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28Oct/140

HCM City promotes stable business operations, production

10/28/2014 9:31:59 AM

Chairman of Ho Chi Minh City’s People’s Committee Le Hoang Quan has asked relevant departments, sectors and district authorities to continue creating favourable conditions to promote stable business operations and production in the city in the last months of the year.

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In a meeting held in HCM City on October 27 to review the ten-month socio-economic development and key tasks for the rest of the year, Quan requested the management boards of industrial parks and export processing zones to simplify their administrative procedures, and develop and upgrade their infrastructure in an effort to attract more foreign-invested projects, especially in high-tech.

Quan said most economic targets have been met, with growth rates higher than during the same period in 2013.

In the first ten months of this year, the city’s industrial production value climbed to 6.8%, 0.9% higher than that during the same period last year.

In October alone, retail sales of goods and services were estimated at nearly VND55.9 trillion (US$2.62 billion), up by 10.6% against October last year. For the January-October period, the retail sector recorded an increase of 12% in revenue to about VND530.5 trillion (US$24.9 billion).

Meanwhile, import-export turnover over the last ten months hit nearly VND28 trillion (US$1.3 billion), up by 8.87% compared to the same period last year.

The city took the lead in attracting foreign direct investment (FDI), granting investment certificates to 332 new projects and allowing 107 others to increase their capital, with a total value of US$2.9 billion, representing an increase of 97.6% compared to the same period last year.

Dao Thi Huong Lan, Director of the municipal Department of Finance, said the State budget reached VND213 trillion (around US$10 billion) in the reviewed period, accounting for 94.15% of the estimate for the whole year, a year-on-year increase of nearly 13.5%.

The programme to connect banks and enterprises, which aims to help businesses operating in the city to access loans, proved effective with the total assistance capital reaching VND37.48 trillion (US$1.76 billion), VND7.48 trillion (US$351.5 million) more than the target for the 10-month period, actively helping enterprises solve their capital difficulties.

In the remaining months of 2014, the city will focus on producing goods that will be in high demand on the occasion of New Year.

Promotional activities will be intensified and campaigns to encourage people to use locally produced goods will be run.

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28Oct/140

Da Nang asks for incentives for major investors in IT park

Last update 12:30 | 28/10/2014 VietNamNet Bridge – The central city of Da Nang has asked for the government’s permission to offer incentives to foreign-invested projects with capital of over $200 million in its IT park.

 

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According to the city Department of Planning & Investment, in the past 10 months, the city attracted nearly $153 million of foreign investment capital, down by 47% from last year. To date, the total registered capital of FDI projects in the city is only $4 billion, ranking 16th out of 63 provinces across the country. It is said that the results were poor compared to the city’s potential and to other areas like HCM City with its $1 billion Intel project, or Bac Ninh with its big Canon and Samsung projects. The city’s senior officials said at a recent dialogue with investors that the city is seeking the government’s approval on big incentives for FDI projects with capital of $200 million or more and for hi-tech projects with total spending on research and development of over 1% of annual total revenue. Such projects will have an income tax rate of 10% within 30 years and 50% reduction of land rent. Currently, investors in the Da Nang high-tech zone enjoy corporation income tax rate of 10% for 15 years, and are exempted from corporate income tax in the first four years and a 50% reduction in the next nine years. In addition to solutions, the Da Nang high-tech park is negotiating with major investors from Japan, South Korea, the US and Europe to call for funding into the park. Under a plan approved by the Prime Minister, the park has a total area of nearly 1,130 hectares, of which 60% of the area will be devoted to the construction of functional areas and 40% to natural landscapes.

 

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28Oct/140

Vietnam offers two more offshore oil blocks to India

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Boost for ties Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Tan Dung at a meeting in New Delhi. RAJEEV BHATT

The two countries agree to enhance economic ties

New Delhi, October 28:

India has been offered two additional offshore oil exploration blocks in Vietnam. In addition, Vietnam has agreed to extend by another two years the opportunity for Indian oil companies to consider the option of exploring another offshore oil field, which was offered to it earlier.

The offers were made at the official level talks between the visiting Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and Narendra Modi here on Tuesday. This is the second two-year extension that India has got for the oil block. It was first extended in 2012 for two years, which expired earlier this year. Official sources emphasised that the oil blocks offered were in Vietnam waters and were part of the original lot of five blocks which it had offered India some years back.

