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Vietnam Business News March 20/2024



The State has issued regulations on working principles and regimes to run a steering committee on developing the project to build regional and international financial centres.

Decision 41/QĐ-BCĐXDTTTC on the operation regulations of this steering committee, signed on March 16, 2024 by Deputy Prime Minister Lê Minh Khái, head of the steering committee, also stipulates responsibilities of members and standing bodies of the steering committee; and its information and reporting regime.

Việt Nam founded this steering committee following Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính’s Decision No 1160/QĐ-TTg dated October 6, 2023 to promote formation of an international and regional financial centre project.

Đà Nẵng and HCM City are earmarked as potential locations for the centres.

Under the draft HCM City introduced in early 2022, the international financial centre included three components: monetary market and banking system, capital market, and commodity derivatives market.

The southern city aimed to become a global financial centre with a high ranking from 2031.

Đà Nẵng was also taking steps to become a regional financial centre.

Đà Nẵng is planning an international finance hub on a 6.17ha coastal area in Sơn Trà peninsula, and reserves 62ha of land area for future expansion. 

Business meeting highlights business, investment cooperation opportunities for Vietnam, Hong Kong (China)

Vietnam and Hong Kong (China) have great potential to promote cooperation in fields from finance to technology, food, and consumer goods, heard a business meeting held in Ho Chi Minh City on March 19 by the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Singapore and Invest Hong Kong.

Attending the event, Vice President of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) Vo Tan Thanh said that Hong Kong (China) is among Vietnam’s ten largest trading partners with bilateral trade estimated at 11.24 billion USD in 2023. Hong Kong’s investment in Vietnam last year reached 4.68 billion USD, ranking third among more than 100 countries and territories investing in Vietnam.

Meanwhile, Vietnam is the 2nd largest trading partner of Hong Kong (China) among ASEAN countries and the 7th largest trading partner of Hong Kong globally.

According to Thanh, Hong Kong has advantages in being a gateway connecting investment, trade, finance, and logistics between China and the region and the world, which is an important basis for promoting economic relations between Vietnam and Hong Kong as well as between the ASEAN region and East Asian economies and the world.

Owin Fung, Director of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Singapore, said that Hong Kong (China) is one of the reliable partners when Vietnamese businesses want to expand their business abroad. He stressed that Hong Kong not only provides a stable business environment but also helps Vietnamese businesses expand connections with other markets in mainland China.

Noting that Ho Chi Minh City is planning to build a regional financial centre, Fung said as one of the world’s major financial centre, Hong Kong is willing to share experiences with the city in this realm.

Talking about the business environment in Hong Kong, Director-General of Invest Hong Kong (InvestHK) Alpha Lau said that Hong Kong has a strategic position in connecting the region to the world. It also has special advantages including a hub of finance, transportation, and international trade.

She suggested that the fashion industry, food and beverage, agricultural products, and consumer goods are among areas with good growth potential where businesses from both sides can cooperate in doing business in Hong Kong./.

PM receives delegation of leading Dutch enterprises

Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh on March 19 emphasised that Vietnam will create favourable conditions for the business community, including Dutch corporations and businesses, to invest successfully, sustainably, and long-term in Vietnam when he received a Dutch business delegation led by Ingrid Thijssen, chair of the Confederation of Netherlands Industry and Employers (VNO-NCW) in Hanoi.

Welcoming the delegation, PM Chinh said that their visit to Vietnam this time is an activity in implementing the results achieved during the visit of the Prime Minister of Vietnam to the Netherlands at the end of 2022 and the visit of the Prime Minister of the Netherlands to Vietnam at the end of 2023.

The PM highlighted that the Netherlands has become the biggest European investor and the second-largest European trade partner and export market of Vietnam. He hailed the practical programmes that the Netherlands has implemented to support Vietnam in socio-economic development, poverty reduction, education and training, healthcare, climate change responses, and COVID-19 prevention and control. 

PM Chinh said that he highly appreciated the business activities of Dutch enterprises in Vietnam in the past time which contributed to Vietnam’s economic development and Vietnam – Netherlands relations.

He affirmed that Vietnam is always open, sincere, and willing to listen to the concerns and opinions of the foreign business community, including Dutch businesses.

Informing the guests about Vietnam’s development priorities, the PM said that Vietnam and the Netherlands still have many potentials and strengths that can complement and support each other. Therefore, he called on Dutch corporations and businesses to effectively take advantage of the opportunities of the Vietnam – EU Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and strive to increase bilateral trade to 15 billion USD.

He hoped that Dutch businesses will connect with Vietnamese businesses in fields where the Netherlands has strengths and Vietnam has needs such as high-tech agriculture, new energy, renewable energy, semiconductor chips, climate change adaptation, shipbuilding services, seaports, shipbuilding technology, and logistics.

Chinh also asked Dutch businesses to make recommendations to Vietnam regarding how to improve the business investment environment, institutions, mechanisms, and policies to encourage businesses to apply sustainable business models, develop emerging industries, and develop a digital economy, green and circular economy, and high-quality human resources training.

The Dutch business executives requested the Vietnamese Government to continue to improving policies on taxes, visas, and administrative procedures.

They asked for specific contact points to receive support, transfer technology, and promote cooperation in the fields of shipbuilding, seaports, semiconductors, renewable energy, environmental protection, climate change response, and materials supply to Vietnam’s project on building 1 million social housing.

