Spotify to stir up Vietnamese and Thai music streaming markets

Newswire TechCrunch has recently aired news that global music streaming giant Spotify will likely set up shop in Vietnam and Thailand—possibly even within the year. With a global user base of 100 million registered and 50 million paying subscribers, Spotify has yet to conquer certain market pockets in Asia and there might be very good reasons for this.

Spotify to stir up Vietnamese and Thai music streaming markets
Spotify targets launching in Vietnam and Thailand before going public

Shifting focus in Spotify’s Asia strategy

According to TechCrunch, Spotify is looking to step up its game in Asia by launching its music streaming service in Vietnam and Thailand and “seriously considering” expansion in India, perhaps even within the year.

While Spotify declined to comment on its plans in Vietnam and Thailand to TechCrunch, it has started hiring for music editor positions in both countries. The move is considered a precursor to launching services, as the company followed a similar strategy in Indonesia in 2015. Then, it started hiring for the exact same post in October and launched its service within six short months.

The positions will likely be headquartered at Spotify’s Asia-Pacific headquarters in Singapore and based on the events in Indonesia, the music streaming service might be launched within 2017 already—though there is little to justify the six-month timeframe.

Spotify is one of the largest music streaming services in the world, with more than 100 million registered and 50 million paying subscribers. The company’s service is available in 60 countries worldwide, though significant markets in Asia remain unexplored.

The company was reported to have financial difficulties as it decided to streamline its business model before going public without actually staging an IPO. At the time, they chose to push the move off to 2018, but Snap’s and other successful IPOs signified ideal market conditions to forge ahead. This likely lead to Spotify shifting focus from India to “easier” markets, like Vietnam, Thailand, and Japan.

In India, Spotify would meet significant competition from iger Global-backed Saavn and Times Internet’s Gaana, as well as Apple’s iTunes (available since 2015) and Google Play Music that arrived just this year. Despite the Indian market’s sheer size and the significant monetary benefits of seizing just a small slice of the market, Spotify’s management likely found following the path of least resistance their best bet to boost performance before going public.

Digital music in the world

Internet statistics portal Statista Inc. offers insightful data on the global and Vietnamese digital music industry’s performance that can be utilised to understand Spotify’s choice of entering Vietnam and Thailand as well as the challenges ahead in its unexplored Asian market pockets.

According to Statista’s database, the global digital music industry’s three largest markets are the US, Europe and China. While the US and Europe signify largely developed economies with high per capita incomes, an undoubtedly vital factor in people’s choice of accessing online musical content, China is a budding market with lower incomes and rampant semi-legal streaming and downloading alternatives—features widely shared by Vietnam, Thailand, and even India, that could serve as a basis of comparison.

Spotify to stir up Vietnamese and Thai music streaming markets

Indeed, many network operators offer free 3G data for music streaming, liberating gigabytes of memory on mobile phones in exchange for subscribing for monthly data plans and subscribing to music streaming services, like that of Spotify, for a fixed charge or simply downloading a free application that features third-party advertisements.

Recent years show a marked change in digital consumption habits both in the US and Europe, and to some degree, in China as consumers are departing from downloading their favourite tunes to streaming them online.

This broke the 13-year growth series of music download sales that began in 2003 with Apple’s iTunes, as now that there is bandwidth, internet speed, and mobile internet accessibility, streaming is a better choice.

The global digital music market was about $9.2 billion in 2016, and accounted for 11 per cent of the global digital media market. Combined, the US, Europe, and China cover 81 per cent of the global digital music market, with a cumulated amount of $7.4 billion. Of this, the US is the peerless champion in digital music consumption, standing at $4.2 billion in 2016. The size of the European market was $2.3 billion in 2016, and China is $0.4 billion, far below its peers.

Spotify to stir up Vietnamese and Thai music streaming markets

In the case of wealthy US and European consumers, the one-off payments and subscriptions seem to be worth the extra storage, as more and more of them choose to stream music instead of downloading it. According to Statista, from now till 2021, revenue from streaming will increase at a 17.2 and 11.39 per cent rate in the US and Europe, respectively, while revenues from downloaded tracks will fall by 8.9 and 10.36 per cent, annually.

It is interesting to note how music streaming accounts for 67 per cent of the digital music market in Europe, far outstripping the US’ 56 per cent.

In China, on the other hand, both streaming and downloading are going through the roof, growing by 21.19 and 33.29 per cent on annum, respectively. Nevertheless, based on the sheer differences in market size, China is far from catching up with the US and EU within a foreseeable time, as its revenue is poised to hit the $1 billion mark by 2021, while the US and EU are pretty much over that threshold by their individual sectors already.

China is also different from the US and Europe markets in that the “willingness to pay for digital music is very low,” as most music is streamable for free on semi-legal alternatives. On the other hand, 92 per cent of the market is generated by “mostly ad-based streaming,” at least partially thanks to the fact that Chinese consumers arrived to the market equipped with better devices than the US and European pioneers some 13 years ago, with ready access to smoother technological solutions.

Also a feature shared by Spotify’s newest coming markets, a constant thorn in the side of music streaming and downloading service providers on the Chinese market is the abundance of free streaming services operating in constant violation of property rights.

A one-time payment or monthly subscription for unlimited music streaming might sound nice for US and European customers who can easily afford these prices than Chinese customers. While doubtlessly, service providers are making an effort to tailor service fees to regional purses, prices in China remain above the affordable for the wide Chinese population, leading to ample demand for illegal streaming and downloading, and downward pressure on the charges of legally operating providers.

Digital music industry in Vietnam

Spotify is bound to find similar issues in Vietnam, Thailand, and India as the generally outlined issue in China. As Vietnamese telecommunications firms are busy rolling out 4G and enhancing 3G services and the majority of internet users are connected through mobile devices, the market seems ready for renowned music streamers to enter.

