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Vietnam lastweek

Ca Mau looks to attract investment in tourism

The southernmost province of Ca Mau is calling for investment in two tourism projects worth VND1.2 trillion (US$52.7 million) in Dat Mui (Cape Ca Mau) tourism area in Ngoc Hien District, and along the Trem River in Thoi Binh district.

The locality aims to attract more than 50 investment projects in 2017-2020, including ten foreign-invested ones, focusing on seaport development, wind and solar power production and hi-tech industries.

Ca Mau has potential for tourism development, boasting many attractive tourism destinations, national-level relic sites, ecological and community-based tourism sites. 

It has pristine natural scenery, with vast green cajeput and mangrove forests, the most famous being U Minh and Nam Can forests.

Eight rivers flow through the province, forming a network of more than 7,000km of rivers and canals with unique beauty and diverse cuisines.

The must-see destination in the province is Dat Mui in Mui Hamlet, Dat Mui Commune, Ngoc Hien district, which aims to greet 1 million visitors by 2020.

The cape is home to mangrove forests featuring a plethora of birds, wild animals and fish as well as untouched landscapes.

In the first two quarters of this year, Ca Mau welcomed 600,000 tourists, 53.6% of the yearly target. 

It aims to serve more than 1.7 million holidaymakers a year, including 50,000 foreigners, by 2020.

Farmers lose billions as rains kill fish

Hundreds of tonnes of fish raised in the rivers of Phú Thọ, Phú Yên and Bình Thuận provinces died recently because of floodwater discharge and changes in water quality.

Around 350 of the 1,000 tonnes of fish that were being bred in the stretch of Đà River in the northern province of Phú Thọ had died by Saturday, accroding to intitial statistics from Phú Thọ Province’s fishery department.

As a result, households in Thanh Thủy and Thanh Sơn districts have incurred losses worth billions of đồng, as per estimates made by the province’s sub-department of fisheries, local media reported.

Out of the 200 affected fish cages in the two districts, 133 cages lost all fish. The remaining 67 cages lost 30 to 70 per cent of the fish.

The incident reportedly occurs following the Hòa Bình hydropower plant discharging floodwater to its reservoir last Tuesday. 

Farmer Dương Tiến Dũng from Thanh Thủy District’s Xuân Lộc Commune said Đà River started flowing faster and changing from a clear green to opaque red on Tuesday night. 

By Thursday, the fish had started becoming disoriented and breathing through their mouths, and died, he said. 

The central Phú Yên Province on Sunday reported that 40 to 80 per cent of grouper and red tilapia fish being raised in 400 cages in Ô Loan lagoon had died. Provincial authorities had collected water samples from the lagoon for investigation.

Farmers in the area are trying to save the remaining fish by reducing the number of fish in each cage and bathing them in cold water, but so far, it does not seem to have helped much.

Also on Sunday, the People’s Committee of Đồng Phú District in the southern Bình Phước Province reported that 90 per cent of the fish being bred by 40 households in Suối Giai Lake had died. Farmer Trần Văn Nhu from the district’s Tân Lập Commune is among the worst hit, having lost five tonnes of mature redtail catfish, worth half a billion đồng.

The mash fish death was likely caused by high levels of aluminium and lack of oxygen in the water as a result of heavy, continuous rainfall, the commune’s People’s Committee said.

Many farmers have been forced to sell their fish at much lower prices because of the mass deaths.

Majority of the affected farmers in these provinces hail from poor households and have borrowed money from banks to breed fish.

Further investigations are underway.

Sacombank to recoup 20 trillion VND of bad debts in 2017

The Sai Gon Thuong Tin Commercial Joint Stock Bank (Sacombank) aims to tackle 20 trillion VND (880 million USD) of bad debts in 2017, with the bank taking drastic measures to implement a restructuring scheme, said its chairman Duong Cong Minh.

Minh believed that bad debt settlement will be effective due to upbeat signs in the property market, the National Assembly’s legal provisions for bad debts and the bank’s restructuring project.

