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BUSINESS IN BRIEF 14/10   2010-10-14 - VNA, SGGP

State to develop fertiliser plan

The control of fertiliser production and distribution systems, to be approved this month, is expected to benefit both farmers and businesses.

Speaking at a conference on Oct. 12 outlining fertiliser production development for the next 10 years, the Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade (MIT), Nguyen Hai Nam , said fertiliser is a strategic product that helps ensure national food security.

Although the Government has cooperated closely with the Vietnam Fertiliser Association in planning fertiliser production and quality, farmers are still faced with shortages and "price fever" when demand soars before planting, said Phung Ha, head of MIT’s Department of Chemicals.

Secretary of the association Nguyen Hac Thuy said there has been no clear development strategy for the fertiliser industry and that demand is unpredictable.

According to the association, farmers lose 1.2 trillion VND (60 million USD) each year due to the low-quality and fake fertiliser products.

This year, the nation’s demand for fertiliser is forecast to reach 9.1 million tonnes, but domestic production can satisfy only 60 percent of this.

A report from An Giang University’s Economics Faculty claims farmers have to buy fertilisers at prices 30-40 percent higher than those offered by producers. They often have to buy low-quality products from small firms because State authorities can only supervise large fertiliser companies.

Ha said one of the reasons fertiliser prices are often unstable was that distribution systems develop spontaneously. Products come to farmers through many middlemen.

Ha said when planning is approved, fertiliser distribution systems will develop based on the establishment of agricultural economic areas, demand in each area, the characteristics of local economic activities and farmers’ purchasing practices.

Under the plan, from now to 2015, fertiliser distribution centres will be set up in Lao Cai, Phu Tho, Bac Giang, Hai Duong, Ninh Binh, Nghe An, Da Nang, Binh Dinh, Dac Lac, Lam Dong, Long An, An Giang, Can Tho and Kien Giang.

Ha said to make planning more efficient, State agencies should change their ways of management. He added that producers must be granted certificates setting out conditions for business required by the Ministry of Industry and Trade. Otherwise they should not be allowed to trade.

He said this would help weed out small-scale companies using old technology and those producing low-quality fertiliser.

Air travel surges 20 percent in 9 months

The aviation market in the first nine months saw a year-on-year increase of more than 20 percent in the number of passengers, estimated the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam.

The administration estimated that roughly 15 million passengers went through the country’s airports in the first nine months of this year, of which Vietnam Airlines, Jetstar Pacific and Vietnam Air Service Co (Vasco) accounted for more than 11 million.

In the first nine months, the administration also estimated that roughly 340,000 tonnes of goods were transported via air, an increase of 36 percent over the same period last year.

Industry insiders forecast the country’s aviation market in the last quarter will continue to surge due to an increased number of flights licensed by the aviation authorities for foreign airlines including Turkish Airlines, Poland ’s LOT and Qatar Airways.

Vo Huy Cuong, director of the administration’s Air Transport Department, attributed the steady growth to the continuing strong expansion of the domestic segment backed by flagship carrier Vietnam Airlines.

Cuong said that Vietnam Airlines and its subsidiary Vasco still account for the lion’s share of around 80 percent of the domestic market while the rest is covered by Jetstar Pacific.

With the introduction of Air Mekong and Blue Sky Air recently, which lifts the number of operational airlines in the country to nine, it is expected that the competition in the domestic aviation market will increase.

The administration expects that the country’s overall aviation market will grow roughly 20 percent in 2010, higher than the 14 percent figure it projected earlier this year, thanks to more domestic services and a significant increase in the number of international visitors.

The administration’s statistics showed that roughly 26.2 million passengers and 445,800 tonnes of cargo were transported by air last year, four times higher than in 2000.

IFC eyes An Binh Bank investment

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) plans to forge a long term partnership with An Binh Bank (ABB).

IFC, a financial arm of the World Bank, will provide a long term 75 million USDloan to the bank.

The IFC is considering investing up to 50 million USD in the bank by purchasing senior and convertible debt instruments. The investment is expected to help the bank maintain a healthy Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR), while improving its loan portfolio.

A reliable source from An Binh Bank said that the two sides were in the process of negotiating the 50 million USD investment deal.

The corporation also plans to provide a 25 million USD loan to the bank to help support climate change initiatives and enhance financing for eligible projects in the Energy Efficiency (EE) and Cleaner Production (CP) sectors. These projects are congruent with the IFC’s financial strategy for Vietnam and are in line with the WB’s efforts to use market mechanisms to mitigate climate change’s impacts in Vietnam .

IFC has been working with An Binh Bank on several projects to support small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and to finance enterprises that are committed to protecting the environment and conserving energy. IFC also promises to help An Binh Bank to improve its technological infrastructure and corporate governance.

