Vietnam News Today (Aug. 30): US$3.96 Billion Trade Surplus for Vietnam Over Eight Months

Vietnam News Today (Aug. 30): Vietnam, South Africa seek to promote cooperation; HCM City seeks to develop electric bus system; US$3.96 billion trade surplus for Vietnam over eight months; Ninh Binh ceremony to mark 50 years of UNESCO convention on cultural, natural heritage protection.


Vietnam News Today (Aug. 30) notable headlines

Vietnam, South Africa seek to promote cooperation

HCM City seeks to develop electric bus system

US$3.96 billion trade surplus for Vietnam over eight months

Ninh Binh ceremony to mark 50 years of UNESCO convention on cultural, natural heritage protection

Hotel occupancy, room rates rebound from Covid

Hang Ma street gearing up for Mid-Autumn festival

MoH launches back-to-school Covid-19 vaccination campaign

Exports to the Netherlands edge up 31.6% over seven months

Tennis star Ly Hoang Nam reaches highest career ranking

Vietnamese Ambassador to South Africa Hoang Van Loi (left) presents a souvenir to Nomusa Dube-Ncube, Premier of KwaZulu-Natal province. Photo: VOV
Vietnamese Ambassador to South Africa Hoang Van Loi (left) presents a souvenir to Nomusa Dube-Ncube, Premier of KwaZulu-Natal province. Photo: VOV

Vietnam, South Africa seek to promote cooperation

Leaders and the business community of South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province expressed their readiness to welcome Vietnamese enterprises to explore cooperation opportunities as well as strengthen relations between the countries.

In the visit of Vietnamese Ambassador to South Africa Hoang Van Loi to the province from August 23-26, the diplomat briefed the host on Vietnam’s socio-economic achievements in the first six months of this year, stressing there is still room for bringing Vietnam – South Africa relations into depth and extensively and pledging the Vietnamese Embassy in South Africa is making efforts and carrying out activities to connect the two countries’ businesses and localities, cited VOV.

Loi said that a Vietnamese business delegation is scheduled to visit South Africa in the first half of September to explore investment and export opportunities in the country in such fields as textiles, footwear, seafood, food processing, construction materials and furniture, as part of a series of activities under the initiative of the Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN) Committee in Pretoria.

In Loi’s working sessions, the premier of KwaZulu-Natal province emphasised that the South African government in general and the provincial government in particular attach special importance to the market of more than 650 million people of Southeast Asian countries, saying the relations with ASEAN countries should be promoted.

It is necessary to strengthen bilateral trade and investment relations in specific fields, including production of high-value wood products, agriculture, telecommunications, Halal food and higher education, among others, she added.

Meanwhile, the mayor of Durban city said he is willing to cooperate with businesses and localities of ASEAN countries in all fields, considering this a good condition for economic development and job creation for local people.

HCM City seeks to develop electric bus system

Ho Chi Minh City’s Department of Transport has proposed that the municipal People’s Committee use electric vehicles for its bus rapid transit (BRT) system to emit less noise and reduce air pollution.

Developing electric vehicles is an inevitable trend to achieve environmental objectives under the city’s green traffic development project, according to the department.

Tran Quang Lam, director of the department, said the city plans to build six BRT routes with a total length of about 100km.

Funded by the World Bank (WB), the green traffic development project involves the construction of a 23km-long BRT main corridor. The corridor will run from An Lac Intersection in Binh Tan district to Rach Chiec bridge in Thu Duc city.

Over the past 10 years, the city has had buses that use compressed natural gas (CNG) accounting for about 20% of the total number of vehicles in operation.

To meet its sustainable growth targets by 2030, it would be necessary to implement appropriate vehicles for the BRT route as well as the city’s public transportation system in general, he said.

The BRT No. 1 project initially planned to use CNG buses on the route, according to VNA.

The department has consulted scientists and WB experts to advise selecting vehicles for this project.

WB expert Shige Sakaki said electric buses have become a viable option as they have been used in many countries.

Besides reducing noise and toxic emissions compared to diesel buses, the operation and maintenance of electric buses are also cheaper.

An electric bus on a trial run in HCM City. Photo: VNA
An electric bus on a trial run in HCM City. Photo: VNA

However, developing electric buses still has some limitations such as high production costs, and a lack of charging station infrastructure and maintenance shops, according to the department.