To step further into the grounds of speculation, Vietnamese consumers are likely to pose higher demand for streaming than for downloading their favourite tracks, as their devices are mostly capable of handling 3G (and, with time, 4G), provided that network operators will accommodate this demand.

While per capita incomes are on the uptake and the country’s economic prospects are rosy, Vietnamese consumers may not be ready to spend big on streaming music, given easy content piracy and freely accessible illegal streaming platforms. Similar to the $1.5 average revenue per internet user in China, Vietnamese users spend about $1.3 per person.

As it stands, copyright infringement and the violations of intellectual property rights make Vietnam a difficult market. Just last October, nhacSO.net, one of the three biggest music streaming websites in the country, stopped operations as consumers are “moving towards other models, which are unlike the one that nhacSO.net provides,” as a manager of FPT Telecom said in an interview with ICTnews, also reported by VIR.

Spotify to stir up Vietnamese and Thai music streaming markets
Spotify will have to take on Vietnam’s largest music streamers to succeed

During its eleven years of operation, nhacSO.net grew up to be the leading music streaming site, to be then taken over by Zing mp3 (operated by VNG Corporation) and Nhaccuatui (NCT Corporation) in 2010. To this day, Zing mp3 and Nhaccuatui are doing well, ranking as the 7th and 23rd on the list of top 25 most visited websites in Vietnam compiled by reachingvietnam.com.

However, officially operating subscription-based or ad-supported unlimited access music streaming services have only a limited user penetration (not counting internet radio and video streaming). In 2017, the figure was only 3.5 per cent, and is forecasted to grow to 4.2 per cent by 2021. The market size, similarly, is relatively small: in 2017 Statista expects a total market revenue of $3 million. The market is forecasted to see a compound annual growth rate of 8.7 per cent until 2021, when revenue will be $4.1 million.

What Spotify’s success rides on in Vietnam (and indeed in Thailand and India, as well) is creating a package strong enough to force open Vietnamese users’ purses, which might prove insanely difficult. The company will not only need to come up with a library of tracks fitting local tastes (one that will contain an unparalleled variety of not only Vietnamese songs, but Korean and Japanese content) and land a deal with mobile operators to offer free data for music streaming—essentially starting a turf-war with Hong Kong’s PCCW Media that launched the music streaming brand MOOV that offers (arguably) the largest K-pop collection in Vietnam and is freely accessible for Vietnamobile 3G subscribers for only $3 a month.

And far be it from me to say MOOV is king of the market—it is relatively obscure, looming in the background behind Zing mp3, Nhaccuatui, Nhac Vui, Keeng, and Nhac DJ. At the least MOOV may provide a sensible starting point from which Spotify can improve for success.

By Tom Nguyen



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Safeguards applied on colour-coated iron

The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) on Wednesday issued Decision No 1931/QD-BCT on the application of official safeguards on colour-coated iron sheets.

A colour-coated iron sheets production line. – Photo tondonga.com.vn

Products subject to these safeguard measures are imported from various countries and territories and have trade codes: 210.7010. 7210.7090. 7212 4010. 7212.4020. 7212 4090. 7225 9990. 7226.9919. 7226.9999.

This decision will be effective within 15 days from the date of signing. The order of procedures for application of safeguard measures should comply with the law on safeguards in the import of foreign goods in Viet Nam.

The MoIT applies official safeguards through tariff quotas on imported colour-coated iron in Viet Nam within three years from the effective date of the decision.

In the first year (from June 15, 2017 to June 14, 2018), the total import quota of iron products with non-taxable codes was 380.68 thousand tonnes. In the second year, the import volume of products with non-taxable codes will amount to 418.75 thousand tonnes and will increase to 460.62 tonnes in the third year. The tariff for products out of quota is 19 per cent.

On March 30, 2017, MoIT issued the Decision No 1105/QD-BCT on the application of official anti-dumping measures for imported galvanised steel products (also known as galvanised iron). Up to 26 HS codes originating from China (including Hong Kong) and Republic of Korea (case number AD02) were brought under these measures.

Official anti-dumping measures are applied in the form of additional import duties.

Source VNS



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Phuc, Trump talk of deepening trade cooperation between Vietnam and US

Vietnam and the US are committed to enhancing their mutually beneficial economic relationship, according to the joint declaration on enhancing the comprehensive partnership between Vietnam and the US signed by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and US President Donald Trump on May 31.

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and US President Donald Trump at the meeting in the White House (Source: baochinhphu.vn)

The two leaders said that there are more and more opportunities in the Vietnam-US relationship. The two countries’ political, diplomatic, and economic and trade relations are growing, and are complemented by an increasing cooperation in science and technology, defence and security, education, and many more field. The two leaders are committed to pursuing these opportunities.

Trump said he supports Vietnam in hosting the 2017 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings (APEC 2017) and that he looks forward to visiting Vietnam and attending the APEC Summit in November.

Economics-wise, Phuc said Vietnam would pursue a consistent policy of economic reform and international integration, creating favourable conditions for foreign companies, including those from the United States, to do business and invest in Vietnam. In addition, the Vietnamese government will protect and enforce intellectual property rights and bring its labour laws in line with the country’s international commitments. 

The two leaders welcomed the resolution of several priority trade issues, including the debacles over mobile phone roaming services and veterinary drugs, and they pledged to continue to work together constructively to resolve other priority issues, including those related to intellectual property, advertising, and financial services, information-security products, white offal, distillers’ dried grains, siluriformes, shrimp, mango, and other issues.

The joint declaration was made after the two leaders met at the White House.

At the meeting, president Trump said he valued the relationship between the two countries and hoped that it will grow strongly in the next period. Phuc, meanwhile, said that Vietnam valued its comprehensive relationship with the US.

The high-level meeting between Vietnam and the US (Source: baochinhphu.vn)

PM Phuc, on behalf of the Communist Party of Vietnam and the Vietnamese government, invited President Trump and his family to visit Vietnam and join the APEC 2017 Summit. Trump accepted the invitation.