The bank’s profit before taxes was estimated at 428 billion VND (18.8 million USD) in the first half of the year, up 70.4 percent year-on-year, according to the bank’s report. Its total assets stood at nearly 353 trillion VND (15.5 billion USD). 

During the first six months, customer lending and capital mobilised from individuals and economic organisations exceeded 212 trillion VND (9.3 billion USD) and 317 trillion VND (13.9 billion USD), up 10.1 percent and 9.7 percent from the outset of the year, respectively.

The bank tackled 845 billion VND (37.2 million USD) of non-performing loans in the period and bought back 247 billion VND (10.9 million USD) in non-performing loans from the Vietnam Asset Management Company. 

Chairman Minh shared the bank’s restructuring scheme, including shaking up bank organisation and human resources and re-arranging transaction networks and branches was based on the strategy “developing rural areas to support urban zones”.

Last month, Sacombank held its annual general meeting of shareholders for the fiscal year 2015-2016. Minh was elected as Chairman of the Board of Directors for the term 2017-2021 and Nguyen Duc Thach Diem as Standing Director General.

Green tax hike on petrol     

The Ministry of Finance (MoF) is going ahead with its plan to increase environmental protection tax on petroleum from the current VND1,000-4,000 to VND3,000-8,000 per litre, despite objections from other ministries and the public.

In its second draft of the Law on Environmental Protection Taxes announced last week, the ministry proposed a tax hike on fuel consumption of VND3,000-6,000 per litre for aviation fuel, VND1,500-4,000 per litre for diesel, VND300-2,000 per litre for kerosene, and VND900-4,000 per kg for mazut.

If the new tax rate is applied, the price of gasoline at the pumps will rise to around VND22,000 (roughly US$1) per litre from the average price at the pump of around VND16,000 to VND17,000 for petrol and VND10,000 to VND11,000 for diesel and mazut, respectively, analysts said.

The Ministry of Transport (MoT) told the Ministry of Finance (MoF) that Viet Nam would apply two petroleum quality standards based on the Euro 2 and Euro 4 emission standards, suggesting that the MoF set a lower environmental protection tax for Euro 4, which cleans emissions from diesel cars, to encourage the production of more eco-friendly petroleum.

The Viet Nam National Petroleum Group (Petrolimex) said the calculation of environmental protection tax on fuel should encourage E5 bio-fuel consumption.

The Viet Nam Petroleum Association (VINPA) has supported the MoF’s tax proposal, though it has pointed out that the maximum tax of VND8,000 per litre is too high.

The VINPA has suggested that the MoF hike environmental protection tax from the current VND3,000 to VND5,000 per litre for petrol; from VND1,500 to VND3,000 per litre for diesel; from VND3,000 to VND5,000 per litre for aviation fuel; and from VND900 to VND3,000 per kg for mazut.

Earlier, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the MoF should carefully consider its tax hike proposal as local businesses, which are already paying many kinds of taxes and fees, will be further hit. It asked the MoF to do an assessment on the impact of the tax hike on the economy and people’s lives.

The draft law is scheduled to be submitted to the Finance-State Budget Committee of the National Assembly (NA) for consideration this month. It will be submitted to the NA Standing Committee in August, and to NA deputies in September. The NA will review the draft law for approval in October.

MoF’s deputy minister Tran Xuan Ha said the tax hike is one of the measures to better manage petroleum products while limiting smuggling. Its impact on businesses, people and inflation will be calculated, he added.

Last year, around VND42.3 trillion ($1.9 billion) was collected in environmental protection tax, of which petroleum raked in VND40.2 trillion. 

Major start-up conference, exhibit opens in Da Nang     

More than 2,000 businesses, speakers and students joined the second International Start-up Conference and Exhibition in the central city yesterday, sharing experiences and ideas in panel and round-table discussions, talks and fireside charts among domestic and international experts.

The event, entitled Surf-the Start-up Wave 2017, also featured local government leaders, partners, investment funds, investors, entrepreneurs, enterprises, start-up support organisations, authorities, students from universities and residents from Ha Noi, HCM City, Hue, Quang Nam, Binh Dinh, Can Tho, Dong Thap, Da Nang and representatives from 27 countries and territories.