The businesses also hoped the Government to direct Vietnamese businesses, especially in the agricultural and food sectors, to improve product quality and implement commitments to green, clean, safe, and sustainable development. They want to purchase directly from farmers so that Vietnamese agricultural products have more opportunities to enter the Netherlands./.

HCM City to host Food & Hotel Vietnam event

Food & Hotel Vietnam 2024, the country’s leading international exhibition in the food, restaurant and hotel industry, opened on March 19 in Ho Chi Minh City.

In the 12th edition this year, the event gathered more than 300 exhibitors from 27 countries and territories, including Poland, Brazil, Canada, Italy, the US, China, and Japan, among others.

During the three days of the exhibition, a series of F&B competitions – the Vietnam Culinary Challenge, Vietnam Barista Competition and Vietnam Aromaster Championship, among others, will also take place.

Ben Wong, General Director of Informa Markets Vietnam, said that the event aims to help traders in Vietnam find suitable supply sources and expand business activities. The show will bring products closer to consumers while helping to promote trade, creating a bridge for many international brands to get closer to importers, distributors, retailers and businesses of cuisine and accommodation services in Vietnam.

Vietnam’s food service market is expected to reach 22.72 billion USD in 2024 and reach 36.29 billion USD by 2029, with a compound growth rate (CAGR) of 9.82% in the period of 2024 – 2029 (Mordor Intelligence, 2023).

The expo takes place from March 19-21 at the city’s Saigon Exhibition and Convention Centre./.

A new decree expected to promote industrial cluster development

The Government has issued new regulations regarding industrial clusters, to eliminate overlaps and foster transparency in management and development.

Decree, No 32/2024/NĐ-CP, dated March 15th, 2024, outlines several favourable policies and support measures for the development of industrial clusters.

It provides investment incentives for industrial clusters located in areas facing challenging socio-economic conditions and considers the construction of technical infrastructure for industrial clusters as a specialised industry eligible for investment incentives.

The decree also stipulates that local budgets allocate resources to support investment and the development of technical infrastructure both within and outside industrial clusters in the region. Priority will be given to investing in environmental protection infrastructure for operational industrial clusters.

Support will be extended to essential shared technical infrastructure projects in areas experiencing difficult or extremely challenging socio-economic conditions, as well as to industrial clusters focusing on sectoral integration, specialisation, support services, ecology, and the preservation of traditional vocations.

The State will support up to 30 per cent of the total investment capital required for technical infrastructure construction in industrial clusters. Provincial-level People’s Committees will report decisions or decisions based on their authority and legal provisions to the corresponding People’s Councils regarding support for technical infrastructure construction in industrial clusters within their jurisdictions.

The central budget will secure funding for activities related to industrial cluster development conducted by the Ministry of Industry and Trade. This includes activities such as conducting investigations, establishing and maintaining databases for industrial clusters, organising conferences and seminars, and coordinating investment promotion efforts for industrial clusters. Additionally, research will be carried out to develop criteria for identifying effective models of industrial cluster development and environmental protection.

The local budget will ensure funding for industrial cluster development activities undertaken by local authorities. This includes organising investment promotion activities for industrial clusters, conducting surveys of organisations and individuals interested in relocating or investing in industrial clusters, evaluating proposals for establishing or expanding industrial clusters, and providing support funds for setting up investment projects. It also covers transportation costs and the installation of machinery and equipment for enterprises, co-operatives, and households in craft villages and residential areas relocated into industrial clusters.

2004 is forecast to see rice exports exceed eight million tonnes for the second consecutive year, thereby bringing in about US$5 billion for Vietnam.    

Amid falling global rice supplies, countries such as the Philippines, Indonesia, China, and several other markets are all moving to increase rice imports in a bid to ensure food security, thereby creating greater opportunities for Vietnamese rice.

After 2023 saw many fluctuations in supply and prices, global rice trade continues to be “hot” from the beginning of the year. Indeed, global inventories for the 2023 to 2024 crop year are forecast at more than 167 million tonnes, down by 8.6 million tonnes compared to the previous crop year and is the lowest inventory level over the past six crop years.

India, the largest exporting country with more than 20 million tonnes of rice per year, has adopted many policies aimed at restricting rice exports since the middle of last year.

Many countries have also shifted to finding alternative sources of rice supply, especially from Southeast Asia, thereby creating opportunities for Vietnamese rice to increase exports, as well as enjoy strong export prices.

In 2023, Vietnamese rice exports fetched more than US$4 billion and are expected to increase even more this year.

Nguyen Anh Son, head of the Import-Export Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade analysed, “Vietnam’s rice industry has recorded remarkable growth through strong transformation in both production and exports. The growth in output, product quality and improved production processes have helped expand the market and enhance the position of Vietnamese rice in the international market.”

Vietnamese rice affirms its quality and is widely known to consumers. Fastidious markets such as Europe, the United States, the Republic of Korea (RoK), and some new markets in the Middle East tend to prefer high-quality Vietnamese rice, he added.

In 2024, the Philippines is likely to import up to 4.1 million tonnes of rice, instead of the previous forecast of 3.9 million tonnes. The reason why the Philippines’ rice imports increased sharply is due to the drought affecting domestic rice output.

Last year, China was the country’s third largest rice import partner with 917,255 tonnes valued at more than US$530 million and at an average price of US$578 per tonne.

It is therefore predicted that this year this vast market will increase rice imports to harmonise import and production whilst ensuring food security. Imports may exceed the figure of more than 900,000 tonnes in 2023, with export prices also having the chance to increase further.

