VietNamNet Bridge - Businesses and analysts have questioned the State Bank of Vietnam’s (SBV) statement that it would not devalue the dong any further until the end of 2015.
The Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) believes Vietnam may devalue the dong by 1 percent further to protect Vietnamese competitiveness.
The report released on August 20 by HSBC Vietnam predicted the dong/dollar exchange rate would rise from VND21,800 per dollar to VND22,830 by the end of 2015 and to VND23,300 by the end of 2016.
Analysts said that HSBC, like other financial institutions, has reasons for such a prediction.
“No one can say for sure what the exchange rate will be. Vietnam cannot print the greenback, while SBV is not a powerful agency which can determine the greenback value,” an analyst said.
“The dong/dollar exchange rate will depend on many factors, including the US Federal Reserve’s decision on prime interest rates and the performance of global economies, including China,” he said.
The central bank had to devalue the dong by 3 percent this year, though it promised not to devalue the currency by more than 2 percent.
Dr. Le Dang Doanh, a renowned economist, noted that HSBC based the prediction on the information it collected and analysed.
While declining to comment on HSBC’s prediction, Doanh said there were two important factors to affect the dong/dollar exchange rate in upcoming days – the Chinese yuan price fluctuation and the US FED’s decision on the prime interest rate.
According to Doanh, indexes all show a poor performance of the Chinese economy, which may have been the reason for the Chinese government’s devaluation of its currency.
“The demand in China and the world has decreased sharply, while Chinese supply is very high. The demand for cement and steel, for example, just accounts for 50-60 percent of the supply. Meanwhile, China’s debts are relatively high,” Doanh explained.
“This could be the information HSBC referred to when predicting the moves to be taken by the Vietnamese government,” he said.
“The best attitude for the central bank to have now is to convey the message that it will try to stabilize the exchange rate if there are no abnormal changes,” he said.
Dr Vo Tri Thanh, deputy head of the Central Institute of Economic Management (CIEM), said the scenario of the Chinese government devaluing the yuan sharply and the FED adjusting the interest rate “needs to be considered”, because this would affect Vietnam’s forex policy.
VietNamNet Bridge - The instant noodle market has become saturated after a long period of hot development. However, investors are still pouring more money into the sector.
Analysts noted that the market’s heyday, when the growth rate was high at over 20 percent per annum, is over.
Since 2013, the growth has slowed down to 5 percent. Manufacturers now compete fiercely with each other to obtain larger market shares. The ad pieces about instant noodle products rarely appear on TV and mass media these days.
Some manufacturers advertised that their products are safer than others because their noodles are made of potato and green beans. Others say they do not use toxic colorings for their products. More recently, manufacturers rushed to market new products – noodles with eggs. Meanwhile, a new war of products with spicy and sour flavors has broken out.
Distributors have also joined the instant noodle market with products bearing private brands which sell at 5-10 percent lower prices than popular products.
Experts noted that the technologies used by manufacturers to make instant noodles are nearly the same. The difference are the types of products and marketing methods.
The instant noodle market is remapped every time an enterprise succeeds with its PR campaigns.
The director of an enterprise revealed that his budget on ads account for 60 percent of total marketing and sales costs.
Analysts reported that supermarkets in HCM City now distribute instant noodles bearing 60 different brands, most of which are domestically made. Three largest manufacturers - Vina Acecook, Masan and Asia Food – hold 80 percent of the market share.
Kido Group, a newcomer, has signed a contract on setting up a joint venture with Saigon Ve Wong, while moving ahead with a plan to build four factories throughout the country.
Japanese Nissin has also announced it would continue pouring capital into a factory in Binh Duong province after three years of operation.
Brand Footprint 2014, a report of Kantar Worldpanel, noted that instant noodle is now the largest FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) sector. However, some analysts noted that the vast market worth VND25 trillion a year is saturated. Therefore, they think Kido’s plan to become the third largest manufacturer in the years to come is ‘too ambitious’.
