MBC welcomes our New Corporate Members “CHIN WELL FASTENERS (VIETNAM) CO., LTD”,” GAMUDA LAND (HCMC) JOINT STOCK COMPANY”,” HAWE INDUSTRIAL CONSTRUCTION JOINT STOCK COMPANY”, ” PANPAGES VIETNAM LTD”,” TUAN LE CONSTRUCTION COMPANY LIMITED” and ” ZICOLAW (VIET NAM) LTD”---MBC welcomes our New Individual Members “ALAN NG AIK HOW from TAN VIET XUAN PRODUCTION JOINT STOCK COMPANY “, “GAN YEE CHUN from SAMTEC VIETNAM COMPANY LIMITED “, “GARY LIT from GL TRAINING & CONSULTANCY”,” GOH SHUI HSIN from HEXACHEM CO., LTD”, “GRATIA GADING GEORGE from KRETOP INTERNATIONAL CONSTRUCTION CHEMICAL”, “HOW YEN LING from GLOBAL TRAINING NETWORK ALLIANCES SDN BHD”, “LENG TZE SING from CT TNHH MOC CAPITAL VIETNAM”,” LIM HOCK SIN from FURNITECH COMPONENTS VIET NAM CO., LTD”, “MARTIN WONG SIEW BING from SOUTHEAST ASIA TELECOMMUNICATIONS HOLDINGS PTE.LTD “,”MICHEL KHAOU from AGILITY CO., LTD “, “PETER LIM WEI HENG from TEXCHEM MATERIALS (VIET NAM) CO., LTD “, “ROGER YAP WENG FOOK from CONG TY TNHH MOLUTION”, “TAN JING KUAN from NORD ANGLIA EDUCATION GROUP”,” TAN LAI SEE from ABS ENGINEERING VIET NAM LIMITED”, “TAY KENG CHONG from NIRO CERAMIC VIETNAM”, “TEO SECK CHUAN from SEAMASTER PAINT VIETNAM CO.,LTD”,” TEOH TEAN TIAR from GTC VIETNAM SERVICE AND TRADE COMPANY LIMITED”.

Malaysia Business Chamber Vietnam


Block G, Unit 0215, The Manor 2, 91 Nguyen Huu canh, Binh Thanh District, HCMC  Tel:(84-28) 6258 6316
Vietnam News


HEADLINES

 

FINANCE

Project on credit institution restructuring gets PM’s approval

Reference exchange rate down 3 VND

 

ECONOMY

Vietnam gets $145 billion from 30 years of oil export

Agro-forestry-aquatic exports hit 20.45 billion USD in 7 months

 

INVESTMENT

CJ invests $62mn in food production complex in HCMC

7M FDI exceeds $20bn

 

REAL ESTATE

Bitexco steadfast in pursuing $1.35 billion urban project

Vietnam’s growing demand for US property

 

OIL&GAS&ENERGY&MINING

$3.2 billion Vung Ro Refinery and Petrochemical project warned over long delay

PVN to restart ethanol and bio ethanol plants

 

LEGAL

Ministry proposes tougher rules on sales promotion activities

New Tourism Law aims to better ensure tourists’ interests

 

Source:

Dr. Oliver Massmann

International Attorney at Law
Certified Financial Accountant and Auditor
General Director of Duane Morris LLC
Partner of Duane Morris LLP
Member to the Supervisory Board of PetroVietnam Insurance Holdings Joint Stock Company

FINANCE

 

Project on credit institution restructuring gets PM’s approval

VNA

 

The prime minister has issued Decision 1058/QD-TTg approving a project on restructuring the system of credit institutions in combination with settling bad debt for the 2016-2020 period.

The project aims to restructure credit institutions and settle bad debt on the principles of ensuring the interests of depositors and maintaining the stability and safety of the banking system, and reduce the number of badly performing credit institutions.

Overall solutions include completing the legal framework, perfecting policies and mechanisms related to monetary and banks’ operations, improving the financial and business administration capacity of credit institutions, and bettering inspections and supervisions over banks’ operations.

The project stresses the need to improve the capacity of the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) to make early warning of systematic risks and to prevent the risk of law violations of credit institutions and foreign banks’ branches.

Inspection work will be reformed on the basis of using new risk control tools and methods.

