Banking fees reduced for businesses providing transportation services
The National Payment Corporation of Vietnam (NAPAS) and the Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam (Vietcombank) on April 16 announced a COVID-19 discount programme for businesses providing transportation services.
From April 10 to December 31, NAPAS is offering free transactions and coordinating with Vietcombank to reduce up to 35 percent of fees for both electronic payments and support services.
Enterprises providing transportation services including Vietnam Airlines, Vietjet Air, Bamboo Airways and Vietnam Railways which pay fees through the NAPAS electronic payment gateway are eligible for exemptions or reduction of fees.
This is NAPAS’s third service discount programme in 2020 to share difficulties with businesses.
According to the General Statistics Office of Vietnam, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a big impact on transportation activities, of which passenger transport has been heavily affected with a year-on-year drop of 22.8 percent in March alone. The aviation and railway sectors recorded declines of 29 percent and 50 percent, respectively./.
Vietnam Airlines, Jetstar Pacific offer quality services on codeshare flights
Passengers will be able to enjoy four-star quality services when flying between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City on fights run by Jetstar Pacific as of April 16, according to a representative from national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines.
This standard of services is to apply to all customers who purchase Vietnam Airlines tickets and fly on flights operated in partnership with Jetstar Pacific.
Specifically, passengers who purchase Vietnam Airlines-Jetstar Pacific codeshare tickets between the two major cities will be able to enjoy the same four-star ground and air service standards.
These services include checking baggage weighing 23kg or 32kg for free depending on the passenger’s booking class, along with the ability to receive free drinks throughout the flight.
Between April 16 and June 30 Jetstar Pacific and Vietnam Airlines will be operating daily return flights between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City in the form of a codeshare partnership. The purpose of this mutually-beneficial relationship is to save on human resources and the costs for both airlines due to the negative impact caused by the novel coronavirus epidemic.
It is anticipated that these flights will comply with the most stringent of epidemic prevention regulations, with crew members taking steps to wear protective gear whilst passengers will be required to fill in health declaration forms, have their body temperature checked before boarding, and wear face masks throughout their journey.
For more information, passengers can visit the website and Facebook page of both Vietnam Airlines and Jetstar Airlines. Or, alternatively, they can call the customer care centre at 1900 1100 or 1900 1550, respectively.
Indonesia overtakes Japan to become world’s third-biggest aviation market
Indonesia has overtaken Japan to become the world’s third-biggest aviation market as airlines continue to reduce passenger capacity because of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to OAG Aviation Worldwide.
The country’s scheduled capacity is now 2.1 million seats, down 7.8 percent from last week, while Japan’s dropped nearly 15 percent.
Chinese capacity rose 7.2 percent to 8.7 million seats, making it the biggest market. The US has fallen nearly 27 percent to 8.2 million this week, data from OAG show.
OGA said a resilient domestic market has helped shield Indonesia to a degree, though its capacity is still down 33 percent from January’s third week.
Virus containment efforts are being stepped up in the country amid warnings that infections could climb to 95,000 by the end of next month from about 4,500 now.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo last week banned government employees from travelling during Ramadan and urged the public to avoid taking trips at the peak travel time in the world’s fourth-most populous nation./.
PV Power generates 200 billion kWh of electricity in 13 years
PetroVietnam Power Corporation (PV Power) has supplied 200 billion kWh to the national grid since it started operations 13 years ago, confirming its position as the top power supplier in the country.
PV Power currently operates seven power plants across the country with a total capacity of 4,205 MW. They include coal-fired and gas-fired power, and hydropower projects.
In recent years, with safe and efficient operations, PV Power has generated over 21 billion kWh for the national grid per year.
According to PV Power Deputy General Director Nguyen Duy Giang, with domestic fossil energy being increasingly exhausted and a decline in potential for hydroelectric development, PV Power has determined that its development strategy must be green, clean and sustainable.
Apart from power projects using fuel from the Ca Voi Xanh (Blue Whale) field, PV Power is focusing on developing thermal power plants using imported liquefied natural gas (LNG), along with renewable energy projects./.
Merger of Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia discussed
Malaysian Minister of International Trade and Industry Azmin Ali has said the merger of national flag carrier Malaysia Airlines and budget airline AirAsia is one of the options to save them as the COVID-19 has battered the aviation industry.
