It said that the prices of food, which accounts for 40 per cent of the goods basket used to calculate the CPI, declined by 0.26 per cent. — Photo 24h
HA NOI (VNS)— The country's consumer price index (CPI) in April inched up 0.08 per cent against the previous month thanks to the abundant sources of supply amid low demand.
Deputy Director of the General Statistics Office's (GSO) CPI Department Do Thi Ngoc said that the slight rise of the CPI this month was in line with the country's price-changing rule for the past 17 years, when the CPI often inched up or down in April only.
However, the office noted that compared with December last year, the index rose 0.88 per cent, the lowest rise for the past 13 years. Except for an acceleration of 9.64 per cent in 2011, the CPI in the 2002-13 period averaged between 2.5 per cent and 5.4 per cent.
The marginal rise in April was because the prices of many necessities fell or rose slightly, the office said.
It said that the prices of food, which accounts for 40 per cent of the goods basket used to calculate the CPI, declined by 0.26 per cent.
The prices of housing and construction materials, including rent, electricity, water, fuel and construction materials, also slid by 0.56 per cent, while the prices of both postal services and telecommunication baskets eased by 0.14 per cent, the data showed.
Many other goods and services also reported a marginal rise in April, such as education which was up 0.06 per cent; medicine and health care which went up by 0.04 per cent; and culture, entertainment, and tourism which rose by 0.02 per cent.
During the month, the prices of traffic services reported the highest hike of 0.33 per cent. The garment, footwear and hat sector followed with a rise of 0.26 per cent in prices.
Not included in the CPI components, the gold prices in April dropped by 1.04 per cent, month on month, while the US dollar prices edged down by 0.06 per cent, month on month.
In urban areas, this month's CPI edged up by 0.06 per cent, month on month, while in rural areas, it was a rise of 0.11 per cent. — VNS
Last update 10:00 | 25/04/2014
VietNamNet Bridge – While the State Bank of Vietnam believes that the merger of small and weak banks into larger and stronger ones will help speed up the bank restructuring process, experts don’t think this is a perfect solution.
Local newspapers have quoted an official of the State Bank as saying that, instead of buying weak banks’ shares to recover them, the watchdog agency now tends to encourage small banks to merge into big ones. The official said the new solution can help speed up the banking system restructuring process because it allows for savings on costs and time.
As the central bank has “turned on the green light”, commercial banks have been trying to find suitable matches. PG Bank plans to merge into VietinBank, and Southern Bank into Sacombank, while Maritime Bank is considering taking over Mekong Bank. Vietcombank, one of the largest Vietnamese banks, is also considering taking on a small bank, but the name of the bank remains a secret.
Meanwhile, economists, remaining skeptical about the effects of the merger and acquisition (M&A) agreements on the bank restructuring process, have commented that the M&A deals look more like rescue missions than sound business deals.
What they mean is that, in the deals, big banks are serving more as the rescue team in charge keeping the small banks afloat, while not receiving any benefits in return.
Regarding the Southern Bank–Sacombank M&A deal, an analyst said there is no need for Sacombank to “take on” Southern Bank, a small and weak bank with a non-performing ratio of over 4 percent, the majority of which are irrecoverable.
The analyst thinks that the central bank wants to see banks merge into each other to cut down on the number of weak banks and reduce the degree of circular ownership, a big problem of the banking system. If so, the liquidity problems and bad debt settlement would be sped up.
If everything goes smoothly, the number of Vietnamese banks will be halved by 2015, from 45 to 20.
However, the analyst commented that the lowering of the number of banks is not enough to restructure and strengthen banks.
Yun Hang Jin, from Korea Investment & Securities, noted that after an M&A, the bad debt of the new bank would be worse, as it would now equal the total bad debts of the two banks. Therefore, one cannot say that an M&A would help improve the “health” of the banks or help them escape from liquidity problems.
Dau Tu newspaper has quoted Dr Nguyen Duc Thanh, Director of VEPR, an economics research center, as saying that the takeover of the state owned banks over small banks may weaken the competitiveness of the whole banking system.