For example, Taiwanese Uni-President still cannot gain success in Vietnam though it has been present here for 14 years and provides a wide range of products. The group is believed to be financially powerful, and makes wheat and seafood.
Vietnam is considered a land of opportunities where consumers now have more power and willingness to spend, according to a recent report released by the global performance measurement company Nielsen.
Vietnam Consumer Landscape 2015 found Vietnamese among the most optimistic consumers globally since they are earning more and spending more.
Their monthly income per capita increased by 44 percent between 2010 and 2012, and the rate of consumption by 32 percent.
As a result, Vietnamese have a strong desire for a better life, with 73 percent of consumers polled being willing to pay more for higher quality as well as health, and 39 percent considering health as their top concern.
The highest percentage of saving every month is for children's future (34 percent), health (12 percent) and first time home purchase (11 percent).
Vietnamese have more opportunities to shop and buy than ever before. E-commerce is playing an important role when 42 percent of consumers bought groceries at supermarkets.
Convenience has become a way of life and the shift starts with young people and professionals. Around 23 percent of students and 36 percent of white-collar workers/professionals often shop at supermarkets and convenience stores.
The number of convenience stores in the country more than doubled last year to 348 from 147 in 2012, while the number of mini-marts increased to 600.
But traditional groceries outlets remain dominant. More than 80 percent of the sales of consumer goods was done through the 1.3 million traditional outlets nation-wide.
Technology has brought Vietnamese people more opportunities to stay connected. Smart phone sales are booming, with nearly half of Vietnamese owning one. When watching video programming, 62 percent use of people computers, 30 percent use mobile phones and 26 percent use tablets.
E-tailing is growing now with 28 percent of consumers preferring to shop online for home delivery.
Nielsen, which is headquartered in the US, studies consumers in more than 100 countries.
TUOI TRE NEWS
UPDATED : 08/13/2015 17:42 GMT + 7
The swift move of Vietnam’s central bank on Wednesday in response to the devaluation of the Chinese yuan will fortify the local banking and financial system so that it will stand firmly against any external destabilizing factors, according to a senior official of the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV).
The move by the SBV, which is the central bank, allows the local currency, the Vietnamese dong, to be traded more flexibly within a widened trading band to cope with China’s depreciation of its currency against the U.S. dollar and is aimed at ensuring the competitiveness of Vietnamese goods.
Beijing devalued the yuan by 4.6 percent between Tuesday and Thursday, sending shock waves across the globe and triggering many countries to depreciate their currencies against the greenback, in a bid to encourage exports in order to speed up its slowing economic growth.
The SBV gave the green light on Wednesday for the trading band for interbank dollar/dong transactions to move from one percent to two percent after China’s central bank depreciated the yuan by 1.9 percent against the dollar one day before.
New trading band
The SBV’s move paved the way for dollar/dong transactions to fluctuate within a band of plus or minus two percent around the midpoint, which the central bank sets daily.
The midpoint has been held at 21,673 dong per dollar since May 7, when the SBV devalued the local currency by one percent for the second time this year, aiming to spur exports and curb demand for imports that have left it with a hefty trade deficit, according to Reuters.
The new trading band allows a range from VND21,240 to VND22,106 to the greenback.
The expansion of the trading band for interbank dollar/dong transactions will help the local banking system be more proactive and flexible in maneuvering foreign exchange rates prior to the adverse impact on the international market, Nguyen Thi Hong, deputy governor of the SBV, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper in an interview on Wednesday.
Since early this year, there have been many developments beyond the forecasts of both international and domestic financial and economic organizations, she said.
Those developments included a drop in the price of oil to its lowest level in many years, the high possibility of an interest rate hike of the U.S. Federal Reserve (FED), as well as the deterioration of the European economy triggered by the economic crisis in Greece, Hong added.
All of those factors have given the U.S. dollar a chance to rise at a much higher rate in value than the rate the FED had expected, she said.
Right at the beginning of the year, Vietnam’s central bank expected to be challenged by the extraordinary changes that would adversely affect the local foreign exchange rate and exports, so it has actively devalued the dong by two percent, Hong added.