Following the talks an agreement was inked between ONGC Videsh Ltd and Petrovietnam Exploration Production Corporation Ltd (PVEP) for mutual cooperation for exploration in two blocks 102/10 and 106/10 of PVEP and Block 128 of ONGC Videsh in offshore Vietnam. In addition, ONGC signed a memorandum of understanding with PVEP for mutual cooperation for exploration in the NELP Blocks of ONGC in the Andaman and Cauvery Basins. With the two leaders agreeing that enhancing economic cooperation between the two countries should be pursued as a strategic objective, India extended a $300-million line of credit to expand trade and investment and enhanced Indian participation in energy, infrastructure, textiles, chemicals, machinery, agro-processing and information technology in Vietnam.

The two sides also decided to enhance the bilateral trade target to $15 billion to be achieved by 2020. To facilitate the process, Bank of India was given a licence to set up a bank in Vietnam. Addressing the media, after talks with the visiting dignitary, Modi said Vietnam’s recent decision on infrastructure projects for Indian companies, awarding a banking licence to Bank of India and starting direct air links through Jet Airways and Vietnam Airlines reflect the new momentum in economic relations between the two countries.

The Prime Minister added that India remains committed to the modernisation of Vietnam’s defence and security forces pointing out that this will include expansion of India’s training programme, holding of joint exercises and cooperation in defence equipment. “We will quickly operationalise the $100-million line of credit that will enable Vietnam to acquire new vessels from India,” the Prime Minister said. India has also agreed to increase cooperation in space, including in space applications and launch Vietnam’s satellites.

(This article was published on October 28, 2014)

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24Oct/140

Video: Money Manager Says It’s Really Vietnam’s Time

10/24/2014 @ 12:01PM 50 views

Video: Money Manager Says It's Really Vietnam's Time

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Bill Stoops - CIO Dragon Capital

It was early 2003 when I published a cover of Forbes Asia headlined, “Vietnam’s Moment.” This story was not the last premature call of that economy’s reawakening from its post-war Communist slumber. The always industrious Vietnamese people have gone through boom and bust cycles since, as trade and finance is opened up a bit, enough to get into trouble.

There remains a long way to go to an open, transparent economy (and society) but more is going right now. The property market is shaking off the worst of the last credit binge, big state companies are being opened up to outside investment and scrutiny (one even made a Forbes Asia top-performer list) and consumer and export sectors are showing strength. Multinationals are increasingly present (here’s the latest news of Japanese interest in the textile output). Individual enrichment is still a sore point, but acceptance of the profit motive, by same name or another, is inevitable.

Bill Stoops, whose business it is to tout the prospects for Vietnam in his role as chief investment officer of Dragon Capital, one of two big money-managers there, makes the case that this time, the growth story is real. Early this year he also was optimistic in a discussion with one of our contributors; though there’ve been further fits and starts since in the emerging and frontier markets (Vietnam is considered the latter), he’s staying on message. And it’s a tight one.

In this video discussion, we go over the macroeconomic shifts and some elements of the Vietnam story to watch out for, including its role as a China alternative: Click the link below to watch the video.

 

http://onforb.es/1wl7tvC

 

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24Oct/140

McDonald’s sales show attractiveness of Vietnamese market

Last update 07:54 | 24/10/2014

VietNamNet Bridge – Within the first 24 hours after the first shop in HCM City opened, McDonald’s received 22,500 customers, equal to one-tenth of the population in one district in the city.

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The first McDonald’s shop served 22,500 customers within 24 hours of the opening

This shows the attractiveness of the Vietnamese market and explains why foreign investors have flocked to Vietnam.

Andy Ho from VinaCapital, an investment fund management company, said that if the sales of McDonald’s shops all over the globe in the first month of operation were compared, the shop in HCM City would rank second in the chain, just below Beijing, and above the third-ranked shop in Moscow.

Henry Nguyen, managing director of McDonald’s Vietnam, said at a press conference earlier this year that the first McDonald’s shop served 22,500 customers within 24 hours of the opening day, while the figure reached 400,000 in the first month.

The 2009 population census showed that 1.68 million people living in urban areas were aged 10 to 24, a potential market in which one in four people could be viewed as customers.

In District 1, the central area of HCM City, where the fast food brand set up its first shop, one of every 10 local residents visited the shop in the first month.

The sales of McDonald’s shows the strong growth of the Vietnamese market, Andy Ho said.

Investors consider the scale of the targeted markets before deciding whether to offer money.

Having been present in the last 20 years in Vietnam, Heinrich Hiesinger, managing director of ThyssenKrupp, said that Vietnam is a market with great potential for European investors thanks to its young population, high consumption demand and high economic growth rate.

The managing director said the group had decided to make long-term investments in Vietnam, though the businesses sometimes have not gone smoothly. The group now runs three factories in Vietnam which brings turnover of $150 million a year.