In an interview granted to Reuters on April 17, Azmin said the Malaysian government will look at all options to help the country’s airline industry.
Sources said AirAsia and Japan Airlines had earlier shown interest in buying a stake in Malaysia Airlines. Privately-held Malaysian group Golden Skies Ventures made a 2.5 billion USD offer to fully take over the holding company of Malaysia Airlines this month.
AirAsia said last week that it had no incoming revenue and 96 percent of its fleet was grounded, having suspended most of its flights since March.
The airline said it plans to resume domestic flights starting with Malaysia on April 29, Thailand and the Philippines on May 1, India on May 4 and Indonesia on May 7.
Malaysia’s capital market expands to 753 billion USD in 2019
Malaysia’s total capital market grew source by 3 percent year on year to 3.2 trillion MYR (753 billion USD) in 2019, driven largely by Islamic capital market, the Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) announced on April 16.
In its annual report, the regulator said total debt securities outstanding and equity market capitalisation reached 1.5 trillion MYR and 1.7 trillion MYR, respectively.
Despite the challenging global backdrop and ongoing domestic policy reforms, the Malaysian capital market saw a higher level of fundraising activities during the year, with total funds raised in the bond and equity market amounting to 139.4 billion MYR in 2019 compared to 114.6 billion MYR in 2018.
The domestic capital market is expected to remain resilient and orderly, underpinned by Malaysia’s strong macroeconomic fundamentals, ample domestic liquidity, and supportive capital market infrastructure, which will continue to support the growth of the Malaysian economy in 2020, said the SC.
According to the regulator, the outlook for the domestic capital market will continue to be influenced by key global developments, with volatility driven primarily by the direction and pace of global economic growth and global monetary policy stance, and the uncertainty in relation to the ongoing trade and geopolitical tensions./.
Viet Nam, China discuss ways to boost agriculture trade
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong had a working session with Chinese Ambassador to Viet Nam Xiong Bo in Ha Noi on Thursday to discuss facilitating the exchange of agricultural products between the two countries amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Viet Nam’s farming, forestry and fishery trade with China fell about 7 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter of this year to US$2.2 billion due to the virus.
Tightened controls by the neighbouring country in response to the pandemic slowed customs procedures, Cuong said, adding that the opening of the Chinese market for Vietnamese farm produce, working trips by delegations from the two agriculture ministries and major trade fairs have been suspended due to the pandemic.
Cuong called on the ambassador to help facilitate online procedures so that technical issues are addressed.
He expressed a hope that administrative procedures would be completed as soon as possible so that more Vietnamese agricultural products can be exported to China, contributing to enhancing bilateral trade and spurring agricultural development in both countries.
He also proposed the Chinese side extend the opening of its customs offices, which are only five or six hours at certain border gates, and that the two sides invest more human resources in this regard.
Ambassador Xiong Bo stressed the need to strictly control the pandemic and promote trade and economic co-operation.
He said China must still conduct thorough inspections at border gates due to the possibility of the disease spreading.
China’s customs sector has adopted many measures to shorten the time needed to complete customs clearance, he explained, suggesting that Viet Nam expand cargo parking areas to ease congestion at border gates such as Tan Thanh and Huu Nghi.
Exported goods to China should not be concentrated at land border gates, he said, the goods could be transported by the Dong Dang-Bang Tuong railway to China. The railway has many advantages, including large cargo capacity and low cost.
Besides, Viet Nam should launch online medical declaration services for drivers to save time spent on the customs clearance process.
He said he believed the existing difficulties are temporary and the two countries should work hard to solve them.
He also recommended Viet Nam and China develop a disease prevention mechanism at the Government level, with the participation of forces from central to grassroots levels.
The two sides also agreed to focus on customs measures to quickly distribute farm produce stuck at border gates.
The ambassador said Viet Nam is China’s largest and most important trading partner in ASEAN, accounting for 25 per cent of China’s trade with this region.
The two sides need to strengthen co-operation in developing high-tech agriculture and e-commerce to increase revenue for farmers.
Dabaco Group records highest first quarterly profit
Dabaco Group Joint Stock Company recorded its highest ever first quarterly profit in Q1 this year, reaching VND340 billion (US$14.5 million).