Nguyen Ngoc Nam, chairman of the Vietnam Food Association, proposed, “In 2024, the Association also recommends that the Ministry of Industry and Trade strengthen information on import and export data in order to facilitate the balance of rice supply and demand of the parties.”

This is in addition to promoting market research as a means of conducting trade promotion programmes in markets, whilst promptly updating information regarding rice exporters to serve export orientation.

Nam underlined the need to research and negotiate deals to sign preferential trade agreements with a number of potential markets, take advantage of agreements that have been put into effect, and ask partners to increase the Vietnamese rice quota.

Furthermore, traders must raise their awareness about the implementation of free trade regulations in a bid to ensure sustainable production and exports in the nation moving forward, he emphasized.

Nam also advised Vietnamese rice exporters to closely monitor market information to take advantage of opportunities for rice exports in the first months of the year to the Indonesian market when the retail price of rice in the free market for high-quality rice products is up to 18,000 Rupees, equivalent to US$1.16 per kg compared to the ceiling price set by the Government at US$0.9 per kg.

Vietnamese rice is currently present in more than 180 countries and territories, including demanding markets such as Europe, the US, the Republic of Korea (RoK), and Australia.

To deal with market fluctuations in the year ahead, the Ministry of Industry and Trade, as a multi-sectoral economic management agency, has devised strategic, useful, and appropriate solutions for each possible scenario.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade will therefore co-ordinate with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to actively negotiate to diversify export markets, while also capitalizing on opportunities to dominate new and potential markets to sharpen the overall competitiveness of the rice industry.

More Japan flights from Vietnam
Vietravel Airlines, a subsidiary of tour operator Viettravel, will operate around 10 charter flights linking HCM City and Danang to Japan until the end of April.

Six flights will go to Takamatsu Prefecture and four to Fukushima Prefecture. Vietnam to Japan flights will have capacity for nearly 1,862 passengers, and 1,780 passengers on return flights.

On Sunday, Vietravel Airlines ran a flight from HCM City to Takamatsu with 200 passengers on board, becoming the first of the carrier’s charters until late April.

The Japan National Tourism Organisation in Vietnam reported that Japan welcomed approximately 573,900 Vietnamese tourists last year, an all-time record, marking a 15.9 percent rise against 2019. 

Vietravel Airlines met with representatives of Kagawa and Fukushima prefectures in December last year about plans to expand the flight network connecting Vietnamese cities with these two Japanese localities.

Vietravel Airlines covers many popular tourist destinations in Vietnam such as Danang, Phu Quoc, Nha Trang, Quy Nhon, and Da Lat. It also operates flights to Bangkok in Thailand and charter flights to Daegu and Muan in South Korea, and Macau and Sanya in China, the Vietnam News Agency reported.

PTSC shows strong engagement in offshore wind power projects

The Petrovietnam Technical Services Corporation (PTSC), a subsidiary company of the Vietnam Oil and Gas Group (Petrovietnam), is deeply engaging in domestic and international offshore wind power projects thanks to its rich experience, strong resources and highly qualified personnel.

According to PTSC General Director Le Manh Cuong, the firm is capable of providing transformer station and base manufacturing services for offshore wind power projects, and its capacity can meet international partners’ demand.

Recently, PTSC has been chosen by international offshore wind power developers to participate in their supply chains.

In May 2023, PTSC won the bid and signed a contract with Orsted Group to manufacture and supply 33 wind power bases for CHW2204 offshore wind farm project in Taiwan (China) which has a total capacity of 920 MW. PTSC has also signed and implemented contracts to design and manufacture nine offshore substations (OSS) for offshore wind power projects in Taiwan (China) and Europe (Baltic Sea region).

These projects have a total contract value of about 1.5 billion USD. All the supplies are manufactured in Vietnam.

In 2023, PTSC was also chosen by the Singaporean Government to partner with Sembcorp in developing a 2.3GW offshore wind power project to export electricity to Singapore through a submarine cable system.

With an over 3,000km coastline, Vietnam has the highest wind power resources in Southeast Asia, and ranks fifth in Asia and 13th in the world in the field. The World Bank estimates that Vietnam’s offshore wind power potential is about 600GW. Wind power development is also a focus of the National Power Plan VIII.

Cuong held that the Government should issue policies and mechanisms to encourage and attract investment in offshore wind power development to optimise the country’s strength, with priorities given to domestic firms and State-owned enterprises.

In late August 2023, PTSC became the first and only in Vietnam to be licenced by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to fully deploy monitoring, investigation, survey and assessment activities of marine resources.

In October 2023, PTSC’s partner Sembcorp was also granted a conditional electricity import licence from the Singapore Energy Market Management Authority (EMA).

Cuong revealed that in 2024, PTSC will conduct offshore surveys./.

Digital payments push women-led businesses’ revenue: Visa

Some 62% of women-led small and medium-sized enterprises and micro-businesses reported increased revenue after adopting digital payments, according to a recent study on small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in Vietnam released by Visa, a global leader in digital payments.

According to the study, considering that women constitute over half of Asia’s population, the Asia Pacific economy, including the Vietnam market, could gain an additional 89 billion USD annually if women were able to maximise their economic potential. 

SMBs are crucial for Vietnam’s economic growth, with SMBs accounting for 96% of all businesses of Vietnam and employing 47% of the labour force, it said.

