BUSINESS IN BRIEF 9/3

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Australian firms seek business opportunities in Vietnam



Australian mining service companies have gathered at the 2012 Vietnam Mining Exhibition and Conference held in Hanoi on March 7-9 for the first time.

The Australian delegation includes leading businesses in the mining sector, who are operating in mine construction and engineering, water management, communications, and mine-related safety and software supply and maintenance services.

Apart from showcasing their advanced products and services, Australian firms will take part in a mining workshop held by the Australia Trade Commission (Austrade) to discuss technical issues and challenges in the extractive industry with local and international participants.

Australian Ambassador to Vietnam, Allaster Cox, said, “The large number of Australian mining service firms showcasing their state-of-the-art technology solutions at this leading international mining exhibition demonstrates Australia’s exceptional capabilities in this field and the strong interest of Australian companies in Vietnam”.

Australian firms have committed themselves to establishing a sustained presence in Vietnam, through their ongoing engagement in the market, he added.

Regarded as a world leader for mining and mineral processing, Australia has developed and perfected the technologies that are needed for mining operations in some of the remote and harsh conditions in the world.

Bringing Australian mining missions to Vietnam has been an annual activity conducted by Austrade in co-operation with Vietnam National Coal and Minerals Industries Group (Vinacomin) since 2009 with the aim of creating an exchange of information and business opportunities between the two countries’ mining industries.

Few women enjoy both career success and family happiness

The 2012 Vietnam Businesswomen Forum was held in Hanoi on March 6 for female entrepreneurs to share their experience with each other.

At the forum, attended by Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan and World Bank Country Director for Vietnam Victoria Kwakwa, many participants agreed that it was difficult for businesswomen to balance career and family.

Le Thi Nam Phuong, President of the Board of Directors of an educational system, spoke about the loneliness of successful women in business.

She said that successful women face numerous challenges in daily life and few can enjoy both career success and family happiness.

Phuong stressed women have to take care of both work and family but received little sharing and support from their relatives and community.

Some other businesswomen told the forum about the fact that they started engaging in business because their families were too poor and their husbands could not support their families financially. However, when their families are well-fed, they begin to find themselves lonely.

The forum discussed a number of macroeconomic issues in 2012, and proposed legal measures to help women access credit and empower them in the economics field.

Dutch businesses seek investment opportunities in Mekong Delta

A Dutch delegation visited Can Tho City on March 6 to seek investment opportunities in the Mekong Delta.

It included large businesses operating in fields of technical design, consultancy, water management, cultivation, cattle feed, education and training, such as Royal Haskoning, Tebodin Boskalis, Witteveen Bos, Howaco, East West Seed, De Heus, Ten Kate, Control Union and Nuffie-Neso.

At a reception they were briefed by leaders of Can Tho City on the economic potential of the Mekong Delta and local businesses who wished for trade cooperation with them.

Vietnam and the Netherlands officially established diplomatic relations on April 9, 1973. Since 1990, Vietnam has exported 40 groups of products, including seafood, footwear, garment and textile, coffee, rice and pepper to the Netherlands.

Vietnam has imported 44 kinds of goods such as machinery, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, materials for garment and textile, chemicals, plastics, and dairy products from that country.

In 2010, Vietnam’s exports to the Netherlands reached US$1.68 billion while its imports stayed at US$527 million.

Currently, the Netherlands has over 130 investment projects in Vietnam with a total registered capitalization of US$5.7 billion. Most of the projects are focused on food processing, oil and gas exploration, chemicals, cosmetics, hotel, construction and services in the southern region.

Heineken, Unilever, Royal Dutch, Akzo Nobel Coating, Philips, ED&F Man, Peja Vietnam, P&O Nedlloyd and ABN-AMBRO and some other trade names have become familiar with Vietnamese consumers.

Vietnam attends Japan food trade fair

Vietnam is showcasing different kinds of farm produce, aquatic products and foodstuffs at the 2012 International Food and Beverage Exhibition (FOODEX JAPAN) in Chiba, Japan, from March 6-9.

FOODEX JAPAN is one of the largest events aimed at advertising and promoting exports to the Japanese market.

During the event, A Vietnamese delegation consisting of 11 enterprises attended a seminar co-organized by the Vietnamese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) and the Vietnam Embassy in Japan.