The city has piloted two electric bus lines, using 12-seat mini buses, in districts 1 and 7 since 2017.

The first 29km-long electric bus route called D4 was launched in March, connecting the Vinhomes Grand Park Urban Area in Thu Duc city with the Sai Gon bus station in district 1.

The city has also allowed the use of electric vehicles with fewer than 15 seats in Can Gio district to take tourists to hotels and tourist sites.

In 2020, the city’s administration approved a VND400 trillion (US$17.3 billion) project to improve access to public transportation and limit the use of personal vehicles over the next decade.

The focus will be on developing the bus network, including enhancing inter-provincial connectivity.

Under the project, public transportation would meet 15% of residents’ travel demand by 2025 and 25% by 2030.

By 2025, the city targets having the bus system connect new urban areas, industrial parks, satellite urban areas and passenger transport routes.

To improve bus services and increase ridership, the department is expected to open public bidding for bus routes.

As many as 50-60 new routes are expected to start by 2025, increasing to around 75 by 2030, and the number of buses would double in the next 10 years, he said.

Priority will be given to vehicles that use clean and environment-friendly fuels such as CNG, LPG and electricity.

The quality of human resources operating buses will be improved and the management and operation of public transport systems will be modernised.

By 2025, the bus network would be expanded from 126 routes with 2,100 buses to 260 routes with 3,000 buses.

Every year, the city provides subsidies of VND1 trillion (US$43 million) to bus companies.

A new inter-provincial bus route connecting HCM City and the provinces of Long An and Tien Giang officially opened on August 10.

US$3.96 billion trade surplus for Vietnam over eight months

Vietnam recorded a trade surplus of US$3.96 billion over the first eight months of the year, with the total import and export turnover of goods rising by 15.5% year on year to US$497.64 billion, according to figures given by the General Statistics Office (GSO).

Of the overall trade value, exports increased by 17.3% to US$250.8 billion, while imports rose 13.6% to US$246,84 billion, reported the GSO on August 29.

The domestic economic sector raked in US$66.14 billion from exports, up 18.4%, duly accounting for 26.4% of total export turnover, while the FDI sector fetched US$184.66 billion in turnover, representing a rise of 17% and making up 73.6% of the total figure.

There are 30 commodities with export turnover exceeding US$1 billion each, accounting for 91.8% of total export turnover. Among them are six commodities with export turnover of more than US$10 billion each, generating 63.4% of the total.

With regard to the structure of export groups, fuels and minerals accounted for 1.4%, a rise of 0.3% year on year, while processed industrial products made up 89%, equal to the same period from last year.

Moreover, agricultural and forestry products accounted for 6.6%, a decline of 0.7%, while aquatic products made up 3%, an increase of 0.4%, reported VOV.

Photo: VOV
Photo: VOV

Meanwhile, the eight-month import turnover of goods stood at an estimated US$246.84 billion, up 13.6%, of which the domestic economic sector and FDI sector grossed US$85.58 billion and US$161.26 billion, respectively.

The United States remains Vietnam’s largest export market with an estimated turnover of US$77.7 billion, while China makes up the largest import market of Vietnamese goods with an estimated turnover of US$82.1 billion.

Throughout the reviewed period Vietnam posted a trade surplus of US$21.6 billion with the EU, up 46.4% year on year, but slipped into a trade deficit of US$47.8 billion, US$27.4 billion, US$9 billion, and US$320 million with China, the Republic of Korea, and ASEAN, respectively.

At present, the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) is focused on implementing new-generation free trade agreement (FTAs) ​​as part of efforts to assist businesses in gaining greater insights into the commitments of FTAs in order to effectively utilise tariff incentives.

The MoIT has also organised trade promotion programmes in a bid to help enterprises export agricultural products, simplify administrative procedures, support domestic enterprises to reduce their reliance on the FDI sector in production, and boost export activities.

Ninh Binh ceremony to mark 50 years of UNESCO convention on cultural, natural heritage protection

The 50th anniversary of the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage will be marked with a ceremony in northern Ninh Binh province on September 6.

