Bac Giang railway station begins int’l freight transportation services

According to the Ministry of Transport, such international services are expected help ease congestions of goods in the border areas between Vietnam and China and reduce pressure on the two present international railway stations – Dong Dang and Yen Vien.

In the long term, it will be convenient to form a hub for transshipment of goods for Bac Giang province and neighboring provinces, reduce logistics costs, and facilitate the import and export of goods.

The Vietnam Railways will arrange trains to or from Europe, China, Russia, and Mongolia and increase Kep station’s international rail transport output to 4.5 million tons per year.

Source: VOV5

Vietnam eyes cooperation opportunities with Mexican localities

The Vietnam-Mexico relations are being promoted in all fields and bilateral trade will continue to grow strongly as the two countries are members of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), said Vietnamese Ambassador to Mexico Nguyen Hoanh Nam.

During his working visit to Mexico’s Oaxaca state earlier this week, the Ambassador worked with members of the parliament, the Ministry of Economic Development, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Ministry of Tourism, the Ministry of Culture and the Oaxaca City authority. He highlighted Vietnam’s achievements in over 36 years of renewal, adding that in 2022, Vietnam recorded impressive indicators: import-export turnover of about 732 billion USD and GDP growth of 8.02%, the highest rate in 12 years, amid global uncertainty.

Nam suggested that parliamentarians, leaders of ministries, sectors and the Oaxaca state work with Vietnam on cooperation mechanisms and sign technical agreements to create favorable conditions for the export and import of products of both sides.

The host leaders said they are ready to accompany the local business delegations to look for business and investment opportunities in Vietnam and agreed to support the Embassy in organizing economic and cultural activities of Vietnam in Oaxaca.

Source: VOV5

National Congress of Beautycare Industry opens

The National Congress of the Beautycare Industry opens in Hanoi on Saturday, drawing 2,000 participation from Vietnamese and foreign schools, institutes, businesses working in the beautycare and healthcare sectors.

The congress will include a trade and investment promotion conference, an exhibition of hundreds of beauty brands, a forum on cosmetics, a conference on startup in the beauty industry, a gala dinner, and a ceremony to honor excellent brands.

The delegates will discuss Vietnam’s beauty industry and experiences of some countries. Many countries have promoted the beauty industry to generate millions of jobs and tens of billions of dollars.

Source: VOV5

BOD operations under scrutiny ahead of AGM season

February is the peak season for businesses to prepare for their AGMs, with one of the top concerns, for domestic and foreign investors alike, being the roles of independent members of the board of directors and the quality of disclosure in corporate reports.

International practices have proven that capable independent members of the board of directors (BOD) can contribute effectively to the neutrality and transparency in businesses’ information disclosure and sustainable development. However, Ha Thu Thanh, chairperson of Deloitte Vietnam, pointed out that there is a gap in independent members’ competency.

“We are really lacking resources in terms of high quality and professional independent members. However, the BODs often want independent members who had prior connection with them to ensure they have critical thinking, but not objection,” Thanh said.

In addition, the awareness of the role of independent members in most Vietnamese companies is still quite vague. According to industry experts, public companies are related to the interests of many people and have wide social influence, so they need people who are neutral, independent and objective to prevent manipulation, and harmonise the interests of shareholders. Those who do not have capital in the company often have a more objective and balanced voice and can help investors avoid blind spots in terms of information.

The supervisory board is not only for supervision but also for detailed inspection, implementation, and also appraisal. However, the current mechanism in many enterprises makes the control board ineffective.

In a number of cases, there is a lack of balance between executive and non-executive members, including independent. This leads to oversight that doesn’t make much sense as the orientation, monitoring, and executive roles are focused mainly on executive members, according to the experts.

Based on standard corporate governance practices in the world, there are currently two models for BOD monitoring. First is the one-tier model that Vietnamese businesses are gradually approaching, where the BOD itself is divided into executive members and non-executive members, so there is a mechanism to supervise each other among members.

