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BUSINESS IN BRIEF 19/7   2008-07-19 - VNA, ND

Asia Commercial Bank receives Euromoney award

The Asia Commercial Bank (ACB) has been presented with the “Best Bank in Vietnam 2008” award by Euromoney, the world’s leading financial magazine.

This is the third time the ACB has received such an award with the first in 1997 and the second in 2006. This prize recognised the ACB’s sustainable growth and prestige.

The ACB has involved in securities, assets and liabilities management and financial leasing.

The bank attained a after-tax profit of 1.76 trillion VND (approximately 110 million USD) last year, a triple year-on-year increase, and 510 billion VND in the first quarter of 2008.

Cooperative alliance works to increase profit-making members

The Vietnam Cooperative Alliance (VCA) plans to increase the number of cooperatives making profits to 45 percent from the current 42.5 percent by the year’s end.

Introducing the second half plan in Ho Chi Minh City on July 18, the VCA said almost all of the profit-making coops are involved in multi-dimensional business.

The VCA also said it plans to establish 400 more cooperatives by the end of the year.

There are 17,900 cooperatives operating in the country, including 8,553 agricultural coops, 2,996 coops involved in industry, handicraft making and construction, and 1,085 transport coops.

In the plan, VCA will host the 8th meeting of International Cooperative Alliance-Asia-Pacific (ICA-AP) Regional Assembly, a trade fair for cooperatives and small-sized businesses and a conference of 100 outstanding cooperatives in Hanoi.

RoK firm submits plan to build 5.3 bln USD steel plant

The Republic of Korea’s (RoK) Posco group has submitted a feasibility study to build a steel plant in central Vietnam, according to Vietnam Steel Association President Pham Chi Cuong.

If licensed, construction of the 5.3-billion-USD plant in the central province of Khanh Hoa will start in November this year and be completed in March 2013.

In the first phase, the plant will be capable of producing 4 million tonnes of hot rolled steel and 2 million tonnes of sheet steel a year.

In the second phase, the figures will be raised to 6 million tonnes of hot rolled steel and 8 million tonnes of sheet steel.

Posco is currently building an 11.5-billion-USD steel complex in Khanh Hoa province’s Van Phong Bay with the Vietnam Ship-building Industry Corporation (Vinashin).

Posco has three other joint venture steel production projects in Vietnam.

Banks in race to reduce interest rates

 
Three banks sharing the largest segments of the domestic market have consecutively decided to slash their lending interest rates, jostling other minors to enter the race to also reduce their loan rates.

In early July, the Bank for Development Investment of Vietnam (BIDV) pioneered the move, cutting its foreign currency lending rates by 2 percent per annum and Vietnamese dong by 0.2-0.6 percent a year.

Following BIDV’s lead, the Vietnam Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Agribank) and the Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam (Vietcombank) made similar changes on July 17.

Agribank reduced its lending interest rates in US dollar and Vietnamese dong by 2 percent and 0.5 percent per annum, respectively, while Vietcombank dropped its rates to 0.5 percent and 1 percent per annum, respectively.

Though they claimed the rate reduction would affect the business efficiency, the three banks said their decisions would also help enterprises get loans at more rational interest rates in order to recover and develop their production, thus making the economy regain its rapid and sustainable growth rate.

Economists at a July 15 seminar on market and prices management for curbing inflation also agreed the rates cut would put the banks in disadvantage in the short term but benefit them in the middle and long term.

In addition, the market has shown positive signals, particularly in US dollar transaction, and this has persuaded commercial banks to consider their rate cuts.

Presently, loans in US dollars in the inter-bank market are available at decreasing interest rates, standing at around 2-2.5 percent per annum for a duration of 1-2 days as compared with the rate of 3.8-5 percent per annum in late April.

Meanwhile, the demands for loans in USD for importing goods, particularly luxury cars, have been decreasing, softening the tension of foreign currency demand on the market. By July, the total debts in USD reduced by 0.3 percent as compared with that in late May.

The USD exchange rate on the free market also plummeted from its peak at 19,500 VND per one US dollar in mid-June to 16,880 VND per one US dollar on July 17, close to the inter-bank exchange rate, helping stabilise the market.

However, according to Academy of Finance Deputy Director Nguyen Thi Mui , the interest rate cut should not “follow the crowd” but must be based on the situation in each bank.

According to the State Bank of Vietnam , the volume of deposits in VND is not equal between banks.

Big banks’ capital reserves are currently exceeding the required levels while some joint stock commercial banks have not met the requirements and have to use interest rates as tools for adjustment, leading many commercial banks to believe the interest rates for deposits in VND will not drop in the near future. 

Paper sector guarantees to sufficient supplies 
 
The country's paper sector has pledged sufficient supplies of printing, writing and newspaper papers for the domestic demands, so a "fever" due to a paper shortage will not happen.
 
The affirmation was made at a meeting on July 16 in Hanoi between the Vietnam Paper Association, the Vietnam Paper Corporation and the Tan Mai Paper Joint Stock Company.
 
As proposed by the Vietnam Paper Association, the Vietnam Paper Corporation and the Tan Mai Paper Joint Stock Company have pledged to do all they can to increase production to meet domestic demands for paper products, including papers for the upcoming new school year. 

Specifically, the Vietnam Paper Corporation is committed to supplying 70,000 tonnes of printing and writing papers and the Tan Mai Paper Joint Stock Company supplies 42,000 tonnes of paper for newspaper prints and 25,000 other tonnes of printing and writing papers in the second half of this year.
 
The Vietnam Paper Association has also called on books and newspaper printing and houses and notebook producers to join efforts with the Vietnam Paper Corporation and the Tan Mai Paper JSC to import paper to make up for the domestic paper shortage.
 
The association has also proposed to the government for an increase in domestic paper prices while committed to maintaining these prices lower than import prices by 10% because the current import paper prices are much higher than the domestic ones. 
 
The association has also proposed to remove the tariff for imports of paper from ASEAN countries, which is currently set at 5% and reduced the VAT for imports of pulp and associated papers from 10% to 5%, and even 0% for paper for newspaper prints. 
 


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Economic corridor plan approved   2008-07-17