Viet Nam will spend roughly US$600 million in a lawsuit that aims to regain the Buon Ma Thuot coffee trademark from foreign businesses, said deputy director of the Dak Lak Department of Science and Technology Trinh Minh Duc.
The move was made after it was found that the trademark of Buon Ma Thuot coffee from the Central Highland province of Dak Lak has been registered in China for monopoly protection for 10 years while the Dak Lak coffee trademark has also been registered by a French company in more than 10 different countries since 1997.
Of the total US$600 million, the Dak Lak People's Committee will contribute half of the funds while the rest will come from members of the Viet Nam Coffee Association and the Intellectual Property Department under the Ministry of Science and Technology.
Minh said that the lawsuit could last two to three years, adding that the Viet Nam Coffee Association has so far received proposals from four domestic law firms to help it take part in the legal action.
Lawyers said that Viet Nam has a basic right and legal evidence to sue the Chinese company as according to Chinese patent laws, if a foreign geographic name was widely known by the Chinese public, businesses were not allowed to register and use it as their own brand name.
Spanning more than 100,000 ha in the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak, Buon Ma Thuot is considered Viet Nam's largest coffee growing area with an annual production of 300,000 tonnes and exports to 60 countries.
Exporters told EU trade still lucrative
Despite the Eurozone crisis, the European market is still a potentially lucrative market for Vietnamese exporters, according to experts speaking at a workshop in HCM City yesterday.
Vo Tri Thanh, deputy director of the Central Institute for Economic Management, said that major economic organisations, including the International Monetary Fund, predict global economic growth is expected to fall significantly next year, compared to the 2010 and 2011 rate.
The biggest barriers facing Vietnamese businesses exporting to Europe are strict technical regulations, and lack of knowledge about consumer habits.
Vietnamese exporters need to further their understanding of anti-dumping issues and EU regulations, including rules on hygiene, safety and environmental protection.
As Viet Nam exporters attempt further expansion into Europe, this is a matter of great concern, according to Thanh.
While exporters need to learn more about the EU to meet their market demands, business support and trade associations should become more proactive.
Businesses can avoid barriers and safeguard measures, including dumping lawsuits filed by the EU, if they know and observe regulations.
Thanh said to avoid these barriers, the exporters should not compete in price.
"They should diversify products and pattern structure by making full use of competitive advantages of low labour cost and abundant natural resources to generate products of higher value," he said.
The EU has been one of the biggest importers of Vietnamese products, accounting for 20 per cent of the nation's total export value with items such as agricultural products, textile and garment, coffee, footwear and furniture.
Albert Franceskinj, a lawyer at Fidal Franceskinj Chazard and Partners, said: "Trading with large markets, including the EU, must be based on confidence and a fair attitude." Transparency in business activities is also needed.
In order to succeed in penetrating the EU market, Vietnamese exporters should focus on one to two countries at a time to fully exploit the potential.
In addition, they should directly access information about the EU's non-tariff barriers, such as requirements on food hygiene and safety and environmental factors.
Matthias Duhn, executive director of European Chamber of Commerce, said the EU remained the second biggest overseas market for Vietnamese goods, after the US.
Viet Nam's trade ties with the EU increased impressively in 2010, with exports rising to more than 9 billion euros (US$12.4 billion), thus giving Viet Nam a surplus of 4.9 billion euros ($6.7 billion) with the EU.
At the workshop, Sanjay Kalra, IMF representative for Viet Nam, said "it was time to regain confidence in the Vietnamese dong by stabilising the exchange rate because re-invigorating the value of the domestic currency was vital to macro-economic stability."
Currently, because of dong devaluation, many people who have idle money are trying to seek profits in other investment channels such as securities, gold and foreign currencies.
Macro-economic instability has led to high inflation and banks with weak financial health and poor management capacity. These factors will affect business activities, particularly Viet Nam exports.
"It's urgent to restructure the banking system to help businesses easily access loans for promoting exports," he said. Some measures include tightening fiscal and monetary policies to curb inflation.
The workshop is part of EuroCham's "Capacity-building on trade policy for Vietnamese business associations," project funded by the EU under the EU – Viet Nam MUTRAP (Multilateral Trade Assistance Project) III.
SBV may adjust forex rate by early 2012: expert
Vietnam’s central bank may adjust foreign exchange rate between the Vietnam dong and the US dollar by early 2012, mirroring its move in late 2010, said an expert.
