Last update 15:40 | 03/06/2014
VietNamNet Bridge – Shipping firms have become more cautious about travelling in the disputed East Sea area, while high-ranking officials fear a decline in the aviation market.
Le Anh Son, the CEO of the Vietnam National Shipping Lines (Vinalines), said the East Sea tensions had adversely affected activities of the state-owned shipping firm, the largest in the country.
To avoid being seized at Chinese ports, Vinalines was carefully considering whether to send ships to the area, Son said.
Vinalines’ vessels, for example, when docking at Chinese ports, will have to obey the rules on maritime safety and international laws more strictly if the Chinese tighten their inspections.
“It would be better to be more cautious when going through the disputed area, think more carefully and keep a long-term vision when considering business contracts,” he said.
“Any minor trouble, such as ships being seized by Chinese agencies at Chinese ports, could cause Vinalines to incur financial damages,” he explained.
Lai Xuan Thanh, head of the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam, on May 13 said that the illegal acts of the Chinese in setting up an oil rig in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone would surely affect the aviation industry.
Thanh was quoted in a local newspaper as saying that the tensions in the region would affect Vietnamese and Chinese aviation markets, while the operation of Chinese military aircraft in the FIR (flight information region) controlled by Vietnam would affect civil flight operations.
Though there has been no official report about such an impact on the industry, Thanh said the Vietnam-China aviation market would see a decline in the time to come.
The East Sea has one of the busiest air routes in the world. The sudden increase of Chinese military flights would affect normal flight operations there.
Thanh said CAAV has asked the Flight Management Corporation to improve its management capability so that it can discover errant operations in the East Sea and ensure the safety of flights over the hot spot.
Meanwhile, the State Bank of Vietnam has said that the East Sea’s events have not had any significant influence on the Vietnamese banking system.
Speaking at a press conference on May 29, the Governor of the State Bank, Nguyen Van Binh, denied the rumour that foreigners had rushed to withdraw money from Vietnam.
Binh said that the dong/dollar exchange rate and the gold market had fluctuated slightly for one week amid the news about the East Sea.
In fact, the fluctuation could have also been caused by the public being aware that the bank would adjust the exchange rate in June.
However, everything has returned to normal, he said. Foreign banks, including Chinese-invested ones, have committed to maintaining long-term operations in Vietnam, and some of them have said they are considering opening more branches in the country.
More Vietnamese products sold at Singapore outlets
Co-organised by the NTUC FairPrice and the Viet Nam Embassy, the fair is running at more than 120 FairPrice outlets, including Finest and Xtra stores, from May 29 to June 11.
SINGAPORE (VNS) — Some 40 Vietnamese products, including popular favourites such as coffee, Pho, dragon fruit and seafood, have been featured all FairPrice outlets in Singapore during the Viet Nam Fair.
Co-organised by the NTUC FairPrice and the Viet Nam Embassy, the fair is running at more than 120 FairPrice outlets, including Finest and Xtra stores, from May 29 to June 11.
At the launching ceremony, Chairman of NTUC FairPrice Ng Ser Miang said that Viet Nam is "increasing its significance in the global trade. It is known for its exports of commodities like rice, coffee and cashew just to name a few. NTUC FairPrice increased its selection of Vietnamese products by almost 30 percent from last year to include some 400 Vietnamese products across 40 categories.
According to Singapore's statistics, coffee, tea, seafood and rice remained Vietnam's top-ten exports to Singapore. In the first quarter of this year, Vietnam exported S$753 million worth of products to the City-State, increasing 8.8 percent over the same period last year. — VNS
Last update 07:50 | 30/05/2014
VietNamNet Bridge – It appears that many foreign players are mulling alternatives to joining with local partners to bolster efficiency when it comes to mergers and acquisitions in the banking sector.
The most recent development was a rumour that HSBC is looking to divest from its 20 per cent stake in Techcombank when the technical agreement between the two sides expires this June. Insiders say that it is unlikely this agreement will be extended.
Notably, HSBC did not join Techcombank’s board members in the new tenure, 2014-2019.
Similarly, local Mekong Development Bank (MDB) revealed that its strategic partner, Singapore’s Fullerton Financial Holdings, which holds 20 per cent of the bank, will sell its entire stake to also local Maritime Bank, after it merges with MDB.
In late 2013, Japan’s OCBC sold its 15 per cent position in local VPBank.
The IMF and ANZ have also already divested from local Sacombank.