Therefore, the foreign exchange market and exchange rate have remained basically stable over the past seven months.
However, the yuan fell sharply recently, igniting the depreciation of a series of key Asian currencies, as well as a decline in the price indices on the international commodity markets, which can be considered as new external shocks for Vietnam.
China and other Asian countries are the main trade partners of Vietnam, and the Southeast Asian country is running a big trade deficit with its northern neighbor, so the devaluation of their currencies will adversely affect the exchange rates and exports of Vietnam, Hong asserted.
Therefore, the SBV decided to widen the exchange rate’s trading band by one percent to make the local economy fit in the new situation, she added.
Regarding the question of why the central bank chose to do this rather than officially devalue the dong, Hong said expanding the trading band is more appropriate for Vietnam, as a more flexible band helps maintain macroeconomic stability and better copes with the risks and uncertainties of international markets.
When asked what the SBV will do to stabilize the exchange rate and the foreign exchange market in the coming time, Hong said the central bank will closely monitor both national and international market developments to synchronously take many measures and use policy tools to stabilize the Vietnamese banking and financial system.
Truong Van Phuoc, vice chairman of the National Financial Supervisory Commission, told Tuoi Tre that the exchange rate mechanism of Vietnam is called a regulated management mechanism.
Accordingly, the central bank announces the daily rate and the average interbank rate, which local banks will adopt by applying the trading band to sell or buy on the foreign exchange market.
One can see that the Chinese yuan has surged by about 30 percent in 2005, Phuoc said.
Meanwhile, the Vietnamese dong has dropped by 40 percent, from around VND15,500 per dollar to VND22,000 per dollar, he elaborated, adding that excluding inflation, the exchange rate advantage of the dong is still bigger than the yuan by about 70 percent.
According to Dr. Nguyen Duc Thanh, director of the Vietnam Institute for Economic and Policy Research, under the University of Economics and Business, the SBV’s move to loosen the trading band can be seen as an effective way to devalue the dong without really doing so.
With this mechanism, the central bank did not change the core rate, VND21,673 to the dollar, to keep its word on not devaluing the dong by over two percent this year, he told Tuoi Tre.
But in fact, with the loosened trading band, the market will quickly take the exchange rate toward the other allotted end of the band, Thanh said.
This is the administrative procedure, which is not really important; the more important thing is that the central bank has responded swiftly and positively, he added.
A part of Phu My Hung Urban Area in HCM City. The housing market in HCM City recovered in the first half of this year. — VNA/VNS Photo Kim Phuong
HCM CITY (VNS) — The HCM City housing market is recovering thanks to effective government policies like allowing foreigners and overseas Vietnamese to buy houses, an industry insider has said.
Le Hoang Chau, chairman of the HCM City Real Estate Association, said the new regulation that housing projects need to be guaranteed by banks would usher in huge changes.
He hailed them as legal provisions that are totally consistent with the trend of international integration and which help build trust among consumers and secondary investors, leading to a sharp increase in property transactions.
In the first six months there were around 7,050 successful transactions in the city, 2.8 times the number in the same period last year, while prices have risen by 3-5 per cent.
The small- and medium-sized segment priced at around VND1 billion ($46,728) remained steady as always, but the luxury segment saw positive changes, with many projects getting under way or hitting the market.
Chau said M&A activities are strong in the property sector and would help revive stalled projects.
In HCM City 689 projects have been shelved while 85 others lost their licence.
But admittedly there are also problems the industry has to tackle, especially in the social and low-income housing segments in which supply is inadequate. Also, the VND30 trillion ($1.41 billion) bank housing credit package has been disbursed too slowly.
The association called on authorities to quickly issue detailed guidance, and with open and transparent provisions, for the amendments made to the Housing Law, Real Estate Business Law, Investment Law, and Business Law to create a favourable environment for market activities. — VNS
As many as 60 power plants have joined the electricity market directly so far this year with a total capacity of 14,952 megawatts, accounting for 40 percent of the national power system, according to the National Load Dispatch Centre (NLDC).