Thanh explained that if the big banks have more power, they will have greater influence in the policy making process, which would allow them to control the market.
He noted that the State Bank has been trying to save weak banks by encouraging M&A deals instead of bringing the weak banks to bankruptcy, because bankruptcies of banks may lead to immeasurable consequences to the financial market and society.
Compiled by K. Chi
To create a safe investment environment for foreign investors, Vietnamese laws guarantee their right to legally transfer profits abroad after completely discharging their financial obligations to the State.
One provision of the relevant law says foreign investors need not pay tax on overseas remittance of profits. This aims to prevent double taxation because only profits after tax can be remitted abroad, which means foreign investors are required to pay income tax before transferring profits overseas.
In this case, the responsibility to pay such income tax does not belong to the foreign investors individually, but to the enterprise through which they make their investment.
Profits that can be remitted abroad are net profits gained from direct investment activity. Foreign investors may remit eligible income overseas either annually or on termination of corresponding investment activities in Viet Nam. Such profits are determined in audited financial statements and corporate income tax (CIT) finalisation declarations lodged by the enterprise (in which the foreign investors contribute capital) to the tax authority directly managing it.
Profits eligible for annual overseas remittance are those that are distributed to or obtained by foreign investors from direct investment activity in a fiscal year, plus (+) other amounts including profits that have not been remitted in previous years, minus (-) the amounts foreign investors have used or committed to use for reinvestment in Viet Nam and other amounts spent on expenses for production and business activities or on their personal needs in Viet Nam.
Profits that qualify for remittance abroad on termination of direct investment activity in Viet Nam are the total profits earned by foreign investors during the implementation of such activity, minus (-) the amount used for reinvestment, the amounts remitted overseas throughout the operation of the investors in Viet Nam, and the amounts used for other expenditures in Viet Nam.
It should be noted that foreign investors are permitted to remit overseas the profit portions earned from direct investment activity of a profit-making year only when the enterprise in which foreign nationals participate by investment has completely deducted accumulated losses in accordance with CIT laws and regulations.
In case the pre-tax profit earned by an enterprise in a fiscal year is less than losses carried over from previous years, it cannot be remitted abroad by foreign investors.— PLF- LAW FIRM
Last update 11:20 | 23/04/2014
VietNamNet Bridge – The National Assembly Standing Committee yesterday (April 22) took a close look at draft revisions and amendments to the 2005 Investment Law.
Steel sheets produced at the Siam Steel Viet Nam company. The National Assembly has approved revisions to the 2005 Investment law that will cut more red tape and create a more open and favourable environment for investors.
Eight years after the law came into being, domestic and foreign investors still face a lack of transparency, as well as clear conditions and procedures for investment. The revision of the law aims to cut unnecessary administrative procedures and create a more open and favourable environment for investors, while simultaneously dealing with enterprises' difficulties.
The NA Standing Committee members said the board should take into consideration international agreements currently under negotiation between Viet Nam and foreign partners, so that the revised law would not become out of date when those deals are signed.
The NA Economic Committee, which is in charge of examining the draft revised law, was of the opinion that the law should include a list of specific areas where investment is banned, thus making it easier for investors to make decisions and facilitating the enforcement of the law.
Minister of Planning and Investment Bui Quang Vinh said there were several dozen areas banned from investment and around 330 other fields that required certain conditions for investment. He added that the drafting board was currently verifying whether the investment ban in these fields was in line with the Constitution.
NA Vice Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan requested that the drafting board further research potential problems facing the implementation of the law to ensure that it was comprehensive and specific and would ensure a fair environment for both domestic and foreign investors.
Change in judicial system
National Assembly Standing Committee members have also agreed with a proposal by the Supreme People's Court to establish regional People's Courts and a four-level court system to replace the present system.
The move was made to handle the overload of work at current courts. It was part of the draft of revised law on the organisation of People's Courts discussed by the Standing Committee yesterday.
The revised law suggests that the People's Court system be divided into four levels: the Supreme People's Court, the High-Level People's Court, the Provincial People's Court, and the First-case regional People's Court.