In the framework of the visit, PM Phuc attended a ceremony in which companies of the two countries signed cooperation agreements in trade and investment. About 19 documents were signed with a total value of about $10 billion. Below is the list:

No.

Vietnamese partner

US partner

Content

1

PVN

GE Power

GE and PetroVietnam will cooperate on the development of two 750MW combined-cycle gas turbine power plants—Mien Trung I & II—to exploit the Blue Whale gas field

2

Mainstream Renewable Power, and Phu Cuong Group

GE

Develop, build, and operate the 800MW Phu Cuong wind farm in the Mekong Delta province of Soc Trang. GE will provide the equipment and maintenance.

3

Vietjet

GE Aviation

GE will service and maintain the engines of 100 Boeing MAX200 airplanes

4

Vietjet

GE Capital Aviation Services

The MoU on financing the leasing of airplanes

5

Vietjet

GE Aviation

Vietjet ordered 20 CFM56-5B engines to power 10 new A321 CEO aircrafts

6

Vietjet

Honeywell

Honeywell will supply and provide technical maintenance for the auxiliary power unit (APU) of 98 A320/A321 airplanes.

7

PetroVietnam Exploration Production Corporation and Sovico Holdings

Murphy Asia Oil, SK Innovation

A proposal to sign the oil and gas exploration contract for lot 15-2/17 of Cuu Long basin

8

216 JSC

Passport Systems Inc

216 JSC will import 18 SmartScan 3D fixed cargo scanners

9

Ministry of Science and Technology

Arizona State University

Agreement on research, training, technology transfer and innovation

10

General Department of Vietnam Customs

US Customs and Border Protection

Letter of intent on pushing the negotiation of a government-level agreement on cooperation and mutual support between the two customs agencies.

11

BRG Group

Hilton

In-principle contract on business cooperation and hotel operation

12

BRG Group

Nicklaus Design

In-principle contract on importing hotel equipment and golf course equipment from Nicklaus Design

13

Tin Thanh Group

The Roberts Group

Contract on investment and trade cooperation

14

FPT

GE

Continue partnership between FPT and GE Predix

15

FPT

UPS

Cooperation to build an electronic management system

16

Vietnam-Japan Medical High-Tech Development Joint Stock Company

Varial and UPMC

Purchase of radiotherapy equipment and maintenance of cancer treatment equipment for Vietnam-Japan International Oncology Hospital

17

Vietnam-Japan Medical High Tech Development Joint Stock Company

UPMC

Building the mechanism to operate the hospital, training and technology transfer for Vietnam-Japan International Oncology Hospital

18

Phu Thai Group

Caterpillar

Cooperation on technology development

19

Semi Surface Semiconducting Technology Joint Stock Company

Silicon Specialists Inc

Contract to supply equipment

By Hong Anh



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Stocks advance on positive outcome of PM-Trump meeting

Shares rose in both local markets on Thursday morning, lifted by investor confidence following the meeting between the Prime Minister and the US president.

Shares rose in both local markets on Thursday morning, lifted by investor confidence following the meeting between the Prime Minister and the US president. – Photo doanhnhansaigon.vn

The benchmark VN Index on the HCM Stock Exchange gained 0.49 per cent to end at 741.46 points. It had fallen by a total 1.1 per cent over the past two days.

The HNX Index on the Ha Noi Stock Exchange advanced 0.37 per cent to close at 94.26 points. It had gained 0.7 per cent on Wednesday.

Around 115 million shares worth VND2.15 trillion (US$95.5 million) were traded on both local bourses.

Market sentiment was positive after Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc met US President Donald Trump on early Thursday morning.

At the meeting, the two leaders pledged to actively promote mutually beneficial and growing economic ties to bring greater prosperity to both countries, which indicates further investment from the US into Viet Nam.

During the PM’s US visit, a number of agreements have been signed between Vietnamese and American businesses, valued at $10 billion.

In the stock market, two-third of the 30 largest companies by market capitalisation advanced on Thursday morning, including dairy producer Vinamilk (VNM), Vietcombank (VCB) and Kinh Bac City Development Holdings (KBC).

At the other end, shares of domestic steel producers such as Hoa Sen Group (HSG) and Hoa Phat Group (HPG) suffered from profit-taking after they rose strongly on Wednesday, following the imposition of tariff by the Ministry of Industry and Trade on imported coloured steel products.

The afternoon session starts at 1pm.

Source VNS



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31 documentaries from Europe and Vietnam to be screened

The 8th Euro – Vietnam Film Festival gathers 31 documentary films, including 10 films from European countries, namely France, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Denmark, England, Sweden, Switzerland, Austria, Israel and 21 films of Vietnam.

A documentation film on the band “Buc Tuong” (The Wall) will be also screened

The festival is organized by the European Union National Institutes for Culture (EUNIC) and Vietnam’s National Documentation and Scientific Film Center (DSF).

The event will take place from June 9 to 18 in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city. The films to be screened have various themes, from environment, climate change, unpredicted consequences of development of human kinds, contemporary conflicts and biography.

Many of the films have won awards at international festivals in Europe. Particularly, “Amy”, a film about the life and career of an English female musician and singer – Amy Winehouse, won the Oscars 2016 for Best Documentary.

Vietnamese films selected for the festival are high-end works, produced by the DSF, the Vietnam Television or independent film makers.

Under the schedule, a Vietnamese documentary and another European will be shown on each evening during the festival. Films by independent filmmakers will be screened in the afternoon. The Film Festival will also provide venues for film makers to meet and exchange their experiences.

Source PSNew



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Family Medical Practice invests in new ambulance fleet for emergency response

Family Medical Practice has announced the investment of $800,000 into four new ambulances to augment its state-of-the-art vehicle fleet that services residents of Ho Chi Minh City every day.

This brings the company’s total investment into emergency care in the city to over $2 million, and ensures near-citywide coverage for incidents and accidents for the second city’s residents.