The study found that, with the adoption of digital payments, managing businesses has become easier for 73% of the surveyed SMBs in Vietnam. Almost three-quarters of the respondents have adopted digital payments, while 42% accept card payments. The primary factors influencing these decisions include ease of management, impact on sales, and the security afforded by bank transfers. 

Furthermore, two-thirds of the surveyed SMBs collaborate with more than one payment provider. Among the businesses that have started accepting digital payments, those accepting cards witnessed the most significant turnover increases (79%), compared to those who did not accept cards (46%).

Digital payments enable fast transfers, and cashless everyday transactions for a better commerce experience. Visa supports SMBs in Vietnam through wide acceptance and protection for merchants and customers, and protection against fraud. 

“My business has grown since I introduced digital payment methods. I appreciate the convenience, speed, and the ability to easily track payment records. It provides my customers with a convenient cashless payment option too. I hope to expand my business beyond Vietnam so enabling cross-border payments will help me grow my customer base,” said Nguyen Minh Tram, CEO & Founder, Sorella Beauty & Spa.

“SMBs are the backbone of Vietnam’s thriving economy and Visa is proud to contribute to their growth by providing secure and convenient digital payment solutions,” said Dung Dang, Visa Country Manager for Vietnam and Laos. “Visa is committed to continue introducing innovative financial and payment solutions, so they can build on this foundation to grow their business.” 

In Vietnam, Visa is committed to helping SMB owners and startups, having signed a three-year MoU with the State Bank of Vietnam. Visa launched its SMB Accelerator Program in Vietnam in 2023 to support SMBs and partners, including through faster onboarding and comprehensive take-to-market support. The expanded SMB Accelerator initiatives will also focus on a wider set of partnerships with ecosystem participants to serve smaller sellers and fast-track solutions deployment for SMBs. 

The Visa Foundation has also pledged 100 million USD over five years to accelerate access for underrepresented and women-led SMBs in APEC economies, including Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, Mexico, and Peru. Of the nearly 67 million SMBs reached by Visa globally, approximately 29.6 million are from APEC economies, with 10.9 million being women-led SMBs./.

Australia a potential market for Vietnamese shrimp

Australia is considered a high potential market for Vietnamese shrimp as this market’s demand for processed shrimp is increasing, according to the Việt Nam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP).

Meanwhile, Việt Nam’s shrimp processing industry is constantly developing with a diversity of products.

Focusing on developing its strengths, Vietnamese businesses will succeed in major export markets, including Australia, according to VASEP.

Lê Văn Quang, general director of Minh Phú Seafood Group Joint Stock Company, said shrimp processing and exporting enterprises should invest in more advanced technology to create more deep-processed and affordable products.

Hồ Quốc Lực, chairman of Sao Ta Food Joint Stock Company, said that thanks to investment in modern technology, Vietnamese shrimp still accounted for the largest share in the global market, despite strong competitive pressure from cheap shrimp of Ecuador, India and Indonesia.

According to VASEP, as of February 15, Vietnamese shrimp exports to Australia reached more than US$23 million, an increase of 48 per cent over the same period in 2023.

Australia is the fifth largest market for Việt Nam’s export shrimp, accounting for 7.5 per cent of the total value of shrimp exports.

In 2023, Vietnamese shrimp exports to Australia reached $233 million, down 14 per cent compared to the previous year. However, the rate of decline was still lower than in other main markets, such as Japan, the EU, South Korea and Canada.

Việt Nam’s shrimp export reduction last year followed the downtrend of seafood exports on the global market due to high inflation rates, causing demand to decline.

Australia is the 13th largest economy in the world with an import turnover of nearly $250 billion each year. Australia now is Việt Nam’s seventh largest trading partner, while Việt Nam is Australia’s tenth largest trading partner.

Both Việt Nam and Australia are members of at least three free trade agreements (FTAs), including ASEAN – Australia – New Zealand FTA (AANZFTA), Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

Australia has a small population of about 25.7 million people, but this is a potential market because the people are willing to pay high prices for quality products, and buy imported goods.

However, Australia is still a demanding market with a system of strict standards for imported goods.

In addition, the distance between Việt Nam and Australia leads to high logistics costs and long shipping times, which are challenges for Vietnamese seafood businesses when exporting to this market.

Enterprises must be proactive in exploiting and developing markets, and have long-term business plans to promote exporting goods to Australia.

On the occasion of a Special Summit commemorating the 50th anniversary of ASEAN-Australia relations and Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính’s visit to Australia in the early days of March, Việt Nam and Australia upgraded ties to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

This means the two countries will promote market access measures and facilitate trade activities in the fields of agriculture and fisheries.

In addition, the Việt Nam Trade Promotion Agency (Vietrade) and the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to strengthen cooperation in trade and investment promotion between the two countries.

This MoU will help the two countries create a stable, sustainable and methodical cooperation mechanism. Then, they will establish plans to implement trade and export promotion activities, advancing cooperation between Vietrade and Austrade, as well as the economic and trade cooperation between Việt Nam and Australia.

According to VASEP, Vietnamese shrimp exports to Australia surged from $127 million in 2019 to $272 million in 2022.

White-legged shrimp has accounted for the largest proportion of Việt Nam’s shrimp product structure exported to Australia, accounting for 95 per cent. The rest has been black tiger shrimp (0.2 per cent) and other types of shrimp (4.8 per cent).

Regarding kinds of products, processed shrimp products have accounted for 40 per cent of the total export value of shrimp products to this market, mainly shrimp dumplings, ginger shrimp dumplings, frozen breaded white shrimp and frozen white shrimp skewers.