There was some concern that regional People's Courts, which would be the first to judge, would have to cover a larger area, forcing people to travel more.
Chief Judge of the Supreme People's Court, Truong Hoa Binh, said that the regional People's Court would be set up to curb overloading at current courts.
Chairman of the NA Law Committee, Phan Trung Ly, said he was concerned about a regulation relating to the management of the Supreme People's Court over the organisation of all courts.
"The regulation will force the Supreme People's Court to take over too many tasks, which will possibly result in overloading and reduce performance," he said.
The revised Institution regulates three tasks of the Supreme People's Court, including judgements, reconsidering judgements made by other courts on appeal and supervising the judicial process.
Members of the NA Standing Committee also agreed with setting and applying legal precedents in judgements, especially with decisions made after the Supreme People's Court reconsidered cases.
They said that the decisions would be considered samples for other courts to learn and follow.
Vice NA chairwomen Tong Thi Phong urged the draft compilers to clarify the definition of "legal precedent" to ensure the consistency of the legal system.
Normally, legal precedent is known as a judicial decision that may be used as a standard in subsequent similar cases.
The lawmakers also agreed that the retirement age of judges working in the Supreme People's Court should be extended to 65 for men and 60 for women.
The retirement age of judges at other courts still follows the Labour Code.
This is the second time that the revised Law on the Organisation of the People's Court has been submitted for consideration during an NA general session.
Last update 11:21 | 23/04/2014
VietNamNet Bridge – Legendary investment advisor Marc Faber, also known as Mr Doom, will speak to local and international investors whether the terminal phase of a gigantic global credit and asset bubble has been reached at an event on June 19 in Vietnam.
Marc would raise deep-rooted concerns over a possible global bubble burst and define opportunities for emerging markets and Vietnam.
He is scheduled to reiterate how global bubbles are created and predict when they will burst at the Vietnam Investment Forum (VIF) 2014 to be co-organised by VIR, Malaysian-owned HVS Securities Co. and Hong Kong-based Asia Frontier Capital (AFC).
Dr Marc Faber, publisher of the Gloom, Boom & Doom report and writer of the best-seller Tomorrow’s Gold: Asia’s Age of Discovery, will also predict how global funds would flow as the consequence of such a collapse.
Marc is one of the world’s most noted market contrarians. In a television interview late last year, he said “Given all the money printing that is going on globally – and not just in the US – and given that the total credit as a percent of the advanced economies is now 30 per cent higher than in 2007 before the crisis hit, I think that gold is a good insurance.”
“I’d rather buy something that is reasonably priced. And, I think gold shares are very inexpensive. So a basket of gold shares I think next year (2014) could easily appreciate 30 per cent. “I think the Vietnamese stock market will continue to rise.”
“The Rise of Emerging Markets and Opportunities for Vietnam” will include AFC CEO Thomas Hugger speaking on investment strategies in frontier markets and Vietnam. Thomas is slated to talk about how Asia and particularly frontier markets will become more tempting as developed markets face increased risks.
His talk will focus on perspectives and investment strategies in frontier and emerging markets and Vietnam in particular.
A panel will discuss the rise of emerging markets and opportunities for Vietnam. Marc and other high profile people will sit in the panel on the most pressing issues for debate.
The full-day event would gather together 500 participants, including local business leaders and global fund managers, said VIR Editor-in-chief and VIF chief organiser Dr. Nguyen Anh Tuan.
“We’re doing our best to make Vietnam better known internationally and provide venues for international investors and local business leaders to exchange ideas and investment opportunities,” Tuan said.
HA NOI (VNS) — Viet Nam' steel import volume experienced a modest year-on-year increase of 2 per cent to 2.2 million tonnes, valued at US$1.5 billion, in the first quarter of 2014.
According to latest statistics from the General Department of Customs, in March alone the country spent $568.3 million in buying 827,000 tonnes of steel from overseas markets, up 4 per cent in volume and 9 per cent in value compared with the previous month.
Among key import markets were mainland China, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea.