Since the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) has pledged to regulate the forex rate fluctuation at around 1 percent until the year-end, the market is forecast to see an adjustment by early next year, Le Xuan Nghia, vice chair of the National Financial Supervisory Committee, told Saigon Tiep Thi newspaper.
SBV last month repeatedly raised the interbank average forex rate by up to 0.85 percent, only 0.15 percent below the central bank's commitment.
However, if the central bank had adjusted the forex rate, the adjustment would not be so high as earlier this year, by 8.5 percent on February 11, Nghia said.
The country's international payment balance this year is predicted to be in surplus of $4-5 billion and the inflow of foreign direct investment (FDI) capital into Vietnam may rise 3-4 percent year on year, together with a rise of about 10 percent of inward remittances sent to Vietnam this year, he added.
Nghia also said that the most important task in macroeconomic stability from now till the end of this year is to control the forex rate.
During the last two months, the forex rate in the banking system sometimes touched nearly VND22,000 a US dollar, making the actual US dollar price in the banking system often higher than that on the free market by VND200-400 a US dollar.
Tai Hui, head of the macroeconomic research team in South East Asia of Standard Chartered Bank, has predicted that the official forex rate will be VND22,000 to the US dollar by the end of 2012.
Though the US dollar will depreciate against many regional currencies next year, it will appreciate against the Vietnam dong due to Vietnam’s current account deficit and draining forex reserve, he told Doanh Nhan newspaper.
To ease the pressure on the dong, the central bank should consider maintaining a stabilized high interest rate for the dong to protect investors and dong holders from the devaluating currency.
So, it must choose between offering high depositing rates or curbing inflation as fast as possible to win the hearts of investors and dong holders, he added.
Though the devaluation, in the long-term, may help scale down the trade gap, it will surely be a burden for businesses in the short-term.
As a result, if the central bank has to adjust the forex rate, it should consider a rate that meets the market expectation so that the domestic currency will be stabilized for a longer period of time, he said.
Stock market slump causes misery for brokerages
Twenty seven securities companies have announced their third quarter results and the picture is not pretty: 18 of them have reported a year-to-date loss of VND1.35 trillion (US$64.8 million).
In the third quarter alone, 11 of them had reported a loss, newswire VnExpress reported.
Most of them reported increased operating and management expenses including high bank interest rates but declining revenues.
BIDV Securities incurred the biggest Q3 loss of VND135 billion ($6.48 million).
The company said the loss was due to the fact that while expenses had risen as much as five times compared to the same period last year, revenues remained unchanged.
In the nine-month period its losses were VND129 billion.
In that period the biggest loser was Saigon Hanoi Securities (SHS) which reported a loss of VND382 billion, blaming it on rising expenses and declining revenue.
With the stock market becalmed and investors losing confidence, even some major securities companies have suffered losses.
Sacombank Securities Co, for instance, reported a VND258-billion loss while VnDirect Securities Corporation, SME, and Saigon Securities Inc suffered losses of VND130 billion, VND35 billion, and VND17.4 billion.
Some firms such as Ho Chi Minh Securities, Agriculture Securities Co (Agriseco), and Kim Long Securities Corporation managed to remain in the black, though most of their revenues were from non-stock businesses.
Ho Chi Minh Securities Co, which achieved a nine-month profit of VND145 billion, saw revenue growth in its main business drop by 50 percent.
Kim Long Securities, which reported a profit of VND140 billion, earned most of it from interest on its VND2-trillion bank deposits.
Agriseco reported a VND92-billion profit.
Saigontourist to receive 190,000 Asian visitors
The Saigontourist Travel Services Co., a subsidiary of Saigontourist Corp will receive about 190,000 tourists aboard the five-star cruise ship SuperStar Aquarius to Vietnam from November, 2011 to March, 2012.
The visitors will come mainly from Asia, including China , Hong Kong , Japan and the Republic of Korea .
At present, Saigontourist cooperates with Star Cruises Travel Agency to promote travel by sea to Vietnam on the SuperStar Aquarius ship.
The SuperStar Aquarius is one of the four high-class cruise ships of Star Cruises ( Malaysia ). With a length of 230 metres and width of 29 metres, the ship includes 765 cabins with maximum capacity of 2,100 visitors.
SuperStar Aquarius will arrive in Vietnam this month, with the first cruise docking at Tien Sa port in the central city of Da Nang on Nov. 5 and the second to Cai Lan port in the northern province of Quang Ninh on Nov. 7.