By the end of July, the centre was operating 107 power plants with an installed capacity of 37,594 megawatts and 750 transformer stations of 500/220/110 kilovolts with a total capacity of 99,914 mega-volt amperes.
This year, power output is expected to reach 163.1 billion kilowatt hours, up 12.1 percent compared to 2014.
Competitive wholesale power market design approved
The Ministry of Industry and Trade has issued a decision approving a detailed design for the competitive electricity wholesale market, which allows all units owning 30-megawatt (MW) power plants and above to join the market.
According to Decision 8266/QD-BCT, under-30MW power generators can also take part in the market if they meet infrastructure demands.
Meanwhile, build-operate-transfer projects can join the market either directly or through a representative unit from the Electricity of Vietnam (EVN).
Imported electricity and wind, solar and geothermal generators, as well as under-30MW hydropower plants, are not designed to be involved in the market.
Buyers will be grouped into five corporations – Northern, Southern and Central Region; Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City Power Corporations.
The roadmap for the implementation of the competitive electricity wholesale market consists of four periods with initial pilot operation period beginning on 2016. Official launching of the market is slated for 2019.
HANOI, Vietnam — Aug 12, 2015, 1:50 AM ET
Vietnam doubled the trading band of its currency Wednesday to allow it to weaken following an unexpected devaluation of the Chinese yuan.
The State Bank of Vietnam said in a statement that the dong can now be traded in a band 2 percent above or below the central bank-set reference rate compared with 1 percent before.
The announcement comes after the People's Bank of China devalued the tightly-controlled yuan by 1.9 percent on Tuesday, its biggest one-day fall in a decade, and let it drop another 1.6 percent Wednesday.
China's government said the devaluation was part of reforms meant to make its exchange rate more market-oriented. But the decision accentuated worries over the health of the world's second-largest economy following a slump in exports, pulling shares, Asian currencies and prices of oil and other commodities sharply lower.
Vietnam's central bank said the yuan's devaluation will have a "negative impact on the Vietnamese economy" because of the substantial trade between the two countries that is tilted in favor of China's exports.
Two-way trade was $59 billion last year in which Vietnam recorded a deficit of $29 billion.
The devaluation will "help the dong to be more flexible and be proactive in coping with the negative impacts in international markets and ensure the competitiveness of Vietnamese products," the central bank said.
TUOI TRE NEWS
UPDATED : 08/12/2015 16:55 GMT + 7
A cheaper yuan will help Chinese exports by making them less expensive on overseas markets, especially Vietnam, where Chinese goods of all kinds are widely available at already low prices.
Vietnamese manufacturers and exporters are scratching their heads over fears that they will have to cut prices, while Chinese imports will become far cheaper.
For Vietnamese cashew exporters, the devalued yuan is a double whammy, as the depreciation came after China increased the value-added tax for the product, one of Vietnam’s staples, from five percent to 13 percent, according to the Vietnam Cashew Association (Vinacas).
“I was still wondering why they hiked the VAT when I learned of the yuan devaluation,” Vinacas chairman Nguyen Duc Thanh told Tuoi Tre(Youth), after returning from a cashew exporter meeting in China.
With the cheaper yuan, Chinese importers have to pay more for signed contracts with payments in U.S. dollars.
“For instance, while Chinese firms paid 48,880 yuan for an $8,000 contract to import one metric ton of Vietnamese cashews, the amount of money is now 49,840 yuan,” Thanh elaborated.
“The importers thus have to either hike their selling prices or demand the exporters lower their quotes to offset the extra cost.”
While Vietnamese cashew exporters used to be able to increase the prices of shipments to China at this time of the year, with the Mid-Autumn Festival nearing, Thanh is pessimistic about them not having the chance again this year.
Insiders from the seafood and agro-produce exporting sectors also say the biggest concern is that Chinese importers will buy from other suppliers at lower prices, as Vietnamese goods will become more expensive.
Many countries, including Singapore, Thailand, Japan, South Korea and the Philippines, weakened their own currencies immediately after China announced its devaluation of the yuan on Tuesday.