Meanwhile, the Viet Nam Steel Association (VSA) reported that its members consumed 570,000 tonnes in March, representing a month-on-month surge of 60 per cent, or a yearly increase of 26.5 per cent.
The latest increase has brought local steel consumption volume in three months up to approximately 1.2 million tonnes, being 5.7 per cent higher than the same period last year. As a result, the inventory level of the domestic steel industry fell to less than 260,000 tonnes.
Recently, the Ministry of Industry and Trade has, in coordination with the Ministry of Science and Technology, applied national technical standards in the steel industry management with the aim to support local producers, increasing inspections on imports, and preventing trade fraud, as well as limiting the import of low-quality steel from overseas markets.
The Finance Ministry has also asked customs offices to keep a tight grip on the import of steel products. — VNS
Last update 10:36 | 20/04/2014
VietNamNet Bridge – The recent arrival of a horde of international fast food giants to the Vietnamese market has triggered a stiff battle for retail premises in the nation’s major metropolises.
Covering an area of 1,300 square meters, and with a seating capacity of 350 customers, the first McDonald’s restaurant in Vietnam also happens to be the chain’s third largest in the world. The remainder of its 2,955 square meter campus can accommodate 260 motorbikes and 165 cars .
Good Day Hospitality, the McDonald’s franchisee, is owned by Mr. Nguyen Bao Hoang. While declining to provide exact sales figures, Mr. Hoang allowed that the number of customers visiting his establishment has exceeded his expectations.
This was Hoang’s reason for opening a second McDonald’s in HCM City, and to move ahead with plans for more such restaurants across the country.
After opening the first shop in February 2013, the US’ Starbucks has opened three more, all in HCM City. The next shop will be in Hanoi, and is expected to open in the second quarter of the year.
Like others, Starbucks has been facing daunting challenges when seeking retail premises for its shops, especially in Hanoi. However, Patricia Marques, Starbucks Vietnam’s CEO, says Starbucks will be faster than McDonald’s in conquering the Hanoi market.
BBQ Vietnam, which runs BBQ Chicken, has made an impressive return to the Hanoi market by inaugurating BBQ Premium Café in late October 2013. The shop is located at No 43 Trang Tien Street in the center of Hanoi, a location that businessmen salivate over.
The area is near the Hanoi Theatre and the historic Guom Lake (Sword Lake). This is described as biggest commercial hub, to which Hanoians usually flock on weekends or holidays.
BBQ has reportedly spent VND7 billion, not including the franchising and training fee, to create a new atmosphere for the shop. South Korean Genesis, owner of the brand, has reportedly sent qualified staff to Vietnam to train and supervise the operation there.
Before opening at its new location, BBQ had set up shop at No 35 Trang Tien Street, but it later had to shut down due to a dispute with a Vietnamese brand. However, refusing to give up the golden land area, it has returned. Besides the shop on Trang Tien, BBQ now has 15 others in Hanoi.
BBQ is following an ambitious plan of outstripping McDonald’s in its worldwide number of shops, with a target of about 50,000 by 2020.
While some analysts claim that BBQ’s plan is unfeasible in the current economic climate, BBQ Vietnam’s CEO Sim Hwang Jin insists his brand will succeed with its strategy of developing shops in satellite cities in the north and south, where it would encounter fewer problems in finding retail premises.
Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), which has been present in Vietnam for the past 17 years, now boasts 180 shops in 18 cities and provinces. But unlike the pioneering days when it first set foot on Vietnam’s shores, it now has to compete with a multitude of other big names, like Burger King, Pizza Hut, Popeyes and Dunkin’s Donuts.
The retail premises in HCM’s District 7 where KFC once set up shop, have now been leased to a Burger King franchise. It reportedly pays $10,000 a month in rent.
Last update 17:00 | 20/04/2014
Chinese investment in Vietnam rose to US$2.3 billion in 2013, up sharply from the US$345 million in 2012, according to the Ministry of Planning and Investment’s Foreign Investment Agency.
