The Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Processors (VASEP) has called on the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the government to approve its proposal to set a minimum price on catfish procurement and export to support growers and processors.
The proposal was made during yesterday’s meeting between VASEP and Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat at the 2012 Vietfish exhibition.
Nguyen Van Kich, CEO of Cafatex, said catfish exporters have been forced to sell at lower prices under the pressure to clear bank loans, which has bottomed out prices over the last few months.
With their export prices set at a low rate, businesses understandably have to force farmers to sell to them at a similar cost.
“The situation will worsen if the floor prices for buying and export are not imposed in time,” urged Kich.
Businesses also called on the agriculture ministry to boost government approval of the proposed VND4.2 trillion aid package to help fish farmers and processors.
However, VASEP deputy chairman Duong Ngoc Minh said the government has yet to green-light the assistance as relevant ministries and agencies are still discussing who will receive the help, as well as the interest rates, conditions, and terms for the loans.
While economic experts have said the package is necessary, the Vietnam Development Bank said that even when it is ordered to offer loans, the maximum credit it can give is only VND2.2 trillion for catfish exporters.
VASEP’s Minh said that if the assistance is issued late, no farmers will be able to survive the next one or two months.
“They will sell their fish at all cost to have money to clear bank loans set at 18 – 20 percent interest,” he said.
“The package is only meaningful if it is released at the moment.
“Once they access loans, firms under VASEP will stockpile 100,000 tons of catfish from farmers, and prices may rebound to VND22,000 kg from the current dirt cheap figure of VND18,000,” he said.
Nguyen Van Dao, CEO of Go Dang JSC, said that what farmers need to do now is stay calm and try not to sell their fish at a loss.
“If all farmers agree to sell their fish at throwaway prices, prices will slump even further,” said Dao.
“It can be observed from the development of the catfish market over the last few years that the market will soon recover and prices will soar again,” he added.
Minister Phat said that his ministry will soon work with VASEP on solutions to save the catfish market, and will forward the exporters’ proposals to the government in the next meeting.
Investment increase tipped
Restructuring and privatisation programmes of State-owned enterprises (SOEs) would open new opportunities for foreign direct investment inflows in Viet Nam.
This was one of recommendations heard at the launch ceremony of the Viet Nam Industrial Investment Report (VIIR) 2011 and Introduction of the Viet Nam Investment Monitoring Platform (V-IMP), Phase 1, held in Ha Noi yesterday.
The project, the result of the partnership between the Ministry of Planning and Investment and the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), aimed to better manage FDI projects, said Do Nhat Hoang, director of the Foreign Investment Agency said.
He said to form the report, surveys had been conducted in nine provinces which attracted large scaled FDI projects including Ha Noi, Vinh Phuc, Bac Ninh, Hai Duong, Da Nang, Dong Nai, Binh Duong, Ba Ria-Vung Tau and HCM City.
The report showed that by the end of last year, the country has registered around US$198 billion of total accumulated registered capital from over 13,600 FDI projects, though the total implemented capital of these projects was lower, at around $80 billion.
Over the years, FDI has followed steady upward trends, except for peaks in 1996 and 2008.
Hoang said it was notable that 51 per cent of the FDI businesses invested in Viet Nam for the low labour cost and infrastructure efficiency, while 46 per cent searched for local markets and only 3 per cent were seeking resources.
In addition, 66 per cent of the businesses targeted exports to the global market, 26 per cent to the local market and 8 per cent to regional one.
Stefan Kratzsch, the UNIDO's project manager said foreign invested enterprises (FIEs) employed and contributed more to exports than domestic ones.
FIEs operated primarily in low wage and skill sectors.
"FIEs would perform better than domestic firms in terms of labour productivity and total factor productivity, especially if the level of human capital and capital intensity is high," Kratzsch said.
He suggested that Viet Nam needed to assess the FDI-led export growth model to understand the nexus of export orientation, employment creation, value addition, and productive efficiency in low, medium and high-tech sectors.
In addition, it should focus on human resource development and skill formation as new comparative advantages based on continuous skill formation and vocational training.
"Electricity and general infrastructure improvements would drive higher capacity utilisation and investor performance. It should also evaluate and streamline the present investment incentive framework and assess the economic benefits resulting from the application of investment incentives to benefiting FIEs," he recommended.
The report also said investment promotion efforts should focus on attracting more supporting industries to Viet Nam in a bid to enable more industrial subcontracting and increase the local content of FIEs.