This profit even exceeded last year’s total profit of VND305 billion. In Q1, the group reported revenue of VND3.2 trillion.
This year, Dabaco targets to collect VND13.2 trillion in revenue and VND512 billion in after-tax profit. Thus in Q1, the company achieved 27 per cent of its revenue target and 66 per cent of its profit target for the whole year.
Dabaco is multi field group which specialises mainly in animal feed, cattle and poultry breeding and food processing.
The group also invests in building industrial zones, urban zone facilities and infrastructure and real estate. It is among the ten biggest enterprises specialising in animal feed nationwide.
In the first quarter of 2020, Dabaco boosted the production of fresh chicken eggs, processed chicken eggs, processed food from meat, meeting the demand for essential goods amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This helped the business increase its after-tax profit by 17 times over the same period last year.
The group has also completed and put into operation a number of projects such as DeVi instant egg processing factory, chicken breeding area and animal feed factory in southern Binh Phuoc Province.
Bình Phước cashew processors face shortage of capital, raw materials
Bình Phước Province, known as the “capital of cashew” in the country, is facing problems processing cashews due to limited raw materials and capital.
The province has around 134,000 hectares of land for cashew, and over 1,400 processing and exporting businesses that sell to markets such as the US, Australia and China.
Only 30 of them are able to import raw cashews for processing. The rest are small and micro businesses.
Processing businesses need around 600,000 – 800,000 tonnes of raw cashew annually, but the province is only able to provide 200,000 tonnes. Imports, which come from African countries, Indonesia and Cambodia, have high costs, which reduces profitability.
During the first two months of the year, the province exported US$61.7 million worth of cashews, and the value of each tonne of cashews was 23.1 per cent lower than that of the same period last year.
Vũ Mạnh Tùng, owner of a cashew processing facility in Phú Riềng District, said there was a shortage of raw materials because businesses were not investing enough in material production zones, and co-operation between businesses and farmers was weak.
Other cashew processing facilities in the province are also receiving fewer orders compared to last year due to COVID-19, and some small businesses have had to close down.
In addition, lack of access to capital is a major concern, said Nguyễn Anh Hoàng, director of the Department of Industry and Trade.
Many businesses have had to take out loans, and when there is market turbulence, banks issue fewer loans or tighten loan conditions, making it harder for businesses to get loans.
The province is working on a plan for concentrated cashew production areas that will improve value chains and link farmers to businesses. It is also facilitating investment in hi-tech, traceability, and geographical indicators.
Businesses have been encouraged to diversify their products and improve marketing to their consumers. -
Indonesia cuts tourist arrivals target more than half due to COVID-19
Indonesian Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy Wishnutama Kusubandio has revised down the number of foreign tourists to Indonesia in 2020 from 16 million to 5 million amid the spread of COVID-19.
Speaking at an online press conference on April 16, Wishnutama said his office also cut this year’s target of revenue from international tourists more than half from last year’s realisation of 20 billion USD.
The Statistics Indonesia (BPS) reported on April 1 that the number of foreign travelers in the country declined by 30.42 percent to 885,100 due to impacts of the pandemic.
The biggest decline was seen in holidaymakers from mainland China (94.11 percent), followed by those from Hong Kong (China) (93.12 percent). However, there were slight increases in the numbers of tourists from Malaysia and Japan.
Addressing a Cabinet meeting the same day, President Joko Widodo believed that there will be boom in Indonesian tourism next year if the epidemic ends at the end of this year. He urged the officials to prepare to take advantage from the rise of the domestic tourism sector in 2021.
He also asked ministers to prepare an economic stimulus package for businesses in the tourism sector and the creative economy, so that they can survive and not make layoffs on a large scale.
Last February, the government rolled out a stimulus package worth 10.3 trillion Rp (664.51 million USD) for the tourism sector in the form of discounted airline tickets to 10 major tourist destinations, incentives for airlines and travel agents and tax exemption for restaurants and hotels in these destinations.
Bauxite projects contribute to Central Highlands’ development: PM
Two pilot bauxite projects in Lam Dong and Dak Nong provinces have significantly contributed to the Central Highlands’ development in recent years, which is a premise to consider the expansion of bauxite exploitation and processing in the region, said Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc at a meeting in Hanoi on April 16.