Substantially all of the massive influx of investment in the nation is flowing into the garment and textile and real estate sectors, causing quite a stir in the arena of public opinion.
Creating a new wave of investment
Recently the Nam Dinh Provincial People’s Committee of approved the issuance of an investment license to Chinese garment and textile giant Jiangsu Julun Textiles Group Co.. Ltd to construct a US$68 million manufacturing facility on an 80,000 sq. m area of the Bao Minh Industrial Park.
When fully operational, the factory specialising in the production of yarn, will have a total annual production capacity of 9.816 tonnes per annum, suitable for the production of textiles, sewing, crocheting, knitting and weaving.
Tran Dang Tuong, the principal stakeholder of Bao Minh IP, said the Chinese manufacturer has an established global reputation and considerable experience in the industry, which has garnered the interest of many foreign suppliers who are now eager to form cooperative relationships with local businesses in the province.
In another promising development, HongKong’s Luenthai company, the Vietnam National Textile and Garment Group (Vinatex) and China’s Sanshui Jialida Textile Company held a working session with the leaders of Nam Dinh province, holing preliminary discussions on constructing a multi-million garment manufacturing facility in the industrial park (IP).
Covering an area of nearly 1,500 hectares in Nghia Hung district, Nam Dinh province, the IP project has a total projected initial investment of US$400 million and with a target market of developing in such fields as weaving, dyeing, leather, garments and textiles as well as support industries for Vietnam’s garment and textile sector. Pending final approval, the project is expected to begin construction in late 2014.
In recent times, the garment and textile sector has attracted investment projects from China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. Notably, Chinese Texhong Textile Group has invested in two factories in the southern province of Dong Nai with capacity of 500,000 spins of yarns and generated 4,500 jobs in the locality.
Subsequently, the group expanded its investment in Vietnam with the addition of a US$300 million facility in Quang Ninh province. Within a year, the project’s first phase has been placed into operation with a capacity of 500,000 spins of yarns, bringing the group’s total spins of yarns to one million (equivalent to Vinatex’s yarn factories).
Tuong said that the Chinese garment and textile businesses are accelerating their investment in Vietnam in anticipation of the signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and lucrative additional market access that comes with it.
Foreign businesses are keenly aware that Vietnam’s joining the TPP has a number of highly promising and preferences for the nation. They point specifically to the TPP rule of origin (yarn forward) which requires businesses to use raw materials, supplies and components in the manufacturing process that originate in the same country the manufacturing facilities are located in.
Or, in the alternative, import the items from another TPP member nation. This rule provides Vietnam a distinct competitive edge in the garment sector, and is one of the overriding reasons Chinese businesses find the Vietnamese garment sector highly attractive for investment.
Enhancing management work
The significant inflow of Chinese investment in the Vietnam economy has raised an alarm in the minds of many related to an over dependence on Chinese investment and influence, leading some to advocate placing limits on the investment.
Bui Xuan Khu, Former Minister of Industry and Trade said that Vietnam should welcome all foreign investors to conduct operations in Vietnam, especially in the garment and textile sector.
Khu stated that over the past ten years, Vietnam has pursued a garment and textile development strategy. However, the results remained limited due to outsourcing activities. The production of materials for the garment and textile sector has not met the export requirements due to weaknesses in mastering technologies despite modernised machinery and equipment.
Factually, Vietnam currently imports over 6 billion metres of the fabric to serve the garment and textile sector each year, while the country has failed to achieve the target of producing even one billion metres of the fabric over the years.
Khu added that with the new economic developments in the global marketplace, and in light of the signing of the TPP, Vietnam should welcome the investment inflow, especially from China, Taiwan and Hongkong.
These investors will provide the much needed funds to fuel Vietnam’s production of raw materials, components and supplies in the garment sector, generating jobs and taxes to the State, he said.
A significant problem of immediate importance is the need to improve state management capacity with the supervision of relevant agencies, so foreign investors are fully informed and ensure compliance with Vietnamese laws, he concluded.
Last update 15:53 | 13/04/2014
VietNamNet Bridge – Local and foreign experts and economists have warned that enterprises in Vietnam might face troubled times ahead due to weak consumer demand.
