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15Dec/14Off

Vietnam trade surplus $438mn in November

Monday, 15 December 2014 13:15
Posted by Shoaib-ur-Rehman Siddiqui

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HANOI: Vietnam saw a trade surplus of $438 million for November, compared with an initial estimate of a $300 million deficit, Vietnam Customs said on Monday.

November exports fell 6 percent from October to $13.23 billion and imports decreased 9.1 percent to $12.79 billion, the customs department, which operates under the Finance Ministry, said in a report on its website.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said Vietnam's exports this year could hit a record $150 billion, up 13 percent from 2013, on track to register a trade surplus of $1.5 billion.

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15Dec/14Off

Tan Cang – Hiep Phuoc terminal begins operation

Monday, 15/12/2014 - 04:53 PM (GMT+7)

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The Saigon Newport Corporation held a ceremony to inaugurate the first phase of the Tan Cang–Hiep Phuoc terminal. (Credit: hanoimoi.com.vn)

NDO – A ceremony was held on December 15 at Hiep Phuoc industrial park, in Nha Be district, Ho Chi Minh City to inaugurate the first phase of the Tan Cang–Hiep Phuoc terminal after nearly 11 months of its construction.

On the same day, the terminal received its first ship named SAIGON BRIDGE of the SITC International Holdings Limited Company.

The first phase of the Tan Cang–Hiep Phuoc terminal consists of a 300 metre wharf which is able to receive the 50,000 DWT vessels, four barge berths with a total length of 253 metres and 12 hectares of container yard.

The second phase, including a 120 metre wharf, eight hectares of container yard and other devices, is set to be completed in June, 2015.

The project is considered the extension of the Tan Cang – Cat Lai terminal which is managed by the Saigon Newport Corporation.

The Tan Cang – Hiep Phuoc terminal, located upstream of Soai Rap River, is expected to become a container connecting point of countries in Central Asia region.

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10Dec/14Off

Nokia Vietnam most attractive to job seekers

Last update 07:50 | 10/12/2014

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Nokia Vietnam Co. Ltd., which now operates under Microsoft Vietnam, is the most attractive firm to job seekers as shown by the country’s leading online recruitment provider VietnamWorks.com.

In average, nearly 549 candidates apply for each position that the company recruits.

Following Nokia Vietnam are Panasonic Vietnam, Orion Food Vina Co. Ltd., Posco E&C Vietnam Co. Ltd., Sei Electronic Components Vietnam Ltd., and DHL Express Vietnam.

According to the result announced yesterday by VietnamWork.com, among the top 50 companies attracting most applicants on the site this year are 13 production enterprises, 21 companies with 51-300 employees and only two firms with more than 300 employees.

Over 87% of the jobs offered by those leading companies require candidates to have two to five years of working experience. Administrative secretary and accounting are the most sought jobs for applicants, making up 20% and 18% respectively of the total jobs offered by the top 50 firms.

Nearly 90% jobs offered by those firms are in HCMC and Hanoi.

More than 8,000 companies have counted on VietnamWorks.com to find employees this year.

List of 15 most attractive employers for job seekers on VietnamWorks.com

1. Nokia Vietnam Co. Ltd.

2. Panasonic Vietnam Co. Ltd.

3. Orion Food Vina Co. Ltd

4. Posco E&C Vietnam Co. Ltd.

5. Sei Electronic Components Vietnam Ltd.

6. DHL Express Vietnam

7. Topcom Investment Joint Stock Co.

8. KOTRA

9. Dai Co Viet Logistics Joint Stock Co.

10. Mitsubishi Electric Vietnam Co. Ltd.

11. North America Foreign Language

12. Training Private Enterprise

13. VietJet Aviation Joint Stock Co.

14. Hansol Electronics Vietnam Co. Ltd.

15. LG Electronics Vietnam Co. Ltd.

16. Sony Electronics Vietnam Co. Ltd.

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10Dec/14Off

Vietnam-Japan Joint Initiative helps Vietnam improve investment environment

Tuesday, 09/12/2014 - 05:00 PM (GMT+7)

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Minister of Planning and Investment Bui Quang Vinh speaking at the meeting (Source: VNA)

NDO – Over its 11 years of operations, the Vietnam-Japan Joint Initiative has reached its target of improving Vietnam’s investment environment and increasing the competitiveness of the country’s economy.

Minister of Planning and Investment Bui Quang Vinh made the statement at a final evaluation meeting of the Vietnam-Japan Joint Initiative Committee in Hanoi on December 9 to review the fifth phase of the initiative.