These countries are both major markets and rivals of Vietnamese exporters of rice and seafood, according to industry insiders.
More than 90 percent of Vietnamese seafood exporters choose to complete payments in U.S. dollars, and the devaluation of other currencies against the greenback would only exacerbate the situation, according to the Vietnam Association for Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP).
“Vietnamese catfish will be under pressure to cut prices to enter China in the future,” VASEP general secretary Truong Dinh Hoe said.
“In the meantime, Vietnamese shrimp will also be more expensive than shipments from Thailand, Indonesia and India, and the importers will of course choose suppliers with the cheaper prices.”
Other economic experts are concerned that Vietnam’s trade deficit with China will widen as Chinese imports become cheaper.
“The yuan devaluation affects both the import and export activities of Vietnam with China, worsening the trade imbalance,” Associate Professor Tran Hoang Ngan, a prestigious economist, said.
Vietnam posted a trade deficit of $28.8 billion with China in 2014, according to the General Statistics Office.
The trade gap in the first seven months of this year was $20 billion.
A total of 45,651 tonnes of chicken products, mostly frozen thighs, were imported from the US in the first seven months of 2015, accounting for 49 percent of total meat imports into Vietnam in the period, said the Department of Animal Health source.
Shoppers choose meat products at Big C Supermarket in Hanoi.
The Department also said all US chicken products have an expiry date of at least seven months from manufacture date printed on the packages when arriving at the country’s border gates, citing reports from border veterinary units.
According to the department, all US chicken products have their origins from producers licensed to export to Vietnam in line with regulations of the Vietnamese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s circular 25/2010//TT-BNNPTNT dated April 8, 2010.
All those US producers also possess certificates on hygiene and food safety hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) under US rules.
All frozen chicken products from the US have been certified by the US Department of Agriculture as meeting food hygiene and safety standards.
Vietnam’s Ministry of Health has been testing samples from all batches of imported chicken products, with only one batch of 749kg of breaded chicken found to have been contaminated with Salmonella bacterium, which was then destroyed.
In the first 7 months of this year, 35 samples of imported US chicken products were tested, with 17 samples found to contain some antibiotics but well within the permissible levels.
On May 1 this year, Vietnam temporary halted import of live poultry and unprocessed poultry products from 13 US states where bird flu outbreaks have been reported. The US Department of Agriculture also announced it will not issue quarantine certificates for poultry from the birdflu-affected states.
During the next 10 years, the US market share for Vietnamese garments is expected to double under the TPP agreement. — Photo doanhnhansaigon
HCM CITY (VNS) — Twenty years after the US and Viet Nam established diplomatic relations, bilateral trade turnover has risen 80-fold, and is expected to boom after the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement, currently under negotiations, takes effect.
In 1995, bilateral trade volume was reported at US$500 million, and this year, it is estimated that it would be $40 billion. Within ten years, it could reach $50 or $60 billion.
And when negotiations on the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement conclude, the trade figures could climb even higher. Besides the US and Viet Nam, the trade agreement includes Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru and Singapore, representing 40 per cent of the global GDP.
Rena Bitter, general US consul general to HCM City, who spoke at a conference yesterday organised by the Viet Nam – US Association in HCM City on trade relations, said that 20 years ago the two countries could not have imagined the achievements of today.
She cited a recent Pew Global Attitudes survey that said 78 per cent of Vietnamese expressed a favorable view of the US.
The percentage was much higher for Vietnamese under 30 years of age, she said.
The US, with a market valued at $20 trillion, is now the No 1 market for Vietnamese exports.
Luong Van Tu, of the Viet Nam – US BTA Joint Committee, said that with TPP membership Viet Nam would improve management skills and have more access to capital and technology.
More importantly, it would have a large market for consumer goods.
He said that US – Viet Nam bilateral trade revenue would rise quickly over the next 20 years under the TPP.
Le Phuoc Vu, chairman of Hoa Sen Group, a large steel company, said with closer ties and increasing bilateral trade, Viet Nam could become the No. 1 exporter of industrial goods to the US.