Investors show strong interest in dividends at annual shareholders’ meetings

Investors eagerly seek information on companies’ dividends during the annual shareholders’ meetings. High dividend distributions often attract significant capital inflows, leading investors to carefully analyse the related documents.

Nguyễn Hoàng Thái, an investor from Hà Nội, expressed his enthusiasm for the shareholders’ meeting season.

“I often review shareholders’ meeting documents and other company announcements to identify investment opportunities and adjust my portfolio. I particularly seek out companies expected to offer high dividend yields,” he told

Ba Ria Thermal Power Joint Stock Company (BTP) was expected to finalise the list of eligible shareholders to receive dividends at an unprecedented rate of 26.47 per cent. The company plans to allocate VNĐ160 billion (US$6.5 million) for this distribution, with payments beginning on March 29.

Cholimex Food Joint Stock Company (CMF) intends to provide an interim cash dividend payment for 2023, amounting to 50 per cent. With 8.1 million outstanding shares, the company expects to distribute approximately VNĐ40.5 billion on May 10, 2024. Their annual shareholders’ meeting is scheduled for April 24.

Biên Hoà Packaging Joint Stock Company (SVI) will hold its annual shareholders’ meeting for 2024 on March 29. The agenda includes approving a cash dividend distribution plan of 26 per cent for 2023. The company will present its business plan for 2024, aiming for a revenue target of VNĐ1.71 trillion and a post-tax profit exceeding VNĐ154 billion. These figures represent a 14 per cent and 17 per cent increase, respectively, compared to 2023.

“I view dividend-earning stocks as safe long-term investments. I appreciate the comfort and reassurance of receiving rewards without the stress of timing the market, which short-term traders often experience. I prefer reliable dividends, such as NT2 (PetroVietnam Power Nhơn Trạch 2 JSC), BMP (Bình Minh Plastic Joint Stock Company (BMP) and FPT (FPT Corporation),” said another investor.

The banking sector has also drawn significant attention from investors in terms of dividends. This year, several banks are expected to distribute cash dividends after several years of offering stock dividends. For example, Techcombank (TCB) plans to allocate at least 20 per cent of its pre-tax profit for 2023, equivalent to 4-5 per cent of its equity, for cash dividend distribution.

However, many banks still plan to distribute dividends in the form of stock. Vietcombank (VCB) intends to utilise its post-tax profit and reserves for 2022, totalling VNĐ21.68 trillion, to distribute stock dividends. This distribution would amount to 38.79 per cent of its charter capital, resulting in the issuance of 21.7 billion shares.

Vietcombank achieved a post-tax profit of VNĐ33.05 trillion in 2023, reflecting a 10.5 per cent increase compared to the previous year. The bank will finalise the list of shareholders on March 26 and hold its annual shareholders’ meeting for 2024 on April 26.

Nam Á Bank (NAB), a newcomer to the banking sector on HOSE, recently indicated its intention to maintain a 20 per cent dividend rate. However, the bank plans to primarily distribute dividends in the form of stock to bolster its equity and enhance financial capacity. Nam Á Bank forecasts a pre-tax profit of VNĐ4 trillion in 2024 and VNĐ5 trillion in 2025.

Trần Hoàng Sơn, the Market Strategy Director at VPBank Securities Company, noted that aside from dividend potential, the banking sector’s high profitability and stable growth continually attracted investors’ interest. Sơn predicted that bank stocks would be among the primary drivers of market growth in the stock market this year.

According to analysts, when selecting stocks for dividend income, investors should consider various factors such as the company’s dividend payment history, cash flow, revenue, profit, industry prospects and macro-economic outlook.

Several sectors are expected to experience growth in 2024, including retail, infrastructure investment and securities. This growth is driven by favourable policies and positive economic prospects.

In the retail sector, the overall retail sales of goods and consumer service revenue in the first two months of 2024 have shown modest growth compared to the same period in 2023. However, stocks like FPT Retail Corporation (FRT), Phú Nhuận Jewelry Joint Stock Company (PNJ), and Mobile World Investment Corporation (MWG) have recently attracted investors, leading to price increases.

PNJ, in particular, is recommended by KB Vietnam Securities Company as an investment option for March 2024. This recommendation is based on the long-term growth potential of the jewellery market, the company’s expansion of store networks, and efforts to attract new customers and improve store revenues.

In terms of infrastructure investment, companies in sectors such as steel, construction materials and construction are expected to benefit from increased infrastructure spending. The disbursement of funds for infrastructure projects has shown a significant increase in the first two months of 2024 compared to the same period last year. Additionally, declining interest rates are expected to reduce financial costs for these companies.

The securities sector is supported by prospects of market upgrades and the launch of the KRX system, which is expected to enhance market operations.

Nguyễn Thế Minh, Director of Individual Customer Analysis at Yuanta Vietnam Securities Company, predicted a brighter economic outlook for 2024. He cited Việt Nam’s attractiveness as a destination for foreign investment and the positive business activities in the country.

“Foreign investors have shown increased net buying activities in the stock market, indicating their confidence in the growth potential of the Vietnamese stock market,” he said.

This year’s shareholder meetings are expected to be vibrant as investor confidence continues to strengthen. With low-interest rates and increased capital inflows, the focus will be on companies with promising business prospects and strong fundamentals. 

China as Việt Nam’s largest wood chip export market

China is Việt Nam’s largest wood chip export market last year.