A branding expert noted that the young population is also one of the reasons that attract foreign retailers.

Other big groups eyeing Vietnam are Walmart, Central Group, Berli Jucker and 7-Eleven.

A survey conducted by Teikoku Databank found that Japanese companies were now more optimistic about Vietnam as an investment destination because of its low costs and young labor force.

The survey also found that Vietnam ranked fourth on the list of most attractive sale markets, following China, the US and Thailand.

A report from the Foreign Investment Agency (FIA), an arm of the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI), showed that though the registered foreign direct investment (FDI) capital in the first nine months of 2014 was lower than the figure for the same period last year, the number of licensed projects was higher.

The report showed that 1,152 projects received investment certificates this year, an increase of 32 percent over the same period of 2013.

Last year, the high level of promised investment capital was due to the presence of huge oil refinery and real estate projects. The number of licensed projects increased by 12 percent only.

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24Oct/140

Vietnam bank tycoon in police custody for lending violation probe

By Anh Vu, Thanh Nien News

HANOI - Friday, October 24, 2014 21:13 Email Print

The chairman of a Hanoi-based bank was detained Friday as part of an ongoing probe into allegations that he had violated lending regulations.

 

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Ha Van Tham, Chairman of Ocean Bank, was arrested Friday pending investigations into lending violations. Photo credit: Ocean Bank

Police from the Ministry of Public Security have detained Ha Van Tham, Chairman of Ocean Bank, for four months while they looked into the charges against him, a ministry official told Thanh Nien Friday afternoon.

Earlier on the same day, the State Bank of Vietnam, the country's central bank, announced that the board of Ocean Bank on Oct. 23 dismissed Tham, 42, from his post in Ocean Bank following allegations of “seriously violating banking regulations.”

"Through investigation, the State Bank of Vietnam has found some serious violations of the law by Mr. Ha Van Tham himself," it said in a statement.

“The State Bank of Vietnam is closely cooperating with relevant authorities to strictly deal with the violations at Ocean Bank under the law,” the central bank said on its website, without elaborating any further.

Before being arrested, Tham, a Doctor of Business Administration from US-based Paramount University of Technology, had been Chairman of Ocean Bank since 2007.

Besides, the Hanoi-based businessman had been Chairman of property developer Ocean Group and hotel operator Ocean Hospitality.

Ocean Group holds a 20 percent stake in Ocean Bank and more than 75 percent in Ocean Hostapility, Ocean Securities, Ocean Media, Ocean Retail, and commodity exchange INFO, the group says on its website.

Tham had earned many national titles including “Outstanding Vietnamese Businessman” in 2009 and “the 2011 Red Star Award” – which honors outstanding young entrepreneurs.

As Tham had been removed from his post, Ocean Bank general director Nguyen Minh Thu was voted as new chairman by the lender’s board of directors, the central bank said.

Ocean Bank’s business is unaffected by this case, it added.

Ocean Bank, headquartered in Hanoi, was founded in 1993. The lender said in April it aims to raise its registered capital from VND4 trillion (US$188 million) to VND5.35 trillion ($252 million) by this December.

It posted a pre-tax profit of VND232 billion ($10.9 million) last year.

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21Oct/140

Women pilots blaze new career path

Last update 11:17 | 21/10/2014

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VietNamNet Bridge - A relatively new career path opening up in Vietnam is that of becoming a pilot, a highly rewarding profession that demands rigorous training and mastery of a diverse set of skills. Averie Nguyen meets some of the women that conquer our skies on a daily basis under the employ of Vietjet.

Diverse inspirations

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Vietnamese pilot Nguyen Phuong Anh and Filipino pilot Antonette Parucha.

Born and raised in the Polish capital of Warsaw, 29-year-old Anna Jastrzebska, who is fluent in three languages, bypassed other candidates to become Vietjet’s first female pilot in 2012.

Anna became familiar with planes and flying at a young age thanks to her father, an amateur pilot. “I am grateful that my dad is a pilot,” she says. “My passion for flying began when my father took me with him on his glider for the first time. That passion is still with me now.”

Unlike Anna, 33-year-old Filipino pilot Antonette Parucha was originally drawn to the uniform. “In college, a female student caught my attention one day when she wore a very nice outfit. When I found out it was pilot’s wear, I felt that I wanted to be in that uniform and one day I would be in that uniform,” she explained.