The project also puts forward orientations and measures to restructure commercial banks in which the State holds more than 50 percent of chartered capital, and improve operations of joint stock commercial banks, financial and financial leasing companies.

For bad debt settlement measures, the project asks the SBV, ministries, localities, credit institutions, Vietnam Asset Management Company (VAMC), and organisations and individuals involved to continue implementing the Decision No.843/QD-TTg on settling bad debts of the credit institution system.

Credit institutions are required to review the quality and recovery possibility of outstanding debts, while continuing to restructure debts.

The SBV, ministries and localities are requested to continue implementing measures related to monetary, credit and banking policies and mechanisms, along with solving difficulties for business and production activities, and stimulating consumption.

The SBV needs to intensify inspections and supervisions on credit institutions’ observance of rules on credit, safe operation and debt classification, while the VAMC focuses on classifying borrowers, mortgage assets and loans, coordinating closely with credit institutions in taking back and restructuring debts and selling debts and guarantee assets, and providing financial assistance for borrowers to recover business and production and complete unfinished projects.

The country’s system of credit institutions currently includes State-owned banks, joint stock banks, finance companies, financial leasing companies, foreign credit institutions, cooperative banks, People’s credit funds and microfinance institutions.

 

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Reference exchange rate down 3 VND

Vietbao

 

The State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) announced the daily reference exchange rate for VND/USD on July 27th 2017 at 22,430 VND per USD, down by 3 VND compared to July 26th 2017.

Vietcombank keeps the rates unchanged at 22,695 VND per USD (buying) and 22,765 VND per USD (selling).

BIDV also buys and sells USD at the same rates as the day ago, reaching 22,700 VND (buying) and 22,770 VND (selling) per USD.

Vietinbank cut both rates by 10 VND, buying at 22,685 VND per USD and selling at 22,765 VND per USD.

Meanwhile, Techcombank offers buying rate at 22,680 VND per USD and selling rate at 22,775 VND per USD, up by 5 VND on buying rate compared to July 26th 2017.

 

 

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ECONOMY

 

Vietnam gets $145 billion from 30 years of oil export

Vietnamnet

 

Vietnam has since 1987 exported 355 million tonnes of crude oil worth a total of $145 billion, said Nguyen Sinh Khang, deputy general director of the Vietnam Oil and Gas Group (PVN).

Crude oil output is projected to fall in the near future as Bach Ho, the country’s biggest offshore oil field with reserves estimated at 300 million tonnes, has been pumping less oil.

In the past seven years Bach Ho field off the coast of Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province has been responsible for 100 percent of the crude needs of Dung Quat Oil Refinery in Quang Ngai Province. But it can now meet only 58 percent.

Bach Ho has been the key source of revenue for PVN although the State-owned firm has been tapping a couple of oil fields.

Vietnam has over the years relied heavily on exploitation of natural resources, especially crude oil, to fuel economic growth. Crude oil contributed 20 percent to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in the years before 2000 but the percentage dipped to 11 percent in the 2010s and is now a mere 5.6 percent given a steady fall in oil prices and extraction.

Dung Quat refinery is able to refine crude oil from different fields such as Azeri in Azerbaijan, Escravos and Bonny Light in Nigeria, and White Rhinoceros, Black Lion and Magpie in Vietnam, instead of only Bach Ho, to deal with future oil shortages.

The refinery can process seven million barrels of 57 different types of crude, up from 2.5 million barrels a day.

In the first half of the year, PVN sold 7.48 million tonnes of crude oil out of 13.28 million tonnes pumped from its operational fields. The crude oil export price may go down from $54.6 a barrel in the first six months to $40-50 in the second half.

 

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Agro-forestry-aquatic exports hit 20.45 billion USD in 7 months

VNA

 

 

The export value of agro-forestry-aquatic products reached 20.45 billion USD in the first seven months of this year, up 14.7 percent against the same period last year, reported to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Key farm produce raked in 10.89 billion USD (up 18 percent) while aquatic products earned 4.31 billion USD (up 17.5 percent) and forestry products brought home 4.41 billion USD (up 10.8 percent).

Vietnam shipped 3.3 million tonnes of rice worth 1.5 billion USD abroad, up 15.7 percent in volume and 13.7 percent in value compared to the Jan-July period of 2016.

Meanwhile, coffee and cashew nut exports maintained stable growth in the period thanks to higher prices. The country earned 2.12 billion USD from exporting 937,000 tonnes of coffee and 1.83 billion USD from shipping 186,000 tonnes of cashew nuts.