To resolve the limit in transferring technology between FDI and domestic businesses, the report suggested to give more support to joint ventures with manufacturing activities geared toward the domestic market.
The Viet Nam Investment Monitoring Platform project with the fund of $975,000 from UN surveyed 1,944 businesses, including 33 small-and medium-sized enterprises majoring in mechanics, garment and textiles, rubber and plastic. The research was mainly in the supply chain, Viet Nam investment observation, and exchange tools among partners.
It targeted to contribute to transparency in dialogue between the Government and the private sector in the context of the country's industrial development process.
Low prices force farmers to sell paddy to duck breeders
Some farmers in the Mekong Delta region have been forced to sell their farms to duck breeders as a result of falling prices.
Farmers in Vinh Long Province have harvested 26,000ha of summer-autumn paddy, but they are worried about low prices and the difficulty of selling their crops. The price for one kilogramme of IR 50404 has dropped to just VND3,700 – 3,800 (USD0.17). Meanwhile, traders are not interested in buying because of low demand. In some cases, traders are even willing to take the loss of their deposits to farmers, VND1-2 million (USD47.6-95.2), if farmers are unwilling to store the rice until prices rise.
Tran Van Chinh in Vi Trung Commune, Vi Thuy District, Hau Giang Province sold 1,500 square metres to duck breeders for VND3.75 million (USD178.57).
In addition, due to uncommonly wet weather this year, many farmers operating costs went up because they had to lease farming equipment.
According to some farmers in Vinh Long and Hau Giang provinces, at the beginning of the season, fees harvest machines cost just VND260,000 (USD1.23) per day to rent, but now have increased to VND300,000 (USD14.2). The fees are even higher for fields affected by bad weather.
In many localities productivity has been quite low. In Vinh Long, a total area of 26,000 hectares yielded just 6.7 tonnes per hectare. Several districts in Tien Giang and Hau Giang have seen even lower rates of just 5.8 or 5.3 tonnes per hectare.
Farmers in Soc Trang Province complain that, not only are harvesting costs higher, but fertiliser has gone up too, increasing to VND560,000-580,000 per bag compared to just VND480,000-490,000 at the beginning of the winter-spring crop.
Golden opportunity for local retailers
Vietnam‘s fall from favour in the retail markets is forcing domestic businesses to find ways to hold sway again, say economists.
According to a recent report on the 2012 Global Retail Development Index (GRDI) by A. T. Kearney, a US-based global management consulting firm, Vietnam has fallen from its top position in 2008 to 23rd last year, and now out of the 30 most favoured retail markets.
Economists attribute the country’s fall in the global ratings to investment barriers such as producers, sites, market fluctuations and unstable growth of macro-economy. Another reason is prolonged inflation in Vietnam has led to a sharp decline in the consumer purchasing power. From 4 percent in 2011 retail sales grew by 6.6 percent in the first five months of this year, too slow to compare with the average growth of 20 percent in previous years.
So, in the long run, Vietnam needs to improve its business climate and stabilize the macro-economy to attract more foreign investors.
Vu Vinh Phu, Chairman of the Hanoi Supermarket Association, cites poor infrastructure and complicated administrative procedures as obstacles that keep foreign investors away from the retail markets in Vietnam.
Phu’s view is shared by a leader of the Fivimart supermarket chain, who says that foreign investors are not keen on the local retail markets due to the unattractive business environment and low consumer purchasing power. However, he says, for its long-term operations in Vietnam, Fivimart is planning to expand its distribution network, not only in urban areas but also in the countryside.
Tran Xuan Kien, General Director of the Tran Anh Digital Joint Stock Company, says Vietnam’s retail markets are losing ground because of trade barriers, including the Economic Needs Test (ENT), a complicated consideration process to let foreign businesses open more than one retail shop. However, this snag will be ironed out by 2015 and, to be sure, foreign investors will be more confident about success retail business.
At the time when foreign investors still hesitate to enter the fray, local retailers should grasp this golden opportunity to gain a leg over on competition and secure a firm foothold on the home turf.
VinGroup completes international bond sale
Vingroup Joint Stock Company (Vingroup), the largest real estate company in Vietnam, has successfully completed an additional US$115 million issue of unsecured five-year convertible bonds by placing bonds with international institutional investors.
The international bond sale is considered the second largest convertible bond issuance in Asia so far. It is part of Vingroup’s second convertible bond issue in April 2012 which raised US$185 million, bringing the total amount to US$300 million.
