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Vietcombank restores ATM services for foreigners

Last update 12:42 | 21/11/2015


After a period of interruption, the Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam (Vietcombank) on November 19 resumed money transfers via automated teller machines (ATM) to non-residents and foreign residents in Vietnam.




Bank systems updated and decision of November 12 reversed. 


Non-residents are foreigners who live in Vietnam for less than one year while foreign residents are those who live in this country for more than one year.

Vietcombank put on hold the money transfer service via ATMs and accounts or cards of non-residents and foreign residents in Vietnam in August last year.

On November 12, the bank announced on its website to suspend money transfers to non-residents and foreign residents. Transactions relating to transfer money from cards and accounts of other banks to Vietcombank foreigners’ accounts were also invalid.

The bank explained that the move was to comply with the existing regulations, as money transfer transactions via ATMs and cards and customer profiles were not properly checked.

According to the Foreign Exchange Ordinance and regulations of the State Bank of Vietnam, foreigners are allowed to open and use accounts in Vietnam dong at banks to transfer money of legitimate origins such as wages and consulting fees.

The ordinance also permits foreigners to use cards. ATM services are popular and legitimate for foreigners.

In reality, many more foreigners have come to Vietnam to live, work, study and travel and local banks have many foreign customers who have opened accounts in Vietnam dong to make transactions, including with ATMs.

Vietcombank has the biggest number of foreign customers in Vietnam. According to statistics of the Bank Card Association of Vietnam, Vietcombank’s sales from ATM debit cards had accounted for 20% of its total by end-June, the highest in the banking system. Total transactions via ATM debit cards exceeded VND141.8 billion and total sales from money transfer service amounted to over VND18.6 trillion. Foreigners account for 15% of the bank’s customers who hold Vietnam dong currency accounts.

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Investors chasing after big hotels in Hanoi

Last update 10:00 | 21/11/2015


VietNamNet Bridge - Thang Loi, Hilton and Kim Lien and hotels of the State Capital Investment Corporation (SCIC) are seeking new investors.



SCIC has announced it will sell 52 percent of its stake in Kim Lien Hotel it is holding. According to the Hanoi Stock Exchange, 3.6 million of Kim Lien Hotel’s shares will be put into auction on December 22 in bulk at the starting price of VND30,600 per share. If the price is fixed, the deal will be worth VND112 billion.

Kim Lien Hotel, run by Kim Lien Tourism, has had a hotel in Hanoi for a long time, covering an area of 3.5 hectares on Dao Duy Anh in Dong Da district. It has nine buildings, 437 rooms and five restaurants.

Besides SCIC, which is the biggest shareholder, Kim Lien has other shareholders including GP Bank, PTFinance and GP Invest, which hold 21.6 percent, 6.7 percent and 6.6 percent of shares, respectively.

An analyst commented that the Kim Lien share auction will attract many investors because Kim Lien is located on an advantageous position in the central area of Hanoi.

Meanwhile, investors believe that it is now the right time to invest in hotels as the tourism industry has been developing rapidly.

The State some days ago released a decision on divesting shares of 10 profitable enterprises, including big names like Vinamilk (dairy producer), FPT Telecom, Binh Minh Plastics and Vinare (reinsurer).

The decision was made in the context of the high budget deficit, while the Ministry of Finance repeatedly warned that it may not fulfill a government bond issuance plan to get money for government spending.

The Vietnam Association of Finance Investors (VAFI) has suggested that the government should sell some big hotels as well because these are attractive goods in the eyes of investors.

The 4-star Thang Loi is one of the names which analysts believe ‘are suitable for sale’. It is located on 4.5 hectares on Yen Phu Street in Tay Ho district, an advantageous position in the city.

Established in 1975 as a state-owned enterprise, Thang Loi once called for the public’s capital following a Prime Ministerial decision on restructuring enterprises. BRG then had the opportunity to contribute capital to Thang Loi to become a big shareholder.

BRG, a powerful conglomerate in the fields of finance & banking and golf course, is also a strategic investor of Thang Long GTC.