The four additional Mercedes Benz Sprinter 2500 ambulances bring the company’s total fleet to eight. Each ambulance is equipped with automatic CPR machines, monitored defibrillators, stair chairs, large-capacity portable oxygen tanks, fast vacuum splints, trauma kits, floodlights, and full telecommunications links between dispatch and ambulance to monitor patient vital signs.

Each vehicle is similar to a mobile ICU, staffed by professional teams who maintain a constant telemedicine communications link with the alarm center and the emergency teams in the clinic.

Family Medical Practice’s founder, Dr. Rafi Kot, said of the investment: “These are simply the finest ambulances on the road in Vietnam today. No other company has made such an investment into Vietnam’s emergency care.”

The ambulances play a central role in the *9999 EMR system that Family Medical Practice launched in 2016.

“It is worth noting that we have earmarked another $1.5 million for further investment in our fleet. Our goal is to eventually have a fleet of some 26 vehicles for Ho Chi Minh City in the near future. However, under current Vietnamese legislation, there is no recognition of the paramedic profession, and this hampers our ability to resource our fleet. Amendments to this oversight – which no other country imposes – will see us rapidly invest further into this industry, and importantly, offer citizens of Vietnam far superior early intervention and emergency care,” Dr. Kot continued.

Indeed, Vietnam has an urgent need for improved and enhanced emergency care. The country notably has an alarmingly high rate of road casualties and traffic incidents. In 2016, there were 3,962 traffic accidents in Ho Chi Minh City with 805 people killed and 3,204 people seriously injured, an increase of 5.5 per cent over the same period of 2015.

EMR services are also invaluable with cardiac arrests, which increase by 15-20 per cent each year; strokes, which take around 200,000 lives each year; and even drownings, which take a frightening 32 Vietnamese lives each day. All of these can be reduced with early intervention and superior emergency care.

*9999 leads the way in offering this service to people in Ho Chi Minh City, with the emergency hotline number offering bilingual services to Vietnamese citizens and foreign residents for prices as low as VND575,000 ($25.3) per person for a full year. Subscription to the EMR *9999 service will entitle the subscriber to unlimited 24/7 emergency call service from anywhere in Ho Chi Minh City, with proven life-saving support and response protocols – including free ambulance transportation and emergency care en route – within  the Ho Chi Minh City coverage zone.

“We opted for this rate to make our services accessible to everyone here,” Dr. Kot said. “Call-out fees for non-subscribers start from VND1.84 million ($81.04) , so we really do urge everyone to subscribe to protect themselves and their families.”

Family Medical Practice, the first foreign-operated, multi-disciplinary primary medical health care provider in Vietnam, opened in Hanoi in 1994 and owns and operates five modern clinics based in Hanoi, Danang and Ho Chi Minh City. It is the only private medical provider in Vietnam with such national coverage. All Family Medical Practice clinics have fully-equipped ambulances described as “state-of-the-art emergency medical units” on standby 24 hours a day.

Family Medical Practice holds mass casualty talk

Family Medical Practice holds mass casualty talk

Twenty five doctors and nurses from Family Medical Practice last week participated in a seminar held in Ho Chi Minh City on how to cope with a mass casualty situation.

Family Medical Practice launches work permit checks for foreigners in Vietnam

Family Medical Practice launches work permit checks for foreigners in Vietnam

Family Medical Practice, Vietnam’s leading private clinic, announced the availability of work-permit health checks at the Care 1 clinic, located in The Manor in Ho Chi Minh City.

By Hoang Anh



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Stepping up Information Technology Application in Financial Sector

In an effort to deploy and accelerate information technology (IT) application development, the Ministry of Finance has secured the top place in Vietnam ICT Index among central agencies in four straight years (2016, 2015, 2014 and 2013).

This information was released at the 5th “Financial Statistical Informatics Conference” in Hanoi on May 24. The event aimed to unify guiding views and plans for deployment of IT applications and financial statistics for the 2016 – 2020 period, in a bid to make the electronic Ministry of Finance synchronised and unified from central to local levels.

Improving service efficiency

Giving evidence to this, Finance Minister Dinh Tien Dung mentioned Resolution 36a/NQ-CP on e-government, the National Programme on information technology application in state agencies in the 2016 – 2020 period guided by Decision 1819/QD-TTg, and most recently Directive 16/CT-TTg on strengthening approach to the 4th Industrial Revolution on May 4, 2017.

Regarding IT application in the finance sector in the past time, the Minister of Finance affirmed that IT has been deeply and extensively applied across financial operations and become a vital blood vessel in key professional operations such as State budget management, State budget income and expenditure management, taxation and customs management, electronic tax and customs deployment.

Sharing this view, Mr Dang Duc Mai, Director of the Financial Informatics and Statistics Department, said that the finance sector stepped up IT application together with financial mechanism reform, professional process restructuring towards international practices in the 2011 – 2015 period and 2016, and achieved many important results. These will serve as important premises for continued growth in the coming years.

Seven tasks in new stage

One, building public services for people and businesses; enhancing information sharing, ensuring access to and use of financial information for people and the whole society, creating the foundation for e-government development, improving the efficiency of State management and enhancing national competitiveness.

Two, building core application systems and national databases on finance, specialised databases furnished by cutting edge technologies to serve guidance, management and administration of all levels in the financial sector.

Three, building, operating and using IT application systems within the financial sector, prioritising IT applications for administrative reform and raising working performance.

Four, modernising IT infrastructure to meet development requirements in each period.

Five, ensuring the operational security and safety of financial information systems in terms of institutions, technical solutions and operational management.

Seven, renovating investment management, consolidating organisational management structure and developing IT human resources for the financial sector to meet sector modernisation requirements and tasks.

However, according to the Finance Minister, the bottom line is that all financial units must see financial information system modernisation as the core of the financial sector modernisation, in good coordination with financial informatics and statistics systems, to successfully achieve the above tasks.

