Green Growth on the Agenda for Vietnam PM’s Brussels Visit

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung shakes hands with Belgian officials after arriving at Brussels Military Airport on October 12. 2014. Photo credit: Vietnam News Agency

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung arrived in Belgium for the first leg of his week-long Europe visit on Sunday afternoon.

The visit was made at the invitation of Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo.

The two sides are scheduled to seek measures to foster bilateral partnership in various areas, including freight transportation, logistics, green growth and hi-tech industries, Vietnam News Agency reported.

PM Dung will also visit the European Union (EU), Germany and the Vatican to discuss ways to further beef up the cooperation between Vietnam and its European partners.

He will also attend the 10th Asia-Europe Meeting themed “Responsible Partnership for Growth and Security” in Italy from October 16 to 17.

He is accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh, Minister and Chairman of the Government Office Nguyen Van Nen, Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang, Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Bac Son and other senior officials.

Vietnam and the 28-member European Union established diplomatic relations in 1990. The two sides signed a framework Partnership and Co-operation Agreement and the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement negotiations are underway.

Vietnam has set up strategic partnerships with six EU members – the UK, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, France and Italy.

Trade is a pillar of ties between the two sides, since the EU is Vietnam’s second-largest trading partner and top export market for Vietnam.


Vietnam officials: Time for pangasius sector to focus on quality, not quantity


The balance between quality and quantity in the Vietnamese pangasius industry has not been right thus far, admitted deputy director general of the directorate of fisheries, Pham Anh Tuan.

Producers have not done a good job either of ensuring standards in the race to expand, or of addressing the needs of the local market while it focused efforts on the US, EU and Japan, said Tuan, addressing the GOAL 2014 conference in Ho Chi Minh.

Now is the time for industry to consider a restructure, added Vo Thi Thu Huong of the Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The production growth rate has finally slowed following a rapid increase since 2000, and as input costs have risen (largely on feed), demand in key markets, and so prices, have fallen.

“Now is the time to think about restructuring, with a focus on quality and certifications,” said Huong. The Vietnamese government has been supportive of pangasius already, with its decree 36 turning the industry into a strongly regulated one, she said.

“I hope this support continues, and from exporters and buyers in other countries too. We need to shift focus to a better quality product, adding value to our exports.”

The monitoring of producers should remain a priority, added Tuan. “For too long producers focused on increasing volumes, and on their revenues, at the cost of quality and sustainable development.”

Huong called for cooperation and a multi-stakeholder approach in bringing small scale farmers up to the necessary standards, and was one of many speakers to praise the model being introduced by National Fish and Seafood of clustering small farmers.

Among challenges faced by the pangasius industry, Tuan noted disease was almost as great a threat for the whitefish as it is for shrimp – for which total sales are expected to reach $3.5 million in 2014, up from $3.3m last year.

Production costs for pangasius, going towards feed, chemicals, and the cost of upgrading to intensive production, now add up to around 80% of the selling price, he said.

Tuan echoed Minh Phu chairman Le Van Quang in speaking about the pressures, and costs, on producers trying to catch up to certification standards. He too suggested that one harmonized scheme could save companies, and end consumers, money.

Vietnam aims to have 100% of its pangasius farms certified to its own VietGAP standard by December 2015, and this will need to be benchmarked against the many other standards, he said.

Source: Neil Ramsden,

8 lessons from Egypt in building a cleaner chemicals industry

The technology is there to reduce the environmental impact of Egypt’s chemical sector, but finance and capacity are still lacking.

Feluccas on Nile River
The Nile River is Cairo’s main source of water but how clean is it when factories are discharging untreated effluent into its waters? Photograph: Dallas and John Heaton/Alamy

In previous blogs, I have looked at the impacts of the chemicals sectorand innovations like green chemistry. But how do we share the technologies that are making the chemicals sector more sustainable, especially in rapidly emerging countries?

To answer this question, I’m going to shine the spotlight on Egypt – where factories are discharging 2.5m cubic metres of untreated effluent into the rivers every day, much of it laced with toxic chemicals. The country also faces a water and energy crisis. But three Egyptian companies are tackling these environmental issues through technology adoption and transfer.

The first is Arab Steel Fabrication Company (El Sewedy), which has applied a technological solution to recover hydrochloric acid from its galvanisation process. Besides the obvious environmental benefits, the company is saving 345,000 Egyptian pounds (£30,000) a year. The second company, Mac Carpet, has used technology to create an automatic system for recycling of thickener agents, which saves it about EGP5m per year.

The third case is El Obour for Paints and Chemical Industries (Pachin), which manufactures paints, inks and resins. As with many chemical companies, the manufacturing process is very energy intensive. As part of a government programme to promote renewable energy in Egypt (part-funded by the EU), a technology company in Germany has installed solar collectors at the Pachin facility. These heat the water to 65C, then by using a heat exchanger, recover the heat and use it to keep the fatty acid store at an optimal temperature, saving the company EGP100,000 a year.