Vegetable and fruit exports witnessed a year-on-year rise of 50 percent in export value to 2.03 billion USD in the reviewed period.

The export value of rubber also recorded a strong surge, reaching 1.13 billion USD, 59 percent higher than that in the same period last year.

Meanwhile, pepper export turnover suffered an 18 percent fall to 800 million USD due to a 30 percent drop in prices.

 

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INVESTMENT

 

VET

 

 

South Korean conglomerate the CJ Corporation has recently announced it will invest nearly $62 million in an integrated production base applying advanced technology in Ho Chi Minh City’s Hiep Phuoc Industrial Park.

A breaking ground ceremony was held recently at the industrial park and once completed in July 2018 the complex will include a processing facility, an R&D center, and a food safety control system.

“CJ sees Vietnam as a strategic market in Southeast Asia,” CEO Mr. Kim Chul Ha said in a statement. “Last year and this year, CJ has focused on investing and expanding in the food business through many M&As in the field of frozen food and seafood processing.”

The complex covers a total area of 66,000 sq m and is set to produce 70,000 tons of food per year. The Vietnam expansion is expected to push the South Korean group’s revenue from the food business to $700 million by 2020.

In the past year and in 2017, CJ has seen remarkable growth in its food business, with the appearance of three new members: Kim & Kim, CJ Cau Tre, and CJ Minh Dat. Through CJ Cau Tre and CJ Minh Dat, the group has also set a target of exporting Vietnamese food and culture to global markets.

With a combination of these three brands, CJ has officially embarked on the construction of a large-scale food complex, applying advanced technology to boost innovation in Vietnam’s food production industry.

In the latest move, CJ last month held a launch ceremony for an agricultural processing plant in south-central Ninh Thuan province primarily focusing on chili processing, with total investment capital of $650,000.

CJ acquired kim chi distributor Ong Kim in January 2016 and bought a 47.33 per cent stake in Cau Tre Foods later in the year. In April 2017, it increased its ownership in the Ho Chi Minh City-based company to 71.6 per cent.

The Ninh Thuan plant covers an area of 640 sq m and has a capacity of 500 tons of chili powder each year. Processed under CJ’s strict conditions, products from the plant will be the main material source for the group’s food industry.

In March 2017, it spent $13.44 million acquiring a controlling stake in Minh Dat Food.

It also secured a 4 per cent holding in Vietnam’s leading meat processor Vissan, when the State company conducted its IPO in March 2016. It competed with homegrown food platform Masan in the race for a 14 per cent stake but lost out.

 

 

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7M FDI exceeds $20bn

VET

 

As at July 20, total foreign direct investment (FDI) into Vietnam stood at some $21.9 billion, with disbursed capital at $9.05 billion, an increase of 5.8 per cent year-on-year.

Foreign investors invested in 18 sectors in the first seven months, with processing and manufacturing attracting the most, at $10.83 billion, accounting for 49.4 per cent of registered capital during the period.

Electricity production ranked second, with total capital of $5.25 billion and contributing 23.98 per cent of registered capital. Mining was third, with investment of $1.28 billion, accounting for 5.86 per cent of capital.

Ninety-eight countries and territories invested in Vietnam during the period. South Korea led the way, with total capital of $5.62 billion, or 25.63 per cent. Japan was second, with $5.46 billion, or 24.92 per cent, followed by Singapore with $3.8 billion, or 17.3 per cent.

Foreign investment went to 60 cities and provinces in the period. North-central Thanh Hoa province attracted the most, with a $2.7 billion electricity project bringing its total to $3.06 billion, accounting for 13.9 per cent of the country’s total. Northern Bac Ninh followed, with $2.95 billion, accounting for 13.48 per cent, then northern Nam Dinh province with $2.2 billion, or 10 per cent.

Large projects licensed in the first seven months of the year included the coal-fired power plant from a Japanese investor in Thanh Hoa province worth $2.793 billion, a Samsung Display Vietnam project in Bac Ninh province adding capital of $2.5 billion, a coal-fired power plant from a Singaporean investor in Nam Dinh with $2.07 billion in investment, and a gas pipeline project from a joint venture between a Japanese investor and PetroVietnam with registered capital of $1.27 billion.

