News Bulletin 07 - Week 1 April, 2020

The Vietnamese government has started applying stricter measures in its ongoing management of the Covid 19 pandemic by implementing nationwide social distancing rules. While the pandemic continues to capture headlines, in other news Vietnam did receive great news in the past week that the European Council has approved the signing of the free trade agreement between the E.U. and Vietnam. The approval is the final step from EU for the EVFTA to become effective.

The past week spotlight

EU Council green-lights trade deal with Vietnam

European Union flags fly outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. Photo by Reuters/Yves Herman.

The European Council has approved the signing of a free trade agreement between the E.U. and Vietnam. Vietnam’s National Assembly is expected to ratify the deal this summer, after which it would come into force.

Croatia’s Minister for Foreign and European Affairs Gordan Grlić Radman said: "This agreement is the most ambitious free trade agreement ever concluded with a developing country."

Under the deal, which took eight years to negotiate, Vietnam will eliminate 99 percent of its import duties over 10 years and the E.U. will do the same over seven years.

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Let’s look at some other related financial and business news during the past week:

1. Vietnamese firms supported in export to Singapore amid COVID-19

Around 500 tonnes of Vietnamese products, including coffee, instant noodle, sweet potato, cabbage, pineapple, watermelon, and dragon fruit, were exported to Singapore in March, according to the Vietnamese Commercial Affair Office in Singapore.

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2. US attracts most Vietnamese investment in three months

Vietnam invested 49.3 million USD abroad in the first three months of 2020, with the US being the biggest recipient.

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3. PM orders strict nationwide social distancing rules, starting April 1

Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc on Tuesday has issued a range of stringent social distancing measures, including restricting people from leaving their homes and banning gatherings of more than two people in public.

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4. Online trade promotion activities should be developed due to COVID-19: agency

The Vietnam Trade Promotion Agency has encouraged localities, businesses and trade promotion organisations develop online marketing measures during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, said agency director Vu Ba Phu.

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5. COVID-19, price decline hit Việt Nam’s oil industry

Việt Nam’s crude oil and natural gas production face risks in light of a double-whammy of the global oil price collapse and sluggish demand due to the continued spread of COVID-19, according to Fitch Solutions.

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6. FDI into HCM City in Q1 drops 33% year-on-year

HCM City has attracted over US$1 billion worth of FDI as of March 20, a 33 per cent drop year-on-year, according to the HCM City Statistics Office.

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7. Thai energy firm to invest $457 mln in Vietnam solar farms

Thailand’s Super Energy Corporation has announced it will invest $457 million in four solar power plants in southern Vietnam.

The company said in a recent statement that it would pay $72.9 million to acquire a controlling share in four solar power projects run by state-owned utility Vietnam Electricity (EVN) in Binh Phuoc Province, 120 km to the north of Ho Chi Minh City.

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8. Vietnam standing ready to digitalise through EU synergy

Vietnam, which is taking a leap in digital transformation, is on the radar of multinational corporations, including EU businesses. Winfrid Messmer, and Bruno Sivanandan Roques de Borda from the EuroCham Digital Sector Committee, talked to VIR’s Bich Thuy about how its members will make moves to tap into opportunities arising from the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement.

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9. Vietnam's March 2020 PMI drops to record low due to COVID-19

The Vietnam Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) fell sharply to 41.9 in March from 49.0 in February. The latest data signalled a steep decline in the health of the manufacturing sector, and one that was the most marked in more than nine years of data collection so far. The deterioration surpassed the previous record seen in July 2012.

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10. GDP growth could fall to 34-year low: Fitch Solutions

Market research firm Fitch Solutions estimates Vietnam’s GDP will grow at its lowest pace in 34 years at 2.8 percent this year.

The growth rate forecast by Fitch Solutions, a unit of credit rating firm Fitch Group, is the lowest since 1986 when the country opened its economy to the world after decades of war.

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