Vingroup's bonds have a five year tenor (from original issue date of April 3, 2012), providing the Group with long term financing at attractive terms and diversifies its sources of funding. The bonds are convertible into new ordinary Vingroup shares at a conversion price of VND88,000.
The US dollar-denominated bonds bear a coupon rate of 5% per annum, payable semi-annually in arrears.
The convertible bonds will be listed on the Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange, where Vingroup’s stock is currently traded, before going on the Singapore Exchange.
Summary of Convertible Bonds Terms
Launch size: US$115 million
Maturity Date: 3 April 2017
Investor Put Date: 3 April 2014
Issue Price: 100% plus accrued interest
Coupon: 5.0% per annum
Yield: 7.0% per annum
Current conversion price: VND88,000
Real estate debts at alarming rate
Total outstanding loans to the real estate sector were estimated at around VND348,000 billion, nearly doubling the reported figure by banks.
According to the 2011 report by the National Financial Supervisory Committee, the real estate sector’s bad debts reached VND56,770 billion, up 8.4 times.
Ho Chi Minh City led the nation with a real estate credit ratio of 44.94 percent or VND82,300 billion, followed by Hanoi, 25 percent or VND44,200 billion.
Of total real estate loans, short-term loans accounted for 16.34 percent, while medium-and long-term loans made up 83.66 percent.
Commercial joint stock banks had the highest number of bad debts, at 62.77 percent. State-owned commercial banks saw a slight decrease in bad debts, from 30.52 percent in the first half of last year to 29.46 percent at the end of the year.
The report said that the local real estate market is facing difficulties as supply exceeds demand.
Exporters face trade lawsuits
Export businesses must be better prepared to cope with the increasing number of anti-dumping and anti-subsidy lawsuits filed by the US, and other export markets, experts have warned.
Export businesses play an integral part in dealing with anti-dumping and anti-subsidy lawsuits, according to Nguyen Chi Mai, former Director General of the Vietnam Competition Authority under the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
She discussed how to lower the risk of export activities at a conference held in HCM City on June 28 by the World Trade Organization’s Affairs Consultation Centre in HCM City in coordination with the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Competition Management Department and HCM City Business Association.
Mai said that to cope with such lawsuits, export businesses should closely work together to take initiatives in preventing lawsuits from happening and to minimize the consequences.
They should also learn about other countries’ anti-dumping and anti-subsidy regulations, she added.
Other participants suggested that export businesses diversify export products, expand the number of export markets and enhance their roles in business associations and industry organizations.
They should always update information about exports, export markets, prices, rivals and market movements.
Some emphasized that exporters should further invest in technology to add value to their products, which would help reduce the possibility of anti-dumping lawsuits.
It was agreed that government agencies should support the business community and industry associations in promoting dialogues with local companies and manufacturers.
One important task for the Government is to provide exporters with sufficient information and evaluate the market situation of import countries, including information about market share, prices, competitiveness, and reaction of local industries in the import countries.
Dinh Anh Tuyet, attorney at IDVN Lawyers, said that export businesses should keep in touch with the Competitiveness Management Department, business associations and prestigious lawyers to find ways to solve trade disputes.
VN eyes Hong Kong potential
Viet Nam and Hong Kong have great potential for tourism and investment co-operation, Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Le Khanh Hai told a conference in Hong Kong on Wednesday.
During the event, designed to introduce Viet Nam's tourist attractions, Hai said Viet Nam had developed at an incredible pace over the last 20 years during the renewal process, due in part to its socio-political stability, high economic growth rate and favourable investment climate.
Hai called for closer co-operation among enterprises from the two countries.
Viet Nam's Consul General to Hong Kong and Macao Nguyen Thi Nha said relations between the Special Administrative Region and Viet Nam were at an all-time high.
"Bilateral relations between Viet Nam and Hong Kong have developed significantly in various areas, thanks to regular visits by officials and business people and the signing of a number of agreements," said the Viet Nam Consul General to Hong Kong and Macao.
Two-way trade reached US$3.2 billion in 2011, a year-on-year increase of 37 per cent.
Hong Kong is also one of Viet Nam's leading sources of foreign investment. As of May, investors from the territory had pumped $11.7 billion into 667 projects in Viet Nam.
Besides trade and investment, the two sides shared untapped potential when it comes to culture and education, Nha said.