Garment exports reach $11.7 billion
Garment products continued to lead Vietnam’s export staples, bringing home 11.7 billion USD in the first ten months of 2011, an increase of 29.4 percent over the same period last year.
According to insiders, together with stable and high-value orders, the trend of shifting garment supply markets from Eastern Europe to Asia countries, including Vietnam, has created conditions for the garment sector to significantly increase exports.
Statistics from the General Department of Customs showed that garment export growth was seen in almost all markets and especially the US, which imported nearly 5.2 billion USD worth of Vietnamese garment products in the first nine months of this year, up 15.2 percent year-on-year.
Vietnam’s garment exports to the EU and Japan reached 1.92 billion USD and 1.22 billion USD, respectively, marking impressive increases of 43.7 percent and 52.8 percent.
Taking advantage of tax reductions under the Free Trade Agreement between the Republic of Korea (RoK) and ASEAN, Vietnam earned 631 million USD from garment exports to the RoK in the nine-month period, a 2.4 fold rise over the same period last year.
Exports to these markets accounted for nearly 20 percent of the whole sector’s total export turnover, compared to 10 percent in previous years.
With these positive developments, Vietnam’s garment export turnover is forecast to reach 13.7 billion USD this year, representing a year-on-year increase of 20.5 percent and exceeding the early target by 500 million USD.
VN’s 1st private airline loses in $1.3 mln lawsuit
The People’s Court of Ho Chi Minh City has ruled that bankrupt carrier Indochina Airlines (ICA) has to pay its $1.3 million debt to the Asian Commercial Bank (ACB) following the latter’s lawsuit over a letter of credit guarantee dispute.
The judge panel also decreed that if ICA failed to pay the debt, its CEO Ha Hung Dung, popularly known as music composer Ha Dung, would be held responsible for the debt of $1.19 million plus the interests of $110,000.
Dung has been banned from leaving the country to ensure his fulfillment of the liability.
In October 2008, ICA and ACB inked a contract on credit guarantee, in which ACB would back the private carrier in issuing the deferred payment letter of credit and sight letter of credit.
On January 21, 2010 ACB paid the Czech’s bank Komercni Banka A.S $1.19 million on ICA’s behalf.
ACB then added the sum to the carrier’s account and asked it to clear the debt by April 12, 2010 at the interest rate of 6.5 percent a month. Should ICA fail to pay the debt by the deadline, the interest would subsequently be increased to 9.7 percent, it notified ICA.
However, for months the carrier kept refusing to settle the debt, regardless of the bank’s continuous reminding.
The bank had no choice but to take the carrier to court on September 4, 2010.
At court, ICA’s representative confirmed its $1.3-million debt to ACB, but said it had yet to determine the date to repay the debt due to its financial difficulties. The carrier also asked that the bank reduce the interest rate.
Ha Dung also signed the guarantee letter saying that he would clear the debt of ICA on its behalf if the airline failed to do so, his spokesperson said.
The first private air carrier in Vietnam, ICA was licensed in May 2008 and began its first flight six months after that with two Boeing 737-800 aircrafts leased from the Czech Travel Service Airlines.
Only a year later, on November 1 2009, ICA had to cease its operation due to financial problems. The carrier was then repeatedly prompted for debt repayments as well as facing demands from its creditors to have its license revoked.
On November 23, 2009, it had to return the last aircraft to Travel Service Airlines.
Two months later, its license for operating domestic flights was rescinded by the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) because it failed to register the required capital and had no aircrafts for operating. In addition, ICA had not secured any agreements over debt settlements with its creditors.
Last January, ICA’s CEO Ha Dung submitted a petition to the CAAV, asking for a deferment on the revocation of its license till the end of December 2011. He also petitioned the Prime Minister to allow the airline to restructure its capital to return to operation.
In response, CAAV said it would only agree to ICA’s proposal if the carrier could submit detailed business and financial plans, especially plans to settle its debts.
Moreover, CAAV said ICA also had to be able to raise at least VND200 billion of authorized capital and acquired the Air Operator's Certificate.
“Should ICA fail to meet the above requirements, it will have the license withdrawn and have to declare bankruptcy,” CAAV said.
Seminar discusses Vietnam-WB cooperative relations
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has highlighted the leading role of the World Bank in funding Vietnam and called on other donors to provide aid for the country.