The seminar attracted a lot of attention from enterprises which are interested in promoting agro-forestry and fishery exports to the Japanese market.

Hiway Vietnam to build retail supercentre network

Hiway Vietnam, a joint-venture between the Son Ha Group and its foreign strategic shareholders, will develop a network of retail outlets throughout Vietnam with an initial investment of nearly US$40 million.

The first three supercentres are expected to open in Hanoi later this year.

From now until 2016, Hiway Vietnam plans to open an additional 20 retail supercentres with entertainment areas and other shopping facilities in several districts around the capital and continue to expand the network across the country.

Retail sales decline 2.5 pct in February

The value of retail sales and services dropped by 2.5 percent last month compared to January to VND186.463 trillion (US$8.8 billion), announced the General Statistics Office (GSO).

February’s total brings the two-month value of retail sales and services to VND380.28 trillion (US$17.29 billion), a year-on-year increase of 22 percent.

However, when price increases were considered, the growth value was only 4.4 percent against the same period last year, equal to a half of the growth in the first two months of 2011, the GSO said.

GSO Trade Department experts said that the low retail sales growth during the period was due to the high consumer price index (CPI) of 16.85 percent from the previous year.

To cope with inflation and lower incomes due to the economic crisis, consumers have been forced to tighten their budgets.

Demand for paper and packaging experienced the highest slump at 39.4 percent while consumption of wood products followed closely with a 38.8 percent decrease.

Demand for footwear, and garments fell by 21.7 and 14.8 percent, respectively.

The GSO experts said there are no signals to ensure that demand for commodities and services will increase in the near future as incomes will remain stagnant while prices for many products will keep steady or continue rising.

HCM City to host Lifestyle Vietnam Trade Fair

An international home décor and gift exhibition, the Lifestyle Vietnam Trade Fair, will be held at the Tan Binh Exhibition and Convention Centre on April 18-21.

Over 1,200 stalls from domestic and foreign businesses will be on display showcasing nine groups of products and services including fine arts and handicrafts, home decoration, wood furniture, household items, embroideries, giftware, jewelry, fashion and footwear, accessories, and support services.

The fair, organized by the Vietnam Handicraft Exporters Association (Vietcraft), aims to create opportunities for businesses to introduce their products, seek partners and expand their export markets.

Vietnam-Japan trade promotion conference held

A conference to promote trade between Vietnamese and Japanese businesses was held in Hanoi on March 6.

A business delegation from Japan’s Saga prefecture exchanged experience and sought cooperation opportunities with Vietnamese enterprises in manufacturing, steel production, seafood processing machinery and canned food processing.

Businesses also worked together to resolve investment issues to operate effectively in Vietnam.

This is the first time businesses from Saga have come to explore cooperation opportunities in Vietnam.

Nguyen Van Dong, Deputy Director of the Hanoi Department of Industry and Trade, said the city’s businesses want to have long-term cooperation with Japanese companies in the industrial sector.

“We welcome enterprises from Saga to invest in the capital city in the fields of mechanical engineering and engine manufacturing,” Mr Dong noted.

By November, 2011, Japan had more than 1,600 effective direct investment projects in Vietnam with total registered capital of over US$23 billion, ranking fourth among the 92 foreign investors in the country.

The number of Japanese businesses coming to Vietnam in 2011 increased by 50 percent compared to 2010. Japan also has the largest number of industrial production enterprises operating in Hanoi, a total of 126.

French businesses seek healthcare cooperation in Vietnam

The French Trade Commission, Ubifrance Vietnam, announced that 12 French healthcare businesses will be in Hanoi and HCM City from March 12-15 to seek cooperation opportunities.

The French enterprises will meet with their Vietnamese counterparts to introduce their technology and services and share experiences in operating in the healthcare sector.

The visit aims to develop solid trade, science and technology partnerships among businesses in the two countries.

The French enterprises have advantages in building hospitals, supplying medical equipment, treating medical waste and producing pharmaceutical products.

Ninety percent of the medical equipment in Vietnam is currently imported, which offers numerous opportunities for French businesses to approach the Vietnamese market.

Japanese firms keen on M&A in Vietnam

M&A (merger and acquisition) activities in Vietnam are forecast to continue rising this year, particularly in the partnership with Japan, told a seminar on M&A partnerships in Hanoi on March 6.

