Business leaders less positive in 2012
Two-thirds of business leaders believe business conditions in Vietnam have deteriorated, according to The Nielsen Vietnam.
The online survey The Nielsen Business Barometer survey last week released stated that over 30 per cent of firms believed their situation would deteriorate, while 36 per cent expected conditions to remain the same in the next 6-12 months.
Of which, global economic crisis was in the top five concerns. The lingering instability in Europe, North America and the growth challenges facing Vietnam brought back a cautious outlook among business leaders and consumers.
Inflation is still a burning concern of businesses with over 59 per cent business leaders.
Competitive pressures, the dong devaluation and wages growth are also listed in top concerns of business leaders with 41, 41 and 24 per cent, respectively. The latest round of the Business Barometer survey also reveals that companies achieved their business targets for 2011, but did not perform better relative to 2010.
“Leaders will continue to invest in advertising and expanding businesses in 2012, but will do so with even more caution than in past years,” stated the report. Business leaders expect Vietnamese consumers to continue to purchase with promotions, but also cut back on ‘non-essential’ items as well.
Leaders recognised that consumers were becoming more discriminate and have an allotment of choices. Therefore, price increases must be carefully planned. Furthermore, more than half of those surveyed said they would look at improving productivity as a solution to inflation.
As highlighted in the Nielsen Vietnam Business Barometer survey, leaders will need to carefully look at the cost and pricing strategy, maximise growth opportunities unique to Vietnam and continually engage with the ever-changing Vietnamese consumer.
Seafood test procedures need rethink
Testing practices of seafood exporters should be modified to meet standards and to improve the quality of products, said Viet Nam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP).
The association proposed to socialise testing activities in order to satisfy increasing demand and to maintain food safety, by moving the testing phase forward from the exported consignments to the raw material.
This step was necessary because existing food safety policies on seafood exports have resulted in a loss of time and money for exporters, said VASEP deputy general secretary Nguyen Hoai Nam.
Testing fees for finished-seafood products before export have almost doubled. Exporters must spend seven to 10 days procuring the samples for testing and implementing administrative procedures to control food safety.
Nam said the testing fee is on average between VND5 million (US$238) and VND15 million ($714) for each container of the product. Seafood exporters must pay VND1-4 billion ($47,600-190,400) each year for one testing company’s services, even if they run the tests themselves.
Each year, the fisheries sector exports 1.2 million tonnes of seafood products. If 20 per cent of that export volume is tested, the sector must spend a huge sum of money on testing activities, Nam said.
VASEP general secretary Truong Dinh Hoe said the National Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Quality Assurance Department (Nafiqad) should study the food safety controls for seafood products used by the EU and the US. Not only do they represent key export markets for Vietnamese seafood products, but they also have strict policies that govern the choice of raw material, processing and export procedures and packaging standards, Hoe said.
Ensuring food safety from the early stages would be more efficient than tests on export consignments, which can only screen for certain strains of bacteria, he added.
Seafood exporters fettered by capital shortage
Seafood processors say they may not meet the target of earning US$6.5 billion in export turnover this year because they lack capital to buy materials for production.
Duong Ngoc Minh, general director of Hung Vuong Corporation, said he was worried that this year’s export target of the seafood industry might be difficult to achieve.
“There are up to 95 percent of seafood firms borrowing money to buy materials and cover production costs, and if banks continue to tighten credit as at present, this target is hard to achieve,” Minh said.
The volume of exports to major markets such as Europe and the US has showed signs of declining due to economic woes.
Truong Dinh Hoe, general secretary of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (Vasep), said the export target for tra fish alone was $2 billion.
To achieve it, seafood firms need up to 1.3 million tons of tra fish materials for processing, but in reality the amount of tra fish has also dropped considerably as farmers lack investment capital.
Firms have found it hard to gain access to bank loans because of the remaining outstanding loans being taken out in previous years, and thus banks have suspended new loans for tra fish firms to minimize risks, Hoe explained.
The lack of materials forced the seafood industry to import seafood materials worth $500 million to produce products for export last year.