The outcomes of the initiative represent joint efforts of Vietnamese and Japanese Government agencies as well as Vietnam’s consistent policy on improving its business climate, he said.

The fifth phase of the initiative included 26 items and 104 sub-items focusing on 13 groups of issues like taxation, customs, transport, intellectual property, macroeconomic stabilisation, infrastructure development and food safety. According to the committee’s report, 95 of the sub-items were well implemented or in progress, while the remainder have not yet been deployed.

During the fifth phase, launched in July of last year, around 40 policy dialogues were held to create venues for agencies from the two countries to exchange and discuss main contents of the action plan to realise the initiative.

The Japanese side has suggested many positive proposals to their Vietnamese partner to complete the legal framework and policies on facilitating the implementation.

Japanese Ambassador Hiroshi Fukada said that the initiative, first launched in 2003, provided a co-operation mechanism to work out proper policies for Vietnam to develop its industry and attract more foreign direct investment.

Japan will continue its support to boost the development of Vietnam and the ASEAN region in general during the sixth phase of the initiative, stressed co-chairman of the Vietnamese - Japan Economic Committee, Takahashi Kyouhei.

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10Dec/14Off

Vietnam To Spend US$45 Billion On Transportation Infrastructure In 2014-2020

HANOI, Dec 10 (Bernama) - The Ministry of Transport plans to mobilise 960 trillion Vietnamese dong (US$45 billion) from various sources to invest in infrastructure in the 2014-2020 period, Vietnam News Agency (VNA) reported.

The Management Board of the Public Private Partnerships (PPP) said the funds will be derived from three main sources: official development assistance (ODA), state budget and government bonds.

"About 47 percent will come from ODA and the state budget and the rest will be acquired from private investments," PPP said.

Every year, the transport sector is allocated around 20 trillion dong (US$950 million) from the state budget and government bonds accounting for only half of the demand.

Read more: http://dongtalk.com/forums/index.php/topic/14843-vietnam-to-spend-us45-billion-on-transportation-infrastructure-in-2014-2020/#ixzz3LVtEtpCO

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8Dec/14Off

UPDATE: State Bank sold $1.5 billion to stabilize dong value

Last update 09:52 | 08/12/2014

VietNamNet Bridge – The State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) has sold dollars to commercial banks in an effort to stabilize the dong/dollar exchange rate amid the year-end dollar demand increase.

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The dollar sale has been confirmed by a high ranking official of the bank.

The official declined to reveal the amount of dollars sold, but said SBV only sold dollars to commercial banks which reported a negative foreign currency position.

The banks with positive foreign currency position were not eligible for buying dollars from the central bank.

Thoi bao Kinh Te Sai Gon has quoted the deputy general director of a HCM City-based bank as saying that the sale started in early December, estimating that about $1.5 billion has been sold so far.

The banker confirmed that the central bank sold dollars at VDN21,400 per dollar, or VND60 per dollar lower than the ceiling price.

The ceiling price is understood as the highest possible price level at which commercial banks can sell to clients.

The deputy director of a commercial bank well known for funding import/export deals also confirmed he received the registration form for purchasing foreign currencies provided by the central bank in early December.

The bank has bought “a small amount” of dollars to improve its foreign currency position, preparing to satisfy businesses’ increasing dollar demand at the end of the year.

On November 27, Nguyen Thi Hong, governor of the State Bank of Vietnam, at a meeting with the local press, said the central bank had revealed the plan to sell foreign currencies.

“We are considering demand from commercial banks to determine how much we will sell to stabilize the market,” Hong said at the meeting.

Some economists, anticipating low purchasing power, predicted that the imports of consumers goods in the last months of the year would be modest, which means that businesses would not need to buy dollars in large quantities to make payments for imports.

However, Thoi bao Kinh te Sai Gon has quoted bankers as saying that the dollar demand has been increasing since late October, and that many businesses have registered to buy dollars to import products for the year-end and Tet sale seasons.

There are some other factors which have pushed the dollar price up, according to the bankers. Some portfolio investors have tried to buy dollars as part of their plan to withdraw from the stock market. Also, as global oil prices have fallen, Vietnamese enterprises are increasing imports, thus pushing dollar prices up.

Read more: http://dongtalk.com/forums/index.php/topic/14805-state-bank-sold-15-billion-to-stabilize-dong-value/#ixzz3LLFSYpbs

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8Dec/14Off

Customs budget revenue exceeds annual target

December, 08 2014 08:11:39

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Custom officers check imported goods at the Mong Cai border gate in the northern province of Quang Ninh. The General Department of Customs's total budget for this year is expected to reach VND248.5 trillion ($11.6 billion), a 12.2 per cent year-on-year increase. — VNA/VNS Photo Hoang Hung

HA NOI (VNS) — The General Department of Customs' budget revenue as of November 26 reached VND225.4 trillion (US$10.6 billion) or 100.6 per cent of the 2014 target.