Da Nang has launched its business start-up programme eco-system from now until 2020, with a vistion to 2030.

“We are looking to make the city into a start-up destination and international innovation hub of ASEAN in 2030. The 2017 International Start-up Conference and Exhibition will be a significant chance for the city and partners forming development of the city’s start-up ecosystem in the future,” said chairman of Da Nang’s Start-up Network Council and Da Nang Business Incubator, Vo Duy Khuong.

“It’s also an opportunity for young businesses in Da Nang seeking fund investors,” he said.

The event drew the participation of 70 pavilions from start-up projects and businesses, institutes, colleges and sponsors in panel discussions, roundtables, pitching competitions, and exhibitions.

Motivational speaker Jeff Hoffman, the cofounder of and of ColorJar, also shared experience and suggestion for young start-up businesses during the two-day event.

Earlier this year, the city and the Ireland Embassy in Viet Nam agreed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on high quality human resource education, management skills for the city’s personnel and start-up programme for students in Da Nang.

The MoU will include Master Education programme, education exchange among Da Nang’s Economics College and Iris universities and humanitarian programme in supporting the disabled persons in Da Nang.

Cait Moran, Ambassador of Ireland to Viet Nam, said Ireland looks forward to a burgeoning partnership with Da Nang City.

She said the MoU aims to boost the relationship between Ireland and the central city and foster co-operation between Da Nang with locals and cities in Ireland.

Participants also focussed on the start-up ecosystem, support policies and investment as well as sharing experience and technology.

The conference, which was sponsored by the Asia Development Bank, the Mekong Business Initiative, Swiss EP and the Innovation Partnership Programme in Viet Nam, will close today.

Last year, the central city’s Song Han Incubator launched a tourism start-up programme.

Da Nang has 18,000 businesses, 95 per cent of which are small and medium-sized enterprises. 

Bac Giang to revoke slow-moving investment projects in its city     

The northern province of Bac Giang plans to revoke licences from several investment projects that are moving too slowly, according to the provincial Department of Planning and Investment.

One of the Bac Giang City projects is an expansion of a agricultural processing factory financed by Viet Nga Limited Co. Covering 6,600sq.m in Da Mai District, the VND13.45 billion (US$560,000) plant halted operation since 2012 due to its investor’s financial difficulties. The plant will have its investment certificate revoked if the investor fails to resume its operation before November, the department said.

The department added it will also request for an approval from the provincial People’s Committee to withdraw an investment licence of $17.8 million Ha Noi Prince hotel complex, developed by VINAPROD JSC, in Xuong Giang Street. The complex’s investor has yet to kick off the complex after receiving the licence in 2007.

Two other slow-moving projects - the Thang Long private school project invested by Duc Tri Education JSC and Anh Hong commercial and service complex fianced by Anh Hong Co - have received similar warnings from the department.

The city is currently home to 250 projects, including 29 foreign-invested, with a combined investment capital of more than $1 billion, department statistics reveal.

Bac Giang Province will create conditions to encourage businesses to boost investment, compensate for land clearance and hasten infrastructure construction.

It will enhance administrative transparency and strictly punish officials hampering enterprises.

Along with supporting investors in land clearance, the province promises to maintain dialogues with investors to address difficulties. 

Vietnam’s tra fish among top-quality items at Japan Aeon supermarkets

Vietnam’s tra fish sold at Aeon supermarkets in Japan is listed among “TopValu” products which are goods with leading quality.

Keisuke Hino, who manages AEON’s aquatic products section in the northern Kanto and Niigata region, said to meet TopValu standards, products must satisfy consumers’ taste and be made in line with AEON’s strict process.

The Vietnamese tra fish product made with the recipe of the eel dish – a traditional food of Japan in summer – has been sold at AEON supermarkets since June, and the retailing group plans to expand the sale of this product in the future, he added.

Ta Duc Minh, Trade Counsellor and chief representative of Vietnam’s Industry and Trade Ministry in Japan, said Vietnam’s tra fish exports to Japan approximated 14 million USD in 2016 and 7 million USD in the first five months of 2017.