The total seafood export volume was over 1.5 million tons last year. Output of white-legged shrimp and tra fish totaled 200,000 tons and 1.3 million tons respectively, helping Vietnam obtain around $6.12 billion in export revenue with a year-on-year increase of 21 percent.
The seafood export this year will increase by 6.5 percent compared to last year if the turnover target of $6.5 billion is realized.
Property market waits on lower interest rates
The real estate market will only recover when loan interest rates decline, a seminar heard in HCM City last Saturday.
Speaking at an event hosted by Vietstock Communications, Dr Le Xuan Nghia, vice chairman of the National Financial Supervision Committee, said though the Government’s efforts to curb inflation have yielded results, banks’ interest rates have not dropped significantly.
Prof Dr Dang Hung Vo, a former deputy minister of natural resources and environment, said the real estate market would continue to face a shortage of capital this year.
The sector should not have high expectations of foreign investment since foreign investors would only invest when they see property prices drop sharply, he warned.
Both Nghia and Vo agreed however that there was unlikely to be a situation where property developers sold on the cheap.
Vo explained away the steep price cuts made by some developers as being due to the poor location of their projects.
The tight monetary policy and oversupply in some segments have forced property investors to cut prices, but this was not a widespread occurrence, Nghia said.
Many people are still holding out for high prices, so foreign investors consider Vietnamese property prices high, he said.
Speaking about possible development opportunities this year, Vo said the market could improve in the third quarter when banks’ liquidity problems are expected to partially ease and credit would again begin to flow into it.
The Government has given priority to restructuring the monetary and banking sectors, and already approved the national housing development strategy from now through 2020, he said, referring to the need for more housing to be developed under the strategy.
Nghia predicted the low-priced housing segment to recover first, by mid-2012 at the earliest.
Project to star in Halong Bay
Limitless World Vietnam recently received an amended investment certificate for its $550 million Halong Star hotel project in northern Vietnam.
According to the Quang Ninh People’s Committee, the project’s schedule was extended until 2015, four years later than its previous certificate.
Vuong Duc Lanh, chairman of Viet My-Halong Company – the domestic partner in Limitless World Vietnam, said the amended investment certificate would help investors kick-off the project again.
“We are actively doing the legal investment procedures to lease land from Quang Ninh People’s Committee within the first quarter of 2012,” Lanh said.
Lanh said Limitless had received financial commitments from international and domestic bankers who would finance the project. The Halong Star hotel project got underway in 2007 as a joint venture between Limitless, an affiliate of Dubai World, Viet-My Ha Long Joint Stock Company and the International Property Investment Partners LLC.
It had total investment capital of $220 million and ground-breaking took place in 2008. The total registered investment capital then was increased to $550 million in 2009 and the third partner the International Property Investment Partners LLC transferred its minor stake to the Vietnamese partner.
However, in 2009 Dubai World was burnt by the global crisis and it had to halt all projects worldwide to restructure $26 billion in debt that mostly affected its property affiliates, Nakheel and Limitless. In 2010, Limitless announced that it had fixed all financial problems and continued the project. However, the company must propose for amended investment certificate after three years’ delay.
Halong Star is a high-end and low density development near world heritage recognised Halong Bay.
Located 200 metres above the bay, it will comprise a 250-room, five-star hotel with a 500-seat conference centre, a 100-room luxury boutique hotel, more than 230 villas, and hundreds of townhouses and apartments for up to 4,000 residents and many public facilities.
According to the new timeline, villas and semi-detached houses and a four-star hotel will be finished in 2014, while others such as a five and six-star hotel, clubs and multi-function facilities will be finished in 2015.
VN to limit salt imports to 102,000t
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has asked the Ministry of Industry and Trade to limit import quotas for salt throughout 2012 to only 102,000 tonnes in a bid to support domestic salt production.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) Diep Kinh Tan said a 102,000-tonne quota for salt imports was in line with the country’s World Trade Organisation (WTO) commitments, adding Viet Nam only needed to import high-quality salt for use by some processing industries.