Exports by the foreign-invested sector (including crude oil) in the first seven months was $83.05 billion, up 20.3 per cent year-on-year and accounting for 72 per cent of export turnover. Excluding crude oil, exports by the foreign-invested sector were $81.26 billion, up 20 per cent year-on-year and accounting for 70.53 per cent of total export turnover.

Imports by the foreign-invested sector in the period were $71.35 billion, up 28.1 per cent and accounting for 60.3 per cent of all import turnover. The sector therefore recorded a trade surplus of $11.69 billion (including crude oil) and $9.9 billion (excluding crude oil).

 

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REAL ESTATE

VIR

 

In spite of the withdrawal of joint venture partner Emaar Properties PJSC, Bitexco Group, a leading Vietnamese developer, is still pursuing the development of Binh Quoi-Thanh Da urban area in Binh Thanh district, Ho Chi Minh City.

According to newswire Cafef, the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee has submitted Bitexco’s proposed plans to the prime minister for approval.

The project was approved by the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee to develop a cultural, sports, and tourism center. In 2004, Saigon Construction Corporation was selected as the project investor. However, in 2007 the city decided to take the project away from this investor due to its lack of financial capacity.

In late 2015, Bitexco Group partnered with Emaar Properties PJSC to establish a joint venture to take over the project with an estimated total capital sum of VND30.7 trillion ($1.4 billion).

In September 2016, Emaar asked for unprecedented incentives for the project as well as asked the local authorities to calculate the exact compensation and land clearance expenses. However, in October 2016, the foreign investor officially quit the project.

According to the Land Law, within three years after the project is put into the land use planning, the acquisition of land must be completed or the project will have to be adjusted or cancelled. Thus, the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Planning and Investment submitted a document to the prime minister to ask for solutions. Before this, Bitexco expressed its development plan to the city’s leaders.

According to the initial plan, the project would cover a total area of 427 hectares. The construction would be developed in three phases. In the first phase, from 2016 to 2020, the investor would complete site clearance and basic infrastructure. Functional areas will be developed in phase two, from 2021 to 2025, and the whole project is scheduled to be completed in phase three, from 2026 to 2030.

Bitexco has a good track record in developing and completing landmark property projects in Ho Chi Minh City, including The Manor condominium complex and the 68-storey Bitexco Financial Tower. It is developing a twin tower complex in the second city that will be home to the first Ritz-Carlton hotel in Vietnam.

Its porfolio in Hanoi includes The Manor residential complex and 5-star JW Marriott Hanoi Hotel.

 

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Vietnam’s growing demand for US property

VIR

 

Vietnamese people’s demand for foreign property, especially in the US, has been increasing in recent years. Experts say this increase can be attributed to Vietnam’s fast growing economy and Vietnamese people’s belief that the US is a good place to live and work.

A report by the US National Association of Realtors (NAR) showed that between April 2016 and March 2017, Vietnamese buyers purchased approximately 5,689 residential properties in the US, roughly double of the previous 12-months period.

According to the NAR report, it is estimated that Vietnamese buyers spent up to $3 billion on residential properties in the US in 2017. The amount of property purchases made by Vietnamese nationals has been on the rise since 2012-2013. The report also indicates that Vietnamese buyers tend to favour properties in California, Florida, and Texas.

Explaining why Vietnamese people are buying more property in the US, some real estate experts say that in addition to increasing demand, housing prices in markets like the US and Australia are considered fairly affordable to the fast-growing upper-middle class of Vietnam.

PricewaterhouseCoopers placed Vietnam among the fastest growing economies in the world, and according to The Wealth Report 2017 by Knight Frank, Vietnam’s ultra-wealthy population has the highest growth rate in the world.

The fast-growing economy also attracts international real estate companies which give Vietnamese better access to foreign real estate markets. The increasing income also allows middle and upper-class Vietnamese to buy into what they believe a safer and more secure place to live, work, and invest.

Vietnam's population of ultra-high-net-worth individuals has the highest growth rate in the world. Source: Knight Frank

 

Vietnamese nationals buying properties in foreign countries, particularly the US, is not a new development. In recent years, many members of the Vietnamese upper-class have been known to buy luxury properties in the US. They include many entrepreneurs and high-profile stars, such as singer Bang Kieu, Dang Truong, Thanh Thao, and comedian Thuy Nga, among others.