A BOD is deemed to operate more effectively when the role of non-executive members and the independent members becomes clearer in overseeing and taking the main responsibilities for matters requiring high independence, such as auditing, human resources, and compensation.

The second model is a two-tier governance version, which is common for businesses in the likes of Germany or Indonesia, where the BOD is divided into a supervisory board and executive board. Several Vietnamese enterprises also follow this model, with a slight different in maintaining the control board with members not necessarily in the BOD but are elected by shareholders.

As for corporate’s annual reports, insiders believe that the focus this year is on sustainability reports, an concept that has, until now, received insufficient attention.

In Vietnam, according to the State Securities Commission (SSC), while the issuance of a sustainability report is considered a tool that could improve enterprises’ awareness of new business risks and opportunities, such issuance has not been taken full advantage of. In the 2022 reporting season, only 19 companies issued a separate sustainability report.

“Non-financial matters are placing their increasing importance into investors’ consideration. Progressive financiers do not only gauge a company’s success and performance by financial indicators like they did in the past,” noted Ta Thanh Binh, head of Securities Market Development at the SSC. “The concerted effort to launch a separate sustainability report, besides a sustainability section in an annual report, is an impetus, together with solid corporate governance.”

Last year marked 10 years since Vietnamese listed companies began publishing information on sustainable development. “Many businesses have kept pace with changes in legal regulations as well as trends in combating climate change in Vietnam and around the world. Quite a few enterprises have published information on total greenhouse emissions by different ranges, with most mentioned programmes to combat climate change,” said Nguyen Viet Thinh, head of Judging Panel, Sustainability Reporting Award, part of the Vietnam Listed Company Awards.

At December’s annual Corporate Governance Forum, co-hosted by VIR and the Vietnam Institute of Directors, international and domestic experts shared their insights of how sustainability-linked investments, particularly in the manufacturing and industrial segments, still come at a high cost premium, or “green cost premium”, which might impede businesses’ short-term profit. This, as a result, might trigger concerns among shareholders if skyrocketing costs related to environmental, social, and governance criteria were practical or not.

Some also argue that even consumers would not fancy the idea of sustainability living as they have to bear the cost of high energy prices, increasing inflating rates, and expensive living standards.

Likewise, research in June 2022 by Deloitte highlighted that just over half of consumers have yet to create a more sustainable lifestyle due to the cost of eco-friendly alternatives. A slightly higher percentage of people would not hesitate to switch if products were more affordable, the research pointed out.

Source: Vietnam Investment Review

First Japan-Singapore Economic Dialogue takes place

The first Japan-Singapore Economic Dialogue (JSED) took place in Singapore on February 15, with representatives from both public and private sectors of the two countries discussing measures to boost bilateral economic cooperation and improve the business environment.

Vice Minister for International Affairs at Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) Hirai Hirohide and Gabriel Lim, Permanent Secretary of Singapore’s Ministry of Industry and Trade (MTI), co-chaired the event.

During the first JSED, the two countries approved their joint projects in Asia and other regions based on the Asia-Japan Investing for Future Initiative (AJIF). The two sides also discussed international and regional situations.

They discussed three specific areas including the startup ecosystem, strengthening the supply chain in the digital age/digital economy, and cooperation orientations.

Regarding the digital economy, the two sides discussed Japan’s Data Free Flow with Trust (DFFT) Initiative, and solutions to promote cross-border data flow, and agreed to jointly promote the global digital economy.

METI and MTI also announced the “Singapore-Japan Fast Track Pitch” to be organised in April as a part of the ASEAN-Japan Co-Creation Fast Track Initiative that aims to promote innovations through startups’ solutions.

The event also aims to connect startups from Singapore, Japan, and ASEAN that can provide solutions in three areas of the digital economy, food technology, and biological/medical sciences. Leading companies in the industries including Panasonic, Takenaka, Itochu, DeNA from Japan and Buhler, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, and Roquette from Singapore are expected to join.