The meeting aims to review the 10-year implementation of the Politburo’s conclusion on planning, zoning off for exploration, exploitation and processing of bauxite ore during the 2007-2015 period, with a vision to 2025.
The Tan Rai and Nhan Co bauxite exploitation and processing projects in Lam Dong and Dak Nong provinces started work in 2008 and 2010, respectively. They have earned profits since 2017, one year ahead of schedule.
The per capita income of local residents has increased to 65 million VND (2,775 USD) per year at present from 17 million VND (725.9 USD) before 2007, the meeting heard.
PM Phuc said that in the future, if the aluminum industry is developed based on the two projects, it must be closely linked to the market in order to ensure economic efficiency by mobilising potential businesses in various sectors to jointly invest in projects.
Besides roads, it is necessary to study the development of other ways of transportation from the aluminum factories in the Central Highlands to seaports, as well as promote the application of new technologies to treat red mud (bauxite residue after alumina has been extracted), PM Phuc said.
He emphasised that to ensure sustainable development of the aluminum and aluminium smelting industry, special attention must be paid to environmental protection, security and defence, social order and safety, and particularly protecting the living environment for Central Highland people, including mountains, forests, water, air and unique culture of ethnic minorities./.
Indonesia cooperates with RoK, Japan in producing medical equipment
Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said on April 16 that her country is cooperating with the Republic of Korea and Japan in producing medical equipment to help prevent the COVID-19 pandemic.
The joint production plan is aimed at addressing the shortage of medical equipment such as protective gear, medical masks and others, she said.
Retno also said at an online press conference that besides the two countries, Indonesia has asked Turkey to allow it to import raw materials needed to produce medical equipment.
She said she is also communicating with the Foreign Ministers of other countries to work together to create a combined strength in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
As of April 16, Indonesia recorded a total of 5,516 cases of COVID-19, including 496 deaths and 549 recoveries./.
IMF forecasts slight economic growth for Indonesia in 2020
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) projected that Indonesia’s economic growth will remain in positive territory this year, albeit ever so slightly, as the coronavirus pandemic puts the global economy at risk of its worst recession since the Great Depression of 1930.
In its April update to the World Economic Outlook titled “The Great Lockdown”, the IMF lowered Indonesia’s GDP growth projection to 0.5 percent from 5.1 percent in its October projection.
“The significant downward revision to the 2020 growth projection reflects large anticipated domestic disruptions to economic activity from COVID-19,” the report says. The IMF expects the virus to hit Indonesia’s economy as the country relies heavily on the export of commodities rather than finished goods.
“Among developing economies, all countries face a health crisis, severe external demand shock, dramatic tightening in global financial conditions, and a plunge in commodity prices,” the report says. “They will have a severe impact on economic activity in commodity exporters.”
However, the IMF predicted that the Indonesian economy will recover in 2021, with an expected growth rate of 8.2 percent, which would be the highest rate seen since 1995, during former President Soeharto’s regime.
The IMF also projected that the country’s unemployment rate will rise to 7.5 percent this year from last year’s 5.3 percent as the pandemic is upending supply chains, forcing companies to lay off employees and crushing demand for goods as consumers stay at home.
According to the IMF, the global economy will contract by 3 percent this year, far worse than during the 2009 global financial crisis, as the pandemic put the global economy at risk of worst recession since the 1930 Great Depression.
However, the global economy is expected to grow by 5.8 percent in 2021, signaling a sharp rebound from this year’s recession./.
Philippines cuts interest rates to record low due to COVID-19
The Philippine central bank on April 16 lowered its interest rates by 50 basis points to 2.75 percent, the lowest on record, to keep the economy afloat amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is the third time the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas has cut its interest rates this year.
Earlier, the bank had reduced its interest rates by 25 basis points in February and then 50 more basis points in March.
The new rate cut will take effect from April 17.
According to the worldometers.info statistics website, as of April 16 afternoon, the Southeast Asian country confirmed 5,660 COVID-19 cases, including 362 deaths./.
Cambodia’s economy impacted by record-low oil prices
A grim report on the world economy by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced on April 15 caused oil prices to continue to slide, with international prices hitting the lowest level since 2002 as planned output cuts were deemed insufficient to offset a COVID-19-fuelled slump in demand.