The ministry has forecast that this year the country’s total salt supply will reach 1.52 million tonnes, including locally-produced salt, stockpiled salt and imported salt. Meanwhile, salt consumption is estimated to stand at around 1.45 million tonnes. As a result, salt supply will exceed demand by 70,000 tonnes.
This year, around 2,000 tonnes of salt will be used by the health care sector and 51,000 tonnes is needed for production of chemicals.
Under the country’s commitment to the WTO, Viet Nam is allowed to import 191,000 tonnes of salt under a tariff quota that can increase by a maximum of 5 per cent per year.
Tan said this year the ministry predicted the volume of locally-produced industrial salt would reach 280,000 tonnes. Therefore, MARD would ask the Ministry of Industry and Trade to instruct chemical manufacturers to work out their production plans in order to ensure supplies of enough quality salt for them.
In addition, MARD asked the Ministry of Industry and Trade to supervise imports of salt to ensure it was used for production, not for local sales.
Those who violated the regulation would be fined by authorities, said Tan.
Value adding key to pepper trade
A comprehensive strategy to improve value addition of pepper products is needed if the country is to achieve the ambitious targets set by the Government, the Viet Nam Pepper Association has said.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has set targets of expanding the area under pepper to 150,000ha and exports of US$1 billion by 2015.
The country had 50,000ha under pepper and exported 120,000 tonnes worth $720 million last year.
The VPA said though Viet Nam accounted for 50 per cent of total global pepper exports, the value was much lower than it could be because the country’s export prices were much lower than others’.
VPA figures show that the price is often just 80 per cent of global prices. In 1993-1996 it was a mere 50 per cent.
The record prices the country got last year of $7,000 a tonne for black pepper and $10,000 for white pepper were still just 90 per cent of global rates.
VPA experts blamed this on the export of unprocessed pepper, revealing 70 per cent of Viet Nam’s exports was unprocessed.
Besides, Viet Nam exports its pepper using several layers of intermediaries before the spice reaches foreign consumers.
Other factors include the fact that most Vietnamese pepper producers and exporters do not invest in modern plants or post-harvest processing technologies.
They also do not bother to develop brand names, and as a result not many consumers know about Viet Nam’s products though the country accounts for half of all the world’s pepper.
Some companies like Phu Nhuan Services Joint Stock Company, Viet Nam Intimex Joint Stock Company and Ha Noi Export-Import Services and Production Company have pepper processing factories, but they only produce clean pepper and no other processed products.
An executive at a major pepper export company also said most Vietnamese pepper producers were unwilling to spend on processing equipment and plants of international standards since they required large amounts of money and lending interest rates are too high.
They were also wary because they had yet to get a firm foothold in the global market, he said.
The VPA said the strategy would have to focus on encouraging pepper producers to invest in processing technologies to improve value addition and build brand names for Vietnamese pepper products.
It also said export companies should hire capable marketing staff to promote Vietnamese pepper products at prices closes to world rates.
Trade centre steps up promotions
The Investment and Trade Promotion Centre (ITPC) in HCM City plans to work more actively with domestic and foreign organisations to promote its activities, Pho Nam Phuong, the centre’s director told at a meeting held yesterday in HCM City.
The ITPC has signed cooperation agreements with the city’s Department of Industry and Trade, Southern Airport Services Company (SASCO), Quang Trung Software City and Liberated Sai Gon newspaper to increase the number of trade promotions.
ITPC will work with the trade department to organise Vietnamese goods fairs and Tuan Le Ket Noi Thuong Hieu Viet (Viet Trademark Week) in an effort to put more locally made goods into the hands of small traders in traditional markets.
ITPC also continues its strategic cooperation with SASCO, the major investor of Viethaus, Viet Nam’s trade, culture and tourism promotion centre in Germany.
SASCO will provide the trade promotion centre with information on market demand and cooperation demands of its partners in Germany.