He added to boost the shipments of tra fish to Japan, it is very important to ensure food safety and align fish farming, packaging and labeling activities with Japanese standards.

Aside from tra fish, bananas, mangoes and red-flesh dragon fruits are considered strategic goods helping to increase the two countries’ trade revenue.-

Dong Nai builds over 30 large-scale fields

The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of the southern province of Dong Nai has approved zoning off 31 large-scale fields to cultivate durian, pepper and cocoa in the locality.

Head of the department Nguyen Huu Dinh said the provincial People’s Committee has authorised 12 large-scale fields with a total area of 5,5000 hectares and expects to draw the participation of 5,000 local households. Meanwhile, investors will work with local authorities and farmers to assess the remaining 19 projects.

The province has carried out large-scale projects, a centralised production model bringing together farmers, businesses, scientists and State agencies to apply technology in farming, since 2014.

Thanks to the model, businesses have secured stable material sources, while famers have grown high-yield crops and improved their incomes, Dinh said, adding that large-scale projects make it easier to transfer science and technology to famers and manage the quality of farm produce.

In carrying out the model, the province invested in infrastructure facilities and provided farmers with 30 percent of seedling and water-saving irrigation system costs, he said.

The province has also pushed production linkages to develop stable outputs for local agricultural products. Some 13 linking chains have been set up so far, allowing farmers to sell products to businesses above market prices. In addition, they promote sustainable agriculture, applying water-saving irrigation system and fertilising through pipelines.

Mercedes-Benz sales in Vietnam grow by 60 percent in H1

Mercedes-Benz Vietnam (MBV) reported a year-on-year growth of more than 60 percent in automobile sales during the first half of 2017, the best in 22 years of its presence in Vietnam.

The firm sold a total of 2,900 cars during the period in spite of the market fluctuation.

While many automakers are cutting prices for both affordable to luxury models sold in Vietnam to boost demand, the MBV still enjoyed high sales even with its prices ranging from 1.34 billion – 14.45 billion VND.

The brand also appeared to not be much affected by elimination of Vietnam’s import tariff on ASEAN-made vehicles in early 2018 following the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA).

According to the MBV, since the beginning of this year, the company has received over 100 orders for luxury model Mercedes-Maybach, with half of them delivered. The new-generation E-Class also saw a good sale with more than 600 units sold since its debut in late 2016.

Vietnam, Laos work closely to promote trade

Since Vietnam and Laos set up diplomatic relations in 1962, the relationship between the two countries has flourished thanks to efforts from both sides to make ties deeper and more effective, especially in economy, trade and investment.

According to Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Quoc Khanh, since a bilateral trade agreement was signed in March 3, 2015 and a border trade agreement was inked on June 26, 2015, trade ties between the two countries have developed.

Launching the Vietnam-Lao trade website at has also fostered connections and trade exchange between business communities of both sides.

Deputy Minister Khanh said the website aims to provide the business community timely and comprehensive information on economic, trade, industry regulations, mechanisms and policies as well as trade promotion activities, aiming to better serve enterprises of both countries and make information cheaper to access.

Statistics of the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) showed that as of March 2017, trade between the two countries reached 236 million USD, up 4.3 percent year on year, with Vietnam’s exports at 135 million USD, a rise of 22.6 percent.

Meanwhile, Vietnam imported 101 million USD worth of goods from Laos, down 13.1 percent over the same period last year, resulting in a trade surplus of 34 million USD for Vietnam.

Vietnam mostly exported fuel, steel, iron, transportation vehicles and spare parts to Laos, while importing rubber, fertiliser, ore and minerals.

To celebrate the 55th anniversary of Vietnam-Laos diplomatic relations and 40 years of the Vietnam-Laos Treaty of Amity and Cooperation, a trade fair was held from June 29-July 3 in Vientiane to encourage stronger economic, trade and investment cooperation between the two countries.

Meanwhile, two-way trade between Vietnam and Laos dropped about 20 percent in 2016, mostly because the Government of Laos stopped exporting woods and minimised imports of some products the country can supply itself such as cement, iron and steel. Trade competition in Laos has also become fiercer.

