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More firms approved to use fast track customs service

The General Department of Customs will give Authorised Economic Operator (AOE) recognition to eight more businesses by the end of this year.

This follows an online discussion organised by the Hai Quan (Customs) online newspaper on Tuesday.  Currently, there are 14 AOE recognised companies that receive preference during customs procedures, which cuts costs and clearance times for goods.

According to Nguyen Duong Thai, deputy general head of the General Department of Customs, the agency will sign an agreement on AEO companies with other countries in the near future.-

HCM City’s high growth sustained

Ho Chi Minh City has been focusing on stabilising prices and ensuring adequate supply of goods this year in the first seven months of this year.

Chairman of the Municipal People's Committee Le Hoang Quan said official agencies have been monitoring changes in prices, exports, and fluctuations in the global market to help businesses cope with the economic downturn and maintain their exports.  

 

They have also helped businesses by eliminating barriers to export and through market stimulus programmes, he said, adding that the city has managed to sustain its high growth rates this year despite difficulties.

The trading and service sectors saw lower growth rates, manufacturing growth was higher, and agricultural growth was stable, Quan said.

The report said work on major infrastructure projects has been accelerated, especially those set to be finished this year - like the Sai Gon Bridge No 2, Tan Son Nhat - Binh Loi Beltway, steel flyovers at major intersections, Thanh Da Bridge, Do Bridge, and flood-control projects.

In the first seven months of the year retail sales and services were worth 337.8 trillion VND (15.9 billion USD), a year-on-year increase of 11.8 percent, and exports topped 15.78 billion USD, unchanged year-on-year.

The city welcomed over 2.15 million foreign visitors, up 5.5 percent, while revenues from tourism rose by 15 percent.

Industrial production was up 5.3 percent while agriculture - forestry - fishery grew by 6.6 percent.-

5.5% GDP target within reach?

Although the economic recession is finally beginning to bottom out, Vietnam may find its 5.5% GDP target a hard nut to crack.

The National Financial Supervisory Commission believes Vietnam’s macroeconomic stabilisation efforts are paying off, minimising inflation and restoring foreign investors’ trust in the government’s performance.

The commission quoted a General Statistics Office report saying July’s consumer price index (CPI) edged up 0.27% from the previous month and 7.29% against July 2012. The cumulative 2.68% since the start of 2013 is a record low compared to the inflationary heights of previous years.

The commission concluded CPI trends indicate existing monetary policy and current domestic consumer purchasing power had only minor effects on inflation.

It attributed the rise in overall inflation to petrol price pressure and exchange rate adjustments redounding to transportation and import costs.

Vietnam aims to keep annual inflation at a level equivalent to or lower than last year’s 6.81%, meaning monthly CPI must not exceed a 0.76% average over the remainder of 2013.



Taking into account both domestic and global market fluctuations, the commission forecast Vietnam’s inflation target is certainly achievable.

Newly-established business numbers and the proportion of suspended businesses slowly resuming monthly operations are sources of cautious optimism.

Ministry of Planning and Investment statistics showed that despite an aberrant 4% fall in April 2013, the number of newly-licensed businesses rose 4.8% in May, 7.6% in June, and 8.4% in July.

Approximately 10,000 businesses forced into cessation by economic difficulties have resumed operations during the past seven months.

Industrial production is sustaining its upward trend, with its seven-month index (IIP) rising 5.2% compared to the 4.8% a year earlier.

The processing and manufacturing sector grew by 5.8%, a notable improvement on 2012’s 4.3%.

The inventory index fell significantly to 8.8% from a height of 21.5% in early 2013.

Vietnam’s half-yearly GDP growth rate of 4.9% is essentially equivalent to last year’s six month mark (4.93%), underwhelming hopes and tightening the screws for governments, ministries, and localities striving towards the 5.5% growth rate target.

The National Financial Supervisory Commission said low domestic demand is limiting growth and forcing exports to bear the majority of the national economic load.

In an August 1 report, HSBC said June’s export order reductions have pushed Vietnam’s purchasing managers’ index (PMI) below the 50.0 contraction threshold for the second consecutive month. The national economy’s recovery now clearly depends on stimulating domestic demand.

The commission attributed current low aggregate demand to the slashing of social investment—equal to only 29.6% of GDP in the first half of 2013 compared to the 34.5% a year earlier.

It advised boosting social investment by a significant 12–14 % from 2012’s levels.

The commission still considers macroeconomic stabilisation Vietnam’s primary task. The delivery of support packages should be completed as quickly as possible to assist struggling businesses.

It believes adroitly managing inflation and the macroeconomy will create useful space for any necessary adjustments to exchange rates and the market-based prices of electricity, coal, and public services.

The commission suggested that any adjustments under consideration should be clearly outlined in government roadmaps to avoid unwelcome market shocks.



Crunch time for manufacturers in July

Vietnam’s manufacturing sector continued to contract in July, slowing its slide as production and new orders began levelling out. Employment finished the month unchanged.

The latest HSBC survey registers Vietnam’s purchasing managers’ index (PMI) at 48.5 in July, an improvement on June’s 46.4 but its third successive month below the 50.0 contraction threshold.

The month’s modest falls in output and new orders are said to reflect underlying market conditions impacted by a decline in clients’ purchasing power.

Data indicated the net new order