He was speaking at a seminar to discuss cooperative relations between Vietnam and the World Bank in Hanoi on November 4.
Since 1993, PM Dung noted, the international community has provided Vietnam with a total of US$64 billion in official development assistance (ODA) capital.
One fifth of the amount coming from the World Bank is focused on helping Vietnam devise policies in the period of transition to a full market economy, develop the infrastructure, reduce poverty, improve health care, protect the environment and adapt to climate change.
Most of the WB-funded projects have paid off, having a positive impact on Vietnam’s socio-economic development and international integration process, said Mr Dung.
The PM expressed his wish that the WB would continue to support Vietnam in implementing the socio-economic development strategy for the 2011-2020 period by perfecting market-oriented institutions, creating a healthy competition environment, speeding up administrative reform, developing high quality human resources and improving infrastructure construction and transport in urban areas.
For his part, WB Vice President James Adams lauded the growing relations between the WB and Vietnam and pledged further support for socio-economic development in the country. He spoke highly of the Vietnamese Government’s efforts to stabilize the macro-economy and integrate its policies into programmes to ensure social welfare for poor people.
He said the WB will provide preferential loans and increase ODA funding for Vietnam with a view to developing infrastructure, reducing poverty and adapting to climate change.
In December, the WB management board will meet to consider the level of funding for Vietnam.
CPA Australia recognises auditing companies in Vietnam
CPA Australia has recognised four auditing companies operating in Vietnam as knowledge partners for demonstrating a strong level of commitment to support learning and development for accounting and finance staff.
The companies are Deloitte Vietnam Co. Ltd, Ernst & Young Vietnam Ltd, KPMG Ltd, and Pricewaterhouse Coopers (Vietnam) Ltd.
The academy of finance and the Talent Link Training Centre also became CPA programme tuition providers in Vietnam in 2012.
CPA Australia, previously known as the Australian Society of Certified Practising Accountants, now has 132,000 members in 111 countries around the world.
Vietnam to host Asian advertising congress in 2013
Vietnam has been selected to host the 28th Asian Advertising Congress (AdAsia) in 2013.
The news was released at the 27th AdAsia, which took place in India on November 2.
On the occasion, the Vietnamese Embassy in India and the Vietnamese Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism held an art performance entitled “Vietnam Night in New Delhi” to introduce the beautiful land and people of Vietnam to international friends.
This year’s event attracted ASEAN Ambassadors, many diplomats, and representatives from businesses in India.
As the host of the 28th AdAsia, Vietnam will have the chance to show itself as a peaceful and friendly country that wants to cooperate with all countries around the world.
Hanoi to host handicraft expo
The Hanoi Craft Show 2011 will open in the capital next week with the participation of 300 enterprises.
The city’s first handicrafts exhibition will offer producers a chance to approach international markets, said Dao Thu Vinh deputy director of the Hanoi Department of Industry and Trade.
The five-day event, co-organised by the department, the Hanoi Industrial Promotion and Development Consultancy Centre and the Bac Ha Trade and Media Group, will display pottery and porcelain, wooden and bamboo-made handicrafts as well as silk in 400 pavilions.
Website on Japanese businesses launched
The Vietnam News Agency (VNA) and Japan’s Fuji TV on November 3 jointly launched a website to promote Japanese businesses in Vietnamese and English languages.
The launch took place only one day after Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung concluded an official visit to Japan from October 30 to November 2.
The “Catch Asia! Look Japan” programme, jointly implemented by VNA e-newspaper VietnamPlus and Fuji TV, aims to promote Japanese companies’ pioneering strategies and advanced technologies, as well as sharing information between Vietnam and Japan.
The programme is expected to create favourable conditions for economic activities and contribute to sustainable socio-economic development of both Vietnam and Japan.
The website, at www.catchasialookjapan.com and www.congtynhatban.info, provides the profiles of dozens of Japanese businesses operating or planning to operate in Vietnam, as well as the latest information on production and business circumstances, new technologies and long-term investment strategies of those companies in Vietnam and other countries, as well as their social activities.
Speaking at the launch ceremony, VNA General Director Nguyen Duc Loi said that Japan has always been one of Vietnam’s leading economic partners.
For his part, Fuji TV Vice President Ryosuke Yokoi said for Japanese businesses, Vietnam is always a stable and attractive business and investment market. He also said Fuji TV is happy to cooperate with VietnamPlus to build a useful information channel for Japanese businesses and their Vietnamese partners, contributing to enhancing bilateral cooperation.
