Vietravel Airlines plans to expand flight network to Japan next year

Hanoi: Vietravel Airlines, a subsidiary of tour operator Viettravel, has held a meeting with representatives of Kagawa and Fukushima prefectures of Japan to share a plan to expand the flight network connecting Vietnam’s tourist cities with the two Japanese localities.

General Director of Vietravel Airlines Nguyen Minh Hai said the meeting is not only an important step in promoting the relationship between Vietravel Airlines and Fukushima and Kagawa prefectures but also a strategic element of the flight network expansion plan which will be carried out next year in the Japanese market by the airline and Vietravel Holiday.

The Japanese representatives said the flight network expansion to these localities will bring many benefits to customers, while also contributing to the development of the aviation and tourism industries in the two countries, adding that Fukushima and Kagawa boast popular tourist destinations along with strong economies.

Founded in late 2019, Vietravel Airlines conducted the first commercia
l flight on January 25, 2021, becoming the first travel airline in Southeast Asia and the fifth commercial carrier in Vietnam.

The airline’s flight network covers many popular tourist destinations in Vietnam such as Da Nang, Phu Quoc, Nha Trang, Quy Nhon and Da Lat, and Bangkok (Thailand). It also operated charter flights to Daegu and Muan (the Republic of Korea), and Macau and Sanya (China).

Vietravel Airlines plans to expand its flight network to major tourist cities in Japan next year./.
Source: Vietnam News Agency

Vietnam’s economy remains resilient in 2023: WB official

Hanoi: Andrea Coppola, World Bank Lead Economist for Vietnam, has described Vietnam in 2023 as resilient, saying that amid the global economic slowdown, the Southeast Asian nation was still able to sustain a rate of growth that many other countries in the rest of the world can only dream about.

According to Coppola, Vietnam is considered one of the most open economies in the world. Its strong trade relations with the rest of the world are a source of strength and success. Vietnam’s economic performance in 2023 is positive when the very challenging global context is put into consideration.

Economic growth in the US was about 2.5% in 2023, he said, adding that in the European area, economic growth was even weaker at about 0.5%. Despite the global challenges, Vietnam was able to continue growing at relatively fast rates.

The last part of the 2023 showed signs of economic recovery in the country, he said, noting that this recovery is driven by three main factors: a gradual recovery of external demand for Vietn
amese exports, increasing public investment, and resilient private consumption.

Vietnam also raised a lot of attention in 2023 as media outlets with global reach have published articles to underscore the country’s performance and potential, he said, stressing that the visits of world leaders to Vietnam also attracted even more the attention of the international community.

According to the economist, Vietnam is an appealing destination for international investors because of its economic and political stability and its capacity to integrate in the global economy.

He stressed that in such a context, it is critical for the country to continue strengthening the business environment and attract private investors’ attention to fully take advantage of impact of global geopolitical developments on international investment and trade.

After the global slowdown experienced in 2023, global economic growth is expected to decelerate further in 2024, including in key trade partners of Vietnam such as the US, Coppola said

The WB hopes that the demand for Vietnamese exports from the rest of the world will recover in 2024, he said, recommending Vietnam to leverage its internal strength and boost the productivity growth of its domestic economy to transform the challenges provided by the global economic slowdown into an opportunity to further strengthen its economic growth model.

Authorities can play an important role to support the economy through fiscal policy, particularly by accelerating the implementation of transformational public investment and infrastructure projects which are going to strengthen economic growth both in the short term and in the longer term, he said.

According to the expert, Vietnamese people are the greatest source of the country’s internal strength, so he suggested Vietnam continue promoting the private sector development and boosting productivity by upskilling the labour force and physical capital development through public investments in transport and energy infrastructure that can further strengt
hen the competitiveness of the private sector.

According to Vietnam’s Macro and Poverty Outlook released by the WB in October, Vietnam’s economic growth is expected to slow to 4.7% this year before recovering to 5.5 % in 2024 and 6.0 % in 2025./.
Source: Vietnam News Agency

ADB Country Director points to three main growth drivers of Vietnam’s economy in 2024

Hanoi: Public investment, domestic consumption, and export recovery will be the three main growth drivers of Vietnam’s economy in 2024, the Asian Development Bank (ADB)’s Country Director for Vietnam Shantanu Chakraborty has told the Vietnam News Agency.

The official said that the ADB maintains its GDP growth rate for next year at 6%, with an expectation that there will be a certain recovery in the external environment, and domestic growth drivers will regain momentum from 2023.

An important foundation to maintain growth momentum in the coming time will be macroeconomic stability thanks to Vietnam’s continuation of prudent fiscal policies, and proactive and flexible monetary policies applied since 2023, he stated, stressing the need to ensure that they are effectively carried out to create stronger momentum for the economy.

To achieve the 6% growth in 2024, the ADB Country Director advised Vietnam to speed up public investment in infrastructure, as it will help stimulate economic activities, support indust
rial, construction and mining businesses, and provide more employment opportunities.

Domestic consumption can be boosted by fiscal measures that encourage demand, and also supported by appropriate monetary policies that keep interest rates at relatively low levels.

