Vietnam’s furniture exports are expected to rise 10 percent to US$3 billion in 2010, following slight declines this year, an industry official said.
Nguyen Ton Quyen, secretary general of the Vietnam Timber and Forest Products Association, was quoted by the Vietnam Economic Times as saying that local exporters have begun to receive more orders for 2010, especially from the US, “the most important market for Vietnamese wood products.”
Despite many difficulties, including price drops, furniture exports are still expected to reach $2.7 billion this year, down only $100 million from 2008, Quyen said.
Although the estimate is lower than a full-year target of $3 billion, Quyen said it was still much better than the declines of up to 15 percent earlier this year.
However, Quyen warned that local exporters could face a lot of new challenges next year as many markets try to set higher quality standards on Vietnamese wood products.
Last year, Vietnam’s wood industry missed its target for the first time in eight years as its exports totaled only $2.8 billion against a target of $3.2 billion.
Sugar, cane prices up in delta as demand soars
Sugar companies and distributors are scrambling to buy sugarcane to meet the annual surge in demand for sugar during Tet, pushing up sugarcane prices in the Mekong Delta.
The prices have risen to VND850-900 a kilogram, with some sugar mills even paying a record price of VND1,000.
Middlemen have rushed to Hau Giang, Soc Trang, and Tra Vinh Provinces, where the harvest is reaching its peak, to buy cane.
Truong Van Hien, a farmer in Hiep Hung Commune, Hau Giang Province, said: “Sugarcane prices have never been so high. The higher the prices, the more the brokers buy.”
Le Van Dang, head of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in Soc Trang Province’s My Tu District, said most of the better-quality cane has been sold out and buyers are now fighting over sugarcane that has yet to ripen.
With prices trending upward and dealers frantically scouring the area for cane, farmers are less than eager to sell their crop and are waiting for higher prices, he added.
Pham Hong Van, head of the Agriculture and Rural Development Department of Cu Lao Dung District, said, dealers have competed energetically for sugarcane as they have flocked to farms to buy in many forms right after 7,300 hectares of sugarcane had just been harvested.
Nguyen Thanh Long, general director of the Can Tho Sugarcane Company, said at current prices farmers enjoy an average profit of VND50-60 million (US$2,700-3,240) a hectare, with some in Hau Giang Province earning up to VND100 million.
Sugar prices have also jumped. Wholesale prices currently range from VND15,000 to 16,000 a kilogram and retail prices are around VND17,000, the highest so far this year.
Mr. Long attributed the rise to supply being less than demand. Confectionary companies need sugar to make sweets for Tet in February 2010 while sugar mills in the central and Central Highlands regions have yet to begun processing sugar though the season is a few months old due to the recent typhoons and northern-based companies will start production in late November.
Import of sugar from Thailand has also fallen, he added.
According to the Vietnam Sugarcane and Sugar Association (VSSA), sugar prices will drop in the next few days when companies in the central and northern regions begin production. But they are not expected to fall below VND14,000-15,000.
VSSA said stabilizing cane and sugar prices and preventing a mad scramble during harvest remains a problem.
Half the sugarcane harvested has been bought by middlemen who wield a huge influence on prices, it admitted.
Sugar companies confess they are unable to set up a system to buy sugarcane directly from farmers due to a shortage of staff and vehicles, and are, therefore, dependent on brokers.
Vo Thanh Dang, VSSA chairman, said companies should discuss prices and crop schedules with middlemen for mutual benefit but admitted it is unwieldy because there are so many middlemen.
Vietnam to import 6 tons gold this month
Vietnam will import 6 tons of gold this month, state broadcaster VTV said on Thursday, after the central bank last week lifted a ban on imports to stabilize an overheating market.
So far, 1.5 tons had been imported, 500 kg each by Sacombank, ACB and Eximbank.
Saigon Jewellery Corp will import 1 ton, and 500 kg being imported by Agribank Jewellery Company will arrive in a few days, the VTV 1 Financial bulletin said.