On the day, the price on the West Texas Intermediate (a benchmark for the grade of crude oil used for oil pricing) dropped to 19.20 USD per barrel.
The IMF, in its report, forecast that oil prices will likely remain below 43 USD per barrel from now until 2023 owing to persistently weak demand in a deep global recession sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“However the rapidly falling cost of oil, which greases the wheels of the global economy, will help consumers,” the IMF said.
The low prices are good news for Cambodian transport, farms, factories and private motorists who benefit from cheaper gasoline, but they do have a serious effect on the Ministry of Mines and Energy’s current plans for offshore oilfield exploration.
This is especially true for the Singaporean-listed KrisEnergy that have continued plans for oil to be extracted from the Apsara oilfield, located in Block A of the Khmer Basin in the Gulf of Thailand. The Apsara oilfield is set to become the first productive oilfield in the country.
Lim Solinn, Oxfam country director, previously told Khmer Times that the economic benefits of the operation would be substantial for the Cambodian Government. However, with these newly revised current market conditions, the project’s viable benefits are still uncertain./.
Retail tenants seek rental relief
Retail outlets with plummeting revenues and shopping mall owners are among the many affected by COVID-19, and while many of the latter have begun offering support to the former to help soften the blow, there are many still struggling.
Most retailers in Hanoi have temporarily closed their doors because of social distancing measures which have now been extended for another week to help contain the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 that causes the disease.
Pham Van Tung, who owns a clothing store on Hue Street in downtown Hanoi, said his business has been hit badly by COVID-19. Revenue is sinking but he must still pay over 20 million VND in rent every month. If the situation does not improve soon, he said, he may have the lease terminated or sublet the premises, since he cannot handle the financial strain any longer.
Retailers in shopping centres such as Vincom Plazas, AEON, and Big C are in no better position. Prior to social distancing measures being imposed, supermarkets and shopping malls had already seen visitor numbers fall 40-50 percent, while guests at restaurants had tumbled 20-30 percent on weekdays and even 50 percent on weekends, with revenue down 40 percent.
Amid widespread closures, retail tenants are now pleading for relief from landlords.
A representative of luxury fashion retailer Giordano Vietnam said that last year it opened three outlets, but is currently only able to maintain one.
Than Duc Viet, Deputy General Director of the May 10 garment firm which has around 250 outlets around the country, said that not only small retailers but also major players like May 10 are struggling to cover their fixed costs, particularly rentals, which are typically among retailers’ biggest expenses.
To address the issue, Vincom Retail, which operates Vincom Plazas, has announced a relief package worth 300 billion VND (about 12,751,000 USD) to support affected commercial tenants nationwide. The relief will be in the form of rental reductions, and Vincom also plans to offer deals and discounts to coax back shoppers.
According to the Vietnam Association of Retailers, Hung Thinh Retail – the owner of Moonlight Plaza, Saigon Mia, and Vung Tau Melody – has slashed its rentals by 20 to 40 percent as a short-term measure./.
Vietnam, China seek ways to push agriculture trade
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong held a working session with Chinese Ambassador to Vietnam Xiong Bo in Hanoi on April 16 to discuss ways to facilitate the exchange of agricultural products between the two countries amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Agro-forestry-fishery trade between Vietnam and China fell about 7 percent year-on-year in the first months of the year.
The tightened control by the neighbouring countries in response to the epidemic slowed down customs procedures, he said, while working trips by delegations from the two agriculture ministries and major trade fairs have both been suspended.
China has allowed nine types of Vietnamese fruit and vegetables to be imported. The two sides are completing the necessary procedures for eight more Vietnamese agricultural products to do likewise.
Cuong used the occasion to call on the Ambassador to help facilitate online procedures so that technical issues are addressed.
He expressed a hope that administrative procedures would be completed as soon as possible so that more Vietnamese agricultural products can be exported to China, thus contributing to enhancing bilateral trade and spurring agricultural development in both countries.
He also proposed the Chinese side extend the opening of its customs offices, which are only five or six hours at certain border gates, and that the two sides invest more human resources in this regard.
Echoing Cuong’s views, the Ambassador stressed the need to strictly control the epidemic and at the same time promote trade and economic cooperation.
He said China must still conduct thorough inspections at border gates due to the distinct possibility of the disease spreading.