Scores of local banks have not only found it difficult to hold onto, but also find new foreign strategic partners as well.
Sacombank, two years since bidding farewell to its international partners, has yet to find a replacement.
Similarly, Ho Chi Minh City-based HD Bank, after failing to source partners last year, has pushed its plan to this year.
VPBank, after parting with OCBC, planned to find a new partner, but has made little progress.
According to Nguyen Manh Hung, an expert from the central bank’s Banking Strategy Institute, said there is a high demand for foreign investors from Vietnamese banks.
The current cap on foreign holdings in a Vietnamese bank is set at 30 per cent, but the average stake as of last year was lower than 10 per cent.
Explaining why local banks have found it so hard to find strategic partners, senior financial expert Nguyen Chi Hieu said foreign banks were also hard hit by the global financial downturn and were also cautious about investing in Vietnamese banks during the sector’s previous boom phase and now resultant restructuring period.
However many other experts are of the view that foreign investors were mulling other options such as setting up independent operations rather than teaming up with local institutions.
After divesting from Sacombank, ANZ scaled up its presence as a wholly foreign-owned bank in Vietnam by focusing on retail banking and services for local businesses.
HSBC, though yet to reveal whether it will divest from Techcombank, has more than doubled its chartered capital, from VND3 trillion ($142 million) to more than VND7.5 trillion ($357 million) to leverage its plan to expand throughout the country.
Foreign banks are being increasingly cautious in their investment decisions. Deputy director of the Central Institute for Economic Management Vo Tri Thanh said transparency was a key factor in attracting foreign investors.
He said transparency must exist at all levels and banks must commit to it both in their reporting and operations
May, 30 2014 08:28:53
A worker at VIFOCO Import-Export Company in northern Bac Giang Province packages cucumber for export to Russia, the US and India. — VNA/VNS Photo Tran Viet
HA NOI (VNS) — Bilateral trade between Viet Nam and the United States will probably reach US$33.6 billion in 2014; of this figure, $28.1 billion will come from Vietnamese exports.
The Viet Nam Economic Times quoted the American Chamber of Commerce in Viet Nam's forecast as stating that exports of Viet Nam's textiles and apparel to the United States, which currently account for one-third of Vietnamese total exports to the market, will top $9.7 billion by the year-end.
According to the General Department of Customs, Viet Nam had already exported over $8.49 billion worth of goods to the United States in the first four months of this year, up 27.5 per cent year-on-year.
During the reviewed period, textiles and garments took the lead in terms of turnover, with $2.94 billion, making up 30 per cent of total exports or increasing 18 per cent against the same period last year. Footwear was second, with $950 million (up 25.5 per cent), and wood and wooden goods ranked third, with $677.6 million (up 26 per cent).
Among other export items recording significant turnover growth were mobile phones and their components, seafood, machines and equipment. Some agricultural goods also recorded significant turnover growth, such as cashew nuts, pepper , fruits and vegetables.
Trade experts attributed this good result to the great efforts of Vietnamese firms in ensuring their export growth rates in the context of having to cope with harsher competition from rival countries and stricter US trade barriers.
At present, Viet Nam ranks third among ASEAN countries exporting goods to the United States, close behind Malaysia and Thailand. The country is set to be an export leader among Southeast Asian nations to the United States by 2015. — VNS
Last update 11:01 | 27/05/2014
VietNamNet Bridge – Amendments to the Law on Enterprises would create favourable conditions for setting up businesses, Minister of Investment and Planning Bui Quang Vinh said at the 13th National Assembly's 7th working session on May 26.
Workers unload fertiliser from a warehouse at Ca Mau Fertilizer Factory in Ca Mau Province's U Minh District. Law makers yesterday discussed the amendments to the Law on Enterprises that would create more favourable conditions for establishing a business.
He said the amendments would protect the rights and interests of investors, shareholders and business members, in addition to improving management of foreign investment.
The draft amendments add 57 articles to the law, revise or supplement 99 and delete six.
The Ministry of Planning and Investment said the amendments would significantly cut costs for administrative procedures, business management, re-organisation and dissolution, in addition to reducing commercial and legal risks and helping businesses develop.
State management will also be enhanced thanks to more accurate and realistic data. The Ministry expects the country to rise about 50 points on the World Bank's market activeness index, putting Viet Nam at position 60 out of 189 countries.
The investor protection index is forecast to increase 30 points, putting Viet Nam at 120.
On the same day, deputies debated draft amendments to the Bankruptcy Law to overcome insolvency of businesses and co-operatives.
