a wide range of activities to stimulate consumption and tourism during the city's grand promotional programme 2021.
The opening ceremony for the programme will be held on April 29 at Ly Thai To monument square in Hoan Kiem district.
From then until May 3, shopping centres and major supermarkets in the capital will hold activities in response to the programme.
To stimulate the construction industry, "Beautiful Homes for You" will take place from April 29 to May 1 at Ly Thai To monument square and feature 25-30 booths.
A tourism stimulus festival, meanwhile, will be held at Royal City on May 21, with many promotions available on flight tickets, tours, hotel rates, and transportation services.
A traditional product month is scheduled for September in Bat Trang pottery village, showcasing outstanding products from the city's trade villages on an area of 300 sq.m.
The Hanoi Promotion Month 2021 will open on October 29 at Ly Thai To monument square, followed by "Tourism Promotion Days" with 50-60 stalls.
To promote smart consumption, enterprises applying technological solutions in business production and e-payments will showcase products in 15-20 booths at Ly Thai To monument square and along Le Thach street.
Vietnam has second highest rate of cryptocurrency use worldwide
Despite experts issuing frequent warnings about the possible risks relating to the use of cryptocurrencies, especially cybercrime linked to Bitcoin, the use of the digital currency is once more booming again domestically as investors try to reap the benefits of the online asset.
The price of Bitcoin has risen to US$63,131, reaching an all-time high in the process. Coupled with the emergence of Pi, a new digital currency, the Vietnamese crypto market witnessed a large influx of new investors during the early months of the year.
A survey of global consumer data company conducted by Statista shows that the country has the second highest rate of Bitcoin use in the world, behind only Nigeria. Due to millions of US dollars traded in the virtual currency each month, Bitcoin exchanges have become a target for cybercriminals.
Chris Connell, managing director of Kaspersky Asia Pacific, believes that there will be an increase in the number of new virtual currency investors in Southeast Asia, and Vietnam is one of the leading countries following this trend. He also advises potential investors to be aware of the security risks related to Bitcoin use.
Thai Cafe Amazon expands business in Vietnam
Thai giant calls Vietnam a bright spot for investment amid the global Covid-19 pandemic.
Thai coffee chain Cafe Amazon announced its plan to open more stores nationwide in the coming time, especially in Ho Chi Minh City and neighboring provinces which are favorite locations for launching new outlets this year.
Cafe Amazon in Vietnam, established in 2019 by PTT Oil and Retail Business (PTTOR), is a subsidiary of Thai energy giant PTT and Central Plaza Hotel (Centel). It has an investment of US$3.5 million.
The brand will open more stores in the form of franchise.
The brand has already opened three stores at Go! shopping mall in the southern provinces of Ben Tre, Tra Vinh and Tien Giang and one in Ho Chi Minh City.
The investors of the coffee chain saw that Vietnam has a high economic growth with government policies favoring businesses.
"The coffee market in Vietnam is highly competitive with the presence of local and international brands thanks to high demand of Vietnamese consumers," a representative from the Thai coffee chain told Hanoitimes.
The expansion in Vietnam is part of the investors' plan for fostering investment in overseas markets. Vietnam is the 11th largest market of the brand owning more than 3,000 outlets across Asia.
Revenue of coffee and tea retailers in Vietnam is estimated at US$1 billion in 2020, according to a recent report.
Local insiders has commented that the success of a chain model mainly comes from location, which accounts for the majority of operating costs. Large outlets come at a high cost and is why many foreign brands have had to withdraw from Vietnam.
"It is a challenge for the newcomer like Cafe Amazon Vietnam to take its position in the market," said an anomyous insider told Hanoitimes.
Major water plant in Binh Duong operating at higher capacity
The Tan Hiep water treatment plant in Binh Duong province, an industrial hub in southern Vietnam, began operating at a higher capacity on April 15, of 250,000 cubic metres (cu m) per day as the result of an upgrading project.
Run by the Binh Duong Water – Environment JSC (BIWASE), the plant treats water from the Dong Nai River for supply to businesses and residents in Thu Dau Mot city, Tan Uyen and Ben Cat towns, and Bac Tan Uyen and Bau Bang districts.
With investment of more than 1 trillion VND (43.4 million USD), the project to raise the plant's capacity by 100,000 cu m per day was one of the largest of its kind in the southern region and Vietnam as a whole.
It was funded with 16 million USD in unsecured loans from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), via a Government guarantee.
Chikahiro Masuda, representative of the JICA Vietnam Office in HCM City, said that through this official development assistance, JICA provided the first loan within its private-sector investment finance framework for the water sector in Vietnam.