Collections of the export-import, special consumption and environmental protection taxes reached VND84.9 trillion ($3.9 billion) while those of the value added tax reached VND140.2 trillion ($6.6 billion).

The department's total budget for this year is expected to reach VND248.5 trillion ($11.6 billion), a 12.2-per cent year-on-year increase and 110.9 per cent of the forecast for this year.

The department attributed the high revenue to the 12.8-per cent year-on-year increase in collections in the first 11 months of this year.

The Viet Nam customs department this year instructed local customs departments to tighten the collection and disbursement of the State budget and tackle difficulties in tax policies in a timely manner.

The customs department also increased the implementation of post-customs clearance and inter-sectoral co-operation to prevent and detect trade fraud.

In turn, the local departments proposed measures to prevent losses and increase management by price consultation and price and tax code assessment.

The high revenue was also attributed to the effective instruction of the Viet Nam Communist Party, National Assembly and Government and provincial implementation of plans to achieve annual national socio-economic development goals. — VNS

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8Dec/14Off

Vietnam’s public debt is still within sustainable threshold

Last update 06:00 | 08/12/2014

VietNamNet Bridge – Many questions have recently surfaced over a lot of macroeconomic issues in Vietnam, especially the use of official development assistance (ODA), the country’s rising public debt, and institutional changes among others. The Saigon Times Daily talked with Victoria Kwakwa, country director for the World Bank in Vietnam, about such controversial issues.

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Victoria Kwakwa

Over the past two decades, international donors have committed over US$80 billion in ODA for Vietnam, with a half having been disbursed. The ODA loans have undeniably contributed to the nation’s development. However, as you know, some National Assembly deputies are concerned about ODA usages, while many donors have agreed on the efficient use of ODA loans in Vietnam. So, what are your major points?

A first point to note is the considerable amount of knowledge, new ideas and innovations that come through ODA. ODA should not be seen and has indeed not only been about financing but also about helping Vietnam tap into global knowledge and innovations to solve development problems. ODA projects have helped build skills of Government counterparts in transparent procurement, sound financial management and in monitoring results of public investments.

Second, several analyses also show that ODA has been used relatively effectively by the Government of Vietnam to help the country’s development agenda to move out of widespread poverty and a relatively low level of economic activity to a country which has recorded some of the highest economic growth rates and poverty reduction rates in the world. ODA has been pivotal in supporting Vietnam to meet the country’s key social and infrastructure spending needs, informing directions for policy reforms, improving the country’s business environment, and catalyzing knowledge transfer for innovation and to help position the country to effectively deal with its existing and emerging challenges.

Third, ODA has been provided on financing terms that have made it possible for Vietnam to avoid a debt crisis. Most of it has been grant, highly concessional terms or terms that are much cheaper than what Vietnam could get from borrowing on international capital markets. Vietnam has been a recipient of concessional financing from development partners. These loans typically have a grace period during which the government does not have to make repayments. Such borrowing has been very helpful for Vietnam’s major, long-term investments that can take many years to finish and generate economic returns. So Vietnam was able to spend on such projects without putting pressure on government revenues, which historically have also been quite strong.

The Government’s recent international bond issue of US$1 billion attracted coupon rate of 4.8% for 10 years. This is more expensive and shorter duration than loans provided by development partners.

Finally, Vietnam and development partners are committed to enact measures to make effective and efficient use of ODA resources. However, moving from general principles to implementation of best practices is difficult and time consuming. The Government has recently introduced several measures to improve capital absorption capacity and effectiveness. The World Bank and other development partners have been working very closely with the Government to improve the country’s fiduciary system, which will help to make management of not only ODA-funded projects, but public investment more efficient and more transparent.

ODA management is still described as non-transparent, creating loopholes for corruption. How do you think about this assessment, and what are obligations of the donors in this respect?

I think it would be unfair to describe ODA management as non-transparent. As you know Vietnam has a clear regulatory framework to guide implementation of ODA. Decree 38 on ODA management was revised in 2013 and another revision is planned for 2015. All ODA activities are prepared under this framework and must comply with its provisions. This decree is publicly available and well known to ODA donors and implementers. Perhaps the general public could be made more aware of the provisions of this decree. Most development partners including the World Bank make their ODA projects public and include beneficiaries in preparation and implementation. All ODA donors have an obligation to continue to be transparent and share information about the activities and projects they fund and their impacts, with all stakeholders. This is important for avoiding corruption on projects and ensuring that ODA resources are used for their intended purposes.