Recently, Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh had a meeting with Lao Minister of Industry and Commerce Khemmany Phonexena to discuss the fall in trade and seek measures to promote bilateral trade.

The two sides have agreed to work closely in building a bilateral trade development plan for the next 10 years, and to strengthen communications on the bilateral trade and border trade agreements.

To fulfil the target of 4 billion USD in two-way trade in 2020, the two sides will launch new cooperation projects in Laos and assist existing projects, while carrying out the agreement on border and border gate management and the protocol on borderline and national border markers.

The MoIT will also review Vietnamese projects in Laos to seek measures to support investors.

Reference exchange rate goes down 3 VND at week’s beginning

The State Bank of Vietnam announced its reference VND/USD exchange rate at 22,429 VND/USD on July 24, down 3 VND from the end of last week.

With the current /- 3 percent VND/USD trading band, the ceiling exchange rate is 23,102 VND per USD and the floor rate is 21,756 VND per USD. 

Major commercial banks kept their rates stable at the opening hours.

Vietcombank offered 22,700 VND (buying) and 22,770 VND (selling), per USD, unchanged from the end of last week.

BIDV also posted the same rates as Vietcombank’s, with 22,700 VND (buying) and 22,770 VND (selling), per USD, also unchanged from the end of last week.

Techcombank kept its buying and selling rates unchanged from July 21 at 22,685 VND and 22,780 VND.

Australia partially ends probe against Vietnam’s zinc coated steel

The Anti-Dumping Commission (ADC) under the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science of Australia has announced the partial rescission of its anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigation on Vietnamese zincs coated (galvanised) steel. 

Among the countries under the ADC’s probe, which also looked into zincs coated steel imported from India and Malaysia, only Vietnam gets the partial termination. 

According to the Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT), the ADC concluded that Vietnamese galvanised steel producers and exporters received countervailable subsidies from the Government during the investigation period but the subsidies never exceeded the negligible level.

Therefore, the ADC decided to terminate the anti-subsidy investigation against all Vietnamese galvanised steel producers and exporters. 

Besides, the commission will not give any recommendations about subsidies for Vietnam in its final report to the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science. 

The investigation also found that two out of the three Vietnamese producers and exporters who fully cooperated with Australian investigators had the dumping range lower than the minimal level. Hence, the commission has terminated the investigation into the two companies.

The MoIT said that, the Australian commission took into account complaints from concerned parties, the statement of essential facts (SEF), comments relating to the SEF and information it received from the investigation process to make the decision. 

Parties may seek a review of the decision by lodging an application with the Anti-Dumping Review Panel within 30 days of publication of the notice.-

DOC stops anti-dumping investigation against VN polyester fibre

The US Department of Commerce (DOC) has announced the termination of anti-dumping investigation on polyester fibre imported from Vietnam.

Earlier, on June 20, DOC officially initiated the investigation on polyester fibre imported from Vietnam, China, India, the Republic of Korea and Taiwan (China) based on petitions filed by DAK Americas LLC; Nan Ya Plastics Corporation, and Augira Polymers. 

The plaintiffs alleged that polyester staple fibre products are being shipped to the US at prices lower than their normal value. In addition, dumping has caused significant damage to the domestic industry due to price depression.

The scope of these investigations covers fine denier polyester staple fibre, not carded or combed, measuring less than 3.3 decitex in diameter, coded HS: 5503.20.0025.

The withdrawal of the lawsuit was requested for only Vietnam, and the investigation still continues with China, India, the Republic of Korea and Taiwan (China).

According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Vietnam exported about 13,000 tonnes of fine denier polyester staple fibre with an estimated 12.4 million USD to the US in 2016, ranking third behind China (79.4 million USD) and India (14.7 million USD).

Taiwan expo to showcase green technologies

Environmentally friendly technologies will be showcased at Taiwan Expo 2017 at the Saigon Exhibition and Convention Centre in district 7 from July 26-28.

With the theme of Greener Tech – Smarter Life, the exhibition will bring opportunities for stronger business ties between Vietnam and Taiwan.