PV



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Ca Mau Determined to Become Relatively Developed Province in Mekong Delta


2017 marks the 20th re-establishment anniversary of Ca Mau province (January 1, 1997 – 2017). Previously a poor agricultural province, Ca Mau has achieved remarkable achievements in all socioeconomic sectors in the past 20 years, and is confident of becoming a middle-income province and one of four key provinces in the Mekong Delta. Mr Nguyen Tien Hai, Chairman of the Ca Mau Provincial People’s Committee, said, “This success comes from the effort to unite all resources, constantly promote creativity and dynamism, and actively tap every potential and advantage that the Party, government and people of Ca Mau province have.”

If you can encapsulate Ca Mau province’s development achievements over the past 20 years, what will you highlight?

The socioeconomic infrastructure system has changed significantly. Now, traffic and commercial connections to Ca Mau are much easier than ever in waterway, roadway and airway. The southern coastal corridor route linking Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand passing the Ca Mau Gas – Power – Fertiliser Complex; Ho Chi Minh Road reaching Dat Mui; and Phung Hiep Highway (Ca Mau – Can Tho City), among others, will be important premises for Ca Mau’s development in the future.

Particularly, the administrative reform has been drastically accelerated by the government of Ca Mau province and initially produced positive results, as evidenced by its rising Provincial Competitiveness Index (PCI). Business development and investment attraction progressed with the care of authorities and investment commitments of domestic and foreign companies to big groundbreaking projects in the province.

Along with the economy, the social and cultural aspects also have witnessed positive and comprehensive changes, especially in ensuring social security. By the end of 2016, the poverty rate slid to 6.94 per cent, the rate of malnourished children fell to 12 per cent, and 77 per cent of residents had access to health insurance. After more than 5 years of carrying out the new countryside construction programme, Ca Mau has 21 communes satisfying new countryside standards, or 26 per cent of total communes. The material and spiritual life of rural people has improved markedly.

Very strong in agriculture and fisheries, Ca Mau is however facing severe impacts from climate change. What are practical solutions that the province has taken to respond to the current prolonged droughts and salt intrusion?

To mitigate damages caused by droughts and saline intrusions, to protect production and people’s livelihoods, Ca Mau province has been carrying out consistent solutions according to the proposed plan to actively and effectively respond to climate change, enhance resource management and protect the environment. In addition, structural solutions have also been launched by the province to cope with new situations: Building Ca Mau irrigation system with two regions of Southern Ca Mau and Northern Ca Mau, building embankments along the coast and river estuaries with three projects costing about VND1,530 billion, accelerating the progress and utilising resources for the deployment of a project to build and upgrade 108 km of sea dykes, preparing necessary conditions for the implementation of another project to build a new 149-km sea dyke in the East Sea. Although structural solutions play a special and important role, they require such huge capital that they are beyond the capacity of the province. Thus, Ca Mau reported and recommended to the central government for support for their deployment.

Non-structural solutions are also essential and effective solutions executed by the province, like planting and protecting protective forests; reviewing, adjusting and supplementing socioeconomic development plans at all levels and branches to match objectives and tasks of coping with climate change and sea level rise in Ca Mau province; studying the conversion of appropriate plants and animal breeds to adapt to climate change and sea level rise; enhancing knowledge, improving adaptive capacity, and ensuring livelihoods for people in areas vulnerable to natural disasters; building community models that adapt effectively to climate change.

Endowed with enormous potential for wind power development, Ca Mau province is carrying out this sector development strategy aimed to turn coastal areas into wind power plants to ensure national energy security and increase local budget revenues. Could you elaborate on the strategy to turn wind into power?

With abundant potential and advantages for wind power development, Ca Mau province will direct relevant departments, agencies and localities to find appropriate solutions to support and create the most favourable conditions for the investment environment to draw more investors to use wind and solar energies in potential areas as planned and gradually form core areas of clean energy for the nation.

By executing the Resolution of the 15th Provincial Party Congress (2015 – 2020 term), Ca Mau province is striving to become a relatively developed province in the Mekong Delta by 2020. What will the province focus on to achieve this target?

On that basis, the province will carry out key solutions and tasks to maintain a higher economic growth rate than the average of the region and the whole nation, gradually narrow the development gap, and effectively mobilise and use investment resources to meet capital needs for economic development, improve the quality of human resources, develop and promote scientific and technological application and transfer to raise labour productivity and economic competitiveness. At the same time, the province will further reform administrative procedures along with capacity and performance improvement of State administrative apparatus from provincial to grassroots levels. It will focus on raising the Provincial Competitiveness Index.

With the well-defined strategy and the active and firm leadership of the Provincial Party Committee and the Provincial People’s Committee, I believe that Ca Mau province will achieve its goal of becoming a well-developed province in the Mekong Delta.



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Joint Statement for Enhancing VN-US Comprehensive Partnership

Viet Nam and the US have issued a joint statement for enhancing the comprehensive partnership between the two countries, on the occasion of the official visit to the US by Vietnamese PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc from May 29-31.

Following is the full text of the joint statement.

The President of the United States of America Donald J. Trump hosted the PM of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam Nguyen Xuan Phuc at the White House today to chart an agenda for United States-Viet Nam relations, building on the positive momentum of the Comprehensive Partnership between the two countries.

As a Pacific power with widespread interests and commitments throughout the Asia Pacific, the United States shares many important interests with Viet Nam. The two leaders emphasized that many opportunities lie ahead for United States-Viet Nam relations, including increasingly enhanced political, diplomatic, economic and trade ties, and ever-growing cooperation in the areas of science and technology, national defense and security, education, people-to-people exchange, humanitarian and war legacy issues, as well as regional and international issues of mutual concern. The two leaders are committed to pursuing these opportunities under an enhanced Comprehensive Partnership, grounded in respect for the United Nations Charter and international law, each other’s independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, and respective political systems.