Although the total number of M&A deals decreased from over 340 in 2010 to around 250 last year, the total value of the deals more than doubled during the period, increasing from US$1.7 billion in 2010 to US$4 billion in 2011, said Nguyen Anh Phong, deputy general director of the Hanoi Stock Exchange.

Last year saw an increase in the interests of Japanese companies in Vietnam's M&A market, with 23 percent of total deal value coming from Japan. Remarkable deals included Mizuho bank purchasing a 15 percent stake worth US$543.8 billion in Vietcombank and Unicharm buying a 95 percent stake worth 125 in Diana Vietnam.

Phong revealed finance and consumer goods were the two most appealing sectors to Japanese enterprises, with 50 percent of the deals struck in these sectors.

The Director of the New Listing Department of the Tokyo Stock Exchange, Yasuyuki Konuma, said Japan is the world's largest investor and its wealthy individual investors are keen on investing in Asian stocks.

”Japanese household assets are the highest in the world at US$19.48 billion, of which cash/deposits in banks account for 55 percent," Yasuyuki said, emphasizing that the Japanese government was encouraging people to invest their savings.

Toshifumi Iwaguchi, director of RECOF Corporation, said decreasing population and domestic demand were driving Japanese companies to invest abroad.

Recent statistics demonstrated that the number of Japan-outbound M&A deals was rapidly increasing, with Japanese enterprises being highly interested in M&As in Asia, Toshifumi said, noting the number of outbound M&A deals with Asian companies last year rising 41 percent year-on-year.

Toshifumi said Japanese firms targeted a wide range of sectors but the percentage in the manufacturing sector has been steadily increasing, from 10 percent in 2007 to 39 percent last year.

Welcoming Japanese capital investment, Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Dang Huy Dong said seeking capital to stabilize and expand business is now the most important issue to Vietnamese companies, and M&As are an effective channel to raise capital.

Dong said that recent M&A deals were still impulsive and unprofessional due to the lack of an appropriate legal framework, industry expertise, human resources and professional consultancy. Therefore, in order to allow M&A deals to develop and protect the rights of participating companies, authorities should draw up M&A regulations and promote co-operation between management bodies and enterprises to provide information and training in new business activities.

Laos Airlines to operate new route to Danang

Laos Airlines will open a new air route linking Lao provinces of Pakse and Savannakhet with Vietnam’s central city of Danang in mid-April.

Under the agreement between the Danang municipal Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Laos Airlines, there will be three flights per week on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, using ATR-72 aircraft.

The passengers are mostly the Vietnamese community in Savannakhet, tourists and visitors from Vientiane in Laos, Bangkok and the North-East of Thailand.

WB-funded projects asked to quicken disbursement

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has asked the relevant ministries and departments to speed up the disbursement of funding from nine World Bank-financed projects after being too much delay in the work.

They include projects to develop a water supply system; an information technology project; improving environmental hygiene in coastal cities; improving competitiveness in the agricultural sector; enhancing the land management system; expanding urban transport in Hanoi, modernising the financial information and tax systems and ensuring the quality of education in schools.

To achieve this, the PM has also issued instructions to hold monthly meetings to review the projects and report back to the Ministry of Planning and Investment every quarter, as well as introducing specific measures to deal with existing difficulties.

Nation’s economy enjoys optimistic start

The nation’s economy has seen good signs in the first two months of this year with the trade deficit being kept at 4.1 percent and the consumer price index staying at the lowest level over the past decade, creating a momentum to overcome future challenges.

The Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) said that after a contraction of nearly 13 percent in January due to the prolonged Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday, industrial production in February has regained its growth rate, up 10 percent over the previous month and 22.1 percent against the same period last year.

Exports in the first two months have also recorded an impressive growth at 24.8 percent, double that of imports, helping to tame the trade deficit at 4.1 percent, down from last year’s figure of 14.8 percent.

Although CPI in February increased by 1.37 percent over the previous month, CPI in the first two months rose only by 2.38 percent, nearly the lowest in comparison with that recorded in the same periods of the past decade, excluding the first two months of 2009.

The Domestic Market Management Team said that with measures to accelerate production to create an abundant source of goods, thus cooling down the price of essential products, March CPI is expected to increase by about 0.5 percent.

Sharing the optimistic outlook, Fitch Ratings also forecasts the Vietnamese economy will become stable, with both inflation and trade balance making headway, proving that Resolution No. 11 is effective.