Việt Nam exports wood chips to 13 markets in 2023. China, Japan and South Korea are the country’s three main wood chip export markets.

Việt Nam exported over 9.38 million tonnes of wood chips to the Chinese market in 2023, reaching over $1.43 billion, accounting for 65.1 per cent in volume and 64.7 per cent in value.

In the Chinese market, the average export price of wood chips decreased from $183 – $185 per tonne at the beginning of last year to less than $140 per tonne in the middle of the year, then rose slightly in the last months of the year but remained below $150 per tonne.

Ranking second is the Japanese market. The price of wood chips declined by up to $36 per tonne last year.

Specifically, the price of wood chips exported to this market was $181 per tonne in January last year but fell to $145 by December.

Wood chip exports to the Korean market reached 548,590 tonnes, reaching $91.88 million, accounting for 3.8 per cent in volume and 4.1 per cent in value.

Similar to the Japanese and Chinese markets, export prices to the Korean market have decreased by $27 per tonne last year with strong fluctuations during the year.

The market recorded an average export price of $200 per tonne in January, 2023, but the price decreased continuously to bottom out at $136, but bounced back to $172 in the last months of the year.

The Việt Nam Timber and Forest Product Association said that the demand for imported wood chips in the Chinese market would tend to continue to decline in the near future, leading to a decline in chip export prices in this market.

In general, the export market structure of wood chips will not change significantly in the near future.

However, the wood chip industry will continue to compete in raw materials with the pellet industry, especially in the Northern provinces because planted forest wood is the main input for both industries in this area.

Therefore, businesses and management agencies need to consider investing in building up raw material sources to ensure a stable supply for production and export.

National brand to helps local businesses extend international reach

Building national brands is important to help local businesses engage deeply in the global value chains and establish reputation in the world’s market, experts have said.

According to brand evaluation consultancy Brand Finance, Việt Nam brand value has increased to US$431 billion to rank 33rd in 2022 from $319 billion in 2019. The country climbed one place to 32nd in 2023.

A report on the implementation of the Việt Nam National Brand Programme 2023 by the Ministry of Industry and Trade showed that Việt Nam continued to be a spotlight in the world’s brand development map, posting the fastest growth rate of 102 per cent in the 2019-23 period.

Along with the growth of the nation brand, the brand value of Vietnamese businesses also increased strongly.

While brands of Vietnamese businesses were absent in the rankings of international organisations in early 2000s, the total value of the country’s top 50 brands increased by 36 per cent to $36.6 billion in 2022.

Telecommunications, banking and food are industries with the most valuable and strongest brands, according to Brand Finance’s Vietnam 100 2023 report.

Banking brand value increased by 47 per cent in 2022, proved resilient to economic headwinds battering the nation by adopting digitalisation and enhancing customer services. Bank of Investment and Development for Việt Nam (BIDV) was the fastest growing brand with the value up 69 per cent to $1.4 billion.

Viettel defended its title as Việt Nam’s most valuable brand in our rankings for the eighth year running with a growth of 2 per cent to $8.9 billion on improvement in financial performance and digitalisation effort.

According to Bùi Thị Hương, executive director of Vinamilk, it is important for businesses to seek innovation and creativity based on their core values to not only continue affirm the brand value in Viêt Nam but also contribute actively to bringing Việt Nam brand to the world.

Đặng Thuý Hà from Nielsen Việt Nam highlights the remarkable success of the business community in promoting corporate brands and expanding the reach of Vietnamese goods to international markets.

Việt Nam’s strong brands are increasingly known to the world.

Still, many enterprises, mostly small and medium sized, have not paid adequate attention to building brands and invested properly for brand communication.

According to Alex Haigh, Managing Director of Brand Finance, Asia Pacific, a compelling story is the key to building the national brand and image of Việt Nam. A number of factors will play roles in establishing brand, including diplomacy, economy and business environment.

Lê Bá Ngọc, Deputy President of Việt Nam Handicraft Exporter Association, says in brand building, it is necessary to focus on innovative, original and sustainable value.

Economist Trần Đình Thiên says that building a Vietnamese brand means creating prestige and advantage as well as conditions for Vietnamese products to easily reach the world to create national value and increase national pride. 

Cashew firms enhance processing to add value to exports

Cashew processing businesses have in recent years invested in modern machinery and equipment for intensive processing and adding more value to their products, according to insiders.

Hoàng Sơn 1 JSC, one of Việt Nam’s leading processors and exporters of the nut, has, for instance, invested a huge amount of money to build a modern plant.

According to its chairman, Tạ Quang Huyên, the plant is equipped with state-of-the-art processing technologies to ensure products meet strict new international standards.

Its highly processed items include roasted and salted cashew with skin, wood fire roasted, wood fire roasted and salted, roasted, and flavoured cashews, and are exported to markets such as Japan, China and the Middle East.

Highly processed items accounted for 30-40 per cent of its export revenue last year, and the company would focus more on deep processing and expanding its portfolio of processed items and increasing their proportion of exports, he said.

“Highly processed products offer high value and thus better profit margins compared to semi-processed products.”

Another leading firm that has succeeded in producing and exporting highly processed cashew products is Long Sơn JSC.

Vũ Thái Sơn, its chairman, said demand for highly processed cashew is on the rise, and countries that have free trade agreements with Việt Nam have waived tariffs on processed cashew.

So his company has stepped up investment in production of highly processed and high-quality cashew and embraced green transformation and social and environmental responsibility to meet the increasingly stringent requirements of buyers, thereby getting better than market prices, he said.