He expressed a belief that the project will contribute to local socio-economic development and relations between related parties and Binh Duong authorities.
VN unveils huge mango output, export targets for 2030
Viet Nam wants to expand mango farming and increase exports of the fruit to US$650 million by 2030 amid growing global demand for it.
Exports of the fruit have been rising over the years, reaching US$180 million last year.
According to exporters, there is a lot of potential since global exports of mango products were worth $12.3 billion last year.
Nguyen Dinh Tung, chairman of Vina T&T Group, which began exporting the fruit in 2019, said his company has preservation technologies that keep mangoes for around a month, while the free trade agreements Viet Nam has signed with other markets is helping it enter many new markets.
Mango can be grown throughout the year without change in quality, which helps his company easily get export deals.
Dong Thap Province has also identified mango as a key crop in its agricultural reform plan.
Nguyen Quoc Toan, head of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development's Agro Processing and Market Development Authority, said Vietnamese mango is well received in the US.
But Vietnamese exporters need to invest in preservation technologies so that they can better compete with other mango supplying countries that are closer to the US, he said.
Viet Nam has around 87,000 hectares under mango, with the Mekong Delta accounting for nearly half of it.
It exports the fruit to 40 countries, though China buys up nearly 85 per cent of it.
The country targets having 140,000 hectares under mango by 2030, an output of 1.5 million tonnes a year and exports of $650 million.
It also wants more than 70 per cent of mango processing and exporting facilities to be of high quality and use modern technologies.
The Government wants the Mekong Delta provinces to register mango farming zones and issue codes for them, push for safe farming practices and carry out frequent inspections of processing and packing facilities.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Tran Thanh Nam said co-operatives are important in connecting farmers with exporters to form value chains, and helping members form large farming zones.
Mixed bag for first phase of CPTPP deal
Vietnam's attraction of foreign direct investment from countries participating in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership has shown mixed results since its commencement, with expert opinions diverging on interpretation of developments.
After two years of implementation, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) has created some positive initial impacts, especially in new markets, but benefits for Vietnam from remain modest.
Nguyen Cam Trang, deputy director of the Agency of Foreign Trade under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, said that the growth rate of exports to CPTPP markets was 7.2 per cent lower than the 8.4 per cent growth rate of exports worldwide in the same period.
There is very little information about the effects and impacts of the CPTPP on foreign-invested enterprises (FIEs), what they know about this agreement, and how to take advantage of it, as well as what is preventing them from accessing what is considered significant opportunities from the agreement.
In Vietnam, the effectiveness of the CPTPP depends partly on estimates and actions of foreign direct investment (FDI). Nguyen Thi Thu Trang, director of the WTO and International Trade Centre under the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), noted differences in understanding the legal framework between domestic enterprises and FIEs. Meanwhile, the latter accounts for the highest proportion in imports and exports, with special relations regarding issues of investment protection and openness as well as methodical policy and legal matters.
"The biggest reason why Vietnamese businesses have not taken advantage of the incentives from this trade agreement is that they do not know about the tariff incentives under the CPTPP," Trang said.
The CTTPP is an ambitious agreement that covers every important aspect of trade and investment. During the first period of implementation, FDI flowing into Vietnam has witnessed increases after a quiet period observing US-China trade tensions in 2019, as well as shifts in supply and production chains towards diversification.
In both trends, the inflow of FDI is expected to increase, especially in East Asia and Southeast Asia. The CPTPP is thus considered to be a favourable factor for the overall FDI attraction process. However, the results of attracting FDI during this period did so far not seem to reflect the trends.
Several problems have been identified from this unexpected fact. In 2019, Vietnam attracted approximately $9.5 billion in registered FDI from CPTPP countries, down nearly 36 per cent compared to 2018. While the total registered capital decreased, the number of new projects increased by 13 per cent compared to 2018, according to data from the Ministry of Planning and Investment.
The average size of new foreign-invested projects from CPTPP countries also fell sharply in 2019, from nearly $11 million per project in 2018 to about $4.7 million in 2019, down 56.9 per cent.
In terms of each partner, investment from Japan into Vietnam had the deepest drop in value from nearly $9 billion in 2018 to just over $4 billion in 2019, equivalent to a downfall of 52 per cent. In terms of speed, FDI decreased sharply from traditional sources such as Australia (down nearly 63 per cent) and Malaysia (down 50 per cent) as well as other markets.
Overall, 2019 was a year for Vietnam that seemed to be less optimistic in terms of attracting FDI through the CPTPP. While FDI from private CPTPP sources fell overall by nearly 36 per cent, newly attracted FDI from private CPTPP sources decreased by even over 61 per cent.