Addressing the forum, Jonathan Choi, president of the Hong Kong-Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce, said Viet Nam was blessed with great natural beauty.
He advised Hong Kong's business community to familiarise themselves more with Viet Nam, its people and culture.
Participants were also informed about Viet Nam's current economic status and investment climate, as well as its tourism development strategies.
Vietnam, Israel cooperate in aquaculture
A Vietnamese delegation from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Science, Technology and Environment Department, and the Research Institute for Aquaculture is on a working visit to Israel from June 25-30.
The aim is to learn about Israel’s aquaculture research achievements and development strategy in this connection.
The delegation is scheduled to meet Israel’s leading agricultural researchers and visit modern technology models, to discuss the possibility of cooperation in research and technological transfer in the field of aquaculture.
Since Vietnam and Israel established their diplomatic ties in 1993, there has been constant growth in agricultural cooperation between the two countries.
Vietnam has great potential for developing aquaculture for exports.
Firms may breach exporting contracts
Production slowdowns are putting some exporters at risk of breaching contracts and potentially triggering trade-related disputes, said Central Institute for Economic Management deputy director Nguyen Dinh Cung at a conference in Ha Noi yesterday.
"Disputes will readily occur when relevant parties, as a result of these disadvantageous economic conditions, can't perform or perform contracts inadequately," Cung said.
He also warned that the country needed to be cautious in implementing policies to bailout or assist certain industries as such policies posed a potential conflict with commitments under international agreements.
Viet Nam Lawyers Association chairman Pham Quoc Anh agreed, noting that the failure of domestic enterprises to enhance their transparency in doing business was "dangerous in the context of integration."
Domestic enterprises were often at a disadvantage when international disputes arose as they lacked caution in signing and performing contracts and dealt with problems tardily, commented Luu Tien Dung, an arbitrator at the Viet Nam International Arbitration Centre. He urged firms to increase their awareness of legal mechanisms for dispute resolution.
Of 10,000 companies surveyed by the General Statistics Office in April, 4.3 per cent had halted production and operations and were facing bankruptcy or dissolution.
About two-thirds of these said they had been struck by falling domestic demand, while over half had found it difficult to access sources of capital, and just under half had faced difficulties acquiring raw materials.
About 40 per cent said high interest rates remained a barrier to accessing credit. Cung noted that up to 80 per cent of domestic companies were now subject to interest rates of 17 per cent or more, and only about half were able to qualify under preferential lending policies.
More than half of the enterprises involved in manufacturing, construction, retail and telecommunications also said that high inflation had greatly hindered their operations.
Vung Ang plant project speeds up
Construction of the US$1.4 billion Vung Ang 1 thermal power plant in the central province of Ha Tinh is in its final stage and will be completed by the end of this year, contractors said.
Head of project management Pham Van Dinh said about 98 per cent of equipment for the plant has been completed while 66 per cent of construction and installation is done.
He said contractors have installed the 7,500 tonnes boiler number 1, one of the most important tasks of the project, and also completed building the boiler house.
"Despite severe climates, overall construction is 80 per cent finished," he added.
With investment from the Viet Nam National Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam), the project is part of the National Power Development Plan for 2006-15. It will be the first coal-fuelled power plant to be built in the northern central region.
Nguyen Duy Loi, deputy head of LILAMA's project management board, the project's main contractor, said as many as 100,000 tonnes of equipment have been installed and of which 46,000 tonnes were produced locally.
"We have increased the number of workers in the construction field from 2,500 to 3,500 to accelerate the speed of construction."
Loi said the Viet Nam Machinery Installation Corporation (LILAMA) has mobilised most of its strongest affiliates such as the LILAMA 18, LILAMA 69-1.
Once fully operational by the first quarter of 2013, the 1,200 MW plant will supply nearly 7.2 billion kWh a year to the national grid.
The government last year approved the plan on national power development for 2011-20, which is also called master plan 7.
According to the plant, Viet Nam strives to have a power generation capacity of 75,000 MW by 2020 and 146,800 MW by 2030.
Hydropower plants would generate 23.1 per cent of the total capacity, pumped storage hydroelectric plants 2.4 per cent, thermopower coal-run plants 48 per cent and gas-run thermopower plants 16.5 per cent.
The country also plans to draw 5.6 per cent of the total capacity from renewable energy, 1.3 per cent from nuke plants and 3.1 per cent from imports.
The total investment capital of the power industry would be $48.8 billion by 2020.