He said last year it was quite successful in exporting to China products such as roasted and salted, chili garlic, spiced, sesame, and honey cashews.

It also sells directly to large supermarket systems such as Walmart and others around the world.

Việt Nam has been accounting for a whopping 80 per cent of global exports for the last 16 years, but they have mainly been of semi-processed items of low value, according to insiders.

Speeding up intensive processing and export of highly processed products would help raise the country’s profile in the international market and open up opportunities for Vietnamese businesses to export under their own brands, they said.

After decreasing in both export volume and value terms in 2022, cashew exports recovered in 2023 with 641,000 tonnes of kernels exported for US$3.63 billion, year-on-year increases of 23 per cent and 17 per cent.

In January nearly 64,000 tonnes worth $339 million have been exported, up 137 per cent and 125 per cent year-on-year, creating high hopes for prospects this year, according to cashew firms.

Phùng Văn Sâm, president of Hanfimex Group, a producer and exporter of foods and spices, said the global cashew market is expected to grow by an average of 4.6 per cent a year in 2022-27.

“The global trend favouring vegetarian and plant-based diets has driven demand for various nuts and processed nut-based foods, including cashew, and the current low price of cashew nuts will help promote consumption of this healthy product.”

Joseph Lang, managing director of Kenkko (UK), one of Europe’s largest buyers, also expressed optimism about the market, saying European consumers have increasing awareness of nuts’ health benefits and prefer the taste of cashew to other nuts.

“Europe is the largest importer of cashew nut kernels in the world, accounting for 35-40 per cent of global cashew import value. In the next five years the European market for cashew nuts is predicted to grow at a rate of 4-6 per cent.”

Chen Ying, secretary general of the China Nut Association, said: “China’s imports of tree nuts have been increasing year after year since 2017. With the exception of walnuts, demand basically outstrips supply.”

Of the nuts widely consumed in China, cashew and pistachio are 100 per cent imported, with 70 per cent of cashew coming from Việt Nam, she said.

“The per capita consumption of nuts in China is still far behind that of developed countries, and so the potential is huge.”

But the insiders also warned about challenges like a drop in export prices, the dependence on imported raw cashew and rising shipping costs and time due to the Red Sea tensions.

According to Việt Nam Cashew Association chairman Phạm Văn Công, processed cashew prices have fallen significantly in recent years as against a minor fall raw nut prices.

As a result, most Vietnamese processors and exporters suffer losses or barely break even despite increasing exports, he said.

Both he and Sâm said that with the cashew crop this year forecast to be abundant, businesses should not buy large volumes right at the beginning of the season to stockpile.

They should wait until prices fall to reasonable levels, and only buy when they have an export contract, they added.

“Firms should buy raw materials at the right time and right price,” Sâm said.

They also need to keep good control over costs, step up trade promotions, diversify their product portfolio, and stringently control quality of raw nuts, he added.

Vietnamese exporters realise that countries that for long used to be major suppliers of raw cashew have themselves started processing the nuts for export, making it both difficult to buy raw cashew and increasing competition in the global market.

Việt Nam’s cashew industry needs to focus on improving quality and diversifying products by focusing on deep processing to keep its competitive advantage, they added.

Vũ Thái Sơn of Long Sơn JSC said the cashew industry must also keep abreast of the current green trend to meet consumers’ more stringent requirements in terms of environmental and social responsibility. 

Vietnam Airlines runs more flights to Con Dao

National flag carrier Vietnam Airlines has increased the frequency of flights to Con Dao Island in the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau since mid-March.

Vietnam Airlines will operate 26-30 flights daily from HCM City to Con Dao, using ATR-72 aeroplanes, nearly double the schedule from February.

The carrier will also select Con Dao as the first destination for its sustainable air route project, aimed at protecting the environment. All plastic waste, including plastic bags, on flights to Con Dao will be brought back to the mainland for treatment.

Some 72 percent of tourists travelling to Con Dao chose airtravel in 2023.

The increase in Vietnam Airlines’ flights to Con Dao follows Bamboo Airways’ announcement that it would suspend all its flights from Hanoi and HCM City to the island since April. This suspension came as the airline nears the end of leasing three aeroplanes that service the route in late March.

Vietravel launches charter flights from HCM City and Da Nang to Japan

Vietravel Airlines successfully conducted its first charter flight on March 17 in a series of flights connecting Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang to Takamatsu and Fukushima prefectures in Japan.

With 200 passengers on board, the flight marks a new milestone in the journey to expand the airline’s flight network whilst also connecting tourist cities between Vietnam and Japan this year.

This is part of a charter chain aimed at utilising Vietravel’s existing ecosystem as a means of promoting air transport and tourism activities this year.

As scheduled, Vietravel Airlines will operate 10 charter flights from Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang to Takamatsu and Fukushima in Japan in March and April, including six flights to Takamatsu Prefecture and four flights to Fukushima Prefecture.

Japan was a popular tourism destination selected for many Vietnamese tourists last year, according to the Japan National Tourism Organisation (JNTO).

There were 573,900 Vietnamese visitors to Japan last year, representing an increase of 15.9% compared to 2019, and  hitting the highest record figure so far.

FPT takes ownership of Japan’s NAC

FPT Corporation announced on March 1 that it has acquired the IT services company Next Advanced Communications NAC Co., Ltd. (NAC), its first merger and acquisition (M&A) deal in Japan.