National Coconut Week to be held in HCM City
The Vietnam Coconut Association (VCA) has suggested its plan to organise a Vietnam Coconut Week in HCM City in 2012.
If the plan is approved by the Trade Promotion Department, the event will be held when Vietnam presides over the Asian and Pacific Coconut Community in 2012.
The Week will introduce both local and foreign visitors to the development of Vietnam’s coconut industry through its diverse range of coconut products.
Northern province ready for first int'l tea festival
The northern mountain province of Thai Nguyen has completed preparations for the first international tea festival which are scheduled to take place from November 11-15, says a provincial official.
A press centre equipped with modern facilities and Internet-connected computers has been set up to support local and foreign reporters, Ma Thi Nguyet, Vice Chairwoman of the provincial People’s Committee, told a press briefing on November 3..
Art performances, a Carnival show and trade promotion activities will be held throughout the festival, said Nguyet.
Some Vietnamese records will be set up at the event, including the biggest tea port, the most favourite tea product, and a tea drinking night with the participation of the largest number of connoisseurs at August 20 Square.
Seven countries have registered to participate in the festival, namely China, India, Russia, Japan, Sri Lanka, Laos and the Republic of Korea, which are importing Vietnamese tea products.
An international workshop featuring the Vietnamese tea in the integration process will also be held.
Vietnam: Second largest producer of anti-malarial drug
Vietnam is the second largest Artemisinin producer in the world, according to an international seminar on Artemisinin held in Hanoi on November 2.
China is ranked first in producing the drug used to treat malaria. China and Vietnam occupy 70 per cent of the raw material for Artemisinin processing while East Africa provides nearly 20 per cent.
Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Thi Xuyen stressed the significance of the seminar which took place at a time when anti-malarial drug resistance rates are comparatively high in the world.
The official expressed hope that delegates will bring out an assessment and action plan related to researching and producing Artemisinin as well as solutions to drug resistance.
In Vietnam, Artemisinin is found in the northern provinces of Lang Son, Cao Bang, Quang Ninh and Bac Giang.
The national malaria control program conducted in Vietnam during the 2006-2010 period acquired successes. Especially, the number of death caused by malaria infection in 2010 declined by 40 per cent compared to 2006.
Death of pangasius, shrimps in Mekong Delta
Death of pangasius, shrimps in the Mekong Delta provinces have caused prices to skyrocket and much despair for business enterprises.
Enterprises in the Mekong delta provinces of An Giang, Dong Thap and Can Tho have been willing to purchase the fish at VND27,000 (nearly $1.3) to VND28,000 per kilogramme, but farmers are unable to meet the demand as they don’t have sufficient stock.
The An Giang Fisheries Association admitted a serious shortage of pangasius in the region as many fish breeders had discontinued breeding the species, faced with lack of capital.
Mai Dang Hoa, general director of the Saigon-Mekong Fishery Company, said even though the company had paid in advance to farmers no fish was still available.
While domestic Vietnamese enterprises had hiked their prices drastically, there was also a slight increase in export prices as well. Currently, export prices to the European market range from $3.1-$3.2 a kilogramme and to the US from $3.5-$3.6 a kilogramme. Exporters barely made any profits.
Consumer demand is expected to rise during the Christmas and New Year holiday season and hopefully export prices will go up too. Nonetheless, a shortage will still remain.
In related news, the price of shrimps in the Mekong Delta has skyrocketed. 20 tiger shrimps were selling for VND250,000 per kilogramme, 30 tiger shrimps for VND200,000 per kilogramme and 60 king prawns for VND80,000 a kilogramme.
While processing factories in the Mekong delta province of Ca Mau, Bac Lieu, Soc Trang complained of shrimp shortage, many farmers in the Mekong delta province of Ben Tre were in despairs as their stock of white legged king prawns had died.
Two to the power of one
Giant transport infrastructure projects are in for a lift.
Minister of Transport (MoT) Dinh La Thang has inked Document 6454/BGTVT-TTCB seeking the prime minister’s approval to form two big groups operating in civil engineering construction by restructuring the sector’s existing construction corporations.
Accordingly, one such group, incorporating the Civil Engineering Construction Corporation 1 (Cienco 1), Cienco 8 and Thanh Long Construction Corporation, will be operating in northern areas and the other group, through merging Cienco 5, Cienco 4 and Cienco 6, will mainly operate in southern locations.