China’s customs sector has adopted many measures to shorten the time needed to complete customs clearance, he explained, suggesting that Vietnam expand cargo parking areas to ease congestion at border gates such as Tan Thanh and Huu Nghi, optimise railway links in this regard, and launch online medical declaration services for drivers.
He also recommended Vietnam and China develop a disease prevention mechanism at the Government level, with the participation of forces from central to grassroots levels.
The two sides also agreed to focus on customs measures to quickly distribute farm produce stuck at border gates./.
Thailand adjusts 2021 budgets to ease financial burden caused by COVID-19
The Thai Cabinet on April 15 approved cutting 50 percent of investment and 25 percent of regular budgets in fiscal 2021 to mobilise funding to ease the financial burden arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The government spokeswoman Narumon Pinyosinwat said that all state agencies are required to revise their fiscal budgets in line with cabinet approval and resubmit them to the Budget Bureau on April 22.
Cuts should not be made to binding items and suggested funds for seminars, training programmes, public relations, allowances, lodging, vehicles and necessary overseas trips, she said.
On January 7, the Thai cabinet approved a fiscal 2021 budget of 3.3 trillion baht (100.9 billion USD) with a deficit of 523 billion baht. The budget for fiscal 2021 is 100 billion baht, 3.1 percent bigger than the fiscal 2020 blueprint, and it will focus mainly on social and economic restructuring, economic growth stability, income redistribution to remote areas, local economy development and income disparity reduction.
The Government has established a new committee tasked with handling relief measures for people affected by the pandemic by the order of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha issued on April 14.
The committee will also supervise and evaluate the government’s existing relief measures to cope with the pandemic’s impact./.
Enterprises in support industries seize opportunities from pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted global supply chains and exposed many large foreign investors in Vietnam to material shortages, and in response a number of domestic firms in support industries have taken the opportunity to become important “links” within those chains.
Do Phuoc Tong, Chairman of the HCM City Association of Mechanical-Electrical Enterprises, said a host of manufacturers have encountered disruptions in the supply of equipment from China, which has been hit hard by COVID-19. This prompted them to switch to local suppliers to obtain alternative inputs, especially mechanical-electrical equipment and moulds.
Many domestic companies in support industries have received more orders and are operating at full capacity, he noted.
To meet partners’ standards, they have reorganised production and view this as a chance to assure partners, particularly major foreign enterprises, of their product quality and gain a foothold in the market.
The HCM City-based mould producer the Lap Phuc Co. Ltd has posted an increase of 10-20 percent in orders, most of which are from foreign enterprises with factories in Vietnam.
Meanwhile, the An Phat Industrial Technology Co. Ltd in southern Dong Nai province has also accelerated production and introduced overtime as orders have increased 20-30 percent.
Le Tri Minh, head of the Dong Nai association of enterprises in support industries, said a number of members have received 30-40 percent more orders year-on-year, primarily from foreign enterprises.
He noted that manufacturers are short of materials normally imported from China, so have sought local suppliers.
Vietnamese companies in support industries, however, are also concerned about a shortage of input materials such as iron and steel, especially those in the machinery industry, and certain types of steel must still be imported even though local providers have already ensured a relatively large supply.
Tong suggested that, in the long term, enterprises in support industries should ensure product quality, competitive prices, and punctual delivery to maintain their newly-found partners.
They also need to connect with each other, since many products from one company may be input materials for another. This would help them boost domestic supplies and reduce dependence on imports, he added./.
Thailand’s economy to contract 6.7 percent in 2020: IMF
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) downgraded the economic forecast for Thailand in 2020 to a contraction of 6.7 percent, due to impact of the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic.
However, the fund raised its estimate for Thailand’s economic growth to 6.1 percent next year in its latest report on the world economic outlook.
In January, it predicted the Thai economy will expand 2.5 percent this year and 3.5 percent in 2021.
According to the IMF, this year, Singapore, Malaysia and Cambodia are projected to have their economies shrink by 3.5 percent, 1.7 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively.
Vietnam has emerged as the ASEAN’s best performer in the report, at 2.7 percent growth, followed by Myanmar at 1.8 percent growth.