Most notable in this list is businessman Pham Dinh Nguyen, who owns the town of Buford, Wyoming, the smallest town in the US. Nguyen, founder and CEO of PhinDeli Coffee, purchased the town in 2013 for $900,000 and renamed it PhinDeli Town Buford in order to promote his Vietnamese coffee brand in the US.

 

 

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OIL&GAS & ENERGY&MINING

VIR

 

The Phu Yen People’s Committee issued a warning to stop the project on Vung Ro Refinery and Petrochemical complex if the developer does not resume implementation. 

On July 19, 2017, Chairman of the Phu Yen People’s Committee Hoang Van Tra sent a document to the provincial Department of Planning and Investment to urge the implementation of big projects in the province. Accordingly, the project on Vung Ro complex was put under a warning status.

In particular, at the end of May 2017, the committee had a meeting with Vung Ro Petroleum Company Limited, the developer of the Vung Ro project. The developer committed that by July 7, 2017, it would publicise an official report about the project as required by the local authorities, including its restructuring plans of human resources, sources of funding and financial plan for the project, the project’s detailed plan and schedule for construction, as well as its legal commitment to sticking to the plans and penalties for failure to follow commitments.

However, when Tra sent the document to urge the implementation of big projects in the province, Vung Ro’s investor has not released its report. Thus, in the document, the chairman required the Phu Yen Department of Planning and Investment to urge it to do good on its commitments before July 31, 2017.

“If the developer fails to release its official report on time or refuse to deal with the Phu Yen People’s Committee about project implementation as it had committed, the committee will report to related agencies to stop the project,” the document said.

The Vung Ro project was granted an investment certificate in 2008, with a total investment capital sum of nearly $3.2 billion and annual capacity of eight million tonnes of crude oil.

The refinery is going to be constructed on an area of 538 hectares. Of the total, 404ha will be used for the construction of the refinery, and 134ha, excluding the areas of sea encroachment, will be used for the construction of Bai Goc Seaport. Besides, this project is allowed to use 500-1,300ha of sea surface area.

However, after nearly ten years, Vung Ro has not been implemented. In 2014, Vung Ro Petroleum held the ground-breaking ceremony for the refinery, but up till now it has not started construction.

After ten years and a ceremony to start construction, the project has been lying idle. One of the reasons identified by experts is difficult site clearance. Another reason is the weakening Russian rouble, which increased the costs of implementing the project.

Technostar Management Limited, which set up Vung Ro Petroleum to implement the refinery project, is headquartered in the UK, but is owned by a group of Russian investors.

The local authorities have put high expectations on the Vung Ro project. The complex was slated to start commercial operations by 2016 and will produce a wide range of products, including gasoline, polypropylene, benzene, toluene, xylene, and diesel. The products will be distributed domestically and exported to foreign markets.

Vung Ro has been known as the biggest foreign invested project thus far in Phu Yen. The investor claimed that once operational, the refinery would contribute more than $110 million per year to the local budget and create more than 1,300 jobs.

According to newswire Vietnamnet, at the end of 2016, the Can Tho Department of Planning and Investment issued Decision No.199/QD- SKHDT on terminating the operation of the Can Tho Oil Refinery project. The reason is that the project investor failed to implement the project as promised.

Previously, ịn July 2016, the central province of Binh Dinh announced the termination of the in-principle approval for the mammoth Nhon Hoi Oil Refinery and Petrochemical project, with the registered investment capital of $22 billion. Explaining the decision, the local authorities said the investor—PTT Group from Thailand—delayed the project and made claims which could not be satisfied by the Vietnamese government.

 

 

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PVN to restart ethanol and bio ethanol plants

VET

 

Ethanol Binh Phuoc and Dung Quat Bio Ethanol plants to be restarted after closure, PVN General Director tells Office of the Government.

The Vietnam National Oil and Gas Group (PVN) will restart its Ethanol Binh Phuoc and Dung Quat Bio Ethanol plants, General Director Nguyen Vu Truong Son told a meeting with the Head of the Office of the Government Mai Tien Dung.

He added that PVN has completed the tasks assigned to it by the government and the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT).

Most business results this year have exceeded targets by 12-19 per cent.

Domestic crude oil production was 577,000 tons higher than the government’s plan for the first half, while electricity generation was 11.11 billion kWh, or 55.2 per cent of the annual plan.