“These groups will take on large-scale transport infrastructure projects and public utility duties in underprivileged areas. They also take charge of accumulating capital to boost competitive edge,” said Thang.
Reality shows that restructuring Ciencos has become imperative to MoT’s leadership since capital-strapped Ciencos with their poor performance at almost transport sector projects are a burden to project developers.
Besides weak finance, most Ciencos are big debtors. Except Ciencos 4 and 5 which rake in profits, five remaining units have bogged down in debts. The Vietnam Waterway Construction Corporation is in most critical situation with its aggregated losses mounting to VND857 billion ($41.4 million) as of December 31, 2010, seven-fold more than its chartered capital.
Besides, after years operating without proper development orientations Ciencos have overlapped functions with similar technology and operational levels.
The idea of merging Ciencos is not a new concept. Back in the 1990s, the MoT gave the nod to Cienco 1-Cienco 8’s tie-up to form Construction Corporation 18 (Cei18). The merger aimed to give birth to an entity capable of handling big infrastructure projects in Vietnam and Laos through joining international bidding process.
However, since its birth Cei18 did not leave any remarkable results. It has engaged in executing beltway 3’s first-phase build-transfer Mai Dich-Linh Dam section in Hanoi which was notorious for its delay and low efficiency.
Since the proposal is new and awaits the premier approval, will there be specific mechanism to help the proposed groups still remains unknown.
The transport sector’s proposal would get the nod from the prime minister or not depends on state group model efficiency appraisals by competent state agencies in late 2011, according to Deputy Prime Minister Vu Van Ninh.
Ceramic firms start to crack
Ceramic firms are being squeezed by surging costs and shrinking consumption.
According to Vietnam Building Ceramic Association (VIBCA) figures, ceramic firms’ inventories amounted to 30 million square metres, the highest ever.
Vicenza factory has designed capacity of four million square metres per year. However, now the firm’s inventory came to over 800,000sqm.
Vicenza factory director Do Duc Ty said the firm was struggling to keep its head above water.
“This is the most difficult period for the local ceramic industry. Many firms have to cut volume, just running at 50 to 70 per cent capacity, but the inventory is still pilling up,” said VIBCA secretary Vu Quoc Hung.
Besides, cutting public investment, high lending rate and rising input costs against huge inventory have put great pressure on Vietnamese ceramic makers.
Cutting public investment in accordance with Decree 11/2011 ND-CP has led to dwindling consumption since there was a sharp fall in construction projects’ budgets.
According to the Ministry of Planning and Investment, lending interest rates, which the State Bank is trying to reduce to 17-19 per cent per annum, were fluctuating from 18-21 per cent.
On the other hand, Vietnam is facing increasing competition from Chinese imported products.
Dong Tam Group Vo Quoc Thang chairman said: “Local firms’ products can’t compete with products imported from China equally because there are too many smuggled goods.
With import tax level of 25 per cent plus other costs, products imported China can’t compete with Vietnam’s products both its price and value if they come into Vietnam through official channels.”
Rusalka project gets going again
Khanh Hoa Province authorities have finally signaled the go-ahead for the controversial project of Rusalka, asking the new investor to proceed with required formalities and make a deposit of VND10 billion to ensure its progress.
In a document issued last week, Chairman Nguyen Chien Thang of Khanh Hoa Province asked the new investors to perform procedures for obtaining the new investment certificate and place the aforesaid deposit. The decision clears the cloud overshadowing the project, which has been deadlocked for over ten years due to criminal accusations against the former project owner Nguyen Duc Chi that have at length all lifted.
Rusalka project was originally invested by the tourism investment and development company Rus-Inves-Tur (RIT), with investment certificate granted in 2000. The project owner planned to develop a high-grade resort along the northern coast of Nha Trang City with total capital of US$15 million.
However, the project was halted in 2005 when Chairman Nguyen Duc Chi of RIT was accused of frauds and appropriation of others’ assets. Consequently, the project had its assets frozen and the investment certificate reclaimed in 2006.
In April 2010, the Supreme Court overturned the accusations against Chi, and all assets were returned to Chi. Later in October 2010, the Prime Minister assigned Khanh Hoa’s government to establish new legal entity to continue the project deployment to ensure the investor’s benefits and reduce financial damages.