Vincom said to raise $100 million from convertible bond sale
Vincom Joint-Stock Co., Vietnam’s second-biggest listed property company, raised $100 million from the country’s first overseas sale of convertible bonds, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The 6 percent notes have a 5 percent conversion premium, said the person, who asked not to be named as they’re not authorized to discuss the matter.
Credit Suisse Group AG managed the sale, the person said.
Hanoi makes it easy to establish a new business
A new business can be established with a maximum of nine days in Hanoi from Tuesday (November 17, 2009), instead of the 30 days it takes at present.
The announcement was made Monday by the deputy director of the capital city’s Department of Planning and Investment, Nguyen Van Tu.
Under a decision recently issued by the Hanoi People’s Committee, selected staff from the planning and investment department, tax agency and the police will gather at the department’s business registration office to deal with applications for establishing a new business.
With this arrangement, businesses don’t have to spend time running around to complete all necessary procedures, Tu told Thanh Nien.
The department has also proposed adequate compensation for the staff so that they do not solicit bribes or engage in other actions that cause difficulties to businesses, he added.
The government is making several efforts to streamline administrative procedures that have been criticized as time-consuming and too complicated. However, many failings found in the 2001-2010 administrative reform program has prompted the National Assembly to directly oversee it next year.
Vietnam-China border regions strengthen cooperative ties
Cooperation between border regions of Vietnam and China has helped improve living conditions for inhabitants and boost the socio-economic development of both sides, said Deputy Prime Minister Pham Gia Khiem.
Mr Khiem made the remarks at a conference held in Hanoi on Nov. 20 to review the economic corridor cooperation between Hanoi, Lao Cai, Hai Phong and Quang Ninh of Vietnam and Yunnan of China.
Participants said that cooperation among these localities brought about positive and comprehensive results in various fields, particularly in trade, investment and services despite adverse impact of the global financial crisis and economic downturn.
At present, Yunnan province has 57 businesses operating in Vietnam with a total investment capital of US$115 million. Two-way trade turnover via Lao Cai-Hekou border gate was estimated at US430 million in 2009. The Chairman of Yunnan province said that Vietnamese localities have become Yunnan’s second largest trade partner.
Recently, Hanoi granted 7 Yunnan businesses licenses to set up representative offices in the city. Also, four commercial banks in Lao Cai province were allowed to provide international payment services to commercial banks in Yunnan province.
In addition, Vietnam-China border regions have effectively cooperated in other fields, such as transport, tourism, culture and education. Some key traffic routes are being developed, including the Hanoi-Lao Cai, Noi Bai-Ha Long, and Mong Duong-Mong Cai highways. A Vietnam-China bridge crossing the Red River is being built, while maritime transport of goods on the Kunming-Quang Ninh-Hai Phong route has been strengthened.
Nguyen Huu Van, Chairman of the Lao Cai provincial People’s Committee, said that once the traffic network on the economic corridor route is completed, trade and investment cooperation between Vietnam and China will be further accelerated.
In the future, border regions between the two countries will focus on trade and investment promotion, tourism development, transport investment, cultural exchange, healthcare services, epidemic prevention, agricultural development and cooperation in social issues.
Vietnam chairs ASEAN Bankers Association
Vietnam officially assumed the presidency of the ASEAN Bankers Association (ABA) for the 2009-2011 term at the 39th meeting of the association in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on November 19-20.
At the event, Pham Huy Hung, Chairman of VietinBank and the President of the Vietnam Banks Association, affirmed that Vietnam will try its utmost to contribute to ABA’s sustainable development and push ABA and ASEAN activities harmoniously to meet the goal of building a successful ASEAN Community by 2015.
Mr. Hung pointed out that ABA always heightens the objective of seeking opportunities and creating conditions for all member banks to develop strongly and dynamically.
The meeting drew the participation of 10 members of association, representatives of finance organisations and senior officials of the Cambodian Government.
Established in 1976, ABA had only five members, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. The association has developed strongly after admitting the last five ASEAN members: Brunei, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos.
HCM City hosts Food and Drink Expo 2009
Food and Drink Expo 2009 opened at the International Fair Exhibition Centre, Ho Chi Minh City, on November 20.