By the end of last month, the bank had total assets worth 36.26 trillion VND (1.85 billion USD) and a total outstanding loan worth 17.95 trillion VND (920.51 million USD). The bank earned 546.2 billion VND (28 million USD) in pre-tax profit during the first nine months of the year, a 94.1 percent increase against the same period last year.

An Binh Bank has 3.48 trillion VND (178.46 million USD) in charter capital, and the financial institute plans to increase its charter capital to 3.83 trillion VND (196.41 million USD) by the year’s end.

Last week the IFC bought 10 percent stake, worth 190 million USD, in Vietinbank.

HCM City hosts trade and technology conference

Vietnam’s Trade and Technology Conference 2010 opened in Ho Chi Minh City on October 13, attracting 200 representatives from businesses operating in technology, banking and finance.

Speaking at the conference, Deputy Minister of Information and Communications Tran Duc Lai said that over the past 10 years, Vietnam’s Information Technology and Communications (ICT) sector has thrived and obtained an annual growth in revenue of over 20 percent. This year, the sector is expected to earn 8.8 billion USD.

According to Deputy Minister of Science and Technology Nguyen Van Lang, the focus of the development strategy on science and technology for the 2011-2020 period is to build and develop a sustainable sector, tap into the country’s human resources, culture and natural resources and ensure the country fully integrates into the international scientific community, helping to improve local human resources in the long term.

During the two-day conference, the participants will take part in group discussions on important issues for the future of the Vietnamese technological sector, including the States role in developing technologies and introducing the necessary legislation and tax policies.

Leaders from leading technology companies discussed global technological trends in the next five years and shared their views on opportunities and challenges that the companies are facing in emerging markets.

The conference also witnessed the signing of two cooperative agreements, between Hoa Lac Hi-tech Zone and the company SAVVi and between the IDG Venture Investment Fund and DFJ Vina Capital.

Gold inverts after setting new record

The price of gold in Vietnam climbed to a record of VND33.34 million a tael (1.2 ounces) on October 14 as global prices approached US$1,400 an ounce.

At most gold shops this morning, the precious metal was bought at VND33-33.1 million, an increase of VND350,000-450,000 a tael and sold at VND33.2-33.3 million, an increase of VND450,000-600,000 a tael over the previous day.

Saigon Jewelry bought gold at VND33.15 and sold at VND33.25 million as of 8:20 am local time. However, the company cut the rate to VND33.04 million for buying and VND33.1 million for selling as of 11:30 am.

Sacombank Jewelry purchased the metal at VND33.14 million and sold at an all-time high of VND33.34 million at the beginning of the day. But the metal was bought at VND33.04 million and sold at VND33.14 million three hours later.

Domestically, gold fetched VND500,000 a tael higher than global prices.

Jewelers extended the gap between buying and selling prices to VND200,000 to prevent risks as a strong movement of the metal at the beginning of the day prompted gold traders to be cautious.

The US dollar exchange rate against the Vietnamese dong faintly slid on free market this morning. Dollars were bought at VND19,800 and sold at VND19,830, down VND10 per dollar over the previous day.

Internationally, the yellow metal jumped 1.6 percent as the greenback’s debasement bolstered the demand for the metal as an alternative asset.

Gold for immediate delivery rose as much as $21.4 an ounce to close at $1,372.9 an ounce on the Comex in New York.

In Asia, the metal leaped above $1,379 an ounce as of 9:15 am Vietnamese time.

The US Federal Reserve’s announcement that it prepared to pump more money into the market to boost economic growth remained the main factor that eroded the greenback’s strength and supported the gold price.

The US dollar exchange rate against the euro fell to $1.4 in Tokyo this morning, the lowest level in eight months. Meanwhile, the US Dollar Index, a gauge of the greenback’s strength against a basket of six major currencies, sank to the lowest level since mid-January.

Holdings at SPDR Gold Trust, the largest exchange-traded fund backed by bullion, reduced by 2.1 metric tons to 1,285.2 metric tons. However, the sales of the company have not affected the metal’s rising trend recently.

Crude oil futures for November settlement surged $1.34 a barrel to close at $83.01 a barrel in New York.

This morning, crude oil traded near $84 a barrel.

Other news

Q3 results seen no buoy for stock market   2010-10-14

Jan-Sept aviation market growth put at 20%   2010-10-14

Foreign currency credit market still scorching hot   2010-10-14

Indochina Airlines’ chief may have to appear in court   2010-10-14

Trai Thien air cargo carrier in big trouble   2010-10-14

Profit of private firms lower than state-owned firms   2010-10-14

Investors face tougher financial capacity tests   2010-10-14

Seafood processing workshops sitting idle due to material shortage   2010-10-14

Banks say cutting rates still a challenge   2010-10-13

Still impossible to slash interest rates, despite loosened regulation   2010-10-13

New circular regulates capital contributions   2010-10-13

BUSINESS IN BRIEF 13/10   2010-10-13

Cash flow running from stock market to other investment channels   2010-10-13

Cash flow running from stock market to other investment channels   2010-10-13