This meeting has been considered as an important milestone in the ASEAN+3 financial cooperation progress in 2020 contributing to the Vietnam’s 2020 ASEAN Chairmanship. The outcomes of discussion will be reported to the ASEAN+3 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors in September 2020.

The meeting was attended by representatives from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), International Monetary Fund (IMF), Director of the ASEAN+3 Regional Macroeconomic Research Office (AMRO), ASEAN Deputy Secretary General, Finance and Central Bank Deputies of ASEAN+3 countries.

Vice Minister of Finance Tran Xuan Ha, Deputy Governor of the State Bank of Vietnam Nguyen Thi Hong and Japanese partners co-chaired the discussions

At the meeting, the ASEAN Finance and Central Bank Deputies and counter partners from China, Korea and Japan have actively discussed the financial cooperation initiatives within the ASEAN+3 region, such as the Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralization (CMIM), Asian Bond Market Development (ABMI), reviewed new initiatives on financial cooperation in ASEAN+3, and endorsed the AMRO’s budget and staffing level.

On this occasion, the Deputies welcomed the revisions recently made to strengthen the CMIM Agreement as required by the changes in international financial market and in line with the coordination mechanism between CMIM and IMF. Those actions target to bring CMIM become an effective tool to complement the regional and global financial safety net.

The Deputies highly appreciated the efforts of the ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic Research Office (AMRO) as an international organization, which has effectively implemented macro-economic monitoring activities and supported members to strengthen their capacity in policy making, in the context of human and budget constraints. The Meeting also approved the AMRO's 2021 Budget and Staffing Level and the AMRO Director's 2019 Performance Assessment.

The Deputies also recognized the progress and outcomes of ABMI working groups in researching and improving the environment to attract investors, developing new investment tools, improving the legal framework, developing infrastructure for the bond market as well as the implementation of technical assistance programs to develop the domestic bond market in the region.

The Deputies reviewed the progress of future initiatives under the “Strategic Directions of ASEAN+3 Finance Process” aiming to enhance regional economic and financial stability, including: (1) Promoting LCY usage for trade and investment settlement, as well as payment connectivity, (2) Developing comprehensive initiative on infrastructure financing, (3) Designing more supporting facilities to help members better deal with macro-critical structural issues, (4) Exploring cooperation in the fields of mitigation and adaptation of climate change (i.e. SEADRIF), and (5) Enhancing policy coordination to harness benefits of technological advancement while minimizing risks.

In the informal session of AFCDM+3, the Deputies exchanged views and discussion on "Strategy, Action and Policy Perspectives against Covid-19 Pandemic" on the background of a policy paper made by AMRO. The Deputies also updated their views on regional and country specific macroeconomic outlooks, as well as policy measures response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The ASEAN+3 Finance and Central Bank Deputies’ Meeting has delivered a fruitful discussion. Its deliverables will be submitted to the Finance Ministers and the Central Bank Governors’ Meeting in September 2020 for endorsement and guidance for the ASEAN+3 financial cooperation in the coming years.

Plan issued for implementing Vietnam – Cuba trade agreement

Illustrative image (Photo: Alianza News)

According to Vietnam News Agency, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has issued a plan for implementing a trade agreement between Vietnam and Cuba.

The plan outlines the tasks for ministries, ministerial-agencies, State agencies and localities, one of which is to promote the dissemination of information related to the agreement through the media, websites, training courses, and seminars.

Information and forecasts related to import, export, trade and investment should be updated to Vietnamese enterprises, helping them understand more about Cuba’s technical requirements, rules on management of goods import and export, as well the market’s demand.

Regarding policy and institutions building work, ministries, ministerial-level agencies, Government agencies, People's Committees of provinces and centrally-run cities must consult related parties in the process.

Ministries and sectors were asked to continue coordination with the Cuban side to develop and complete necessary institutions for the implementation of the agreement.

Attention should be paid to building market development programmes for Vietnam’s potential export items and training enterprises in specific commitments related to the agreement.

The Vietnam-Cuba Trade Agreement was signed on November 9, 2018 after two years of negotiation. The Agreement replaces the earlier deal between the two governments on trade exchange and other economic cooperation forms signed on April 8, 1996.

It features 14 chapters, covering the trade of goods, rules of origin, customs administration and trade facilitation, trade remedies, technical standards and regulations and conformity assessment procedures (STRACAP), sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS)   measures, trade of services, economic and trade cooperation, review and management, and dispute resolution.

In addition, the agreement, which officially took effect on April 1 this year, also contains annexes, mainly related to commitments on market opening.

Under the pact, the two sides have pledged to eliminate or reduce tariffs on nearly all commodities currently traded between them over the next five years.

The Vietnamese Government recently issued Decree No.39/2020/ND-CP on a list of Vietnam’s special preferential import tariffs to implement the trade agreement with Cuba from now until 2023.

Accordingly, import tariffs on 514 items from Cuba, including some types of shrimp, fish, honey and fruit, cement, chromium ore, disinfectants, protective suits and wireless internet devices have been slashed to zero percent.

For the 49 remaining tariff lines, tax rates will be cut gradually. Commodities such as sugar and unprocessed tobacco will have their tariff rates reduced to 15 percent in four years, cigarettes and cigars to 70 percent, and liquor and alcohol to 20 percent.

Country earns USD1.9 billion from rice export 

Vietnam’s rice export value was estimated at USD1.9 billion in July 2020, a year-on-year increase of 10.9%, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Agricultural Products Processing and Development Department.

Photo for illustration

Specifically, this month, rice export volume reached 400,000 tons, valued at USD194 million; bringing the total volume for the first seven months of the year to nearly 3.9 million tons, down 1.4%.

In the first half of the year, the Philippines ranked first among the country’s biggest rice export markets, with a 39.6% share. Vietnam shipped 1.4 million tons, worth USD634.3 million, up 13.3% in volume and up 30.5% in value compared to the same period last year.

Also during the period, markets seeing the sharpest rice export value rise were Senegal (up 19.6 fold), Indonesia (2.8 fold) and China (88.9%). Average export rice price in the six months hit USD487.6 per ton, a year-on-year rise of 13%.

For export categories, white rice made up 39.1% of the total; jasmine and fragrant rice 37.6%; sticky rice 18.7%; and japonica and Japanese rice 4.4%.

According to the latest update information in July 2020 of the US Department of Agriculture, the world’s rice production in 2020 is estimated at 459.2 million tons, down 0.3% from the previous year. Rice consumption is forecast to reach 490.4 million tons, up 1.3% against 2019./.