However, the results of attracting investment from CPTPP partners in 2020 were more positive than in 2019, as the Ministry of Planning and Investment recorded $11.8 billion last year.
Trang hoped that the government can make appropriate adjustments in a number of aspects to commit to all business sectors, supporting potential opportunities from the CTTPP that could become more feasible for investors.
However, it is the increase in FDI from the CPTPP in 2020 that has resulted in differing opinions. Some analysts think it is necessary to take a cautious look at the increase in FDI from CPTPP countries in 2020 as it seems to be overblown by comparison with the declines of 2019.
Others argue that the CPTPP and other free trade agreements are contributing to creating Vietnam's own FDI attraction with transfers from China under the influence of the global health crisis.
CPTPP members, including Australia and Vietnam, have responded to the pandemic by fulfilling commitments to rules-based trade and maintaining open, informative, and transparent supply chains.
David Gottlieb, counsellor for economics and development cooperation of the Australian Embassy in Vietnam, commented that COVID-19 "present the global economy with an array of unprecedented challenges including to the principles of free and open trade."
"But this crisis has demonstrated the importance of cooperation and strong trading relationships," Gottlieb said at last week's Hanoi-based CPTPP conference backed by the Aus4Reform programme aimed to support Vietnam's reform efforts. "CPTPP members, including Vietnam and Australia, have responded to the crisis by demonstrating our commitment to rule-based trade and by maintaining open supply chains, active communication and transparency.
Quang Ngai prioritises investment promotion for supporting industries
Supporting industries will be a focus of an investment promotion plan released by central Quang Ngai Province for 2021.
It has earmarked close to VND2.2 billion (US$95,500) to implement activities to attract investment to local projects in supporting industries, petrochemicals, high-technology, seaports, logistics, clean technology, hi-tech agriculture, urban infrastructure, and tourism and services.
The province also wants to lure more investment this year into housing, services, and utility development projects for workers at the Dung Quat Economic Zone (EZ) and local industrial parks.
According to the Dung Quat EZ and Quang Ngai Industrial Parks Authority (DEZA), it will invite new investors to set up business in the province this year via existing investors and provide support in regard to site clearance and public administration services.
It will also help enterprises tackle the challenges and speed up the progress of licensed projects while offering all possible conditions for luring new capital, it said.
Meanwhile, it will review delayed and inefficient projects to identify supportive measures or revoke licenses if required, while action will be taken to further better the business climate, accelerate public administration reform, and bring in medium- and large-scale investment projects, especially those in supporting industries that use high-technology and are environmentally friendly.
Dong Thap steps up efforts for investment promotion
The Mekong Delta province of Dong Thap has set forth a plan for trade, investment, and tourism promotion with a total estimated budget of VND10 billion ($434,780).
Its objectives are to increase exposure of the province's potential and advantages, as well as ensuring effective implementation of local policies and mechanisms on investment attraction.
Under the plan, this year the province will be organising diverse investment promotion seminars and conferences in the province, as well as teaming up with businesses and promotion organisations from different countries to host such similar events in Ho Chi Minh City, and Hanoi. Simultaneously, investment promotion delegations to Japan, Singapore, and Taiwan will be held.
The total estimated budget at VND10 billion will come from the provincial budget. Dong Thap Investment-Trade-Tourism Promotion Centre is to take the helm in co-ordinating with related organisations to arrange related activities.
Besides, the province focuses on expanding international co-operation, improving product quality, developing the ornamental flower industry and other key commodity chains such as rice and mango.
In addition, professional human resources will be trained to serve tourism activities, bringing the message "’Dong Thap, as pure as the soul of the lotus" to life.
As stated by the development plan for 2021-2025, Dong Thap's economic growth is set to reach 7.5 per cent per year. Meanwhile, the city expects to mobilise around VND150 trillion ($6.52 billion) with an average VND30 trillion ($1.3 billion) per year, 1.85 times as many as in 2016-2020. By 2025, the province will see about 3,050 enterprises established during the period, up 74 per cent against the previous period.
According to a report from Dong Thap, despite COVID-19 adverse impacts, 606 enterprises were established in the province last year with a registered capital of VND4 trillion ($174 million) thanks to specific mechanisms to stimulate business development. As of now, Dong Thap is home to 4,244 operating businesses and granted investment licenses to 195 projects with a total registered capital approximating VND20 trillion ($869.57 million).
In addition, Dong Thap is building Tan Kieu Industrial Park (IP) in Thap Muoi district as well as completing necessary procedures to establish Ba Sao and Tran Quoc Toan IPs in Cao Lanh district, facilitating the implementation of new investment projects.