The two sides pledged to continue high-level contacts and exchanges of delegations, including through regular dialogue between the US Secretary of State and Viet Nam’s Minister for Foreign Affairs to discuss measures to enhance the bilateral Comprehensive Partnership. They also committed to strengthen existing dialogue mechanisms, including party-to-party ties. President Trump expressed his support for Viet Nam in successfully hosting APEC 2017 and noted that he looks forward to visiting Viet Nam and attending the APEC Leaders’ meeting in November.

The two leaders pledged to actively promote mutually beneficial and ever-growing economic ties to bring greater prosperity to both countries. They underscored support for continued development cooperation. Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc affirmed that Viet Nam would pursue a consistent policy of economic reform and international integration, creating favorable conditions for foreign companies, including those of the United States, to do business and invest in Viet Nam; protecting and enforcing intellectual property; and bringing its labor laws in line with Viet Nam’s international commitments. The two countries affirmed the importance of promoting bilateral trade and creating favorable conditions for the businesses of both sides, particularly through the effective use of the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement to address issues in United States-Viet Nam relations in a constructive manner. The two leaders welcomed the resolution of several priority trade issues, including mobile phone roaming services and veterinary drugs, and they pledged to continue to work together constructively to seek resolution of other priority issues of each country, including those related to intellectual property, advertising and financial services, information-security products, white offal, distiller’s dried grains, siluriformes, shrimp, mangos, and other issues. The United States noted Viet Nam’s interest in achieving a market economy status, and the two sides pledged to continue to consult in a cooperative and comprehensive manner via the bilateral working group. Both sides welcomed the announcement of more than $8billion in new commercial deals.

The two leaders pledged to strengthen bilateral defense ties under the 2011 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Advancing Bilateral Defense Cooperation and the 2015 Joint Vision Statement on Defense Relations. The two leaders discussed the US Government’s recent transfer of a Hamilton-class Coast Guard cutter to help improve Viet Nam’s law enforcement capabilities, and Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc expressed interest in acquiring more defense equipment from the United States, including additional Coast Guard cutters. The two leaders also discussed measures to expand cooperation in such prioritized areas as humanitarian cooperation, war legacies, and maritime security. They also looked into the possibility of a visit to a Vietnamese port by a United States aircraft carrier and discussed steps to further cooperation between the naval forces of the two countries. The two leaders welcomed the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on the establishment of the working group on the Cooperative Humanitarian Assistance and Medical Storage Initiative, and pledged to implement the arrangement expeditiously.

The two leaders pledged to strengthen cooperation in the fields of security and intelligence. The United States and Viet Nam pledged to work together to combat terrorism as well as transnational and cyber-enabled crimes. Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc expressed his appreciation and looked forward to the United States’ cooperation and assistance to Viet Nam in the area of United Nations peacekeeping operations, including the provision of equipment and support for Vietnamese officers’ participation in United Nations peacekeeping.

The two leaders pledged to continue cooperation in the fields of science, technology, space, and innovation. The two leaders expressed their support for a Framework Agreement on Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, as well as for bilateral discussions and forums on science, technology, and innovation.

The two leaders welcomed the growth of people-to-people ties, especially through academic and professional exchange programs. They recognized the important contributions of the Vietnamese–American community and the nearly 4,000 exchange alumni to United States-Viet Nam relations. They also noted that, with over 21,000 Vietnamese students currently in higher education programs in the United States, academic ties between the two countries are strong and will be strengthened even further through Viet Nam’s support for the launch of the Fulbright University in Ho Chi Minh City. The United States welcomed more Vietnamese students to study in the United States and remains committed to processing visas, including for students, in an expeditious manner in accordance with United States law. The two sides also welcomed the establishment of the Peace Corps program to advance English language learning in Viet Nam.

The two sides committed to work together to address war legacy issues, including through such joint efforts as dioxin remediation, taking note of the progress that has been made at Da Nang Airport and intent to discuss continued collaboration at Bien Hoa Airport, and the removal of unexploded ordnances. President Trump expressed appreciation for Viet Nam’s continuing cooperation in the humanitarian mission of accounting for United States personnel still missing from the war, and pledged to cooperate with Viet Nam in its efforts to locate its missing soldiers.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc affirmed that Viet Nam will work actively with the United States to expeditiously return Vietnamese nationals subject to final orders of removal, using the 2008 United States-Viet Nam Agreement on the Acceptance of the Return of Vietnamese Citizens as a basis. The two leaders pledged to set up a working group to discuss this issue.

The two sides pledged to work actively together to finalize agreement on an appropriate representational site and land tenure arrangement for a new U.S. Embassy in Ha Noi. The United States pledged to support Viet Nam in acquiring new facilities for its representative offices in the United States. 

President Trump and Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc welcomed the results of frank and constructive dialogue on human rights, including during the 21st round of the United States-Viet Nam Human Rights Dialogue in May 2017, to narrow differences and continue to build mutual trust. The two leaders recognized the importance of protecting and promoting human rights, and the interconnection between human rights and the security and sustainable development of each country. They encouraged further cooperation to ensure that everyone, including members of vulnerable groups, regardless of their gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation, and including persons with disabilities, fully enjoy their human rights. The United States welcomed Viet Nam’s ongoing efforts to refine its legal system to better protect and promote human rights for everyone.

On regional issues, the two leaders expressed their concern for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile tests, which violate multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions and escalate tensions in the region. Both sides reaffirmed their support for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and urged all parties concerned to strictly implement all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions.

President Trump and PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc affirmed that the South China Sea is a waterway of strategic significance to the international community. The two leaders underscored the importance of freedom of navigation and overflight and other lawful uses of the seas, and noted with concern the destabilizing impacts that unlawful restrictions to the freedom of the seas have on peace and prosperity in the Asia–Pacific region. The two sides also affirmed full support for the peaceful resolution of disputes without the threat or use of force or coercion, in accordance with international law, including full respect for diplomatic and legal processes, and called upon all parties concerned to implement their international legal obligations in good faith in any resolution to these disputes. They highlighted the importance that parties refrain from actions that would escalate tensions, such as the militarization of disputed features. President Trump stressed that the United States will continue to fly, sail, and operate anywhere international law allows.