The Bank of Thailand trimmed the country’s 2020 growth outlook last month to a decline of 5.3 percent from an expansion of 2.8 percent after the spread of the COVID-19. The central bank also predicted a contraction in every quarter, with the deepest from April to June.
The pandemic has already taken a heavy toll on tourism and export – the two sectors that account for two-thirds of Thailand’s GDP.
The country plans 92 public-private partnership (PPP) projects worth 1.09 trillion baht (33.39 billion USD) during 2020-2027, in an effort to revive the struggling economy amid the pandemic./.
COVID-19: Agribank increases support level for credit package
The Agriculture and Rural Development Bank (Agribank) has said it will increase the support level for its credit package worth 100 trillion VND (4.3 billion USD).
Loans disbursed from April 1 to customers, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, will be subject to a maximum interest rate of 2.5 percent per year.
Customers who have been given preferential interest rates under a Government resolution to prevent poverty reduction in 61 poor districts and the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV)’s circular on lending from credit institutions will continue with an interest rate of one percent per annum.
Earlier, the SBV instructed commercial banks to delay, extend or reschedule debt repayments as well as reduce interest rates and fees for enterprises, while providing new loans to help them overcome difficulties.
The central bank has also adjusted interest rates to support credit institutions with easier capital access.
On March 13, the SBV Governor issued Circular No. 01/2020/TT-NHNN directing credit institutions and foreign bank branches to restructure their repayment periods, waive and reduce interest rates and fees, and maintain debt classifications in order to support customers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic./.
Vietnam unlikely to achieve 4-billion-USD target from cashew nut exports
Vietnam’s cashew nut producers will have to lower their 2020 export target of 4 billion USD as the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic make it extremely difficult to achieve, according to Pham Van Cong, Chairman of the Vietnam Cashew Association (Vinacas).
In an interview with the Sai Gon Giai Phong newspaper, Cong said COVID-19 has had an unpredictable and substantial impact on the sector.
The 12th International Cashew Conference, initially planned for early March, was postponed to late June and then sometime in 2021.
A tour to explore the Chinese market – part of the National Trade Promotion Programme – has also been put on hold.
Cong highlighted the widespread impact of the pandemic on the sector, saying that both cashew nut export volumes and prices will fall. A figure of 3 billion USD, however, is entirely feasible, he said.
He advised Vinacas members and businesses involved in the sector to take precautions when purchasing raw cashews from Cambodia and Africa at this time.
Vietnamese cashew nut growers are facing their own difficulties, he added, calling on businesses to buy as much of the domestic output as possible./.
Airlines and railway firms get payment fee reduction of 35 per cent
Three airlines, Vietnam Airlines, Vietjetair and Bamboo Airways, as well as Vietnam Railways are eligible for a 35 per cent reduction in fees at Vietcombank from now until December 31.
According to the National Payment Corporation of Việt Nam (NAPAS), the airlines will receive reduced payment fees for both e-payment gateway services and payment collection as part of a support programme for transport enterprises to overcome the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
NAPAS will allow the transport firms free transaction processing and is also coordinating with Vietcombank to reduce payment fees via the bank by up to 35 per cent.
According to a NAPAS representative, this is its third service fee reduction programme in 2020 aiming to share difficulties with firms during the pandemic.
According to the General Statistics Office, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a direct impact on transport activities, of which passenger transport was heavily affected.
Previously, NAPAS and commercial banks have implemented two consecutive fee reduction and exemption programmes in 2020, including a public service fee waiver and a reduction of up to 72 per cent in interbank transfer rates until year-end.
All banks participating in the NAPAS network have implemented the programmes which are to encourage customers to use non-cash payments, limiting their exposure to adapt to the requirements of social distancing and minimise the impact of COVID-19 on people’s health while maintaining economic development.
Moody’s reaffirms B1 credit rating for HDBank despite pandemic challengeGlobal credit ratings agency Moody’s Investors Service has reaffirmed the B1 credit rating for HDBank amid a challenging market situation due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and social distancing orders from the Government.
Moody’s said the bank has good profitability, improving capitalisation and good portfolio of liquid assets and is making solid progress in risk management.
In its 2019 financial report released recently, HDBank had total consolidated assets of nearly VNĐ229.48 trillion (US$9.78 billion), equity of VNĐ20.38 trillion ($867.8 million) and profit before tax of nearly VNĐ5.02 trillion ($213.8 million), its highest ever.