Pham Thien Nghia, Chairman of Dong Thap People’s Committee, noted that the province is constantly searching for ways to boost investment attraction efficiency and create the most favourable conditions for investors as businesses and investors are the key factors spurring local economic development and improving people’s lives.
Thai investors scaling up presence with raft of activities
Thai investors are banking on the promising future of the Vietnamese market, with several large conglomerates further increasing their foothold in the country.
Central Retail Corporation on April 3 announced its 5-year plan for an investment of approximately $1.1 billion for the Vietnamese market. The move is part of its broader strategy to secure a stronger footprint in the country.
Philippe Broianigo, CEO of Central Retail Corporation said, "The corporation has set up the roadmap with key focus to expand multi-concept penetration in all clusters across city, suburban, and rural areas. Thus, we will revamp brands in the food category for better synergy and enhanced customer experience and build brands for our non-food section, as well as develop our omnichannel presence."
In 2020, Central Retail opened four GO! malls in Tra Vinh, Quang Ngai, Buon Ma Thuot, and Ben Tre, and rebranded Big C to GO! and added five more branches, while opening the first branch of its GO! supermarket in Tam Ky in the central province of Quang Nam to target rural customers.
In 2021, Central Retail continues its endeavour and plans to open four GO! malls in Thai Nguyen, Ba Ria, Thai Binh, and Lao Cai provinces. For its food segment, the corporation will four GO! hypermarkets, one GO! mini market, and rebrand 15 Big C stores to eight GO! hypermarkets and seven Tops Markets, as well as further diversify its non-food category.
Central Retail welcomes an average of 175,000 customers per day at 37 malls and over 230 stores, with a total area of one million square metres across 39 cities and provinces. The long-term plan is to expand to covering 55 cities and provinces nationwide within five years and provide comprehensive services.
Meanwhile, SCG, one of Thailand's top industrial companies, is upbeat about the bright outlook for the Southeast Asian market, particularly Vietnam. SCG CEO Roongrote Rangsiyopash said in an interview with Nikkei Asia that some Asian countries have fought COVID-19 well.
"So my expectation is that the growth of ASEAN markets, for example Vietnam, will continue to be better than the Thai market. There's a trend of localised production within the region. That's the strategy we are seeing within this region that we will focus on. For the next few years, I foresee that Vietnam will be our top priority," he said.
"We have several projects ongoing, like a petrochemicals complex in southern Vietnam. Once the Vietnamese plant comes online, we anticipate that revenue from Southeast Asia excluding Thailand will rise to 35 per cent from the current 26 per cent," Rangsiyopash added.
After 25 years of operation in Vietnam, SCG has 21 local subsidiaries in packaging, chemicals, and cement and other building materials. During the global health crisis, SCG still stepped up its expansion in Vietnam by acquiring Bien Hoa Packaging in 2020 and Duy Tan Plastic in 2021.
Other Thai investors also continue their steadfast expansion in the country. Last December, WHA Industrial Development Plc. announced the signing of an MoU with Thanh Hoa People's Committee for the development of two industrial zones (IZs) in the province. The first project, WHA Smart Technology IZ Thanh Hoa, will represent a gross area of approximately 600 hectares, plus an additional residential area of 30 to 50ha. The second, WHA Northern IZ Thanh Hoa at 540ha, will target downstream industries including plastics, rubber, chemicals, and bio-chemical products. Both constructions are expected to commence in 2023 and 2022, respectively.
Also in the same month, C.P. Vietnam opened an export-only poultry complex in the southern province of Binh Phuoc, which is the largest of its kind in Southeast Asia. C.P. Vietnam invested $250 million in this project to raise the standards of livestock production in Vietnam, paving the way for the country to be a world-class food producer. The complex can produce and process up to 50 million chicken per year in the first phase (2019-2023) and 100 million chicken per year, in the second phase.
The ongoing investment of Thai investors reflects the attractiveness of the Vietnamese market. According to statistics by the Ministry of Planning and Investment, Thailand is currently ninth-largest investment partner of Vietnam with 607 foreign-invested projects worth nearly $13 billion. It is expected that investment flows from Thailand to Vietnam will further increase.
Speaking at the conference Golden Opportunity for Thai investors in Vietnam held in January, Sanan Angubolkul, chairman of the Thailand-Vietnam Business Council, highlighted key reasons for Thai investors to scale up presence in Vietnam, including political stability, successful containment of the pandemic, a high-quality workforce, favourable investment incentives, and a lucrative local market with large purchasing power.
Source: VNA/VNS/VOV/VIR/SGT/Nhan Dan/Hanoitimes
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