Trademark prizes awarded
FrieslandCampina Viet Nam was one of the top 10 awardees for the National Selection for Competitive and Famous Trademarks prize, which was given recently in Ha Noi for achievements in business and contributions to the economy.
The prize was given by the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Viet Nam Department of Intellectual Property, and Viet Nam Association of Intellectual Property. Among the winners were HD Bank, PetroVietnam Urban Development Joint-Stock Company (PVC Mekong), Khuong Duy Pharma Co, VPBank and Traphaco.
Techno-geeks compete for Taiwan trip
Electronic technology lovers in Viet Nam will have a chance to compete with their counterparts from Indonesia, India and mainland China for US$100,000, along with a free trip to Taiwan, in the SmarTest contest organised by Taiwan Excellence, which aims to look for new talents in product and technological innovation.
In Viet Nam, candidates will compete in the IQ index about culture, society and electronic products on July 7. Ten winners will be chosen to take part in a national contest in August, and then one person will be selected to compete against three contestants from different countries.
AkzoNobel opens adhesives plant
The Netherlands-headquartered AkzoNobel group officially inaugurated yesterday its latest factory in southern Dong Nai Province's Amata Industrial Park.
With an investment of US$12 million, the AkzoNobel Wood Finishes and Adhesives factory will be able to turn out 36,000 tonnes of products each year for the domestic market.
Currently, the product line covers a full range of conventional and sustainable wood coatings, including nitrocellulose products, polyurethanes, waterborne systems, UV cure and alkyd/urea products.
These products are sold primarily to the export furniture market, according to Akzo Nobel Coatings Viet Nam's general manager Ryan Oates.-
Deputy PM okays Vinafood venture
The Viet Nam Northern Food Corporation has received approval from Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai to establish a joint venture specialising in rice processing and exports with a foreign enterprise.
On May 9, the corporation asked the deputy prime minister to consider its project to establish the joint venture with Louis Dreyfus Commodities Asia Pte Ltd (LDC) from Singapore.
Hai has asked the corporation to read comments from departments and ministries before completing legal documents on the establishment of the company and its operations.LDC, which is the biggest importer of Vietnamese rice, belongs to the European-based Louis Dreyfus Corporation, which plays a key role in the global food market.
Commercial centers struggle to retain tenants
The falling number of shoppers coupled with the declining demand have exerted a strong pressure on commercial center operators, who have to initiate many programs to keep old tenants and attract new ones.
It can be said that the shopping atmosphere in HCMC has never been as quiet as it is now due to a low number of customers both at luxury commercial centers in the city downtown and ones in peripheral areas over the past time.
According to some commercial centers, the buying power has dropped sharply as consumers have cut their spending. Therefore, some stallholders have had to reduce employees and even return their rented space to cut losses.
Nguyen Thi Anh Hong, general manager of the Maximart supermarket chain, told the Daily that stallholders were mired in difficulties due to the declining buying power.
She said that to share difficulties and support stallholders, commercial center owners have tried many ways, including offering rental supports as a way to retain tenants. Hong did not mention the specific rental cut but said the cut was a must at this time.
The rental reduction has been confirmed by tenants. Quach Nguyen Thanh Phong, general director of Hi-Way Construction & Decoration Joint Stock Co., said that he has received many offers from commercial centers for space whose rental is now calculated based on the sales.
According to Phong, such a special offer results from the low number of shoppers at commercial centers, and thus owners accept to lower their profits to retain tenants and attract new ones to fill up vacant space.
In addition, commercial centers have also regularly organized promotion programs to help tenants attract customers. “We support stallholders in developing programs and conducting promotion activities to attract more customers,” said Hong from Maximart.
A representative of a commercial center in District 1 said that the center has regularly held promotion programs as a way to attract shoppers. Besides, commercial centers now have to actively organize promotion programs instead of waiting for holidays like before, she added.
Thanks to such promotion programs, prices of many products at commercial centers are more affordable than those at independent shops.
FIA unworried by FDI decline
The foreign direct investment (FDI) inflow into Vietnam has fallen significantly due to the global economic woes, but it is not a matter of concern yet, said the Foreign Investment Agency (FIA) under the Ministry of Planning and Investment.
The country has attracted nearly US$6.4 billion of newly-registered and additional FDI capital in the year to date, down 27.3% year-on-year, whereas the Government aims to lure US$15-17 billion of fresh FDI for the whole this year.