With NAC as FPT’s wholly owned subsidiary, the company aims to double its customer base and service offerings in Japan and deepen its foothold in the market.

The move aligns with FPT’s global expansion strategy and enables the Vietnamese firm to capitalise on NAC’s talent pool of nearly 300 experienced engineers and its expertise in technology and business consulting, system planning, and design. FPT aims to achieve $1 billion in revenue from the Japanese market by 2027 and have more than half of its employees in Japan as multinational employees.

With the current challenges facing the digital transformation in Japan, including an ageing population, shortage of ICT human resources, and the complexity of existing systems, this acquisition of NAC reflects FPT’s commitment to aiding Japanese businesses in their digital and green transformations. The deal also enables FPT to foster sustainable growth and competitiveness and expand its services to new industries and a wider range of customers.

Binh Duong eyes cooperation expansion with German firms

Leaders of the southern province of Binh Duong, a magnet for foreign direct investment (FDI) in Vietnam, had a meeting with representatives from the German Business Association (GBA) in Vietnam on March 19 to seek ways to expand investment connectivity with nearly 400 German enterprises.

Germany currently has 18 investment projects worth 50.7 million USD in the southern province, accounting for only 0.4% of the total number of FDI projects, and 0.1% of the combined registered capital in the locality.

GBA Vietnam Chairman Alexander Ziehe said that the association has nearly 400 member businesses, and Binh Duong is one of the main locations for German investment projects in various industries, after Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.

He proposed Binh Duong prioritise addressing issues related to infrastructure, particularly in transport, improving waste management and rooftop solar systems, and bettering the provision of information about new policies by announcing changes at least three months in advance, and publishing them on online and offline media in both Vietnamese and English.

Nguyen Loc Ha, Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee, said that in the coming time, Binh Duong will continue to restructure the intra-provincial industrial network, upgrade existing industrial parks into smart ones, develop supporting industries to increase the localisation rate, and invest in building a regional transport system.

According to Ha, the province is prioritising the attraction of FDI in green transformation, with a focus on developing sustainable energy, green economy, and circular economy.

Binh Duong currently has 29 industrial parks and 12 industrial clusters, with more than 60,000 businesses that are employing more than 1.2 million workers. It ranks third in the country in terms of FDI attraction with 4,247 projects totalling 40.5 billion USD./.

Vietnam – US trade, investment ties expected to grow further

A delegation of 50 US enterprises arranged by the US – ASEAN Business Council (USABC) is paying a working visit to Vietnam from March 18 to 21, which is said to mark a big step in bilateral relations.

This is the biggest US business delegation coming to Vietnam since the two countries upgraded their ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership in September 2023.

Prominent in the delegation are Meta, Boeing, 3M, Abbott, AES, AIG, Amazon, Atmo, Chubb Life Vietnam, Coca-Cola Vietnam, Dieago, Dow, Energy Capital Vietnam, FedEx, Ford, Manulife, Marriott International, Mastercard, PepsiCo Foods Vietnam, Pernod Ricard, Procter & Gamble (P&G), Roblox, Salesforce, SAP Asia Pte Ltd, SnowBridge Capital, Suntory PepsiCo Vietnam Beverage, Visa, and Zuellig Pharma Vietnam.

On this occasion, US Ambassador to Vietnam Marc Knapper said the two sides agreed to intensify cooperation in all aspects, from trade, investment, security to education and health care, and to continue promoting ties in the fields they are strong at.

Perceiving that it is necessary to utilise the comprehensive strategic partnership, he noted there are many foundations for developing the Vietnam – US collaboration such as the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF), and that it’s now an important point of time for fostering long-term cooperation.

Vietnam played an important role in global supply chains during the pandemic, and the US has boosted supply chain resilience by manufacturing such products as leather – footwear in the Southeast Asian country. It has been holding an important role in the US’s trade relations as well as security and economic ties, Knapper said.

The US will step up cooperation with Vietnam through the USABC and the American Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam, the diplomat went on, mentioning the growth of bilateral trade over the past 29 years since the normalisation of bilateral relations, with Vietnam now being the ninth largest trade partner of the US and the US the biggest destination of Vietnamese goods.

Highlighting the US as one of the top 10 foreign investors in Vietnam, USABC President and CEO Ted Osius said foreign direct investment (FDI) from the US in Vietnam rose sharply last year and this trend will continue in 2024.

US investors will invest more in Vietnam, and priority fields include technology, clean energy, energy transition, financial services, tourism, and defence, according to Osius.

For her part, Sarah Morgenthau, Special Representative for Commercial and Business Affairs at the US Department of State, welcomed Vietnamese enterprises’ investment expansion in the US in the areas they have strength in like electric vehicle manufacturing. She voiced her hope that the US will boost investment in Vietnam as well as ASEAN at large, and vice versa.

Joseph Uddo, President of the US-invested AES Vietnam, noted his company has poured billions of USD into Vietnam and become a major investor in the local energy market. AES Vietnam is inspired by the country’s development orientation, which matches its expectation, and it is ready to support the Vietnamese Government during the energy transition process.

About the reason for the firm’s investment here, he said the country’s fast growth has led to increasing energy demand, which also creates many opportunities for manufacturing and artificial intelligence. Vietnam also offers numerous investment chances thanks to a population of 100 million, a young, industrious and smart workforce, and a business-enabling environment./.

Source: VNA/SGT/VNS/VOV/Dtinews/SGGP/VGP/Hanoitimes

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