To cope with headwinds, Vietnam’s policies need to be more proactive to support enterprises in expanding their markets, and promoting the exploitation of signed free trade agreements.

In the long term, Vietnam needs to promote public investment in green energy transition, upgrade infrastructure to improve the competitiveness of the economy, and strengthen the foundation to increase resilience and boost sustainable development, Shantanu Chakraborty said.

Assessing the country’s economic situation this year, he said that its economy is showing a strong recovery despite the global economy’s instability and increasing geopolitical tensions.

The Vietnamese Government has taken right steps to solve problems posed by global challenges. To date, the G
overnment has achieved a balance between monetary and fiscal policies to ensure high resilience to the global challenges facing the economy.

The bank recently lowered its growth forecast for Vietnam this year to 5.2% from the previous 5.8% forecast. However, according to him, Vietnam’s growth rate is quite good compared to many countries in the region./.
Source: Vietnam News Agency

EVN proposes purchasing wind power from Laos

Hanoi: Vietnam Electricity (EVN) has submitted a document to the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) regarding the proposal to import wind power from Laos to Quang Tri province.

EVN urged the ministry to review and submit to the Prime Minister the proposal to import electricity from the Truong Son Wind Power Plant, including additional planning for transmission lines. The purchase price for electricity from this project is 6.95 US cents/kWh, equivalent to about 1,700 VND/kWh.

The ministry said it has received a document requesting feedback from relevant ministries and localities on the proposal to purchase wind power from the plant, with a capacity of 250MW, from Bolikhamsai province in Laos to Vietnam, as proposed by EVN.

According to the ministry, the plant is expected to start operation in the fourth quarter of 2025.

“To import electricity from this plant to Vietnam, a new 220kV double-circuit transmission line will be constructed, with a length of 75km from the Truong Son Wind Power Plant’s 220kV su
bstation connecting to the 220kV busbar at the Do Luong 220kV substation in central Nghe An province, Vietnam,” said the ministry in an official statement.

To meet the project completion schedule in 2025, the project’s investor, the Vietnam Laos Energy Investment and Development Corporation, has sent a document to EVN proposing to sell electricity from this project to Vietnam. The investor suggests investing the entire grid connection project to connect the plant to the Vietnam’s power system using the project’s funds.

In an earlier development, in a report to the minsitry, EVN stated that the governments of Laos and Vietnam had agreed to import 1,000MW of electricity from Laos to Vietnam by 2020. The imported electricity volume is expected to be around 3,000MW by 2025 and about 5,000MW by 2030. As of the end of October, the Prime Minister has approved the proposal to import electricity from various sources in Laos with a total capacity of 2,689MW.

“EVN has signed 19 power purchase agreements (PPA) to buy
electricity from 26 Laotian power plants with a total capacity of 2,240MW. Among them, seven projects are commercially operational with a total capacity of 806MW, and it is expected that an additional 1,171MW can be put into operation by 2025,” according to the ministry.

The report indicates that, so far, the total approved capacity of electricity sources in Laos that can be imported into Vietnam and put into operation by 2025 is only about 1,977MW, much lower than the import scale stated in the memorandum of understanding./.
Source: Vietnam News Agency

Lending rate forecast to be cut by 1-1.5pp in 2024

Hanoi: There will be little room for further reduction in deposit interest rates in 2024 as they have dropped deeply to pre-COVID-19 levels, while the lending interest rate can still be lowered by 1-1.5 percentage points next year, Vietcombank Securities (VCBS) forecast.

Under a newly released report, VCBS said compared to the end of 2022, the average deposit interest rate in the banking system has decreased by 2-2.9 percentage points, depending on terms. However, the decline has not been fully reflected as the cost of deposit mobilisation has only decreased by 0.1 percentage point from the peak.

According to VCBS, the deposit interest rate level currently drops deeply to the pre-COVID-19 level and there is little room for further reduction. However, during the period of economic recovery, maintaining low interest rates will be a priority. At the same time, keeping a low deposit interest rate for a long time is also a necessary condition to pull the lending interest rate down.

Besides, the handling of corp
orate bonds requires a lot of capital resources and a low interest rate will be a prerequisite to faster handling of the bonds.

According to VCBS, by the end of the third quarter of 2023, the average lending interest rate recorded on the financial statements of listed banks decreased by about 0.6 percentage points compared to the peak in the first quarter of 2023. However, lending interest rate is still about 1.6 percentage points higher than the bottom recorded in the fourth quarter of 2021.

Specifically, after the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) lowered its policy interest rates four times, deposit interest rates decreased rapidly. Actual lending interest rate has also gone down by about 2-2.5 percentage points for new loans. However, the interest rate applied to outstanding loans is still high at more than 10% per year.

VCBS expects the lending interest rate will decrease by another 1-1.5 percentage points in 2024. In particular, banks will consider lowering interest rate for some groups of firms which have
good business prospects, with an aim to restructure debts and support customers through difficult times.