In it work with Quang Trung Software City Development Company, ITPC will organise training courses and business networking between domestic IT businesses and foreign investors.
ITPC will also strengthen cooperation with local associations and industries in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta and southeastern region to promote Vietnamese goods and expand production areas used for raw materials.
Phuong said exports and domestic sales were especially important for local businesses.
HCM City will focus on implementing export-promotion programmes in seven key markets: the US, Europe, Japan, China, Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos. The city will also eye potential markets, including the Philippines, Indonesia and Hong Kong.
For the US market, ITPC will organise business trips for enterprises in the sectors of household appliances, food, processed food, services and tourism. These trips will allow them to participate in fairs, build relationships with importers and conduct surveys.
Germany will be the key market in Europe this year, with companies participating in many furniture, handicraft, and interior decoration fairs there.
In addition, Vietnamese companies in food, processed food and the IT sector will have opportunities to meet buyers from Japan at trade fairs organised in Viet Nam and Japan.
In an aim to increase export turnover, Vietnamese consumer goods continue to be offered through fairs in Cambodia, China, Laos, and Myanmar. Vietnamese-made goods have become increasingly popular in these markets.
In the domestic market, ITPC will organise business match-making programmes for domestic enterprises to meet foreign buyers, especially in the sectors of food, furniture, handicraft, footwear, electricity-electronics, and textiles and garments.
In response to the campaign Vietnamese Give Priority to Use Vietnamese goods, ITPC will organise more trade fairs in suburbs, industrial parks, export processing zones and neighbouring provinces.
Phuong said HCM City was devoting more attention to developing a hi-tech and support industry as well as a creative industry.
As a result, the investment-promotion programmes will call on investment in these areas, including Internet City inside Sai Gon Hi-Tech Park, a forum on investing in IT and communications, as well as support-industry exhibitions.
At the meeting, Nguyen Thi Hong, deputy chairman of HCM City People’s Committee, has set a specific goal for ITPC this year “to increase the quality and effectiveness of investment and trade-promotion activities and the professionalizing of its operations.”
She said “it was important to be aware of the latest market information, handle it in a cautious way, and then inform businesses to help them identify and make appropriate plans in operations.”
Hong also recommended that ITPC work with the city’s 24 districts to organise business dialogues with state-management agencies to discuss solutions to problems.
Exporters find buyers online
Chinese business-to-business (B2B) giant Alibaba.com is helping more local exporters do business online, with up to 90 Vietnamese businesses actively filling export orders online via its site, OSB Investment and Technology Joint Stock Co deputy director Tran Dinh Toan told VNews.
According to Alibaba.com, the number of Vietnamese businesses registered with the site stood at 180,000 at the end of 2011, and online trading was an increasingly effective measure to help small- and medium-sized enterprises without opportunities to participate in international exhibitions compete with larger companies.
Alibaba had helped domestic companies target key markets in India, Bangladesh and Southeast Asia, giving them an introduction to foreign importers, said AVAS Trading and Production Joint Stock Co director Nguyen Thanh Tung.
Nguyen Gia Hung, a representative of Secoin Co, said the quality of users and internet service providers was poor when the company established a website in 1997. Traditional consumer habits remained popular, but that has since changed, he said.
HCM City-based Tan Hiep Phat Beverage Group has taken a leading position in landing export orders online. Vo Thu Nha, who is in charge of the group’s import and export operations, said the group received 150 orders from around the world every month via Alibaba.com. The internet had become a key part of the group’s strategy to bring its brand name to the world market, Nha said.
Bui Thi Kim Thuy of HTV Fisheries Ltd Co 404 said that, since joining Alibaba.com, her company had received considerable assistance from its representative in Viet Nam, helping HTV access foreign customers and build its online business experience and image. The company was receiving at least 10 online orders daily from customers in China, the Middle East and the EU, representing about 60 per cent of its turnover.
Nguyen Thi Hong Le of Dong A Plastics Co said the company had been receiving 30-40 orders per week since registering with Alibaba last August.