The event will be held by Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MCST), the Ninh Binh provincial People’s Committee, and the Vietnam National Commission for UNESCO, on the occasion of an official visit by UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay from September 5 to 7, the MCST said.

Other activities will include a photo exhibition on world cultural and natural heritage sites in Vietnam, the screening of short films about heritages and preservation efforts, and an award ceremony for a heritage-themed painting contest by the UNESCO Hanoi Office.

Ninh Binh, the venue of the coming ceremony, is home to the Trang An Landscape Complex – a mixed cultural and natural heritage site of the world that earned the recognition in 2014.

Boats sail for Thung Nang, a tourist site in Ninh Binh province. Photo: VNA
Boats sail for Thung Nang, a tourist site in Ninh Binh province. Photo: VNA

According to the MCST, UNESCO chose the theme “World Heritage for Resilience and Sustainable Development” for the 50th anniversary of the 1972 Convention amid countries’ efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and enhancement of their responsiveness to global challenges, especially climate change and epidemics.

The Convention, adopted by UNESCO at its 17th session in Paris on November 16, 1972, is the only combining cultural and natural heritage protection. As many as 194 states have become members this convention, cited VNA.

Since Vietnam ratified the deal on October 19, 1987, it has had eight cultural, natural, and mixed heritages inscribed in the world heritage list. The sites have greatly contributed to local socio-economic development and helped popularise the country’s images to international friends, the MCST noted.

The ministry said as UNESCO has encouraged member states to mark the convention’s 50th anniversary ahead of the global celebration in Florence, Italy, this November, the ceremony in Vietnam will help demonstrate the country’s role, contributions, and sense of responsibility towards this convention.

It will also help popularise Vietnam’s achievements in preserving and bringing into play world heritages, affirm its stature within the UNESCO framework, create favourable conditions for the country’s candidacy for a seat in the World Heritage Committee for 2023 – 2027, and further strengthen the Vietnam – UNESCO cooperation in the time ahead, according to the MCST.

Hotel occupancy, room rates rebound from Covid

The global hotel and resort sector is recovering well from the Covid-19 pandemic with improvements on occupancy and room rates, and Vietnam is no exception, Mauro Gasparotti, director of Savills Hotels Asia Pacific, said.

The performance during the summer vacation period suggests a positive outlook.

Coastal locations such as Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Ho Tram, Da Nang, Nha Trang, and Phu Quoc performed well, largely due to the return of domestic travellers. Occupancy reached 50 per cent to 70 per cent in some resorts.

However, for performance to reach 2019 levels, international arrivals need to recover fully, Mauro said.

Three factors are hindering tourism’s recovery, including inflation, rising flight costs and continued disruptions in key source markets such as China and Russia.

A corner of Nha Trang in the central coastal province of Khanh Hoa. Photo: VNS
A corner of Nha Trang in the central coastal province of Khanh Hoa. Photo: VNS

“We expect demand to fully recover by 2024. However, Vietnam’s tourism industry also faces the challenge of oversupply. Over the next three years, supply in key tourist destinations is expected to grow at an average rate of 20 per cent per year. At this rate, if demand does not increase, it may lead to oversupply, which will impact occupancy,” he said.

There is great potential for resort real estate in Vietnam as the country saw the largest increase in international arrivals in Southeast Asia between 2009 and 2019 at 16.9 per cent a year, VNS reported.

The supply of mid-scale to luxury rooms has increased to 94,000 this year from 14,000 in 2009.

“To place Vietnam firmly on the international tourism map, agencies, investors, and professional consultants need to cooperate to deliver quality projects that reflect the demands of the changing market and the local features. This is essential for long-term sustainability,” Mauro said.

In the Asia Pacific, hotel occupancy was decimated by the pandemic and ranged from 25 per cent to 40 per cent in major destinations since 2020. However, the market has seen upticks since the second half of 2021, following successful vaccination campaigns across the region, which instilled confidence in investors.

According to Savills Asia Pacific Hospitality Spotlight published in June, hotel investment volumes reached US$14.9 billion from 459 deals in 2021, surpassing the pre-pandemic five-year average of US$14.6 billion.

The market saw an uptick in both investment volumes and the number of transactions in 2021, up 42.1 per cent YoY and 25.8 per cent YoY, respectively.

Rosie Nguyen