Thang Long GTC is not a big name in the hotel sector, but its big value lies in investments in joint ventures of Hilton Opera, of which it holds 30 percent of stake, InterContinental Westlake and Capital Tower.

The other two big hotel names which could attract investors are Daewoo and Sofitel Metropole.

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Firms told to grasp online trend

November, 21 2015 10:08:34





HA NOI  (VNS) — Deputy Minister of Information and Communications Pham Hong Hai called on Vietnamese information and technology enterprises to catch the trend of Internet of Things (IoT), in Ha Noi on Thursday.At a conference for Viet Nam 2015 Internet Day, the deputy minister also urged network infrastructure enterprises to join hands with digital enterprises to fully utilise the advantages of the IoT.

Internet Day is an annual event for enterprises in the field of Internet, domestic and international members of the Viet Nam Internet Association (VIA) and representatives from government agencies.

The event aims to affirm the important role of the Internet, which has been contributing to the change in the daily lives of the Vietnamese.

This year the Internet Day theme is the "Internet of Things", which is a developing trend in the world, and has started to appear in Viet Nam with ideas and products like smart home, smart traffic, and smart city.

"With the four pillars of Social Network, Mobility, Analytics and Cloud, it is being predicted that the Internet of Things will bring a boom, both, in the number of connections as well as services and application on the Internet platform, which stimulates economic growth and technological innovation," Hai said.

The trend of IoT would bring an "unprecedented" opportunity for organisations and enterprises in Viet Nam, Vu Hoang Lien, president of Viet Nam Internet Association (VIA) said.

Economic value-added of the trend is expected to hit US$1.9 trillion by 2020.

Viet Nam's infrastructure for telecommunication and the Internet has developed vigorously in the past years.

According to the minister, the total domestic Internet connection bandwidth hit 900 Gbps, while global connectivity is 1,400 Gbps, by the end of September.

Viet Nam has more than 120 million mobile phone subscription, of these, 35 million use 3G.

The total number of fixed internet broadband connections in the country is around seven million, in which 40 per cent are fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) service.

Deputy Minister Hai emphasised that with a telecommunication infrastructure network which is being invested in and developed, and with a young population with the passion for technology, Viet Nam had an important premise and a potential market to develop initiatives and applications on the IoT technology platforms.

The Ministry of Information and Communications has asked the government to promulgate policies for the development of the network and service infrastructure on the platform of the Internet.

The ministry is implementing the plan of digitalising television to free bandwidth 700 MHz to serve the development of mobile broadband.

The ministry also plans to grant a licence for 4G LTE next year.

Recently, the government released the Resolution 36a on e-Government, which is expected to create a motive for the application of information and technology among citizens, enterprises, organisations and society.

Also, the Prime Minister's Decision No 1819/QD-TTg approving the national plan on the application of information technology in State agencies from 2016 to 2020 period contains the goal of implementing smart cities at least in three areas.

Truong Gia Binh, chairman of FPT, said that the analysis showed that real life and digital life would be one in the future.

"Every leader will be a digital leader, every enterprise will be a digital enterprise," he said.

There are currently 11.8 billion connected devices and the number of devices is expected to increase five times by 2020, Binh said.

"Viet Nam is neither fast nor slow in the IoT, therefore, we must not miss the chance," he emphasised. — VNS

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Inspectors uncover banking violations

November, 18 2015 08:04:00



The inspections focussed on non-performing loans (NPLs), asset quality, and implementation of restructuring, apart from appraisal on real capital and financial status, and obeying legal regulations of credit institutions. — Photo


HA NOI (VNS) — The inspectorate body of the State Bank of Viet Nam has conducted 6,555 inspections on credit institutions in the past five years and uncovered many violations in the banking sector.

According to the central bank, results of the inspections, which were conducted from 2011 to September 15, 2015, have helped it boost the restructuring of the banking system in the past year.