As many as 150 Taiwanese exhibitors operating in the fields of agriculture, fishing, health, employment, food processing, tourism and education are scheduled to take part in the event.

At the exhibition, many workshops related to trade promotion and green energy development as well as other issues will organised.

Vietnam imports many products from Taiwan, including machines and equipment for production.

By the end of May, Taiwan has had 2,526 investment projects worth 32.4 billion USD in Vietnam.

Bac Lieu reviews FAO-funded project on shrimp farming

A FAO-funded project has identified the causes of shrimp breeding failure in Soc Trang and Bac Lieu province, it was reported at a seminar held by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of southern Bac Lieu province on July 21. 

The project, began in 2016, was a joint effort of the Soc Trang and Bac Lieu departments of agriculture and rural development, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Research Institute for Aquaculture No.2. 

Participating scientists and specialised engineers attributed shrimp breeding failure to dramatic changes in the local environment as a consequence of climate change, poor investment in pond’s conditions and equipment, and farmers’ lack of knowledge and expertise. 

Based on the finding, the project has helped 20 farming households pilot a sustainable shrimp breeding model through providing them with shrimp fry and training in farming techniques. As a result, they have earned higher incomes and gradually mastered technological application. 

Speaking at the event, FAO chief representative in Vietnam Jong Ha-bae said FAO will work with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s agenciesto work out advanced shrimp farming models adaptive to climate change in order to ensure farmers’ livelihoods and protect the environment, contributing to the sustainable development of the shrimp sector.

Conference promotes tourism in Ha Giang

A conference to promote tourism in the northern province of Ha Giang took place in Ho Chi Minh City on July 21. 

Speaking at the event, Director General of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism Nguyen Van Tuan said tourists to Ha Giang could enjoy pristine and impressive natural landscapes, and the special culture of the northwestern plateau. It is also home to unique heritages of the nation and the world. 

In order to develop local tourism, he urged joint efforts of the provincial authorities and tour operators at home and abroad.

Nguyen Van Son, Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee, said tourist arrivals in the province grow nearly 32.5 percent on average each year. 

He called on domestic and foreign investors to engage in tourism projects in the province and committed all possible support to them. 

Tran The Dung, Director of a Ho Chi Minh City-based travel agency, said the province should further tap existing adventure tours at Tu San mountain, and tour route of Gam river, Bac Me and Hoang Su Phi terraced field. 

He suggested extending road from the National Highway 4C to Lung Khuy village which is home to a pristine stone cave with strange-looking shapes. 

Statistics from the provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism showed that nearly 470,000 people visited Ha Giang in the first half, 85,000 of them were foreigners. The total revenue surpassed 417.8 billion VND ( USD) in the period, up 11.2 percent annually. 

The province now has two outbound travel agencies and five others specialised in domestic tours. 

On the occasion, the tourism associations of Hanoi, Ha Giang, Ho Chi Minh City and Ba Ria-Vung Tau, inbound and outbound travel agents signed an agreement to promote local tourism.-

Conference seeks ways to improve tourism services

Representatives of over 200 tourism businesses attended a conference on improving management of tourism operations on July 21 in Ho Chi Minh City. 

Vietnam served more than 6.2 million foreign tourists in the first six months of the year, up 30.2 percent against last year, and 40.7 million domestic travellers, said Nguyen Van Tuan, Director General of Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) at the event, which was co-held by the VNAT and Vietnam Tourism Association.

Tuan added that Vietnam raked in 254.7 trillion VND ( 11.2 million USD) from tourism, a year-on-year increase of 27.1 percent. 

Towards the goal of 13 million international visitors in 2017, the country needs to enhance tourism quality and services by checking and reshuffling tourism activities, he noted.

The Director General suggested travel agencies and hospitality establishments should proactively take measures to upgrade service quality for the development of tourism as a key economic sector, adding that the Administration will continue inspecting and withdrawing star-standard certifications of disqualified hotels.

It will work with local authorities to organise inspections of tourism sites and travel agents in the time ahead, he noted.  

Vu The Binh, Vice Chairman of Vietnam Tourism Association, suggested that it is necessary to give training to tour guides on the 2017 Tourism Law as well as professional skills. 