"The US market has a lot of potential. With TPP, our exports to US could increase several times over," Vu said.
"If an American looks down at the label on his or her shoes, there's a 1-in-10 chance it will read Made in Viet Nam. Same for the shirt on his or her back," he said.
Clothing tops the list of Vietnamese export to the US. Viet Nam is now the second leading provider of clothes to the US after China.
Le Quoc An, consultant for the Viet Nam Textile and Apparel Association, said last year Viet Nam exported $10 billion of fabric and clothes to the US market, which represents a 9.2 percent import market share in the country.
Apparel and textile exports were only $1 billion in 2002 when the US – Viet Nam Bilateral Trade Agreement took effect.
Over the last 10 years, Vietnamese clothes exported to the US increased 398 per cent with an annual growth of 15 per cent, he said.
During the next 10 years, the US market share for Vietnamese garments is expected to double under the TPP agreement.
An said that US billionaire Wibur Ross had decided to invest in the garment and textile industry in Viet Nam.
The US is one of Viet Nam's biggest investors, along with Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore.
The Viet Nam Embassy in the US celebrated the 20th anniversary of the two countries' diplomatic ties (July 12, 1995) with a ceremony in Washington D.C. on Thursday.
Addressing the event, Vietnamese Ambassador Pham Quang Vinh thanked US officials, scholars and people for their support for the development of bilateral ties over the past 20 years.
This year is a milestone in Viet Nam-US relations following General Secretary of the Communist Party of Viet Nam Nguyen Phu Trong's historic visit to the US and talks with President Barack Obama in early July.
During the visit, the two countries issued a joint vision statement to intensify their comprehensive partnership set up by Presidents Truong Tan Sang and Obama in 2013.
Vinh said in the last two decades, Viet Nam and the US had made great strides across the board, and the US was now the fourth largest investor in Viet Nam.
He added that they were also working closely with other partners within the framework of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, the East Asia Summit and the ASEAN Regional Forum for regional peace, security and prosperity, including maritime security and freedom in the East Sea, water resources and sustainable development in the lower Mekong River.
At the ceremony, Senator John McCain – Chairman of the US Senate Committee on Armed Services – valued the current relations between the two countries and noted that their ties had grown beyond expectations in various aspects, including economics and education.
He said the US Congress' granting of the Trade Promotion Authority that expands President Obama's power to move ahead on the TPP was a strategic signal of the US's strengthened commitment to Asia-Pacific and its partners in the region.
However, the US and Viet Nam were facing new security challenges, McCain said, adding that amidst China's continued construction and militarisation in the East Sea, Washington sided with Viet Nam in opposing activities that changed the status quo in the waters.
The Senator also called on the US to consider easing the ban on the sale of lethal weapons to Viet Nam.
Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel underlined the substantial and comprehensive progress of Viet Nam-US relations over the last 20 years.
The US was currently hosting 17,000 Vietnamese students and, about 85,000Vietnamese tourists visited the US last year. Educational co-operation and people-to-people exchanges were the highlights of their bonds, he said.
Ties marked in Ha Noi
The Viet Nam Union of Friendship Organisations and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs also held a banquet on Thursday to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the normalisation of Viet Nam-US diplomatic relations.
Speaking at the event, Deputy Minister Ha Kim Ngoc highlighted the remarkable achievements made by the two countries over the past two decades, while expressing his gratitude for the efforts made by previous generations to establish and nurture relations.
The two countries had moved towards co-operation in various fields, the Deputy Minister said, adding that through their comprehensive strategic partnership, Viet Nam and the US would contribute greatly to the maintenance of peace, sustainability and co-operation in the region.
US Ambassador to Viet Nam Ted Osius said the two sides had addressed the consequences of the war and discussed measures to further collaboration since the establishment of diplomatic relations.
The Ambassador said he was impressed by the growth in bilateral trade, which is currently valued at approximately US$40 billion per year, a 100-fold increase compared to 20 years ago. He highlighted that this figure was expected to rise even further once the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was signed. — VNS