The warning came after the General Statistics Office (GSO) has projected a consumer price index (CPI) decline of 0.44% in March versus the previous month. The experts stressed this decrease is not good for enterprises and the economy as a whole.
Economist Ngo Tri Long ascribed the CPI drop to the fact that consumers had continued to tighten spending due to shrinking disposable incomes, thus affecting aggregate demand. This is in stark contrast with an argument of a GSO official that the absence of inflation fear has led consumers to reduce stocking up on goods.
Trinh Nguyen, Asia economist at HSBC, said the dropping CPI showed consumers’ confidence was being eroded. The performance of many small-sized enterprises remains weak, coupled with unsettled bad debt, Nguyen said, adding this has affected employment and income.
This is why consumer demand stayed low during the Tet holiday (Lunar New Year) as consumers have been saving money for rainy days, she told the Daily.
Long said although the gross domestic product (GDP) had expanded 4.96% in the first quarter, which is slightly higher than in the same period of 2012 and 2013, at 4.75% and 4.76% respectively, but is still lower than in 2010 and 2011, at 5.97% and 5.9%.
Those figures showed the nation’s economic growth is not as high as expected, and sales results of enterprises can be affected if this dismal economic situation continues. Consequently, Long said, enterprises would face stagnant production and high inventory, and these would place a negative impact on the economy.
Long said the falling CPI would give scope to producers and suppliers of those goods and services still monopolized by the state sector to hike prices.
For instance, coal for thermo-power plants has marked up 4-10% this year, piling more pressure on the electricity sector to lift its tariffs.
Long forecast an increase in electricity prices was just a matter of time and that this would make it more difficult for businesses to sell their goods as they could not hike prices given sluggish consumption. Higher input costs would undermine the competitiveness of local companies at a time when Vietnam is lowering or removing tariffs to fulfill its commitments to bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements.
“Many Vietnamese companies would be knocked out on their home market,” Long told the Daily.
As for inflation risk, Long said, although the CPI of March is down compared to last month when inflation was low but the risk is still out there because the key problems faced by the economy, such as investment efficiency, productivity and corruption, have not been addressed.
Long said there had been no signs of deflation as the market was still growing. However, he insisted what mattered most now for authorities was to attend to the reality and find practical measures to support the market.
Last update 10:17 | 14/04/2014
VietNamNet Bridge - The Prime Minister has issued Decision 447 on borrowing and repayment plans in 2014. Limits on government-guaranteed loans and medium and long-term foreign loans of enterprises and organizations in 2014 are also mentioned in the decision.
The Government's borrowing plans this year include VND367 trillion of domestic loans.
Specifically, domestic loans guaranteed by the Government this year are up to VND70,492 billion, including guarantees for bonds issued by the Vietnam Development Bank of VND40 trillion, Bank for Social Policies of Vietnam (VND15.5 trillion), and key national projects (VND15 trillion).
The state budget will also pay more than VND92.3 trillion for settlement of domestic debts and VND49.2 trillion for foreign debt.
The Ministry of Planning and Investment was assigned to review BOT projects under negotiation, the large FDI projects ... to monitor foreign loans to ensure the country's foreign debt in 2020 not exceeding 50 percent of GDP.
According to a report released last October by the Ministry of Finance, by the end of 2012, total public debt of Vietnam was 55.7 percent of GDP, which remains within safe levels as recommended by international organizations (below 65 percent of GDP). Meanwhile, on the meter of the global debt of The Economist, Vietnam's public debt by April 11, 2014 was $80.5 billion, up 11.2 percent over last year, and accounted for 47.9 percent of GDP. On average, each Vietnamese is burdened with $891 of debt.
In 2013, the State budget balance fell into difficulty due to the unstable economic situation in the country, and decreased government revenues. This prompted the National Assembly to raise the budget deficit ceiling to 5.3 percent of GDP in 2013-2014, after showing determination of cutting this indicator to below 4.5 percent of GDP in 2015.
US$1 = VND21,000