He added that the Association will coordinate with the VNAT to provide businesses with latest update on tourism management policies and the Tourism Law.

Vietnam, Indonesia agree to lift two-way trade to 10 billion USD

Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue and Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla agreed to the aim of lifting two-way trade to 10 billion USD during a meeting in Jakarta on July 21. 

The two leaders vowed to actively seek opportunities for economic cooperation towards the goal, and at the same time continue stepping up national defence-security ties through maintaining joint working group of the two navies, accelerating the launch of a hotline, organising joint activities in search and rescue towards conducting joint patrols at sea. 

They also agreed that the two countries will accelerate negotiations for the early signing of an agreement on demarcation of their exclusive economic zones and an MoU on marine and fishery cooperation. 

Both sides committed to working closely together to strengthen solidarity and internal unity of ASEAN and to maintain consensus and ASEAN’s central role in regional issues, the East Sea issue and at regional and global forums.

They agreed to enhance cooperation to maintain peace, stability, security, maritime and aviation safety and freedom in the East Sea.

Vice President Jusuf Kalla affirmed that Indonesia supports Vietnam in successfully fulfilling its role as Chair of APEC 2017. 

At the ASEAN Secretariat headquarters, the Vietnamese Deputy PM said ASEAN has recorded significant achievements in maintaining its central role and has become an important forum for Southeast Asia and related countries to hold dialogue for the common goal of preserving peace, stability and sustainable development of the region, while providing support for its member countries. 

He affirmed that Vietnam considers ASEAN the foundation of and one of the top priorities in its external policy and vows to work closely with member states to successfully build the ASEAN Community on all the three political, economic and socio-cultural pillars and strengthen the bloc’s central role in the region. 

The Vietnamese government is taking a range of measures to effectively implement contents set in the ASEAN Vision 2025, towards a resilient and people-centred grouping of comprehensive growth, he said. 

The ASEAN Secretary-General spoke highly of Vietnam’s active contributions to ASEAN since it joined the bloc in 1995, including its role in the formulation of the bloc’s major documents such as the ASEAN Charter 2007, the Hanoi Declaration on ASEAN Vision 2020, the ASEAN Community Vision 2025, blueprints for the bloc’s pillars and other important agreements. 

He pledged to coordinate with Vietnam in the implementation of the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025 and the third-stage working plan for the ASEAN Integration Initiative. 

In the evening the same day, Deputy PM Vuong Dinh Hue left Indonesia for Australia and New Zealand.

Angel investor network incubates startups in central region

An Angel investor network was launched by Songhan Incubator on July 21 in Da Nang city, aiming to incubate startups in the central region. 

On the occasion, Songhan Incubator inaugurated an incubator area where startup enterprises work and organise workshops, events and training programmes.

Director of Songhan Incubator Ly Dinh Quan said the centre has actively participated in startup support activities since it was established in January this year, significantly contributing to forming startup ecosystems nationwide. 

The centre is a member of the Vietnam Angel Investor Network (iAngel), which provides financial support and consultation for startup units, Quan noted. 

Songhan Incubator aims to promote cooperation and knowledge links among startup organisations and experts, and scientists and technologists, towards incubating entrepreneurial talents and creating high-quality startup projects, contributing to Vietnam’s creative development and renovation. 

It also provides start-up ecosystem development consultations for many provinces and cities, enterprises and other incubators, while implementing the Vietnam Tourism Startup 2017 programme which targets renovation and creativity-applied tourism startup projects. 

Meanwhile, iAngel, operated by experienced managers in Vietnam’s startup circle, is looking to build a strong community with angel investors for joint investment deals. 

The network receives technical assistance of the three leading start-up support programmes, including the Vietnam-Finland Innovation Partnership Programme 2 (IPP2), the Mekong Business Initiative (MBI) and the Swiss EP Startup Support Programme.

Binh Thuan looks to expand VietGap dragon fruit area

A conference discussing ways to expand the area of dragon fruit meeting Vietnamese Good Agricultural Practice (VietGAP) standards in the central Binh Thuan province was held in the locality on July 21. 