The two sides affirmed their continued implementation of the principles decided upon by the leaders of ASEAN and the United States in the 2016 Sunnylands Declaration, and their promotion of activities to commemorate the 50th anniversary of ASEAN’s founding and the 40th anniversary of United States- ASEAN relations. The United States affirmed its commitment to the United States-ASEAN Strategic Partnership, and to supporting common efforts to develop a rules-based ASEAN Community and ASEAN centrality in the evolving regional architecture.

The two countries pledged to continue to work together to address global challenges, including environmental protection, global health, global health security, and trafficking in persons and wildlife. The United States expressed support for Viet Nam in its development of a national reference laboratory to enhance the Viet Nam’s ability to detect emerging disease threats in the region, and the two countries affirmed their strong support for the Global Health Security Agenda to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease threats. The two countries also affirmed their longstanding partnership under the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS relief. As a development partner of the Mekong River Commission (MRC) and a founding member of the Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI), the United States reaffirmed its support for cooperation among MRC members, as well as between MRC members and other regional mechanisms, in using, managing, and developing trans-boundary water sources in an effective and sustainable manner. The United States also affirmed its assistance to Viet Nam in combating climate change via concrete mitigation and adaptation measures.

The two leaders heralded the bright future for the enhanced United States-Viet Nam Comprehensive Partnership and are committed to making it deeper, more substantive, and more effective to better serve the interests of the two peoples, and to better contribute to peace, stability, cooperation, and development in the Asia-Pacific region and the world.


VNA/ VGP



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Logistics opportunities spur multinational M&A

A growing number of foreign logistics companies are expanding operations to and inside Vietnam through merger and acquisition deals to lower operational costs and cash in on market opportunities.

Foreign investors find it hard to resist the Vietnamese logistics market, and they want local partners to assist them, Photo: Le Toan

Taekwang, a South Korean conglomerate operating in petrochemicals, textiles, and electronics, last week submitted a letter of intent to Gemadept stakeholders, expressing its interest in buying stake in Gemadept – the largest Vietnamese logistics firm.

Do Van Minh, general director of Gemadept, confirmed the information when contacted by VIR, saying that many foreign investors are interested in buying shares in the Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange-listed company.

Founded in 1990, Gemadept has around 12 subsidiaries in the areas of logistics, port operations, and real estate development. It is also running logistics and plant facilities in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos.

If the merger and acquisition (M&A) deal goes as expected, Taekwang, which entered the Vietnamese market in 1994, will be able to combine its existing manufacturing operations in Vietnam with Gemadept’s logistics business, thus enabling it to establish a secure logistics base in Southeast Asia.

Taekwang is the latest example of a significant trend towards M&A between local and foreign firms in the logistics sector.

Earlier this year, Goyo Kound, a leading Japanese logistics service provider, expanded its business in Vietnam by acquiring a 70 per cent stake in a new joint venture with the local forwarder Minh Nhat Co., Ltd. after watching it grow over the past three years.

In 2016, Nippon Express Co., Japan’s largest international freight forwarder, began following through with its plans to take over Nippon Express Co. Vietnam – which was established as a joint venture in Vietnam six years ago with the local firm Transimex – to make it a wholly Japanese invested firm. This strategy is scheduled for completion in 2018.

“The wave of foreign logistics firms shifting their investment from China has also prompted them to expand operations in Vietnam. M&A has now become a popular trend. Domestic logistics firms want to co-operate with foreign partners to enlarge operations, while foreign partners aim for co-operation to cut costs,” Nguyen Tuong, deputy general secretary of the Vietnam Logistics Business Association (VLBA), told VIR.

“I have seen four to five M&A deals in recent months. Logistics firms from Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, and Singapore are most interested in such deals,” he said.

Foreign firms choose M&A because local partners have already developed extensive business networks and have experience in the market. M&A deals also give foreign investors an opportunity to own 100 per cent of the venture at a future date, Tuong notes.

In addition, the rapid growth of Vietnam’s export-oriented manufacturing sector has boosted demand for logistics services, making Vietnam even more appealing to investors.

According to the latest statistics from the General Department of Vietnam Customs, Vietnam’s export turnover increased 20.3 per cent on-year to $126.09 billion in the first four months of 2017, while its import value reached $63.99 billion.

The strong developments in retail, services, and e-commerce have also contributed to the trend in logistics M&A. Vietnam has risen from 28th to 11th place on the A.T. Kearny 2016 Global Retail Development Index (GRDI). The e-commerce market is expected to experience a 22 per cent growth rate in 2017 and a 13.2 percent average annual growth rate by 2020, according to eMarketer.

Tuong said that with the huge potential on the back of the country’s latest strategy to develop the logistics sector by 2025, Vietnam will witness more logistics M&A deals in the coming months.

Vietnam is home to over 1,300 logistics service providers, with global logistics firms including Denmark’s Maersk Line, Singapore’s APL Logistics, Germany’s Hapag-Lloyd, and Japan’s NYK Line.

By Bich Thuy

By Bich Thuy



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Housing law ambiguities rankle foreign investors

Experts claim that despite the 2014 policy permitting non-Vietnamese citizens to purchase houses in Vietnam, variations in the interpretations of the policy leave investors sceptical and unsure about how to calculate risk.

" Non-Vietnamese citizens signed purchase contracts and paid big money, but could not obtain pink books."  – Kai Marcus Schröter General director of HTM Management Consultancy Co. Ltd.
” Non-Vietnamese citizens signed purchase contracts and paid big money, but could not obtain pink books.”  – Kai Marcus Schröter General director of HTM Management Consultancy Co. Ltd.

Kenneth Atkinson, executive chairman of Grant Thornton Vietnam, told VIR that the government’s housing and real estate laws, which came into effect in July 2015, created a lot of excitement and interest among foreign investors, but the buzz is waning.