Importers have also benefited from using e-commerce. Dang Quang Vu of Hapro said his company had previously sought importers via trade fairs and exhibitions in Germany, the US and Hong Kong, but increasing competition from local rivals had pushed the company to seek new ways to find suppliers.
Toan said the coming year would see more businesses also applying business-to-customer (B2C) models of e-commerce, e.g, the Groupon model of allowing customers to download coupons online that can be used with local retailers.
Firms urged to file taxes electronically
Domestic businesses have been encouraged to implement internet-based invoicing systems to help save costs associated with printing invoices and processing payments, according to the General Department of Taxation.
The use of e-invoices have been welcomed by large-scale businesses while small- and medium-sized enterprises have voiced caution using such systems due to a lack of IT knowledge, reported the General Department of Taxation.
Vietnam Airlines representative Tran Thanh Hien said his company was one of the first to instigate online billing, after the company was permitted to issue e-invoices and e-air tickets by the Ministry of Finance.
Hien said the use of the e-billing system had created favourable conditions for customers to avoid losing their flight information, and to be able to retrieve it instantly through email. Using e-invoices helped businesses save costs on printing, delivering and storing paper invoices, which in turn simplified accounting procedures.
Using the e-invoice system, Vietnam Airlines last year posted nearly VND1.5 trillion (US$71.4 million) in revenue and issued about 400,000 invoices. This year sale revenue is expected to hit nearly VND2 trillion ($95.2 million), or 5 per cent of total company turnover.
Hien emphasised that most international airlines had developed web sites to sell online air tickets, posting revenue of nearly 20 per cent of their total sale revenue while domestic airlines accounted for only 4-5 per cent. Using e-billing systems would allow airlines to raise competitiveness with regional and international airlines, while helping customers.
Hien attributed the successful application of e-billing systems to the forethought of company leaders. Executives must be aware that the application of e-billing systems was crucial to improving service quality and raising competitiveness.
Deputy director of the General Department of Taxation Cao Anh Tuan said the tax department already assisted businesses in applying e-billing services at several State-run corporations. Banking, telecommunications, electricity and airline businesses had applied e-invoice systems to their operations and gained significant advantages, according to the department.
A lack of modern IT infrastructure may hinder small- and medium-sized enterprises from applying e-billing systems, and many have sought intermediary service suppliers to manage their data. By doing so, customers have expressed fear their personal information may be revealed, according to Hoang Quoc Khanh, director of Nacencom-Smartcard Technology Joint Stock Company.
Khanh said intermediary service suppliers needed to save essential data for authorised agencies only to validate the accuracy of information.
His company was one of few small- and medium-sized businesses who were now using e-billing, however his company already had IT infrastructure to implement the new system. Khanh said using e-billing brought many benefits to businesses, including avoiding fake bills and invoices and e-billing also provides convenient and instant billing services.
Hien Quan Electronics Corporation director Nguyen Van Tiep expressed concern about the application of e-billing systems and said the ability to use IT in small- and medium-sized businesses remained limited. He added that hiring intermediary service suppliers to back-up all data, including client bills, could become a barrier hindering businesses from using e-billing systems.
Deputy Director of the tax department Tuan said it was reported that around 50,000 businesses had begun printing their own invoices and added that the department would facilitate and encourage any businesses eligible to issue e-invoices, while the remainder of businesses remain on old systems.
According to Tuan, small- and medium-sized businesses should make their own printed invoices using computer software.
Life insurance market buoyant despite crisis
In the face of economic crisis, the life insurance sector still reaped benefits from foreign insurer contributions last year and is expected to continue its development in 2012.
Lam Hai Tuan, director general of ACE Life Viet Nam, said that the while the financial market would face many new impediments this year, correct exploitation and management could still see insurers grow.
The Vietnamese life insurance market looks promising due to only 5 per cent of the total population being dependent on it alongside strong economic growth and increasing demand.
According to the Association of Vietnamese Insurers, despite high inflation and interest rates, coupled with economic difficulties last year, the life insurance sector still reached a total premium value of VND16 trillion (US$762 million), a year-on-year increase of 17 per cent.