Vietnam can absorbed an ODA amount of US$3-4 billion a year; and a Vietnamese now bears a debt of US$930, a sharp increase from US$159 nearly a decade ago. Is ODA the main factor behind Vietnam’s rising public debt, which is to reach the ceiling of 65% of GDP?

On the issue of public debt, we would like to acknowledge the rules that the Government has adopted to monitor public debt levels (Decision No. 958) to improve transparency on public debt reporting. This has enabled the media and the public to raise questions and require explanation. Rising public debt levels as measured by public debt to GDP is a matter of concern and should be monitored closely. Regarding the concerns on rising public debt, it is important to look beyond the headline ratio of public debt to GDP, which provides an important preliminary indicator of solvency. For example it is important to assess the impact of rising debt stock on debt servicing costs; quality of spending; fiscal risks that might lead to rapid rise in public debt; composition of public debt; extra budgetary sources of borrowing. A better understanding of these issues will help to come up with more focused solutions and better prioritized solutions to ensure that debt levels are sustainable. In our view, the Government does need to find options that would help close the fiscal deficit and reduce borrowing requirement. There are reforms under way to improve tax administration and find efficiencies in spending. These are critical to generate the fiscal space needed to sustain essential spending on public services without accumulation of unsustainable debt. In terms of debt repayment capacity, we consider Vietnam is still within sustainable threshold as both the debt servicing to revenue ratio of 22.5% and the external debt servicing to export receipts ratio of 2.8% are within acceptable limits. We would still recommend that the Government keep a close watch on the debt level and in particular “contingent liabilities” from the state enterprise sector.

Do you think that Vietnam is addicted to ODA, as some donors said at a recent meeting ahead of the Vietnam Development Partnership Forum?

No, we do not agree that Vietnam is addicted to ODA. ODA is relatively small compared to the size of the economy. ODA disbursement was 3% of GDP in 2013, compared to FDI implementation of nearly 7% of GDP.

What institutional changes resulting directly from Vietnam’s ODA commitment to the international donors that impressed you the most?

ODA has promoted several institutional reforms through technical assistance, investment projects and policy financing. Highlights include adoption of the common investment and enterprise law, support to Vietnam’s historic accession to WTO; modernization of treasury and budget management system; modernization of financial management information systems in Vietnam’s banking sector; community-based disaster risk management approach; community-driven development approach; move to competitive power-generation market; setting up of the Directorate of Roads of Vietnam; performance-based contracting in the transport sector.

How do you think about the private sector that remains small and the objective for discrimination, while the State sector including SOEs still takes the largest share in the economy? Policies for private involvement in infrastructure development, including the public-private partnership, are still not available. Is that the fact international donors wish to see after more than two decades since ODA was resumed?

Development partners would like to see a more vibrant private sector playing a more prominent role in the economy, a more efficient state enterprise sector, focused on areas where there is a solid justification for public participation, and investing public resources much more efficiently. Leveling the playing field between the private and public sectors as part of a more aggressive state enterprise reform program is critical in this regard, in addition to policies to continue to strengthen the business environment. Development partners are trying to support this reform agenda and also help the Government put in place a solid framework for development of PPPs. There is considerable room for stronger government action on these issues.

What are your comments on public investment?

The Government has taken a number of important steps in the last three years to bring more discipline over capital spending. Directive 1792 has helped to manage more carefully the number of new projects that are proposed in the State Budget. Greater priority is accorded to completion of ongoing projects, clearance of arrears to construction companies, and counterpart funding for ODA projects. The numbers show that there has been some consolidation in capital spending. The share of capital spending in overall GDP has declined to around 8%, from closer to 11-12% in 2008-2009. The challenge, however, is not necessarily the level of public investments but more the quality. The quality of public investments is severely affected by several factors. One of them is the lack of regional coordination. On December 2, nearly three quarters of public investments in Vietnam are implemented by local authorities. It is very important to ensure that investment decisions are coordinated among provinces within a region to avoid overlap and overinvestment in physical capital stock.

The new Law on Public Investment adopted by the National Assembly addresses a number of challenges in the systems and processes of public investment management in Vietnam. It impacts capital spending quality. We are hopeful that the new law will enable the Government to better prioritize projects; ensure solid appraisal to assess economic and financial viability; provide adequate capital and recurrent budgets for project implementation and operation; and regularly conduct evaluations on how the projects are operating.