Accordingly, in its announcement last Thursday, Khanh Hoa’s government approved for Focus Travel Nha Trang Co. to take over the project, as proposed by former chairman Chi of RIT.
Focus Travel Nha Trang was established with the capital contributed by Nguyen Duc Tan, who is Nguyen Duc Chi’s brother, and Focus Travel Co., a tour operator with a big market share of Russian tourists, owned by Chi and his friends.
The new investor was also asked to accept all duties and responsibility for the debts of RIT in the documents for obtaining new investment certificate. In case the new investor failed to deploy the project according to the committed progress, the VND10-billion deposit would be contributed to Khanh Hoa’s budget.
Rusalka project will be continued with its original investment portfolios and scale but under the new name of Champarama Resort & Spa.
Local textiles gain more scope
Viet Nam should enhance co-operation between domestic material providers and clothing producers in order to make the domestic garment industry more competitive in the future, experts said.
The domestic garment industry comprises 3,000 enterprises and has been experiencing export growth for many consecutive years, according to Thoi bao Kinh te Viet Nam (VnEconomy), which reported the statements by Dang Phuong Dung at a seminar held early this week in HCM City.
Dung, deputy chairwoman and general secretary of the Viet Nam Textile and Apparel Association (VITAS), said that the export value of garments showed a year-on-year increase of US$500 million to $11.7 billion for the third quarter of this year.
That figure is expected to reach $13-13.5 billion for the whole year.
However, she noted that added value for Vietnamese garments is not high because 60 per cent of domestic enterprises are processors and must import raw materials for their production.
The garment industry currently procured only 45 per cent of its material from within Viet Nam, she said, emphasising that enterprises must make a concerted effort to draw on local sources in order to push up the added value of their products.
Failing to make this transition would cause the industry to further lose its competitive edge at a time when companies are already struggling with the problems of high wages, low-quality materials, and poor marketing and design.
Le Quoc An, VITAS chairman, said wages for industry workers had risen rapidly in recent years to a standard rate of $200 per month. He predicted that this figure could become $500 per month within the next three to five years.
An said the pay hikes may threaten the existence of some enterprises, which have to adjust by finding creative ways to save money and time.
The steps of cutting and sewing clothes accounted for only 6 per cent of the garment production process, according to Andrew Hong, acting general secretary of the ASEAN Federation of Textile Industries (AFTEX).
The remaining 94 per cent encompassed cloth production, design, marketing, sample production and order confirmation.
As of now, no ASEAN country has the capacity to complete the entire process domestically, Hong said. Currently Indonesia has an advantage in textile and garment production, since both Thailand and Viet Nam lack materials for processing.
Hong proposed that now is the time to change the production model in Viet Nam in order to improve the added value of the garment industry.
Industry representatives should try to enhance communication between cloth producers, garment enterprises and consumers, he said.
Companies could facilitate this process by joining the regional supply chain via the Source ASEAN Full Service Alliance (SAFSA) programme.
SAFSA forges virtual vertical factory partnerships between independent ASEAN-based textile mills and garment factories.
An said the SAFSA programme was suitable for countries, like Viet Nam, that export to places that prioritise materials from ASEAN nations.
The most important point, he stressed, was that the programme would lead to sustainable development for the domestic textile and garment industry.
Steel association vows no dumping, subsidies
Vietnamese steel pipe manufacturers and domestic steel companies were not dumping products in the US market and did not receive subsidies, affirmed the Viet Nam Steel Association (VSA).
Viet Nam would be willing to take the matter to court if necessary, it said.
The announcement was made after members of the US Circular Welded Carbon-quality Pipe (CWP) Association asked the American Commerce Department and the US International Trade Commission to conduct anti-dumping and anti-subsidy inspections on steel pipes imported from Viet Nam, India, Oman and the United Arab Emirates.
CWP products from these countries were threatening the US industry, said association members.
VSA explained that Vietnamese CWP products were cheaper than their US counterparts because Viet Nam was able to import cheap raw materials from Asian countries.
Furniture buyers make switch to ASEAN produce
Rising labour costs, increased shipping times due to labour shortage and antidumping duties on bedroom furniture were among factors that have prompted US buyers to move from China to ASEAN countries, especially Viet Nam, the CEO of online portal TigerTrade said yesterday at a seminar in HCM City.
Tanjila Islam, who also founded the trade portal, said ASEAN's skilled workforce, innovative designs, steady and ample access to raw materials such as bamboo offered diverse sourcing opportunities for furniture and home decor buyers.