Phung Dac Loc, the association secretary general, explained the sector’s solid growth rate: “When the idle money of residents were made redundant and investment channels in the securities and property markets were unattractive, saving for the future generated conditions for life insurance market development.”
Spotting the potential, Italy’s General Life Insurance and Vietinbank Aviva Life Insurance, a joint venture between Vietinbank and the UK’s Aviva Group, tapped into the market last year.
There are currently 14 life insurance firms in Viet Nam and, except for Bao Viet Insurance, the only local company, the remainder is dominated by foreign-invested enterprises, assuring a balanced non-life insurance sector with foreign businesses accounting for about 41 per cent.
Experts said that foreign insurers had made a great contribution to the development of the general and life insurance markets.
“Looking back one decade, life insurance companies have mobilised great capital resources from residents to reinvest into the economy,” said Huynh Thanh Phong, executive director of the AIA Group in the region and chairman of the management board of AIA Viet Nam.
The development of the financial market depended on three pillars: banking, insurance and securities. International insurers played a significant role in the development of the Vietnamese insurance market, he said.
International life insurance firms reaped good results last year. For instance, Prudential Viet Nam got 1.8 million new deals with a total premium of VND1.45 trillion ($69 million).
AIA Viet Nam signed 592,000 contracts with a combined premium of VND426 billion ($20.3 million).
ACE Life Viet Nam inked more than 149,000 contracts with a total premium of VND67.3 billion ($3.03 million).
Dai-Ichi Life Viet Nam signed more than 487,000 contracts with a combined premium of VND460 billion ($21.9 million).
Rubber trade with China booms
Unofficial, small trade border transactions continue to flourish in Viet Nam’s rubber export to China although their number has fallen recently, industry insiders say.
Rubber demand and prices have increased in the first months of this year, and this has enabled Vietnamese enterprises to reduce their dependence on small-scale border transactions, said Dinh Van Tien, head of the Viet Nam Rubber Group’s Import-Export department.
Many Chinese firms were also choosing to import from companies making high quality products, he added.
Large companies with modern technology typically export their products to the U.S, EU, Japan, India and South Korea, Tien said.
“Official export is the best way to ensure long-term business and limit risks in payment,” he said.
Tran Thi Thuy Hoa, general secretary of the Viet Nam Rubber Association told the Sai Gon Tiep Thi (Sai Gon Marketing) newspaper that rubber export to China through small trade has fallen of late, with many members announcing they are now able to officially export rubber to Chinese partners.
Last year, as many as 165 of a total of 208 companies engaged in exporting rubber to China were dependent on small trade.
“We are focusing our production on long-term contracts,” said Huynh Tan Sieu, head of Binh Long Rubber Limited Company’s planning and investment department.
He said administrative procedures with Chinese traders at the Luc Lam Border Gate were very simple, but the same could not be said of Chinese trade policy.
Chinese authorities apply a tax of 25 per cent on official rubber imports but nothing for small trade transactions.
While Vietnamese enterprises would like to engage in bigger transactions, small trade was the preferred choice of Chinese enterprises, Sieu said.
“In fact, Chinese authorities can control this (informal trade) in a very short time. Then everything would become normal,” said Le Van Xuong, an official with the Binh Long Rubber Company.
The current situation offered no incentives for small companies to upgrade their technology because all their products can be sold through small trade,” he said.
Meanwhile, the General Customs Department reported that rubber exports to China in the first two months of the year declined 8.8 per cent compared to last December.
The department said it has recorded shipments of around 70,000 tonnes at US$2,746 per tonne.
China is the biggest importer of Vietnamese rubber importer, accounting for 62 per cent of exports.
Retailers offer discounts to clear out inventories
Many shops in HCM City, where sales was sluggish during the Lunar New Year, are offering discounts and freebies to clear their stocks, Nguoi Lao Dong (The Labourer) newspaper reported on Saturday.