Before starting her career as a pilot, Antonette was a flight dispatcher and then a flight instructor. “I worked with Private Charter Aviation Company as a flight dispatcher after finishing a flying course,” she tells Timeout. “My bosses encouraged me to get a pilot's license and I did. Then, I worked part time as a pilot alongside my responsibilities as a flight dispatcher.”

After quitting her job as a flight dispatcher, Antonette flew as a charter pilot and also became a flight instructor. “As a flight teacher, I gained new skills and learned a lot when sharing my knowledge and experience to students. Whenever I released a student for solo (flight), I experienced mixed feelings of happiness and pride that I was now part of a future pilot’s career,” beams the former teacher.

Difficulties faced

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Polish pilot Anna Jastrzebska.

Both Anna and her husband work as pilots, their busy schedules making their moments together all the more valuable. “When we have spare time, we usually cook, play sport, or travel,” she says.

The living environment in Vietnam can also be a problem. “Traffic in Vietnam is what concerns me the most. I have to truly concentrate and be careful each time I go out,” she laughs.

Agreeing with Anna, Antonette adds “working here in Vietnam is different from what I’m used to because of the diverse nationalities that make up the working environment.” As far as the Filipino pilot is concerned, being far away from family is also a difficulty to overcome.

“Prior to applying to Vietjet Air, I had no plans to work outside my country. However, out of curiosity, I submitted my application and got accepted. I decided to give it a try and work outside my comfort zone,” she adds.

Some people might think that in this male-dominated industry female pilots need to try harder to be equal to their male counterparts. However, Anna believes that women and men have equal capabilities to do important jobs such as piloting aircraft. “With passion and determination, as well as satisfying strict requirements on professionalism, accuracy and problem-solving skills, women can do the job even better than men.”

Support received

Vietnamese 29-year-old pilot Nguyen Phuong Anh thinks that self-belief is the most important attribute that a pilot needs to successfully complete a flight. “I remember my first solo. Oh my goodness, I could not think about anything besides the question ‘am I ready?’ I kept asking my instructor ‘do you think I am ready?’ He just encouraged me, closed the door and then waved me off,” she recalls.

“My heart wanted to jump out of my chest. Lining up with the centerline, I paused for a second to make last-minute checks and take one final deep breath before setting the wheels of that moment in motion,” she continues.

“The moment you take an aircraft into the sky then bring it back safely to the ground, the moment you have to take care of everything on your own, the moment you know that you cannot make any mistakes, the moment you believe that you can do anything, the moment you are overcome with pride, they are unforgettable,” she proudly shares.

Agreeing with Phuong Anh, Antonette adds that the happiness of passengers is also an inspiration. “Many times I notice somewhat diverse facial expressions when passengers see me, a woman, sitting in the cockpit. I just give them a smile in reply,” she says. “My smile assures them that they will have a safe flight. For me, seeing happy and contented passengers after landing is priceless.”

Anna believes that since it is a relatively new career path in Vietnam, pilots and female pilots in particular receive a high level of support from passengers and colleagues. “This is the true gift for me when working in Vietnam,” she says.

She adds that her family’s support is invaluable. “I am lucky that I have a husband who always encourages me in my job and shares in the household chores!”

Having been born in a country with a vastly different way of living, Anna believes that the warmth of the locals has helped her settle into her new surroundings. “This country is very different from my motherland. Whenever I begin to feel the contrast in my appearance and lifestyle, the friendliness of the people always wins me over.”

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21Oct/140

Gov’t expects 5.8 percent economic growth for 2014

Last update 12:39 | 21/10/2014

Vietnam’s socio-economic development is progressing steadily, with economic growth likely to reach 5.8 percent this year, according to a Government report.

The report, which was delivered at the ongoing eighth session of the 13 th National Assembly in Hanoi on October 20, also showed that the economy continued to grow by 5.62 percent during the first nine months this year, higher than the same period last year.

Meanwhile, inflation declined to 2.25 percent in the nine-month period, the lowest in ten years, the report said, adding that the figure is expected to be less than 5 percent all year.

However, the report also pointed out that the country’s business environment and competitiveness have yet to improve, which, together with limited access to capital for businesses due to complex administrative procedures, resulted in a high number of business dissolution.

At the same time, slow credit growth and rising public debt were also a posing challenge to the country, the report said. The securities market is still unstable, while the real estate market was sluggish and exports by domestic firms remained low, it said.

Regarding the socio-economic plan for 2015, the report sets out targets of 6.2 percent for GDP growth and an inflation rate of 5 percent; a 1.7-2 percent decrease in poverty overall and a 4 percent decrease in poverty in poor localities; and 1.6 million new job opportunities, it said.