The current situation was a great opportunity for the region to boost exports to the lucrative market, she said, adding that retail furniture sales in the US had increased by 5.5 per cent this year.
"Furniture imports have growing importance in the US market, both for outdoor and indoor furniture, accounting for 71 per cent of all wooden furniture sold in the US," she said.
The US's furniture imports have increased by 19 per cent annually since 2009, and are expected to increase in the coming years.
Islam said she saw high demand in the US market for both outdoor furniture as well as home decor items.
The US was a large and diverse market and buyers pay attention to the source of wood and product quality, she added.
Regarding styles, she said vintage looking furniture and custom-made products were preferred to mass-produced designs.
Viet Nam was the third largest exporter of furniture and home decor to the US, accounting for 6.5 per cent of the market share.
It ranked eighth in the world and first in Southeast Asia in terms of furniture and home decor exports, she said.
Bui Vuong Anh, representative of the Viet Nam Trade Promotion Agency (Vietrade), said that despite several difficulties, export of wooden products topped US$2.8 billion, an increase of 16.3 per cent over last year.
In the wake of shrinking demand in Viet Nam's traditional export markets due to the global economic crisis, local companies should identify new markets and ways to boost exports in the coming months, he said.
The seminar was co-organised by TigerTrade, Vietrade and the Handicraft and Wood Association of HCM City.
Plan to push high quality products
The departments of Industry and Trade from southern Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Dong Nai, Tay Ninh, Binh Duong and Binh Phuoc provinces met with the Viet Nam Association for High Quality Products on Tuesday to discuss co-operation.
At the meeting, it was suggested that a chain of outlets for Vietnamese product sales be set up in which high quality products would be given priority in promotion.
IT products selected for contest
The jury board of the 7th Viet Nam Talent Contest (2011) announced 17 information technology products selected for final examination at a press briefing in Ha Noi on Tuesday.
The IT sector entered a record of 204 products based on software and hardware.
It is expected that contestants will gather in Ha Noi on November 17-18 to make their presentations in contest for prizes.
Binh Duong opens pilot trial farm
The steering committee for supplying pilot agricultural insurance in Binh Duong has approved a plan to help develop dairy farms and piggeries over the next two years.
The southern province will assist farmers in breeding cattle based on 20 to 100 per cent insurance premiums, depending on conditions.
The plan will first be applied in the districts of Ben Cat, Tan Uyen and Dau Tieng.
SHB joins Mastercard group
The Sai Gon-Ha Noi Commercial Joint Stock Bank (SHB) was awarded an official MasterCard Membership Certificate last week.
The SHB has completed the second stage of its SmartVista card management system and projects related to local card connections.
The SHB has issued around 40,000 Solid domestic cards accepted by ATM and points of sale (ATM/POS) machines from 40 banks in the Smartlink (Smartlink Card Services JSC), VNBC (Viet Nam Bank Card Company) and Banknetvn (Viet Nam National Financial Switching JSC) networks.
DHL opens second airport gateway
DHL, a leading global express company, inaugurated its second gateway, worth US$1.4 million, at Ha Noi's Noi Bai International Airport yesterday.
The 1.450-square-metre facility has the capacity to sort conveyable shipments to a peak capacity of up to 4,700 units per day.
The move is expected to further enhance the presence of DHL in Viet Nam.
Ha Noi to host handicraft expo
The Ha Noi Craft Show 2011 will open its doors to the capital next Tuesday with the participation of 300 enterprises.
The city's first handicrafts exhibition will offer producers a chance to access international markets, said Ha Noi Department of Industry and Trade Deputy Director Dao Thu Vinh.
The five-day event, jointly organised by the department, the Ha Noi Industrial Promotion and Development Consultancy Centre and the Bac Ha Trade and Media Group, will display pottery and porcelain, wooden and bamboo-made handicrafts as well as silk across 400 pavilions.
Fish wholesale platform opens
Supermarket chain Metro Cash&Carry Viet Nam opened its first fish platform in the Mekong city of Can Tho on Wednesday.
The Metro Fish Platform, which includes a processing area, cold storage rooms, and waste storage rooms to ensure food safety and hygiene, aims to supply processed and live fish from the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta to all Metro wholesale centres across the country.
The new facility is expected to create jobs for over 1,000 people working on the farms and fishing vessels in the Delta.