The inspections focussed on non-performing loans (NPLs), asset quality, and implementation of restructuring, apart from appraisal on real capital and financial status, and obeying legal regulations of credit institutions.

According to the central bank, through these inspections the central bank received a more accurate appraisal on quality, effectiveness and safety of credit institutions, which will enable it to take suitable restructuring measures on each credit institution.

A number of serious violations related to debt restructuring and classification, as well as risk provisions which were taken by credit institutions to conceal their non-performing loans resulting in incorrect business performance results, were revealed thanks to the inspections.

Many risks, shortcomings and legal violations by credit institutions mainly in credit activities, financial investments, dominant shareholders, and high NPLs, apart from poor business performance, and a weak governance system, have been uncovered through these inspections.

Based on the inspections, the central bank's inspectorate also decided to impose 724 administrative violation cases for a total fine of VND12.7 billion ($570,000).

The inspectorate also sent documents of some cases with criminal intent to the police to handle it in accordance with the legal regulations.

According to experts, the central bank is on track to settle shortcomings of the banking system including weak banks and bad debts, under a scheme to restructure credit institutions from 2011 to 2015.

National Financial Supervisory Committee Vice Chairman Truong Van Phuoc hailed the better banking management quality, which was possible thanks to manpower and financial support following mergers and acquisitions.

Since 2011, 17 credit institutions and 2 branches of foreign banks have shut down through mergers, acquisition or dissolution, according to the central bank.

According to government data, the NPL ratio in the banking system fell to 2.93 per cent at the end of September, below the 3 per cent target set to be achieved by the end of 2015. — VNS


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Exporters ponder ways to penetrate new markets

November, 18 2015 08:16:36




Workers at Kaiser Wood Industry in Binh Duong Province operate a high-end furniture production line for exports to the US — VNA/VNS Photo Vu Sinh


HCM CITY (VNS) — The US and Latin American countries have huge demand for products made by sectors in which Vietnamese companies have advantages, but they need to study these markets carefully to enter them, a forum heard in HCM City yesterday.

They also need to improve quality to meet the demands of these markets, attendees told the Export Forum organised by the Investment and Trade Promotion Centre of HCM City.

According to Nguyen Duy Khien, head of the Ministry of Industry and Trade's American Market Department, the US's imports have grown as it increasingly focuses on exporting services.

Apart from agricultural products, the US has high demand for items like garment and textile, footwear, wood products, seafood, and electronics products and accessories, he said, adding that Vietnamese firms are strong in these industries.

Trade between the US and Viet Nam was worth US$36.3 billion last year, of which Viet Nam's exports accounted for $30.6 billion but only 1.3 per cent of the US's total imports.

The lower tariffs in the US following accession to the TPP would create an enormous advantage for Viet Nam vis-a-vis its competitors since many of them are not part of the deal, Khien said.

Amcham executive director Herb Cochran said Viet Nam was the largest Southeast Asian exporter to the US, accounting for 22 per cent of shipments from the region.

"Unfortunately, most of the exports are from FDI companies. We want to help Vietnamese companies participate in the global supply chain."

Vietnamese firms should find a way to join the foreign-owned companies' global supply chains to get a part of the export pie, he said.

To penetrate the US market, Vietnamese firms would need to understand the rules, he said.

Then they would have to find partners to help them, find customers and understand what customers' rules are, which would be in addition to the nation's safety rules, he said.

Khien said the advantages with regard to import duties under the TPP notwithstanding, businesses should also cut costs to make their products more competitive.

Latin America, which consists of 33 countries and a population of 600 million, had high demand for primary processed products and consumer goods, Tran Duy Dong, deputy head of the American Market Department, said.

Viet Nam trades with all countries and territories there, with Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Chile, and Columbia being key partners.

Two-way trade had increased strongly, reaching $9.5 billion last year, an increase of 40.7 per cent over 2013, Dong said.

But the lack of market information, high transport costs, issues related to payment, fierce competition from Chinese and Indian goods, and trade barriers in some markets were among the difficulties Vietnamese firms face, he said.