Fertilizer production stood at 9,000 tons, 8.8 per cent higher than the first-half plan and equal to 59.8 per cent of the annual plan. Petroleum production reached 2.99 million tons, 19 per cent higher than planned.

PVN’s financial targets for total revenue and State budget contributions also exceeded plans and were higher than in the first half of 2016, with revenue exceeding plans by 15 per cent and up 16 per cent year-on-year and State budget contributions exceeding plans by 14 per cent and up 9 per cent.

Mr. Son also said that PVN would pay attention to resolving five poor projects, including the Dinh Vu Fiber 3 Biofuel project and the Dung Quat shipbuilding project, at the direction of the government, Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue, and MoIT.

It will restart the Ethanol Binh Phuoc and Dung Quat Bio Ethanol plants to meet demand and will deploy the government’s Biofuels Development Scheme and Roadmap, which blends biofuels with traditional fuels.

Mr. Dung said that PVN must restart the two plants under guidance from the Politburo and a Steering Committee headed by Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue. Restarting the two plants will be a major challenge for PVN, he added.

The Ethanol Binh Phuoc plant opened in December 2012 with a capacity of 300,000 liters of E5 gasoline per day. It was closed at the beginning of 2015, however, as it was operating ineffectively.

The Dung Quat Bio Ethanol plant has total investment of more than VND2 trillion ($87.98 million). Due to inefficient production, low consumption, and heavy losses, the plant was forced to cease operations in April 2015.

 

 

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LEGAL

VLLF

Traders would not be allowed to end their sales promotion programs before the deadlines announced or approved by competent agencies, except cases of force majeure events, according to a draft decree recently prepared by the Ministry of Industry and Trade to revise Decree 37 issued in 2006.

According to the drafters, compared to Decree 37, the future regulation would create more favorable conditions for enterprises and traders to organize sales promotion activities to raise their business efficiency, while preventing abusing sales promotion for self-seeking purposes or illegal business operations.

As per Article 18 of the draft, the time limit for announcement and awarding of sales promotion prizes would be 45 days after the sales promotion ends. The draft also requires traders to report to competent agencies on implementation of sales promotion programs within 45 days from the date of giving sales promotion prizes.

Competent state management agencies in charge of trade would stop all or some of sales promotion activities of traders in their localities if detecting any violation committed by these traders, says the draft.

Traders would not use alcohol, lottery, cigarettes, curative medicines, prescription drugs and milk for under-24 month children for sales promotion programs.

Meanwhile, sales promotion activities in the form of multi-level marketing would be banned.

As for sale of goods or provision of services together with customers’ participation in promotional games of chance, the prize drawing in these games is required to be organized publicly according to announced rules and witnessed by participating customers.

Under the draft, 50 percent of the announced prize value of a promotional game of chance won by none would be remitted into the state budget.

 

 

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VLLF

 

The National Assembly last month passed the Tourism Law at a high approval rate of nearly 90 percent. Replacing the 2005 Tourism Law from January 1 next year, the Law is expected to create a breakthrough in tourism development in the time to come.

Deputy Director of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism Nguyen Thi Thanh Huong talks with To Quoc (Fatherland) newswire about new provisions of the Law.  



Could you elaborate on the significance of the newly passed Tourism Law to the tourism sector?

As we all know, the current Tourism Law was issued ten years ago in 2005. Since then, the country has seen many economic, cultural and social changes. As a result, many of its provisions have become infeasible or unsuitable to realities and, therefore, need to be revised.

In the course of drafting the new tourism law, the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) strictly followed the Law on Promulgation of Legal Documents. We closely coordinated with related agencies and held many seminars to collect opinions from tourist experts and companies. We also published draft versions of the Law on the VNAT’s website for wider public comment. All of these moves were intended to ensure that the new Tourism Law would suit realities, facilitate the development of tourism and better ensure the interests of tourists. This is also the significance of the revision of the Tourism Law.

Fortunately, while the drafting was in progress, the Political Bureau adopted Resolution 08 on development of tourism into a spearhead industry. Hence, many guidelines set out in the Resolution were conveyed and included in the Law. Specifically, the Law affirms the State will adopt policies to mobilize all resources for tourism development in order to turn tourism into a spearhead industry of the country. Clause 2, Article 5 of the Law clearly states that tourism businesses are entitled to the highest investment incentives and support levels issued by the State.