According to the provincial People’s Committee, Binh Thuan has more 27,000 ha of dragon fruit (up 135 ha compared to the end of 2016), with a total productivity of 277,000 tonnes per year. The area of dragon fruit meeting VietGAP standards accounts for 28.27 percent or 7,680 ha. 

The VietGap dragon fruit cultivation model in Binh Thuan is practised by over 9,000 local farmers, who have formed 382 cooperatives and farms.

In the first six months of this year, 75 cooperatives and farmers’ groups were assessed and granted with VietGAP certificates, with a total area of 1,442 ha, including 1,100 ha being re-certified. 

Participants to the conference said the cultivation of dragon fruit in line with VietGAP standards has contributed to changing farming practices of local farmers, thus improving the quality and prestige of the products as well as promoting export.

However, the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development said the expansion of VietGAP cultivation area is slow, with less farmers seeking re-certification. The department attributed this to the fact that few enterprises are interested in purchasing safe dragon fruits, while local authorities failed to pay adequate attention to promoting the production model. 

Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Pham Van Nam asked the local agriculture sector to cooperate with relevant sectors to raise public awareness of the importance of producing clean farm products, including dragon fruit. 

He also urged the sector to work with the provincial Department of Industry and Trade and the Association of Dragon Fruit to build production chains, and encourage enterprises to cooperate with cooperatives in selling VietGap-dragon fruits.

Binh Thuan dragon fruit is exported to 20 countries and territories, including demanding markets like the US and Europe.

The locality aims to have 9,700 ha of dragon fruit meeting VietGAP standards.

Vietnam exports 2.66 mln tonnes of rice in first half

Vietnam exported nearly 2.66 million tonnes of rice in the first half this year with free-on-board value of 1.65 billion USD, reported the Vietnam Food Association. 

The figures were up 0.25 percent in volume and 1.85 percent in value, respectively. 

The growth was attributed to increased demand and limited supply. Notably, japonica rice export saw the highest increase by around 300 percent year-on-year, accounting for 4.57 percent of Vietnam’s total rice export compared to around 1 percent in late 2015. 

Japonica rice was shipped mostly to Australia, making up 5.24 percent of market share. 

However, Vietnamese rice was predominantly delivered to Asia (about 70 percent), including China (43.8 percent), the Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore. 

Premium white rice, glutinous and broken rice shipments also went up 34 percent, 51 percent and 127 percent, respectively. 

Among exported rice in the six months, jasmine rice made up 28.8 percent, followed by premium white rice (28.6 percent). 

As of June 30, 1.46 million tonnes of rice were registered for export but yet to be delivered, roughly 490,000 tonnes of which will be shipped to Cuba, Malaysia and Bangladesh.

Central Highland localities see 14 percent rise in tourism revenue

Central Highlands localities have welcomed nearly 1.9 million visitors since early this year, a rise of 9 percent year on year, with tourism revenue of over 2.9 trillion VND (127.57 million USD), up 14 percent.

Lam Dong was the most popular destination for tourists in the region, attracting 78.34 percent of total visitors to the whole region, according to the Steering Committee for Tay Nguyen (Central Highlands) Region.

Lam Dong has designed diverse tourism products such as mountain and lake exploration, adventurous tourism, and agricultural tourism.

Dak Lak province came second in the number of tourists, thanks to unique attractions such as elephant riding, rowing a dugout canoe in Lak River, Don Village, and gong performance by ethnic minority artists.

Along with promoting its strength in diverse terrain and rich culture heritage of ethnic minority groups, the Central Highlands region is also investing in building tourist sites and expanding transportation system serving tourism.

Currently, the Lien Khuong international airport in Lam Dong has been operational with a capacity of more than 2 million passengers per year. It is serving 27 flights each day.

The region is also actively promoting its tourism sector through coordination with media and travel agencies at home and abroad.

However, the Steering Committee for Central Highland Region assessed that tourism revenue still modest. The committee suggested that regional localities develop new and unique tourism products in agriculture, forestry and culture, while fostering regional connectivity to attract more visitors.


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