More efforts should be made to provide Vietnamese exporters information about these markets, he said.

Delegates said Vietnamese businesses should take part in overseas trade fairs and exhibitions to do market research and find new business partners. — VNS

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Vietnam’s catfish industry needs makeover

Last update 10:34 | 18/11/2015


VietNamNet Bridge – After a hasty start, Viet Nam's tra fish industry should now plan an image makeover to improve the quality of exports and be competitive, for the long term, experts said.



20151118102251-trafish-tgiang.jpgWorkers of Go Dang Company in southern Tien Giang Province prepare tra fish on a processing line – Photo: VNA/VNS

The tra fish industry grew 2 to 3 times in export value every year between 2002 and 2009, but the export value growth was unchanged in 2010 and started dropping from 2011, Le Xuan Thinh, manager of the project on establishing a sustainable pangasius supply chain in Viet Nam (SUPA), said at a seminar on sustainable tra fish development in Viet Nam held by the Viet Nam Association of Seafood Exports and Producers (VASEP) in Ha Noi on Monday.

The total export value of tra fish reached $1.7 billion in 2014, a slight increase of 0.4 per cent against 2013.

The average export price for tra fish products stood at $3.11 per kilo in 2002, but is presently between $2.1 and $2.3.

Meanwhile, farmers have not seen much profit from rearing tra fish and even suffered losses due to the lower selling price in 2010.

The industry faced numerous problems in production, processing and exports of tra fish due to hasty development in the past, which led to unsustainable development of the industry now and could possibly affect the future, Thinh said.

Those problems included the unstable quality of export products, effects on the environment and the society, higher production cost and lack of highly-processed tra fish products.

According to Siegfried Bank, a German expert on policy consulting, the European Union is the biggest importer of tra fish products and Vietnamese tra fish must compete with other kinds of white fish like tilapia. Meanwhile, Viet Nam has been unable to conduct branding activities for Vietnamese tra fish, and that has also affected production and exports.

Experts at the seminar said the local tra fish industry should have sustainable development and build an image of "green" and "delicious" for its products.

Nguyen Hoai Nam, VASEP deputy general secretary, said the industry must engage in trade promotion and provide correct information on the tra fish industry to customers.

The industry has produced 20 new products to meet the demands of the European Union, cut production cost and applied new technology for production and processing of tra fish products.

In addition, the state should initiate policies related to the development of the tra fish industry, increase the quality and diversify its products, Thinh said.

According to Bank, Viet Nam has applied VietGap and environmental standards for production and export of tra fish. That has encouraged European importers to bring in Vietnamese tra fish products, reports Vietnam News Agency.

Viet Nam's tra fish experts need specific information on ice to increase trust for consumers in Europe.


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France’s AFD pledges $1mn to improve Vietnam’s geographical indication system

UPDATED : 11/12/2015 14:26 GMT + 7




A French development agency has pledged to fund more than 75 percent of a US$1.3 million project aimed at improving the registration and management of geographical indications in Vietnam.


The Agence Francaise de Developpement (AFD) will sponsor $1.09 million of the project value, while the Vietnamese partner will cover the rest, the Paris-based institution said at a conference in Hanoi on Wednesday.

The three-year project was launched at the event by the Vietnamese Ministry of Science and Technology, and will be implemented by a three-way international consortium, according to the Vietnam News Agency.

The group includes Vietnam’s Rural Development Center (RUDEC), the Center for Agrarian Systems Research and Development (CASRAD), and the French Agricultural Research Center for International Development (CIRAD).

A geographical indication is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation attributed to that origin.

In order to function as a geographical indication, a sign must identify a product as originating from a given place.

The AFD’s financial assistance will be used to help Vietnam innovate its geographical indication registration and management system via a brand new approach with experience learnt from the EU, and particularly France, according to the Vietnam News Agency.

“Geographical indication is still an issue in Vietnam and there are few products that bear such a sign,” Tran Viet Thanh, Deputy Minister of Science and Technology, admitted at the conference.