However, FIA director Do Nhat Hoang said: “To achieve the target of raising FDI quality, we must accept registered capital decline in a short term. The more important things are disbursed capital volume and investment structure.”
Some US$840 million of FDI capital has been disbursed this month, taking the total amount of disbursed capital in Jan-Jun to US$5.4 billion, picking up 2% over the same period last year, show the data recently announced by FIA.
The foreign investment promotion agency said FDI disbursement was very stable since the year’s beginning and if this tempo continued, the disbursement target of US$10-11 billion for this year would be obtainable.
In the structure of FDI investment, manufacturing and agro-aqua-forestry occupy larger portions while service and real estate tend to fall.
Japan is the biggest investor with U$4.1 billion, or 65% of the FDI inflow into Vietnam in the first six months.
Yoshida Sakae, managing director of the Japan External Trade Organization (Jetro) in HCMC, said Japanese small and medium businesses tended to shift their production abroad given yen appreciation against the U.S. dollar and euro, making its costlier to operate in their home country.
As Japanese investors seek ways to boost their investment overseas, Binh Duong and Dong Nai become potential destinations, said Hoang of FIA. The Japanese-invested Tokyu Binh Duong Garden City project worth a hefty US$1.2 billion is the largest project licensed in the year’s first half.
In addition to direct investment, Japanese firms also make stronger presence in Vietnam through a surging volume of merger and acquisition deals.
Foreign exchange rate poised to go up in Q4
The U.S. dollar/Vietnam dong exchange rate has remained stable over the past months but it will go up in the last quarter of the year, according to speakers at a roundtable of the CEO Club in HCMC on Wednesday.
Speaking at the gathering, deputy general director Pham Hong Hai of HSBC Vietnam said it is unlikely for the rate to maintain the current stability in the near future. Hai attributed his prediction to ongoing global and local economic uncertainties.
If Greece, Italy and Spain withdraw from the euro zone as feared, the situation will certainly leave adverse impacts on foreign exchange rates between the local currency and the greenback, Hai clarified.
According to Hai, dong is considered the most stable currency in the world in the year to date but this will certainly change, especially in the present microeconomic slump. Hai, however, said the fluctuation will not be strong thanks to the central bank’s timely interventions in recent times.
Previously, the central bank had only intervened in the foreign exchange market if the gap of the rates between the unofficial and official market widened to 3-5%. But the monetary authority is doing the job in a timely manner, tending to stabilize the rate via commercial banks or foreign reserves upon any volatility, he pointed out.
Hai said the forex rate in the next three months will be hovering around the current level of VND20,850 to the dollar, but it will surge in the last quarter given rising U.S. dollar demands and falling dong interest rates expected at the year-end.
Those enterprises intending to borrow U.S. dollars need to take the scenario into account, Hai suggested.
Meanwhile, Tran Du Lich noticed the forex stability is being put at risk because of a foreseeable positive outlook for the local economic recovery, with more materials and machinery imported to meet production expansion demands. Lich believed such as situation will push up the nation’s trade deficit which was recorded at about US$685 million in the six-month period, equivalent to only 10.6% of that in the year-ago period, putting higher pressure on exchange rates. Therefore, the rates in late 2012 and early 2013 will be volatile for sure, Lich added.
The national foreign reserves have gone up strongly over the last six months, with the central bank purchasing an additional US$9 billion. The current foreign reserves are some US$20-21 billion, meaning the central bank has a strong vehicle to control the forex market in line with its policies.
There is a high possibility that the forex rate will mark up 2-3% this year as declared by governor Nguyen Van Binh, Hai said, adding his bank predicted one U.S. dollar will be priced at VND21,500 late this year and at roughly VND21,700 early next year.
Tokyu to develop traffic infrastructure in Binh Duong
Japan’s Tokyu Corporation and Becamex IDC Corporation on Wednesday clinched a cooperation memorandum on traffic system development in Binh Duong, after the two sides had got licensed to develop an urban area in the province.
Takahashi Toshiyuki, executive officer of Tokyu Corporation, said the memorandum was aimed at developing a modern bus transit system and possibly a rail line connected to the inter-provincial transport system between Binh Duong and other areas in the Southern Key Economic Zone.
According to Toshiyuki, Binh Duong has a strategic position as a center of the Southern Key Economic Zone, with an annual GDP growth of 14-15%, far exceeding the nation’s average level. Despite a population of 1.6 million over the total of 24 million residents in the southern region, the public transport infrastructure there is still full of shortcomings.