Return on average assets (ROAA) and return on average equity (ROAE) were 1.8 per cent and 21.6 per cent.
HDBank’s non-performing loan ratio continued to be strictly controlled, at less than 0.98 per cent, placing it among the banks with the lowest NPL ratios in the banking industry, a status it has enjoyed for many years.
Last year it received approval from the State Bank of Vietnam to adopt Basel II standards ahead of schedule, and its capital adequacy ratio (CAR) reached 11.2 per cent, much higher than the minimum of 8 per cent prescribed.
In the first three months of this year, despite the COVID-19 pandemic and the big changes it wrought in the domestic and global markets, HDBank achieved very positive business results.
Consistent with its sustainable development strategy, harmonising its economic development goals and accompanying the community in all activities, HDBank has always come up with timely development strategies suitable for each period.
In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, HDBank quickly established an emergency committee for epidemic prevention and control, and has carried out effective measures. It has taken practical measures to protect the health of its employees and customers, and ensure continuous and safe operation of its entire system nation-wide.
In joining hands to support the economy and customers in this challenging time, HDBank is offering many preferential programmes. It has set aside VNĐ10 trillion ($426 million) to lend to producers and corporates who supply goods and services to supermarkets at interest rates starting at 6.5 per cent, VNĐ5 trillion ($213 million) to lend to small and medium-sized enterprises and VNĐ3 trillion ($127.6 million) for cutting fees and interest rates for enterprises that supply drugs and medical equipment.
It also offers preferential loans to individual and super small business customers affected by the pandemic at interest rates that are 2-4.5 percentage points lower than normal.
Besides, it has a VNĐ1 trillion ($42,703) package to support the agricultural supply chain to ensure production and domestic supply of rice and help businesses facing difficulties due to saltwater intrusion in the Mekong Delta.
It is also enhancing technology application and promoting cashless payment solutions.
Indonesia revises down 2020 oil, gas production outlookIndonesia’s oil and gas regulator SKK Migas on April 17 lowered its full-year production outlook for the country due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
SKK Migas cut this year’s production outlook for both crude oil and gas to 725,000 barrels per day and 5,727 million cubic feet per day respectively.
Chairman of SKK Migas Dwi Soetjipto said global declining crude oil prices and currency fluctuations have impacted the oil and gas industry.
He revealed that the 2020 gross revenue outlook from the oil and gas sector had been cut by nearly half, from 32 billion USD to 19 billion USD now.
As of April 17, Indonesia has confirmed 5,516 COVID-19 cases, including 496 deaths, according to the local health ministry./.
Cambodia’s GDP to see negative growth in 2020: IMF
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has forecasted that Cambodia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will experience a negative growth of 1.7 percent in 2020 due to social distancing measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
If the prediction comes true, the Cambodian economy will grow negatively for the first time since IMF began assessing the economy in 1988.
In a more optimistic scenario, IMF believes that if COVID-19 vaccine is produced and used in the second half of this year, the global and Cambodian economies will increase 5.8 percent and 6.1 percent, respectively.
The report “Great Lockdown” by IMF released on April 16 indicated that the economic shock caused by the COVID-19 pandemic was the worst since the 2008-2009 global financial crisis – the time Cambodia’s economic growth was 0.1 percent.
Since 1998, Cambodia has experienced quite high economic growths with a yearly average growth of 8 percent. The poverty rate plummeted to 10 percent in 2019 from 53 percent in 2004. Other areas such as education and health have also improved significantly.
To ease the economic shock caused by the pandemic, the Cambodian government has announced a 2-billion-USD budget package to support pillar sectors of the national economy, including agriculture and banking, and help workers in garment and tourism who lost jobs./.
Cambodia’s Q1 rubber exports earn 75 million USD
Cambodia exported 53.05 tonnes of rubber in the first quarter of 2020, a year-on-year increase of 10 percent, earning 75.34 million USD, according to the General Directorate of Rubber under the country’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
In its latest report, the office said the average price of the commodity stood at 1,420 USD per tonne in the period.
Cambodia is currently home to more than 405,480 ha of land for the rubber industry, including 250,750 ha for plantation, or 62 percent.
The product is mainly shipped to China, Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia./.
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