Many Vietnamese products are therefore unrecognized by consumers, and fail to gain their trust, the official, who is also head of the National Office of Intellectual Property of Vietnam (NOIP), added.

The Southeast Asian country hopes to learn from the experience of France to make geographical indication “a fundamental and effective commercial tool” for its agriculture and food industries.

"Geographical indication is another example of the efficient cooperation between Vietnam and France, which has a lot of experience in the field to learn from,” Deputy Minister Thanh said.

Vietnam currently recognizes 46 geographical indications, 42 of which are Vietnamese cities and provinces, according to the NOIP.

Nuoc Mam Phu Quoc, or fish sauce made on Phu Quoc Island off the southern province of Kien Giang, and Shan Tuyet Moc Chau Tea, grown in the northern province of Son La, are among the Vietnamese products with geographical indications.

Pepper from the central province of Quang Tri and cashews from the southern province of Binh Phuoc have also received the indications.

However, Vietnam needs more geographical indications to boost exports of its agro-produce, one of the country’s moneymakers, but the process is beset by many problems, including a dearth of appropriate policies, Deputy Minister Thanh said.

The AFD-sponsored project will therefore seek to call for more support from the government, in terms of policy and mechanism, to facilitate the registration of geographical indications, he said.

"To make this project effective, we must act at all levels: the development of the local economy and legal environment," Bruno Vindel, a project management official from AFD, was quoted by Le Courier du Vietnam, a French-language newspaper published in Vietnam, as saying.

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Rapid urbanization makes it profitable to invest in water supply projects

Last update 09:12 | 12/11/2015


VietNamNet Bridge - An ADB report shows that Vietnam’s population in urban areas is expected to increase to 37 percent by 2020 from 30 percent. The rapid urbanization would lead to an urgent needs for infrastructure, including clean water.




There are many reasons for investors to believe that water supply is a business field deserving of their investments.
A report showed that only 60 percent of urbanites can approach clean water. Meanwhile, the percentage of water lost during the transmission is still high, at 30 percent, higher than the 15 percent in developed countries. This is attributed to the old water distribution system.

Operational water production and supply companies were mostly state owned enterprises (SOEs). In 2007, the state, in an effort to call for capital from the public, put a series of companies into equitization.

The Ministry of Finance’s Price Control Agency, in its report about the water supply sector in Vietnam, showed that 35 out of 90 water supply firms had launched IPOs (initial public offering) by 2013. Meanwhile, 9 SOEs in the sector have had IPOs so far this year.

Many private investors jumped on the bandwagon in the last five years, since the state began calling for public capital to the water supply sector.

Dong A Bank, for example, bought large amounts of shares of the subsidiaries belonging to the Sai Gon Water Supply Company (Sawaco) which now holds 90 percent of the water supply market in HCM City some years ago when the firms made IPO.

The banker injected money into Gia Dinh, Ben Thanh, Nha Be, Phu Hoa Tan and Cho Lon.

Vinamilk, a dairy producer, was also a big shareholder of water supply firms. It held 14 percent of stake of Gia Dinh Water Supply Company. It was one of the three biggest shareholders holding 10 percent of stake of the Thu Duc Water Supply Company (TDW). The other two were VOF Investment Ltd – VinaCapital and Sawaco.

The common characteristic of the investment deals made prior to 2012 was that these were mostly portfolio investments, while the investors were from other business fields and investment funds.

Dragon Capital was also a shareholder of Thu Duc B.O.O Water Plant. Maybank Kim Eng Securities invested in Ben Thanh Water Supply, a subsidiary of Sawaco. Meanwhile, the Nha Be Water Supply Company had VMFVF1 and VFMVF2 funds.

That was why the investors quickly withdrew their capital from water supply firms after the 2008 financial crisis. VOF disinvested from TDW in 2013, while Vinamilk quitted Gia Dinh in 2010.