However, experts forecast that banks will be more cautious in lending as their net interest margin (NIM) is on the decline and bad debt is on the rise. Therefore, VCBS believes that there will be a difference in lending interest rate reduction.

Besides, the group of private banks will drop the rate more sharply than the group of State-owned banks due to a rise in late debt repayment. VCBS expects lending interest rates of private banks will improve in the near future when customers return to repay debts.

Tran Hoai Nam, deputy general director of HDBank, also said there is currently no room to reduce deposit interest rates, while lending interest rates will gradually decrease until the first quarter of next year.

However, it is difficult to make a long-term forecast for the rate after that time, as it depends on domestic and world macro-economic fluctuations, Nam said./.
Source: Vietnam News Agency

Domestic gold prices hit new record high

Hanoi: Domestic gold prices kept skyrocketing on December 20 morning to pass the historic high, reaching 75.4 million VND (nearly 3,100 USD) per tael (1.2 ounces).

At 9:13 am in Hanoi, Doji Group listed each tael of SJC gold at 74.4 – 75.4 million VND (buying – selling), adding 550,000 VND for buying and 500,000 VND for the selling side from a day before.

Meanwhile, Phu Quy Group rated the precious metal at the same prices to Doji Group’s, up 550,000 VND for both buying and selling compared to the previous day.

The prices of gold also went up in the global market when the USD weakens and investors are waiting for the announcement of a series of new economic data later this week.

The upward trend in gold prices occurs as the US dollar index decreases by 0.4%, and the yield on 10-year US government bonds is near its lowest level since July 2022.

Bart Melek, Global Head of Commodity Strategy at TD Securities, has said that investors have been strongly buying gold in anticipation of the Federal Reserve (FED)
‘s cutting interest rates before inflation reaches its target./.
Source: Vietnam News Agency

Vietnam’s trade surplus surges to record high

Hanoi: Vietnam recorded a trade surplus of 26 billion USD in 2023, nearly tripling the figure last year and the highest on record, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Phan Thi Thang said at a teleconference held in Hanoi on December 20.

According to a report from the Ministry of Industry and Trade, despite formidable challenges in trade activities posed by poor economic growth and weak demand in large export markets such as the US, the EU, Japan and ASEAN, Vietnam capitalised on the recovery of its major and traditional markets to promote export.

The country shipped 354.5 billion USD worth of products in the year, down 4.6% year-on-year, which, Thang said, marked an easing from the 12% in the first half.

She added that 33 items recorded export turnover of 1 billion USD in 11 months, of which seven posted a value of more than 10 billion USD, accounting for 66% of the total revenue.

Farm produce was among key exports, she said, adding processed industrial products accounted for 85% of the export turnover.

General Director of the ministry’s Agency for Foreign Trade Tran Duy Dong said export showed signs of recovery in the end of 2023, and relished the prospect of better export situation in 2024 on the back of current free trade agreements (FTAs), and conclusion of negotiations and implementation of the trade deals with new markets such as Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

He stressed that the sound political relations with such trade partners as China, the EU and the US will create a premise for Vietnam to expand its economic, trade and investment cooperation.

Given those advantages, the ministry will strive to increase the export revenue growth by 6%, and trade surplus to some 15 billion USD in 2024, he said, underscoring the ministry will work to diversify export markets and supply chains, support enterprises to capitalise on the existing FTAs, especially the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTTP), the EU-Vietnam FTA and the UK-Vietnam FTA, to bolster shipments.

ditionally, it will coordinate with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to negotiate with China for official export of more agricultural products from Vietnam, and speed up customs clearance at Vietnam-China border gates, Dong added./.
Source: Vietnam News Agency

Purchasing power on Christmas market still weak

Hanoi: A wide range of decorations with stable prices are now available in the Hanoi market as Christmas is nearing, but purchasing power remains weak.

Sellers on such streets as Hang Ma, Hang Luoc, and Luong Van Can, home to many toy and decorations stores, said that this year, consumers are tightening their belts due to economic difficulties, leading to slow consumption though Christmas is just around the corner.

Most visitors here are young people coming for sightseeing and taking check-in photos, they noted.

Nguyen Van Bay, owner of a souvenir shop on Hang Luoc in Hoan Kiem district, said the street has become more vibrant on these days, but the majority of visitors are youngsters going out for pleasure.

There are few buyers, which have nosedived by 30 – 50% compared to previous years.

Economic difficulties have discouraged people from spending, especially on Christmas decorations, he added.

Sharing the same view, Hoang Thi Van Anh, a shop owner on Hang Ma in Hoan Kiem district, noted prices of deco
rations this year are equivalent to last year’s, but purchasing power has yet to meet expectations because of economic slowdown.

Therefore, she continued, her store has offered some new and unique products to attract buyers.

Aside from decorations, the market of fresh pine trees also has diverse products to offer. Most of the trees are imported from Denmark, the Netherlands, and China.

In addition to the traditional market, Christmas decorations and gifts with prices about 20% lower are also being sold on e-marketplaces such as Lazada, Sendo, and Shopee or social media platforms like Facebook or Zalo./.
Source: Vietnam News Agency