However, the nation’s economy still has to face a wide range of challenges, including a huge volume of stockpiles, said the MPI.

Key export items suffer from price pressure and small and medium enterprises meet an array of difficulties in accessing credit.

The unsold inventory index (UII) of the processing and manufacturing industries rose by 17.4 percent year-on-year, with sectors seeing high UII including vegetable processing and preservation with 80.6 percent, fertiliser and nitrogen mix production, 71.9 percent, and iron and steel, 53.4 percent, respectively.

Rice exports are struggling with a shortage of orders as well as fierce competition in terms of price from other rice exporters. As a result, rice export revenue in the reviewed period dropped by 43 percent over the same period last year.

Coffee exports shrank by 17 percent and aquatic product exports faced difficulties in the market and payment ability as many European economies are facing turmoil.

Meanwhile, many producers and exporters still have to pay an interest rate of over 20 percent per year although many major commercial banks have announced a cut in interest rates.

Tran Thien Hai, President of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Processors (VASEP), said the industry needs about 26 trillion VND to purchase materials, however, it’s hard for them to access loans due to the high interest rate.

On March 5, Nguyen Nam Hai, Deputy Ministry of Industry and Trade pointed out the need to continue implementing the Government’s Resolution 11 and tasks on business restructuring in order to boost production and maintain strong consumption.

The ministry asked producers to cut expenditure and consolidate distribution systems to ensure the lowest price of products for consumers.

To deal with difficulties facing agricultural product exports, especially rice, the country’s major export item, Phan Thi Dieu Ha, Deputy Head of the Import-Export Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, describes trade promotion programmes as a significant measure to clear up the market and increase exports while partnering with relevant agencies to map out appropriate measures for a temporary rice reserve to avoid a price drop.

The ministry has submitted measures to the Government to boost rice exports, which will be made public, to help enterprises overcome present difficulties, Ha said.

Farmers struggle to access capital

Local farmers say they are still finding it hard to access much-needed financial support despite numerous policies recently adopted by the government to assist farmers.

A meeting between the Vietnam Association of Rural, Farmer Entrepreneurs and Farm-owners (VARFEF) and officials heard several suggestions on how to help farm owners and agricultural enterprises benefit from pro-farm policies, particularly Decree 61/2011/ND-CP.

Le Duy Minh, owner of an afforestation farm in Binh Phuoc, said he and many other farm owners could not benefit from the agricultural support policies detailed in Government Decree 61 and the Ministry of Finance’s Circular 84 because of little or zero knowledge about administrative procedures.

Nguyen Van Minh from Huu Tin Company, which specializes in growing oil plants and herbs in Ba Ria-Vung Tau and Khanh Hoa, agreed.

He said though Decree 61 took effect on July 25 last year, he hadn’t been able to receive financial aid as stated in the decree as he wasn’t informed of necessary administrative procedures.

Nguyen Van Bay, vice principal of the College of Management for Agriculture and Rural Development 2 (CMARD 2), said that while he was giving guidance for many farms on the paperwork, he found out that the finance ministry’s Circular 81 and Circular 06 of the

Ministry of Planning and Investment had several overlapping procedures.

Thus, without appropriate legal advice, farmers will find it hard to access these financial incentives, he said.

According to a representative of the Department of Crop Production under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, farms cannot access low-cost funding sources as specified in Decree 61 because they do not know which procedures to complete and which agencies to work with.

The department thus suggested that VARFEF should establish a division specializing in giving guidelines on administrative and legal procedures.

However, Bay of CMARD 2 said financial aid for farms was actually sourced from provincial budgets, not the State’s.

But many localities may run out of cash to help farmers even though they fully meet the requirements of Circular 84 and 06.

Vietnam earned US$3.6 billion from agro-forestry-seafood exports in the first two months of this year, approximately the same as last year’s figure.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development noted a remarkable decrease of 13.2 percent in the export value of agricultural products with $2 billion, as a result of dropping prices in the world market.

With the exception of pepper, cashew nuts and tea, most key agricultural products earned less than in the same period last year.

The country shipped 756,000 tons of rice overseas in the period for almost $437 million, down 26.6 percent in volume and 16.1 percent and value.

Although Indonesia remains Vietnam’s leading rice importer, its purchase has dropped by one third in terms of both volume and value.