In all three cases, there are lessons to be learned.

1. Economic drivers

When asked about the top three benefits from implementing sustainable technology, El Sewedy and Mac Carpet Company both mentioned resource productivity and economic development. Environmental improvement was also a key factor (in the top three for both), but would have been insufficient on its own to motivate the technology change.

2. Skills development

Significant barriers to technology adoption for both companies were the lack of local qualified workers and institutional capacity. To overcome this, the technology provider and the Egyptian National Cleaner Production Centre (ENCPC) had to do training. Ali Abo Sena, an ENCPC representative, said that education was needed not only on the specific technologies, but also more broadly on the seriousness of the water crisis in Egypt.

3. Business continuity

For Pachin, energy consumption is not just an environmental issue, but one that is business critical. In 2013, the Egyptian government announced plans to ration subsidies for petrol and diesel fuel, and hiked fuel prices for heavy industry by 33% at the beginning of the year. Power outages have become more commonplace, resulting in significant disruption to business continuity and loss of economic value.

4. Market potential

The German solar company was prepared to part-fund, install and support the technology transfer to Pachin in Egypt because it enabled them to show a working demonstration of a project in a market that has massive potential for the business. The marketing benefits of sustainable technology in developing countries should not be underestimated.

5. Macro conditions

It is unlikely that the Pachin project would have been embraced so enthusiastically had Egypt not experienced an energy crisis – and accompanying rises in energy costs – in recent years. Although these macro conditions are beyond the control of sustainable technology providers, being sensitive to the opportunities that they can provide can help ensure that the correct markets are chosen for deployment.

6. Financial support

Although long-term economic development is an important benefit of the adoption of sustainable technologies, the high initial cost of the these projects and the relatively long payback period can be a significant barrier. In the case of Pachin, this was overcome by getting financial support for the project (from the EU and the technology provider).

7. Plan for scaling

A lack of qualified workers to install, operate and maintain Pachin’s solar technology was overcome by providing the relevant skills training. However, in order to ensure future scaling, a plan was also devised for moving towards local manufacturing (possibly through a joint-venture).

8. Local adaptation

The ENCPC – working as an intermediary – determined that the German solar technology was over-engineered for the local conditions. In particular, since the technology was made in Germany and had to comply with EU specifications and perform in a region with ambient sunlight, it was found that the insulation materials could be replaced with less expensive substitutes, which performed adequately under local conditions.

Major reductions in the environmental impacts of the chemicals industry – as well as economic benefits – can be achieved by adopting and transferring existing best practice sustainable technologies. The problem, therefore, is not our lack of sustainable technologies, but our ability to finance, incentivise and build capacity for their deployment where they are most needed in the world.

Source: ,

Vietnam aims for just four key industries

Viet Nam this week announced an action plan that maps out strategies to develop four key industries to raise the country’s competence in production and service supply.

Viet Nam-Japan co-operation, agricultural machinery, agro-fishery processing, environmental industry

Tuna processing for export at Ba Hai Joint Stock Company in central Phu Yen Province. Viet Nam has announced an action plan to develop four key industries, including agro-fishery processing. 

Under the framework of Viet Nam-Japan co-operation from 2020 to 2030, the industries are electronics, agricultural machinery, agro-fishery processing, and environmental industry and energy conservation. These industries are viewed as playing a leading role in attracting foreign investments and popularising technologies and skills in the economy.

Viet Nam aims to raise the annual value of these industries by at least 20 per cent and ensure a 35-per cent minimal contribution from these industries to the nation’s total industrial value by 2020.

By 2030, the country expects to become a major producer of electronics components using advanced environment-friendly technology.

Nguyen Thi Tue Anh, deputy head of the Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM), said Viet Nam and Japan would co-operate to create an ideal environment for State and private sector investors and set up the criteria for, conduct assessments on and analyse the features of each target industry.

Doan Xuan Hoa, deputy head of the Department of Processing and Trade for Agro-Forestry-Fishery Products and Salt Production, said: “It’s very important to decide which regions will play a key role and which enterprises will be flagships so as to put the action plan in practice.”

Viet Nam’s Government has implemented major projects to improve legal frameworks for the agricultural machinery industry and enable farmers to produce quality goods at competitive prices. The plan aims to increase per capita GDP in the agricultural sector from $740 in 2010 to $2,000 in 2020.

In fisheries, the Government plans to help domestic producers develop world-standard technologies and expand market research activities to make Viet Nam’s processed foods more visible and competitive in the global market.

To bolster environmental and energy conservation, policymakers in Ha Noi aim to subsidise and increase financial concessions to companies that work in this sector.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development will work with the Embassy of Japan in Viet Nam and Japan International Cooperation Agency to organise trade exchanges among companies.

Available at VNS/VNN