What are the most notable provisions of the 2017 Tourism Law?  

The most prominent change in the 2017 Tourism Law is the tourist-centered approach which can be regarded as the main spirit of the Law. Considering tourists as a vital part of the tourism industry without whom it cannot exist, the new Law touches on all issues related to the interests of tourists. For example, it clearly defines responsibilities of tourist site managers, travel companies, tour guides, tourist accommodation establishments and other tourist service providers, aiming to protect visitors’ interests in the best possible manner.

Another noteworthy change is the simplification of many administrative procedures. For instance, the 2005 Law requires businesses applying for international tour operator licenses to submit dossiers to provincial-level Tourism Departments or Culture, Sports and Tourism Departments for appraisal before forwarding to the VNAT for decision. Once the 2017 Law comes into force, businesses will file their applications directly with the Administration. 

Under the 2017 Law, registration for ranking of tourist accommodation establishments will be made on a voluntary basis. First of all, these establishments must satisfy the conditions specified in Article 49. Then, those wishing to be ranked may register with competent agencies. The ranking of tourism accommodation establishments will be based on their service quality. Tourists will feel more assured when choosing ranked establishments. This is a major difference between the 2017 Law and the 2005 version.

In order to ensure the interests of tourists, the 2017 Law adds provisions on grant of domestic tour operator licenses. The 2005 Law only requires domestic travel agents to notify local tourism authorities of the time of commencement of their operation. However, after 10 years of implementation, this requirement has proved ineffective. Some domestic tour service providers still operate without establishing travel enterprises, meeting the business conditions or notifying their operations to competent authorities, leading to difficulties in protecting the interests of visitors.

The Law also defines more clearly responsibilities of local administrations and related ministries in ensuring social security, order and safety and ensuring tourists’ interests, thus facilitating the development of tourism.

How does the 2017 Tourism Law deal with unfair competition among tourist companies?

Article 9 of the 2017 Tourism Law provides a list of activities which are banned in tourism business. For example, it prohibits doing business without a license, using another’s license or letting others use one’s own license to do business. Squeezing illegal profits from tourists, fighting over for tourists or compelling tourists to buy goods or services are also illegal acts. These prohibitions will be specified in a legal document on sanctions against administrative violations in the tourism industry so as to sustain a sound business environment.

 The 2017 Tourism Law has set more specific criteria for tour guides. Could you say something about this? 

Compared to the current law, the 2017 Tourism Law contains several new provisions on tour guides.

First, it adjusts conditions for grant of tour guide’s cards. Under the current Law, international tour guides must possess a university degree, and local tour guides, a college degree. The 2017 Law now lowers the bar to college or intermediate degree for international and local tour guides, respectively. However, as tour guide is a job requiring not only professional degree and knowledge but also professional skills, easing this condition does not mean relaxing quality requirements on tour guides.

Second, the Law specifies conditions for practicing as tour guides, requiring them to sign employment contracts with travel or tour guide supply companies or be members of the tour guides’ professional association.

We are confident that these requirements will help improve the quality of tour guiding activities and attain the purpose of ensuring tourists’ interests.

The formation of the Tourism Development Support Fund is a matter of special concern to tourism businesses. How does the 2017 Tourism Law regulates this issue?

The formation of the Tourism Development Support Fund has been mentioned in the 2005 Tourism Law. However, over the past 10 years, it has not yet become a reality due to problems related to the fund’s revenue sources and operation mode.

Under the new Law, the Fund will take the form of an off-budget state fund founded under the Prime Minister’s decision. It will have a management board and an executive body.

Regarding its revenues, as stated in the bill presented to the National Assembly, the Fund’s charter capital would be allocated from the state budget while its revenues would come from voluntary contributions. However, we all know that the state funding is limited while voluntary contributions are not certain. Hence, in order to establish and effectively operate the Fund, it is necessary to seek annual funding sources for it. Luckily, as legislators all agreed on the necessity to establish the Fund, the National Assembly decided to add an annual revenue source for it from collected visa fees and sightseeing fees.

What have the VNAT and Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism planned for the implementation the Law?

The VNAT has completed and reported to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism a plan on implementation and dissemination of the 2017 Tourism Law. Together with widely disseminating the new Law among the public, the VNAT will actively prepare documents guiding its implementation and issue them before the Tourism Law comes into force onJanuary 1 next year.- (VLLF)

 


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