Coffee export stood at 312,000 tons worth $632 million, a year-on-year decrease of 13 percent in volume and 11.8 percent in value, as major markets such as Italy and Belgium saw consumption reduced by as much as one half or two thirds from one year ago.

The same situation can be seen in rubber sector with only 80,000 tons of rubber worth $220 million shipped abroad, down 23.6 percent in value.

Meanwhile, tea export reached 19,000 tons, earning $28 million, up 14.8 percent in volume and 19.2 percent in value.

Pepper industry brought in nearly $42 million from the sale of 6,000 tons, a year-on-year surge of 40 percent in value.

Forestry product and wooden furniture brought home $626 million, a rise of 18.7 percent.

Meanwhile, seafood export value was $763 million, up 12.7 percent against the same period last year.

Footwear sector aims to conquer local market

The Vietnamese leather and footwear sector will strive to increase its share of the domestic market to ease its dependence on export while raising the rate of locally made raw materials to 50 percent.

At the same time, the sector is aiming for an export growth of 12 percent this year, with 7.3 billion USD from footwear and 1.5 billion USD from handbags, said Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Nguyen Nam Hai at the ministry’s meeting in Hanoi on Mar. 5 in Hanoi .

According to the Vietnam Leather and Footwear Association (LEFASO), the sector plans to supply nearly 70-75 million footwear products and 16 – 18 million handbags to the domestic market this year, meeting between 55 and 64 percent of domestic demands, respectively.

To achieve this goal, it will further uphold Vietnam’s competitive edges to maintain traditional markets, while continue to improve research capacity for development, reform managerial and production technologies and issue a reasonable pricing policy.

In the near future, the sector will also expand satellite production facilities away from major cities to make the best of human resources in rural areas.

Statistics of the Ministry of Industry and Trade showed that in February, footwear enterprises faced issues such as dependence on imported raw materials for production and a workforce shortage.

During the first two months of this year, the country produced 8.7 million pairs of shoes and boots, up 11.6 percent, and 45.6 million pairs of sports shoes, down 5.4 percent from the same period last year.

Used car dealerships mushroom to meet demand

In anticipation of high market demand, auto manufacturers and traders have been vying each other to open used car dealerships which offer better customer services than before.

These dealerships are aware that newly licensed drivers tend to buy old cars as they are afraid of having accidents with their new cars, paying a high price for a brand new car or servicing a loan with a high interest rate.

Automakers consider secondhand-car business a chance of selling new cars as there are many car owners wishing to exchange for brand new models but they do not know how much their own cars cost.

Toyota Motor Vietnam (TMV) will expand its used car business with a series of used car outlets to be established at its dealerships nationwide after the opening in mid-2010 of the Used Car Center at Toyota East Saigon Joint Stock Company.

Nguyen Khoa, director of the used car center, expressed optimism about the future growth of the secondhand car market, especially at a time when new vehicle registration fees are increasing.

Its business has grown 20 percent since the center was launched, he said.

Khoa said the demand for used cars in HCMC was surging as more youngsters are learning to drive and old vehicles can be immediately put into use without having to wait for the number plate and registration.

Despite forecasts that auto sales in Vietnam this year will continue to drop, Khoa said the used car segment could edge up by an impressive 15 percent – 20 percent.

TMV’s used cars can still compete well with cheap cars made by South Korean firms, Khoa said.

Though Mercedes-Benz Vietnam is known as a luxury car maker in Vietnam, it has recently joined the used car segment by launching Mercedes-Benz Auto Service and Trade Center on Vo Van Kiet Boulevard in HCMC’s Binh Tan District.

The new facility, which was invested by its dealer Hang Xanh Motors Service Joint Stock Company (Haxaco), is the only service facility in the country where used Mercedes-Benz autos are traded.

Earlier, Audi Vietnam and Euro Auto, distributors of BMW, also launched their second-hand car services. Meanwhile, Anycar Vietnam is developing a network of certified pre-owned car outlets selling all locally assembled auto brands.

Auto traders see much potential in the used car market because many average-income earners need secondhand vehicles. But one setback in this market that has been vexing buyers is the lack of inspection and warranty services.

To solve this problem and increase their competitiveness, many auto manufacturers and traders are now willing to provide car inspection and warranty services.

Used cars supplied by TMV sales agents to the Used Car Center at Toyota East Saigon must be checked and evaluated by Toyota engineers.