“This should have been a real driver for sales, especially in resort and coastal areas. It should have been a driver for further growth in the tourism sector, boosting the return visitor market that Vietnam lacks compared to neighbouring countries like Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia,” Atkinson said.

He highlighted that there are still a number of grey areas which need clarification if the market buzz is to return to the levels first observed after the introduction of the policy.

One of those grey areas is ownership surrounding military land, as it now seems the government is saying foreign ownership of housing that rests on military land will not be permitted.

“Whilst the government should be free to determine which projects are eligible to sell leases to non-Vietnamese citizens, the rules should be clear,”  Atkinson said.

“If some developments are not going to be eligible to sell long term leases on 30 per cent of units to non-Vietnamese citizens, then this should be made public before the developers begin selling,” he said.

Atkinson also expressed concerns over foreign ownership in developments that are on land which may be reclassified as a military land in the future.

“This really is an issue which should have been addressed when the laws were passed for projects under development and at the time of licensing for projects licensed subsequent to the passing of the new laws,” he added.

Unclear real estate laws inhibit non-Vietnamese homebuyers Photo: Le Toan

Another issue now surfacing is the fact that a local owner cannot sell to non-Vietnamese citizens, only a non-Vietnamese citizen can sell to another non-Vietnamese citizen.

There appears to be no logical reasoning for this with respect to developments where sales to non-Vietnamese citizens have not reached the 30 per cent limit for apartments, or 10 per cent limit for land plots.

Atkinson also stated that there are no clear guidelines on how the remittance of sales proceeds are to be monitored, as funds used for purchasing a property are not required to be invested through a direct investment account.

“As a non-Vietnamese citizen, and I think I speak for the majority, we look for complete clarity in the regulations in terms of ownership rights, how to remit and return purchase monies and sales proceeds, and how taxes on gains are calculated,” Atkinson said..

“We also look for an environment where there cannot be retroactive changes in laws or regulations, and clarity about the procedures for renewing 50 year leases upon expiry,” he said.

Kai Marcus Schröter, general director of HTM Management Consultancy Co. Ltd., highlighted that non-Vietnamese citizens are faced with many difficulties when buying houses.

“I think that it is quite ok for a country to regulate and restrict foreign ownership of land, but this process must be clear and transparent,” he said.

“Vietnam has a right to protect its security and to restrict access to land. But I have never understood why any non-Vietnamese citizens who have just entered the country on a valid visa and stayed for the first time in the country are treated the same way and have the same rights as non-Vietnamese citizens who have lived here for a long time, have invested here, and even have Vietnamese families here,” he added.

Schröter added that the latter has certainly proven their love and commitment to the country, and they are certainly no ‘security threat’.

“The first should be restricted from buying property, the second should be rewarded with easy access, simple procedures, and quick documentation of land purchase (pink books),” he said.

As decreed by the government, local departments of construction are responsible for publishing which properties are restricted from foreign ownership over concerns of ‘security’ and ‘national defence’.

“When the decree was passed, the Ministry of National Defense and the Ministry of Public Security failed to follow through and to submit this information to the local departments of construction, creating loopholes and problems for non-Vietnamese citizens,” Schröter said.

“Non-Vietnamese citizens signed purchase contracts and paid big money, but could not obtain pink books. Without a pink book, the purchase is in fact worthless,” he said.

Schröter suggested the government of Vietnam work harder to enforce the decrees they have passed, and protect the rights of non-Vietnamese residents and citizens alike, to ensure equal and fair treatment.

“The definition of ‘restricted’ or ‘security areas’ should be very narrow (for example military bases), and applied indiscriminately to both Vietnamese citizens and permanent residents,” he concluded.

By Bich Ngoc



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Explore Dubai for Less with ‘My Emirates Pass’


Emirates’ customers can explore more of Dubai this summer by enjoying exclusive offers and discounts across the city with My Emirates Pass, which turns the Emirates boarding pass into an exclusive membership card.

Those flying to or through Dubai between 1 June and 31 August 2017 can take advantage of a range of offers at some of Dubai’s best-known hotspots by simply showing their Emirates boarding pass* and a valid form of identification. Special return fares from Ho Chi Minh City to Dubai this summer start from 12,600,000 VND, from Hanoi to Dubai starting from 12,275,000 VND (inclusive of airport taxes & applicable surcharges)

My Emirates Pass gives customers special discounts at over 120 world class restaurants and hotel dining outlets in Dubai. Exclusive offers are also available on a range of leisure activities including visits to championship golf courses, thrilling theme parks or luxury spas across the city.

With year-round sunshine, world-class shopping and restaurants, stunning beaches and iconic buildings, Dubai offers something for the whole family. Visitors to Dubai can use My Emirates Pass to enjoy some of the city’s newest attractions including must-see places like Dubai Parks and Resorts featuring three theme parks: Bollywood Parks™ Dubai, MOTIONGATE™ Dubai, as well as the region’s first LEGOLAND® Park and LEGOLAND® Water Park.

Emirates’ hub in Dubai provides direct connections to over 150 cities in 80 countries including its latest destination, Zagreb, to be launched this week. The airline offers excellent onboard service from an international cabin crew who come from 135 nationalities and speak over 60 languages. With lie-flat beds in Business Class, the largest in-seat screens in the world in Economy class at 13.3 inches and more than 2,500 channels of on-demand entertainment on the award-winning inflight entertainment system, ice Digital Widescreen, Emirates provides quality products and value for money.

Those travelling with children can take advantage of the extensive family offering from priority boarding across all airports to special kid’s meals, dedicated children’s entertainment on ice and exclusive toys and Lonely Planet Kids activity bags on board. Emirates is the only airline to operate an all Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 fleet, further elevating the passenger experience on board through a modern, state-of-the-art wide-body fleet.

From Vietnam, Emirates operates daily passenger services from both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. From Ho Chi Minh City, the airline has been served daily direct flights to Dubai since 2012 while the route Hanoi-Dubai will be a non-stop one from July 2nd this year.


PV



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