Thank you very much.

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5Dec/14Off

SBV sells 1.1 billion USD to stabilise forex market

Last update 11:32 | 05/12/2014

The State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) has sold roughly 1.1 billion USD as of December 1 to stabilise Vietnam's foreign exchange market.

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Dau Tu Chung Khoan (Securities Investment) newspaper quoted officials of commercial banks as confirming this move.

Phan Thi Thanh Binh, ANZ Vietnam acting chief executive officer, told the newspaper that the SBV has been selling dollar in previous days following an increase in the US dollar-Vietnamese dong exchange rate in previous weeks.

As of early this week, the foreign exchange market has stabilised because of the SBV move and low dollar demands at the start of the month, Binh said, adding that the exchange rate would further slide if the SBV continued its policy of selling the greenback in the coming days.

Binh also predicted the foreign exchange market to become less volatile from now till year-end because of the SBV move. She revealed that volatility would depend on supply and demand instead of psychological factors and cited the country's balance of payments surplus.

Commercial banks' foreign exchange rate has increased significantly in previous weeks and remained high at 21,400 VND per dollar. But Binh explained that this was normal, as it reflected supply and demand as well as the market's expectations.

On December 4, commercial banks' foreign exchange rate declined, especially for dollar purchases.

Vietcombank quoted the rate at 21,330 VND to 21,380 VND, a 15-dong decrease against that of the previous day. ACB and Eximbank listed the rate at 21,320 VND to 21,390 VND, a 30-dong decrease in purchase price.

Agribank listed the rate at 21,325 VND to 21,385 VND, a 15-dong decrease in purchase price and 25-dong decrease in sales price, while Techcombank listed the rate at 21,300 VND to 21,390 VND, a 40-dong decrease in purchase price and 10-dong decrease in sales price.

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5Dec/14Off

Foreign ownership rule welcomed

Last update 12:00 | 05/12/2014

VietNamNet Bridge – The National Assembly's approval of the long-awaited amendments to the Housing Law on November 25 is more significant than previously thought and marks a strong step towards opening up the Viet Nam real estate market to overseas investment, property consultant CBRE Viet Nam has said in a press release.

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The new law, to take effect on July 1 next year, removes many of the previous restrictions on foreign individual buyers.

It said there are only two major restrictions imposed on foreigners — a leasehold tenure of 50 years and a cap on the total number of units owned collectively by foreigners in one single condominium project or one administrative (or the equivalent of) ward.

There are no caps on the size or number of dwelling units a foreigner can buy, or additional tax.

The amendments make the market more attractive to Viet Nam-based expats looking to invest in residential properties, and clears away barriers to achieving a level playing field. While the implications may not be felt immediately, it will definitely benefit the already improving residential market.

Generally, it will provide another boost to the strengthening of confidence and market sentiment, currently much needed after property investment lost its lustre since 2008.

Historically, the market has been dominated by local players — developers, contractors, buyers, and investors — partly due to foreign ownership restrictions. Other reasons are the lack of quality developers, a speculative bubble in 2006-08, a fallout of the 2009-13 speculative bubble, small size of the leasing market, limited home loan and mortgage market, and more transparent opportunities elsewhere in the region.

"This long-awaited change in the Foreign Ownership Law (you earlier call it housing law!) will help create a more balanced, transparent and sustainable residential property market in Viet Nam and is expected to play a major role in correcting, to some extent, the above-mentioned issues, but the participation of the private sector players will also play a big role." The release said.

New provisions

The new law, to take effect on July 1 next year, removes many of the previous restrictions on foreign individual buyers.

It allows all foreigners who are granted a Vietnamese visa to buy residential properties in the country. It also allows all foreign investment funds, banks, Vietnamese branches, and representative offices of overseas companies to buy.

Unlike earlier, when they could buy only condominiums, now they can also buy landed properties such as villas and townhouses.

There is no limit on the number of dwelling units a foreigner can buy, but the total number of units owned by foreigners must not exceed 30 per cent of the total units in a condominium complex or 250 landed property units in one particular administrative ward.

Earlier an eligible foreigner could buy only one condominium in Viet Nam.

Foreigners can sub-lease, trade, inherit, and collateralise their property. Previously, they could buy only for their own occupation.

The tenure allowed to foreign individuals buying homes is a 50-year leasehold with renewal possibility upon expiration, which condition remains unchanged. Foreigners married to Vietnamese citizens are entitled to freehold tenure.

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