Later in the session, deputies heard a summary report on voters’ opinions, and a report on the NA Economic Committee's verification of the government's report on socio-economic development in 2014 and tasks for 2015.

They also debated reports on the prevention of and fight against corruption in 2014, and a proposal on the revision of textbooks for general education.

During the October 20 session, deputies also heard a report on the implementation of the State budget estimate for 2014, and a report on the budget estimate and central budget allocation for next year.

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21Oct/140

Bond issuances by gov’t limits bank loans

Last update 14:00 | 21/10/2014

VietNamNet Bridge – Businesses would have more opportunities to access bank loans at low interest rates if the government had not issued so many bonds, experts believe.

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Vietnamese have a saying “areca and rice, you can’t have both”. The areca nut tree, a drought-resistant plant, will bear good fruit in a dry year. Rice will wither and the rice crop will fail if it cannot get enough water. When farmers harvest bountiful rice crops, they will not have good areca crops, and vice versa.

The saying, according to analysts, reflects what is happening with monetary policy.

The government has issued bonds since the beginning of the year, but businesses complain about the lack of capital.

According to chinhphu.vn, the State Treasury had mobilized VND210.198 trillion worth of capital through bond issuances as of September 25, fulfilling 90.6 percent of the 2014 plan assigned by the Ministry of Finance.

However, analysts said the number of bonds was too high.

With expected capital of VND300 trillion to be mobilized through bond issuances, 2014 will be the year when government borrowing reaches the highest level.

Analysts said there had been no difficulties in mobilizing capital through bond issuances. As commercial banks have abundant capital, they throw the money into government bonds, a safe investment channel.

In other words, the government can easily seek capital to implement its development plans when issuing bonds, while commercial banks can use the optimal investment channel when buying bonds.

However, businesses have suffered from the profusion of bonds because they cannot access bank loans. Under such a scenario, commercial banks, which have injected money into bonds, do not feel compelled to increase lending to businesses.

Dr. Trinh Quang Anh, an independent researcher, commented that the volume of government bonds issued this year has created an obstacle to the possibility of a reduction in interest rates.

Agreeing with Anh, an analyst noted “that fiscal policy has caused major difficulties for monetary policy”.

According to the analyst, the government has continually borrowed money from commercial banks and then deposited the money in commercial banks. The state’s money in banks leads to an increase in the total money supply (M2).

Meanwhile, the capital that banks use to buy government bonds can actually be the state’s money deposited at the banks.

Dr. Phan Van Tinh, in an article published recently, said this was “using chicken fat to fry chicken”.

This will make it even more difficult for the State Bank to draw up monetary policies and regulate money-supply sources to curb inflation and stabilize exchange rates.

As a result, monetary policy regulating part of the capital in the national economy has been ineffective, he said.

Regarding the public debt, Deputy Chair of the National Assembly Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan said the debt is now about 64 percent of GDP, and if it reaches 65 per cent, the “red-light” alarm would turn on.

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20Oct/140

Get rid of outdated policy on sale promotions: businesses

Last update 14:00 | 20/10/2014

VietNamNet Bridge – Under current regulations, the selling price of goods and services during promotions must not be lower than 50 percent of the price prior to the sale.

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Many businesses believe this policy is outdated and needs to be changed.

State agencies, for example, this month refused to allow Sheraton Saigon Hotel & Towers, a 5-star hotel in HCM City, to offer a “buy 1, get 1 free” sale, under which clients would get a free glass of cocktail or beer between 4 pm and 6:30 pm.

The state management agency said the promotion violated the government’s Decree No 37 issued in 2006 on management of sale promotion activities.

The HCM City Tourism Association said many other hotels and travel firms had encountered this outdated regulation.

A lawyer commented that the regulation reflected excessive intrusion of the state in business operations.

He noted that many sellers and service providers want to stimulate demand by offering big discounts. However, with outdated regulations, businesses have found it difficult to boost sales and clear big inventories.

An official of the HCM City Tourism Association said that tourism agencies would be turned down by state agencies if they asked permission to offer such discounts.

However, many sales promotion campaigns with discounts of 80-90 percent continue to be run by some companies.

“I know a lot of companies have a “buy 1 and get 3 free” program. But they have not been punished,” he said.

Nguyen Thi Khanh said the city’s tourism association had sent a petition to state management agencies, requesting that the regulation on ceiling discount rates be abolished.

As the tourism sector is experiencing difficulties with the number of tourists on the decrease and low occupancy rates, Khanh said the state should think of creating more favorable conditions for hotels and travel firms to run promotions to boost demand, rather than setting restrictions that hinder business.

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