“From now onwards, drawing experience from the development of the urban area Tokyu Tama Denen in Japan, we and Becamex IDC will conduct survey and map out plan for inter-provincial transport system connecting Binh Duong and other areas in the Southern Key Economic Zone, with a focus on a modern bus transit system and a possibility to develop a railway route in the future,” said Toshiyuki.
Through this cooperation project, Tokyu makes a step further into Binh Duong Province.
Earlier, the Japanese corporation had formed a joint venture with Becamex IDC to start work on Tokyu Binh Duong Garden City, covering over 71 hectares in Binh Duong New City. The project worth some VND25 trillion is sponsored by Japan’s Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ.
Together with the memorandum signing, a ceremony was held in Binh Duong New City on Wednesday to celebrate the establishment of Thu Dau Mot City.
Thu Dau Mot achieved high economic growth of 23.3% per year in the period from 2006 to 2010, which surged to 27.7% in 2011, along with a significant shift towards the structure of service, industry and agriculture at 60.8%, 38.9% and 0.3% respectively.
There are currently 11 commercial centers and supermarket and 13 traditional markets across the city, ensuring ample supply for local producers and consumers.
The average income per capita last year is VND49 million. The percentage of poverty-stricken households under new criteria is 2.54%.
Bitexco tower slashes office rent
The 68-floor Bitexco Financial Tower is offering cut-price office leasing as the owner bids to fill the city’s tallest building.
The new leasing price ranges from VND615,000-VND1,130,000 per square meter, equivalent to US$30-55 – a huge drop from last year’s US$39-65 psm.
William P. Badger, marketing director of Bitexco Group, said that the cut in rents is a move to attract potential tenants in the midst of the current tough economic situation.
The occupancy rate of the Bitexco Financial Tower is currently around 60% of the total office space of around 37,000 square meters (sqm).
According to Greg Ohan from CB Richard Ellis Vietnam, this is a good chance for those after a rental area of over 500 sqm to enjoy the many incentives offered.
The market in HCMC is forecast to have an additional 84,000 sqm of grade-A office space this year. However, some major projects have fallen behind schedule, seeing investors hoping for a better rental situation next year.
Credit growth 2012’s buzz words
Boosting credit growth is to remain an all encompassing obsession in 2012’s second half.
In late June 2012, the local banking system’s total outstanding loan balance was reportedly almost the same compared to end of 2011, meaning banks saw no credit growth in 2012’s first half.
The State Bank’s Credit Department said banks had pumped enormous capital amount into the economy to ensure firms’ performance in the past months.
Pushing up credit growth would reportedly top the State Bank’s management focus in the second half of 2012, unlike the focus on liquidity as seen in the first half.
In the late six months of 2012, the State Bank put a monthly average credit growth at 2 per cent, striving for a 12-13 per cent credit growth for the whole year. This means each month around VND50,000 billion ($2.38 billion) would be pumped into the economy through the open-market-operations. There arises a question whether the economy is in a position to absorb such tremendous capital volume and will inflation return?
National Financial Supervisory Commission chairman Vu Viet Ngoan said 1.5-1.7 per cent per month credit growth would be rational as more speedy growth would pave the way for inflation to roar back in 2013.
“In current context, around 10 per cent full-year credit growth would be the best-case scenario,” said Ngoan.
Many economic experts assumed late six month credit growth would be unlikely to spike since scores of banks, facing high bad debt rates, did not dare to propell lending.
Hence, to fuel lending credit growth in the last six months of 2012 would chiefly leverage on public investment projects pace.
“State credit directing public investment projects would make a major part in the money amount pumped into the economy, from there inspiring firms and contractors,” Vietnam National University, Hanoi’s Centre for Economic and Policy Research director Nguyen Duc Thanh said.
According to economic expert estimates, the capital amount needed to get National Assembly approved projects in the development pipeline would amount to VND21,000 billion ($1 billion) each month, in late 2012.
In a related development, commercial banks are reportedly waiting for central bank to reallocate credit growth indexes in the late six months. Some well-performing banks hope they would be given more than 17 per cent per year credit growth when a top State Bank executive unveiled the possibility to loosened ceiling regulated 17 per cent per year credit growth to some best performing banks.
In reality, several banks actively acted to push up lending. For instance, credit expanded 2.4 per cent at Eximbank, around 8.5 per cent at BIDV and over 9 per cent at MB in 2012’s first five months.