Deputies discussed how to identify businesses or co-operatives at risk of losing their payment ability and people with rights to petition for bankruptcy.
Most deputies agreed to keep regulations from the existing law and continue to allow firms to use bankruptcy procedures to recover their business activity. This would create conditions for businesses and co-operatives to repay their debts and escape from bankruptcy, they said.
Deputy Dang Cong Ly of Binh Dinh Province said the criteria to identify businesses and co-operatives facing insolvency written in Article 42 were completely reasonable.
He noted that since late payments between businesses occurred regularly, it was important to clearly set out criteria for businesses and co-operatives that could not repay their debts.
Deputy Nguyen Thanh Bo of Thanh Hoa Province agreed, saying the criteria should be both quantitative and qualitative.
Draft amendments to the Bankruptcy Law also stipulate a duration of 30 days from the date of handling a request to open bankruptcy proceedings, which the existing law fails to do.
Concerning those who have rights and obligations to submit petitions for bankruptcy proceedings, deputies mostly agreed with the regulation that lenders have the right to file a petition for bankruptcy proceedings for businesses or co-operatives which fail to pay their debts three months from the payment date requested by lenders.
NA discusses future
National Assembly deputies discussed a plan for the development of laws and ordinances at their afternoon session yesterday, May 26.
Many complained about slow progress in the drafting of amendments and in specific guidance for the implementation of some laws. They also spoke of poor preparations for some legal projects.
Deputy Nguyen Thanh Thuy from Binh Dinh said the National Assembly needed to focus on the quality rather than quantity of the laws being issued and speed up the development of legal projects that provided solutions to difficult problems in society.
He said that to avoid inconsistencies, the new draft laws and ordinances should not cover matters that have already been handled under existing laws.
Deputy Nguyen Thai Hoc from Phu Yen said leaders who delayed the submission of draft laws and ordinances or who allowed submissions of draft legal projects of poor quality should be disciplined.
He said this was a major problem that should be strictly dealt with to reduce the delays that had occurred for many years.
Hoc added that teams that compiled quality legal projects should be rewarded.
Speaking on the plan to develop next year's laws and ordinances, deputy Truong Du Lich from HCM City and deputy Le Nam from Thanh Hoa both called for the drafting of a new law on demonstrations.
"It [demonstrations] should be a basic right of people," said Nam.
Truong Trong Nghia from HCM City said a demonstration law would be in accordance with the will of the people because they deserved to be able to express their patriotism.
The afternoon session also heard a report on the contents of the draft Law on Social Insurance.
The report said there was an urgent need for a draft law as it contained policies to encourage farmers and workers in non-official fields to participate in voluntary social insurance. It also aimed to have 50 per cent of the nation's workforce participating in social insurance by 2020.
The draft law would also help suggest solutions to delays in paying social insurance by many companies, especially those that were not controlled by the State and others that were foreign invested.
The proportion of those participating in the social insurance programme currently stands at 20 per cent of the total workforce, much lower than expected.
Last update 14:00 | 27/05/2014
VietNamNet Bridge – Financial experts have urged investors to stay calm and not transfer assets to gold or dollars as the East Sea problem can be settled.
Vietnamese investors several days ago rushed to bargain for securities and withdraw their deposits from banks to buy gold and dollars amid the East Sea tensions.
The extreme reactions by the investors to the East Sea tension caused the stock market, which had recovered a bit after a long period of hibernation, to plunge again.
Meanwhile, the gold price soared dramatically and so did the dollar, though the increase was less sharp.
However, analysts have warned that they would lose big money if they continued doing this.
Vietnamese officials, while saying that the Chinese deployment of the drilling rig in the East Sea is a serious violation of Vietnamese sovereignty and international maritime freedom, still believe the problem can be solved in a peaceful way.
The officials said that Vietnam was trying to settle the dispute peacefully, and that there was every reason to believe that this path would bring success.
Vu Quang Huy, director of the State Bank of Vietnam’s Foreign Exchange Department, has advised people “to keep calm”.
“We have realized that the gold and dollar price fluctuations did not originate from market supply and demand changes or economic factors, but from speculation and unreasonable predictions,” Huy wrote on the State Bank’s official website.
Huy and Nguyen Thi Hong, director of the Monetary Policy Department, both said that the State Bank of Vietnam was ready to take action to help improve liquidity and sell foreign currencies to stabilize dollar prices if necessary.
