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BUSINESS IN BRIEF 24/11   2008-11-24 - ND, SGGP, VNA, VNS, CPV, VOV

 
Vietnam railway group to be formed

The Vietnam Railway Corporation will be reorganized into the Vietnam Railway Group, according to the Strategy for Railway Transportation Development by 2020, which has been approved by the Prime Minister. 

The Vietnam Railway Group will be an umbrella group and will operate under the holding-subsidiary model. 

The holding company will be state-owned and responsible for administration, organization and maintenance of the group’s transport activities. 

Subsidiary companies will operate their own independent account systems but will have close ties with the holding company in terms of brand, capital, technologies and other various fields. 

Electrical equipment firm exports $1 mln worth transformers to Cambodia 

The Vietnam Electrical Equipment Company (THIBIDI) yesterday dispatched over 400 transformers of various capacities to the Electricity Corporation of Cambodia.  

The export comes under a US$1 million contract to develop the rural electricity network in Cambodia.
 
This takes THIBIDi’s transformer exports this year to US$3 million, three times the last year figure. 
 

Trade ministry wants rice smuggling from Cambodia stopped 

Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang has called on the agriculture ministry and other agencies to prevent smuggling of rice into Vietnam from neighboring Cambodia.  

It is estimated that 1,000 tons of Cambodian paddy have been illegally entering southern provinces every day in the last two months.
                             
A rice retailer in the Mekong Delta said more and more people prefer Cambodian rice because of its good taste and low prices. It costs VND5,000-6,000 per kilogram.
 
Huynh The Nang, deputy chairman of the An Giang Province People’s Committee, complained about the fact that in the delta high-quality rice is only grown for export.
 
He said it is time provincial authorities switch their attention to local demand.
 
Agricultural and trade authorities should reconsider the structure of rice exports and local markets and come up a proper plan to boost the upcoming winter-spring crop output to serve both markets, he added.

Seafood exports reach US$4 billion

 

Vietnam’s total seafood exports hit US$4 billion, according to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) on November 21.
This is a great achievement for the seafood sector in 2008 because many experts said that it would be very difficult to fulfill the set target due to the global financial crisis.

Currently, frozen shrimp, tra and basa catfish, and cuttle-fish have retained a high export growth rate. Over the past 10 months, frozen shrimp has accounted for 35.4 percent of total seafood exports with 158,527 tonnes worth US$1.354 billion, while tra and basa catfish made up 32.4 percent with 550,000 tonnes, worth US$1.24 billion.

The EU ranks first among Vietnamese seafood importers and accounted for 25.3 percent of the total seafood exports worth nearly US$970 million. 
 

Optimism shown at HK fair 

The HCM City Association of Property Businesses (HAPB) was one of a number of Vietnamese real- estate developers who attended the MIPIM Asia 2008 exhibition, which took place in Hong Kong from November 19-21. 

The event, the third regional real-estate exhibition, attracted over 2,000 businesses from over 50 countries and territories, 611 of whom displayed their products. 

Le Huu Duy, from the HAPB, told the Vietnam News Agency that many foreign real-estate developers were gathering information about implementing major projects in Viet Nam and displaying an interest in the market, despite the current bleak financial picture. 

During a workshop on Viet Nam last Thursday, participants were optimistic about the Southeast Asian market’s future, praising the recent measures taken by the Vietnamese Government to stabilise the economy. They also predicted that the Vietnamese economy, particularly its property market, would stay the course in the future. 

Interest-rate cuts not big enough to attract real-estate investors 

Although commercial banks have slashed interest rates, property buyers in HCM City remain uninterested because the rates are still too high for most of them and the market is showing no signs of a revival. 

Lending rates have dropped from 18-19 per cent to 15-16 per cent per year while the director of a city real-estate company, who declined to be named, said although housing prices were currently 50 to 60 per cent down, there were few transactions. Though banks have cut rates to as low as 15 per cent, he said he did not dare to borrow to invest in real estate. 

"Hundreds of houses and land plots remain unsold. If I continue to buy more houses and no one buys them, I cannot pay interest," he said. 

This is a common sentiment among businesspeople many of whom, in any case, already owe money to banks after the property-market crash. Some analysts said interest rates were still too high to make profits. Le Hoang Chau, chairman of the HCM City Real Estate Association, said at such high rates, only those who desperately needed capital would borrow. 

However, banking analysts have said banks would continue to cut interest rates. 

The real-estate market is likely to recover between 2009 and 2011, property analysts said.  

HCM City to help promote SMEs 

The city will support small-and medium-sized-enterprises (SMEs) in the coming period with trade fairs and exhibitions that will promote high quality products and services provided by the sector, a senior official has said. 

Nguyen Van Lai, director of the HCM City Department of Industry and Trade, said that these events would help the sector get information and find new export markets, business opportunities, potential customers and partners. 

Many activities and events organised by the city’s Centre for Investment and Trade Promotion have seen about 70 foreign delegations from 15 foreign countries and 233 businesses visit the city so far this year to explore business and investment opportunities.

HCM City attracted more than US$8 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI) in the first nine months of the year, a sixfold increase over the same period last year, the centre announced at a review meeting held recently. 

It began the year with meetings between Government representatives and officials from the Association for American Business in Singapore (Singapore Amcham) to open investment opportunities in the field of infrastructure, including roads, ports, airports and energy. 

A recent investment and co-operation forum organised by the centre drew the participation of more than 300 Vietnamese and Spanish businesses. 

At these meetings and events, city officials committed to help investors in sorting out site clearance problems and guide them in the implementation of investment procedures. 

The centre said it planned to co-operate with the Japan External Trade Organisation (Jetro) in the near future to hold events designed to promote exports and attract FDI. 



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