However, water supply has always been ‘hot’ for investors. In late 2013, when VOF and Vinamilk left TDW, the Refrigeration Engineering Enterprise (REE) became the strategic shareholder of TDW, holding 42 percent of TDW’s shares.

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Millions of credit cards idle in Vietnam

Last update 08:50 | 12/11/2015


VietNamNet Bridge – About 20 percent or 20 million Vietnamese residents have bank accounts but the number of issued cards quadruples it to reach 86 million this year meaning tens of millions of cards have been idle, according to the General Statistics Office of Vietnam.



20151111171344-atm.jpgMost bank cards have been used for withdrawing cast at ATM posts in Vietnam. This woman is photographed at a supermarket in HCMC -- Photo: SGGP

The Vietnam Bank Card Association said that the number of cards issued this year has been up 30 percent over 2013, comprising 90 percent domestic cards and 10 percent international cards. reported that 50 percent of current payment cards in Vietnam do not operate at all.

The above numbers prove that bank card issue has run after quantity not customers’ demand, causing waste because it costs an average of US$3-5 to issue a card.

In addition, most active cards have not been used for any other bank service except cash withdrawal from ATM posts. Statistics from banks show that 90 percent of cards have been used for that service and the rest 10 percent for payment via POS machines.

The condition has brought banks little opportunity to increase their service revenue and wasted their technologies.

Mr. Le Van Tuyen, head of the Payment Development Division under the Payment Department of the State Bank of Vietnam, said that cash payment has been popular in Vietnam and the ratio of cash by GDP in the country has been higher than many nations.

Card services have not been designed suitably and their advertisement has been little, he said. The market has nearly eight million international payment cards with diversified products. However they have not been popularized to people.

Meantime, 90 percent of domestic cards have been used widely with limited products and rather similar functions.

Therefore, instead of running a card issue race, banks should optimize their services to lure customers.

Bank services should develop towards market demand while products must be designed variously and conveniently, including items suiting demand of most residents to high class products on financial consultancy and asset management.

Improving card use effectiveness will also help implement the Government’s policy on cash payment reduction.

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White House may have to renegotiate Pacific trade pact: senator

11/07/2015 08:20 GMT + 7




Protestors call for the rejection of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal under negotiation in Atlanta, Georgia on October 1, 2015.


A key U.S. senator said on Friday the Obama administration may have to renegotiate parts of a Pacific trade pact, heralding a tough battle to win support in Congress.


The administration notified lawmakers on Thursday it plans to sign the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership, starting a countdown to a congressional vote that could come in the middle of next year's election campaign.

But U.S. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, a Republican whose support will be crucial to passing the deal, said that although he reserved judgment on the fine print, negotiators might have to go back to the table.

"I understand that renegotiation may be difficult, particularly with so many parties involved," he said in a speech at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which also has yet to give a verdict on the pact.

"But at the end of the day, the alternative to renegotiation may very well be no TPP at all."

Some of President Barack Obama's Democrats have also suggested renegotiating the deal, which must be ratified by Congress.

But a senior administration official slapped down the call and said the deal was as good as it gets.

"The idea that renegotiating this agreement could deliver a better deal is patently false," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"This is the strongest possible outcome and reopening it would unravel a deal that cuts more than 18,000 different taxes various countries put on Made-in-America goods, reflects American leadership in the Asia-Pacific, and levels the playing field for American workers, innovators, and businesses."

Hatch's main concern is the protection period for next-generation biological drugs. He had wanted a 12-year minimum, but the TPP settled on five years with a buffer for administrative processes the administration official said effectively amounted to eight years.

While Hatch said he would carefully study the text, released on Thursday, he also saw problems with provisions on tobacco, labor rules and dairy.

"We're losing votes as we speak for no good reason," he told reporters. "My suggestion is, get back to the bargaining table and let them know that this may not pass."

Hatch said it would be difficult to take up the TPP during an election year anyway, even in the end-year period between the election and swearing in the new Congress.

"A lot of people on something this important do not want to have it passed or rejected by a lame duck Congress," he said.

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