The expo attracted 150 businesses, displaying vegetables, fruit, confectionary, dairy products and drinks, as well as modern equipment and advanced processing technologies on over 200 stands.
Within the framework of the expo, seminars and forums on safe food were also held to promote good health.
The event is organised by HCM City’s Department of Industry and Trade in coordination with the Food and Foodstuff Association of HCM City. It is in response to the Party Political Bureau’s ongoing campaign “Vietnamese consumers use Vietnamese goods”.
Foreign telecoms keen on long-term cooperation in Vietnam
Ericsson Vietnam ’s Deputy General Director, Denis Brunetti, has recognised the country as a promising market, citing an increasing influx of foreign investors in the industry as evidence, in an interview with Vietnam News Agency.
He also unveiled long-term investments in Vietnam with commitments to supply green technology for the domestic telecommunications industry to ensure sustainable growth and industrial expansion in harmony with society and the environment.
He said that the Vietnamese government’s vision for rural and remote areas and domestic suppliers of information technology and communications has given his company the confidence to adapt to green technologies.
Brunetti described the target set by Vinaphone of attracting 100,000 additional subscribers of 3G a week as a good decision by telecoms leader. He added that he made the evaluation based on his experience with Ericsson which has conered 49 percent of the global 3G market.
The country representative of ZTE, one of the five leading global equipment suppliers, Mao Cheng Yu, shared his view, saying “ Vietnam is leading the world in telecoms growth and is a market with enormous potential”.
He emphasised that the Government’s recent approval for launching 3G services was made at the right time when both suppliers and consumers are ready to take advantage of the services available and has opened up many major opportunities for foreign telecom businesses, including ZTE.
Also, ZTE has not missed the chance to become one of the top three 3G suppliers to Vinaphone and the military-run business Viettel, the two leading companies supplying the service in Vietnam .
Orange France Telecom Vietnam has also pointed out its long-term investment in the Southeast Asian country and its director’s ambitious commitments.
“One of our main targets is to become a strategic partner with a leading telecoms supplier in Vietnam,” said country director Jacques Fulcrant.
Statistics released by the Vietnam Post and Telecommunications Group (VNPT) show that Vietnam has emerged as the fastest-growing IT market in the world.
As of late October, the country has over 99 million mobile telephone subscribers, some 6.7 million internet subscribers and almost 22 million internet users, representing nearly 24.5 percent of the country’s population.
These achievements have been recognised by the International Telecommunications Union in its annual report-2008.
Vietnam, Mozambique boost agricultural co-operation
Mozambique has great potential for cooperation with Vietnam in rice cultivation and the growing of rubber trees, cotton and cashews.
The information was released at a seminar on agricultural cooperation with Mozambique in its city of Maputo held by the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and relevant agencies in Mozambique.
Participants in the seminar spoke highly of Mozambique’s potential in aquaculture, fisheries and seafood processing which are also Vietnam’s strengths. They agreed to facilitate the participation of their enterprises and localities in cooperation and investment in those fields.
The Vietnamese delegation to the seminar, headed by Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Diep Kinh Tan, was briefed on the policies on investment and foreign workers, the soil conditions and the climate of Mozambique. They shared experiences in agricultural production and planning and the growing of industrial crops and trees, as well as Vietnam’s policies on human resources to serve agricultural development.
On November 17, the Vietnamese Embassy in Mozambique and the Mozambique Chamber of Commerce and Industry jointly held a “Vietnam-Mozambique Business Meeting” to help businesses from the two countries exchange information and seek partners.
Construction of first LPG warehouse starts
Construction of the country’s first cold LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) warehouse started on November 19 at the Thi Vai gas complex in Cai Mep industrial zone in the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau.
The warehouse with a design capacity of 60,000 tonnes of cold LPG will be built at a cost of VND2.5 trillion (US$138.8 million).
According to the Vietnam Gas Corporation, the project, which is expected to be completed in late 2012, will help stabilise domestic demand for gas.
Construction work is being carried out by the Vietnam Oil and Gas Construction Corporation and the Daewoo Engineering Co. Ltd.