Japan and Singapore also agreed to hold the second JSED next year./.

Source: Vietnam News Agency

Bright prospect for tra fish exports in 2023

Despite experiencing a sharp decline in the last quarter of 2022 and the first month of 2023, tra fish (pangasius) exports still see bright outlook this year, according to insiders.

Le Hang, director for communications at the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), said from October to December last year, tra export value decreased 12% from a year earlier to 457 million USD. The decline continued to linger until the beginning of this year, with 50% in January.

However, she said tra fish exports are likely to enjoy good growth in the remaining months of the year thanks to increasing demand from Vietnam’s two largest markets, namely China and the US.

China’s lifting of the Zero-COVID policy is facilitating the export of Vietnamese agricultural products, including tra fish, to this market, Hang was quoted by Nong Nghiep Viet Nam (Vietnam Agriculture) newspaper as saying.

The fact that Chinese consumers tend to prefer tra fish to tilapia, a key aquatic species raised in their country, is also a good opportunity for Vietnamese businesses to boost exports to the neighbouring country, she noted.

Sam Galletti, president of Southwind Food – a US seafood importer, predicted that consumption of pangasius and tilapia in the US market will rise this year thanks to stable supplies and affordable prices.

The lack of cod supply due to the sanctions against Russia and the reduction in catches will also pave the way for the export of other types of white fish to the US market. In addition, the US tends to import more tra fish fillets than tilapia fillets.

The exports of tra fish to other markets besides China and the US are also expected to rise.

Luu Van Khang, Commercial Counselor of Vietnam’s Trade Office in Mexico, said the shipment of Vietnamese tra and basa fish to the North American country enjoyed zero tariffs under the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, describing it an opportunity for Vietnam to continue promoting tra fish exports to this market.

Last year, Mexico is the third largest market of Vietnamese tra fish with an export value of 105.1 million USD./.

Source: Vietnam News Agency

Ca Mau province to diversify aquaculture farming

The Mekong Delta province of Ca Mau plans to diversify its aquaculture and farming models to develop them effectively and sustainably.

The country’s southernmost province and largest shrimp producer has more than 300,000ha of aquaculture ponds, including 280,000ha to raise shrimp.

It plans to expand efficient shrimp farming models such as shrimp-rice, shrimp-forest and super-intensive shrimp farming this year, according to its Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The super-intensive farming area has increased from 175ha in 2016 to 4,322ha now.

The province has 80,000ha under the shrimp-forest model, with more than 19,000ha obtaining international quality certification such as GlobalGAP, Global Aquaculture Stewardship Council and Best Aquaculture Practices, according to the department.

In Ngoc Hien district, 9,300ha of shrimp-forest farming areas have international quality certification and an average yield of 200-240 kilogrammes a year, according to the local Bureau of Agriculture and Rural Development. The model is applied widely in areas in Ngoc Hien, Nam Can and Dam Doi districts with farmers breeding organic shrimp for both domestic distribution and exports.

Besides, Ca Mau province aims to expand the breeding of other aquatic species such as oysters, blood cockles, mud crabs, and marine fish this year. It has a coastline of more than 254 kilometres, many estuaries, mud flats and islands, and encourages farmers and companies to raise marine aquatic species.

The province targets seafood and aquaculture output of 640,000 tonnes this year, including 243,000 tonnes of shrimp, according to the department.

For this, it will zone shrimp farming areas and develop linkages among stakeholders to increase the farming area, efficiency and output, it said.

The output last year was 622,000 tonnes after increasing by 2.2%. Of this, 386,000 tonnes were from aquaculture, 5.3% up from 2021.

It exported more than 1.3 billion USD worth of shrimp last year, an increase of 16.5%.

The province has around 32 shrimp processing plants, which are equipped with advanced facilities and have an annual capacity of 250,000 tonnes.

The shrimp industry provides livelihoods to more than 600,000 people, or half the province’s population./.

Source: Vietnam News Agency