An analyst, commenting about the State Bank’s officials’ statements, said that the State Bank is quite capable of doing this, citing a report of the State Bank that foreign exchange reserves had reached a new high of $35 billion.
Le Xuan Nghia, former deputy chair of the National Finance Supervision Council, also commented that people should not panic and bargain away their stock assets.
Nghia said that the world’s financial markets, which includes the stock, foreign exchange and gold markets, has not seen a hint of fluctuation during this period, an indication that the East Sea tensions and the problems in the Vietnamese stock market have in no way affected international investors’ confidence.
The stock market has been stable, gold prices continue following a downward trend, and the foreign exchange market has been stable as well.
When asked about the prospect of the Vietnamese financial markets in the near future, Nghia said there were three reasons to believe the market would regain normal operations.
First, the East Sea problem could be settled peacefully. Second, the international finance market and capital were still heading for Vietnam. Third, the State Bank is capable of intervening in the market.
Last update 11:02 | 27/05/2014
VietNamNet Bridge – The State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) said in a statement released on May 25 that it is always ready to intervene in the gold market that has become volatile in recent days.
A source told the Daily that the central bank has stocked up on a large amount of gold bars since late January. Therefore, the agency can organize gold auctions at any time, instead of importing gold from abroad.
SBV deputy governor Dao Minh Tu said in the statement that the domestic gold market had been stabilized since early this year. Gold prices have moved in tune with supply and demand on world and domestic markets.
The gap between local and international gold prices has sharply narrowed down, reaching a record low of around VND1 million for each tael. However, domestic gold prices have sharply soared in recent days.
Having followed and analyzed market information, the central bank has seen no major volatility in global gold prices as well as gold supply and demand on the market.
Therefore, psychological and speculative factors triggered by East Sea tensions have led local gold prices to surge, Tu said.
The central bank has advised the public to stay vigilant against rumors circulated by ill-intentioned elements related to the gold, foreign currency and monetary markets to avoid incurring losses and doing harm to the economy.
Therefore, the market has become stable. Transaction volume has been declining while gold prices have lost VND800,000-900,000 per tael compared to early last week.
However, gold prices have bounced back slightly since last Friday.
The central bank is still keeping a close watch on the market. If strong volatility remains, the central bank will intervene in the gold market as it has enough gold in stock, Tu said.
Gold prices have run wild with buying demand surging over the past two weeks.
Saigon Jewelry Company (SJC) has reported daily transactions of around 3,000 taels, jumping three-fold against normal days.
However, Nguyen Cong Tuong, SJC’s deputy sales manager, said customers bought just 1,000 to 2,000 gold taels each day over the weekend, so it was easy for SJC to buy gold to balance its position. Many people still rushed to sell the yellow metal.
According to the central bank’s HCMC branch, local enterprises and banks bought around 138,500 gold taels while selling 141,000 taels from May 15 to 20, resulting in a net sale of 2,500 taels.
Vietcombank's morning rate sank between VND20 and VND30 to stand at VND21,100 per dollar for buying and VND21,150 for selling.— File Photo
HA NOI (VNS) — The price of gold at commercial banks declined sharply yesterday after the State Bank of Viet Nam announced a commitment to stabilising the gold and forex market.
After the market was affected by the current East Sea dispute between Viet Nam and China, the Central Bank confirmed that the gold and forex market would continue operating normally.
Central bank leaders stressed that they continued to monitor the situation of the gold and forex market closely and were willing to take any measures needed to stabilise the market.
Yesterday, the forex rate continued to decrease by VND30-40 per dollar.
Currently, the rate is between VND21,150 and VND21,160 per dollar for selling while buying price hovers at VND21,070 to VND21,110 per dollar.
Vietcombank's morning rate sank between VND20 and VND30 to stand at VND21,100 per dollar for buying and VND21,150 for selling.
The dollar price at the Bank of Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV) was listed VND30-40 per dollar lower, finishing at VND21.100 and VND21.150 respectively.
VietinBank also significantly reduced its buying price. Its greenback note was listed at VND21,100 for buying and VND21,155 for selling.
Similarly, Agribank's price was VND21,095 per dollar for buying and VND21,150 for selling.
Other commercial banks such as Techcombank, ACB and Dong A Bank also reduced their buying and selling prices. However, Eximbank and Sacombank did not. Their rates for buying and selling stayed at VND21.080/VND21.160 and VND21.080/VND21,170 respectively.
The average inter-bank exchange rate was maintained at VND21,036 per dollar and the Central Bank's interest rate also hovered at VND21,100 and VND21,246.