The year’s biggest shopping season was a damp squib this year since the Lunar New Year followed the other shopping main season – Christmas and New Year – too closely and people remained wary of the economic downturn.
Some supermarkets have large volumes of garments and other fashion items piled up on their shelves, and have launched big clearance sales.
Shops on fashion streets like Hai Ba Trung, Cao Thang, and Nguyen Trai have announced discounts of up to 75 per cent.
Fashion brand Yes’s is offering freebies like a belt for the purchase of a dress, an overcoat for buying two dresses, and a dress for a receipt of VND3 million (US$144).
Many shops at malls like Parkson, Now Zone, and Tax Market have announced discount of 15-35 per cent.
Shopes selling electronic goods and household appliances, among the worst hit by the poor Tet sales, have launched many big promotions.
Thien Hoa Electronics Centre is offering gifts as well as discounts. Every purchase worth VND5.99 million ($288) will get a gift of a steam iron, while a House kettle is priced at just VND199,000 ($9.57), a Q Home electromagnetic cooker at VND499,000 ($24), and a full HD LCD 39″ television at VND6.99 million ($366).
Ideas Household Appliances and Electronics Centre has launched a programme called Tuan le gia soc (Shock price week) from February 24 to March 1, offering price cuts on certain products like TVs, refrigerators, and washing machines.
The promotions are not resulting in as much business as they had hoped for, many sellers admit.
Though the discounts offered post-Tet – in what is an annual phenomenon – this year are much more attractive compared to last year, consumers remain indifferent due to the difficult economic situation, they said.
Many consumers also have a mindset of waiting for deeper discounts that businesses may offer for the upcoming International Women’s Day, March 8.
A spokesperson for Zen Plaza shopping mall, where sales have been poor since the start of the year, confirmed that more big discounts are on the cards, especially during International Women’s Day.
City renews pledge to help businesses resolve difficulties
Le Hoang Quan, chairman of the HCM City People’s Committee, has reiterated his administration’s commitment to understanding and resolving difficulties facing businesses based in the nation’s commercial hub.
To this end, he has directed the heads of all municipal departments and districts to co-operate closely with each other in facilitating production and business activities as well as the consumption of goods.
They should also help the firms effectively tap the domestic market and strengthen their export base, he said at a meeting held yesterday to review the city’s socio-economic performance in the first two months of the year.
He said relevant offices should enhance the skills of the staff in charge of monitoring administrative procedures so that they can make proper assessments and suggest effective streamlining measures.
They should propose the cancellation of unreasonable or redundant procedures that were hindering production and commerce and disrupting people’s lives, he said.
Quan also reminded State-owned corporations and businesses to actively implement their restructuring plans, improve governing capacity as well as transparency.
He told them to focus on product quality and avoid investing in non-core business areas.
HCM City posted an estimated retail and service turnover of almost VND41 trillion (US$2 billion) in February, up 28 per cent compared to the same period in 2011. However, the figures marked a fall of 6.3 per cent from January, when the Lunar New Year was celebrated.
The retail and service turnover in the first two months of 2012 is pegged at VND84 trillion, up 18 per cent over last year’s corresponding period.
February’s export turnover is estimated at US$2 billion, up 7.2 per cent over January’s figure. Export figures for the first two months will be US$3.87 billion, up 5.6 per cent over the same period in 2011′.
This month, the city imported goods worth around US$1.99 billion, up 9.8 per cent, while the figure for the first two months was US$3.81 billion, up 9.4 per cent.
HCM City attracted 335,000 foreign tourists in February, up 8 per cent year on year, for a two-month total of 645,000, a 4 percent higher than the same period in 2011, fulfilling 17 per cent of this year’s target.
As of February 17, the city had issued licenses for 2,427 new businesses with a total registered capital of VND14.7 trillion, up 19 per cent in number, but down 13 per cent in registered capital.
Thirty-seven foreign investment projects with almost $34 million in registered capital had been licensed by February 20, up 5.7 per cent year-on-year in terms of the number of projects, but down 97 per cent in terms of capital.
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