Vehicles meeting requirements will be granted quality certificates. Customers are also offered after-sale services with qualified warranty and maintenance.

As a pioneer in the used car market, Ford Vietnam said the quality of its used vehicles must be tested through an assessment of 162 parts which helps specialists assess exactly the state of the car and repair it if necessary to ensure the best operating conditions possible before delivery to consumers.

Similarly, a representative of Anycar said its used cars would be strictly inspected and granted quality certificates before they were put up for sale. The firm said it would not sell disqualified vehicles.

Meanwhile, Haxaco of Mercedes-Benz Vietnam provides warranty of 1 year or 20,000 kilometers for cars that have been in use for up to 5 years or 100,000 kilometers since their first registrations.

Customers will be provided with information about vehicle history, an engine performance certificate and other documents.

However, some traders said vehicle inspections might push up prices of used cars. The best selling used cars are those priced from VND400-600 million per unit.

Air Mekong increases flights

Mekong Aviation JSC (Air Mekong) has announced plans to increase its flight offerings to some destinations during the two upcoming national holidays, Hung Kings commemoration (March 31) and May Day.

Under the plan, routes from Hanoi and HCM City to Phu Quoc, Con Dao and Da Lat will see an additional 50 flights.

This summer, the carrier also plans to increase flights on the Hanoi – Phu Quoc route to 9-10 each week.

Hiway Vietnam to build retail supercentres network

Hiway Vietnam, a joint-venture between the Son Ha Group and its foreign strategic shareholders, will develop a network of retail outlets throughout Vietnam with an initial investment of nearly $40 million .

The first three supercentres are expected to open in Hanoi later this year.

From now until 2016, Hiway Vietnam plans to open an additional 20 retail supercentres with entertainment areas and other shopping facilities in several districts around the capital and continue to expand the network across the country.

Coffee export forecast slashed to less than one million tonnes

The country's coffee export volume this year could be lower than one million tonnes for the first time in many years due to decreasing supply, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has forecast.

In its latest report, the ministry cut the annual coffee export projection for this year to 985,000 tonnes from the previous 1.18 million. Export turnover is expected to reach only US$2.2 billion against the predicted $3 billion. The latest forecast is also lower than last year's $2.75 billion.

According to the Viet Nam Coffee and Cacao Association, the country has completed the harvest of its 2011/12 coffee crop with yield estimated to be lower than previously forecast.

Unfavourable weather conditions at the end of last year was also expected to negatively influence coffee yield and quality in 2012/13, the association said.

It added that a growing area of old and stunted coffee trees, which account for roughly 30 per cent of the country's total coffee crop, would also cause coffee output to drop by roughly 15-20 per cent.

Coffee producing countries worldwide have been hit by reduced yields. According to the International Coffee Association, the world's total coffee output in 2011/12 was estimated at 130.9 million bags, down 2.4 per cent over the previous year due to bad weather.

Viet Nam exported an estimated 180,000 tonnes of coffee last month, up 25 per cent against the same month last year, the General Statistics Office reported.

The office revised January exports to 112,000 tonnes from the previous 130,000, a plunge of nearly 48 per cent against the same period last year due to the Lunar New Year festival, a decreasing sales volume and expected price hikes.

Local surplus helps lower feed imports

Animal feed distributors were able to reduce feed imports in the first two months of the year due to high domestic supply, said Viet Nam Animal Feed Association vice chairman Pham Duc Binh.

The import value of animal feed fell to US$359 million in the first two months of the year, 17.5 per cent lower than in the same period last year, according to association figures. Feed imports from India fell 18.2 per cent even as imports from Italy and the United Arab Emirates edged up somewhat.

High domestic supplies have also pushed down feed prices, Binh said, noting that the price has dropped by VND160-250/kg from last year.

With the winter-spring crop of rice and cassave successfully harvested, the price of rice was also low, allowing feed processors to rely on these supplies for production, Binh said.

Foreign-invested feed companies continue to meet most of the domestic demand, including Thailand's CP Group and US agricultural giant Cargill, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

The ministry is therefore urging greater domestic investment in the feed industry and suggesting the development of a long-term strategy to promote domestic investment in the industry, particularly in the production of raw materials such as corn and soybeans.

Last month, a new domestic supplier for the feed market, the Hong Ha Nutrition Joint Stock Co, commenced operations.

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