The nation posted a 19.5 tonne increase in gold demand in Q1 this year, including 4.5 tonnes of jewelry and 15 tonnes of gold bullions with a value of US$810 million, a 5 per cent rise compared to the same period last year, according to the latest report of the World Gold Council.
Last year, the nation ranked seventh worldwide in terms of gold consumption, importing 92.2 tonnes of gold worth $4.16 billion. — VNS
Last update 07:50 | 21/05/2014
VietNamNet Bridge – Fast-food giant McDonald’s plans to have a total of 4-5 restaurants in Vietnam this year as part of an ambitious goal for around 100 restaurants in the next decade, McDonald’s Vietnam said.
The second McDonald’s restaurant in HCM City.
Nguyen Huy Thinh, managing director of McDonald’s Vietnam, told reporters in HCMC on Monday that McDonald’s would focus on the HCMC market before reaching out to Hanoi.
Nearly three months after the first eatery came into service at 2-6 Bis Dien Bien Phu Street in HCMC’s District 1, McDonald’s will inaugurate a second facility in the city this Friday at 2-2A Tran Hung Dao Street in District 1, adjacent to the landmark Ben Thanh Market.
The new three-storey restaurant, which is known as McDonald’s Ben Thanh, can serve 260 guests at a time, or 90 seats fewer than the first, McDonald’s Da Kao.
Instead of offering the drive-thru service, McDonald’s Ben Thanh has a To-Go booth allowing customers to place orders without having to step inside the restaurant.
McDonald’s Da Kao reportedly served 400,000 customers in the first month of operations. Thinh said that the exact number of guests in the first three months had not been updated but said that business results went beyond expectations.
Thinh said a majority of McDonald’s customers were young in the initial time but the number of senior guests and family members were on the rise. Big Mac was the favorite, he added.
McDonald’s currently buys vegetables grown in the Central Highlands city of Dalat and has to import other ingredients. Thinh said McDonald’s was looking for more local suppliers.
Commenting on the target for 100 restaurants in Vietnam, Nguyen Bao Hoang, founder of Good Day Hospitality, the franchise holder of McDonald’s brand in Vietnam, said this was obtainable based on the fact that McDonald’s had around 400 restaurants in the Philippines, 260 in Malaysia and 195 in Thailand.
Last update 11:00 | 21/05/2014
VietNamNet Bridge – The 18-day flow of money into Vietnam’s stock market suggests overseas money managers are unfazed amid concern that anti- China riots in the country will deter foreign investment and curb economic growth, read a story published by Bloomberg on May 19.
It said foreign investors were net buyers on the Ho Chi Minh City stock exchange every day since April 18, the longest stretch of purchases since January. They added about 93 million USD to their holdings even as the benchmark VN Index slumped 8.8 percent through May 16.
According to the article, Advance Emerging Capital, Samsung Asset Management and Jefferies Group Inc. said they’re still upbeat about Vietnam as inflation stays low, the Government removes bad debt from banks and the prospect of a Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal bolsters the outlook for exporters.
“Our view of the outlook for Vietnam remains bullish,” the article quoted an email from Samir Shah, an investment manager at Advance Emerging Capital in London, which oversees about 750 million USD, who affirmed that “Steady economic progress looks set to continue.”
International investors have bought a net 188 million USD of Vietnam stocks in 2014, heading for the ninth straight year of purchases, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Companies including PXP Vietnam Asset Management say the Government may raise foreign ownership caps this year, giving investors even more room to boost holdings.
US-based exchange-traded funds focused on Vietnam have received a net 99.9 million USD this year, equivalent to almost 27 percent of their total market capitalisation. That’s the biggest increase of all 12 Asian countries tracked by Bloomberg.
The article also noted that Vietnam’s policy makers are trying to bolster an economy that the World Bank estimates will grow 5.4 percent this year. Gross domestic product rose 4.96 percent in the first quarter of 2014, while inflation fell below 5 percent in February for the first time since 2009.
The Vietnamese Government set up an asset management company to acquire non-performing loans and has also allowed foreign investors to take bigger stakes in local lenders.
Negotiators are still working to conclude the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deal, which would link a region with 28 trillion GDP in annual economic output, about 39 percent of the world total.
The article concluded with Tony Diep, Hanoi-based managing director at Indochina Capital, saying that foreign investors “think this is the best time to buy,” adding that “they like the valuation and they think the tension is just a short-term phenomenon”.