Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc speaks at the November cabinet meeting, on Monday. — VNA/VNS Photo Thống Nhất
HÀ NỘI — Trade turnover is set to reach a record US$500 billion this year with surplus hitting $9.1 billion.
Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc revealed the good news on Monday, as he painted a bright picture of the country’s economy during 2019.
As he chaired the November cabinet meeting, the PM said Việt Nam’s exports are forecast to exceed $241 billion, an increase of 7.8 per cent compared to 2018.
Macroeconomics was stable for the time being, he said, despite the consumer price index (CPI) in November increasing by 0.96 per cent over last month mainly due to a sharp hike in pork price.
The average CPI for the last 11 months, however, was up by only 2.57 per cent compared to the same period in 2018 – which was the lowest increase in the last three years.
Growth rate of retail and service sectors scored two digits in November, at 12.6 per cent which was the highest since 2014, the PM said.
Tourism also reached a new record high with 1.8 million inbound visitors arriving in Việt Nam last month alone.
Although the big picture looked good, there are concerns over a shortage of pork and an increase in the price of meat as the country heads into the festive season.
In a press conference on Monday afternoon following the cabinet meeting, deputy agriculture minister Phùng Đức Tiến confirmed that Việt Nam would be in short of about 200,000 tonnes of pork for the Tết (lunar new year) holiday which comes in less than two months’ time.
“Deputy Prime Minister Vương Đình Huệ has ordered imports of pork from our partner countries, but it should be done in a way to balance the interests of the consumers and the local pig farmers,” Tiến told the reporters.
Pork shortage is a grave concern in Việt Nam as Vietnamese heavily rely on pork for their daily meals. Statistics by the Ministry of Industry and Trade show that Vietnamese consume on average about 5.4 million tonnes of meat a year, mostly pork accounting for 70 per cent at 3.8 million tonnes.
An outbreak of African swine fever, also known as hog cholera with a high fatality rate, has led to more than 5.7 million pigs being culled across the country since early February this year. It resulted in a severe pork shortage in the last quarter of 2019.
“The number of pigs being culled rapidly decreased since June 30, by 88 per cent to the peak month (of the outbreak), which creates favourable condition (for farmers) to start repopulating the herds,” the deputy minister said.
Tiến also reported that pork prices dropped by half to around VNĐ70,000 (US$3) a kilo from the peak price in November following a meeting with deputy PM Huệ to control the price surge.
Việt Nam would not be short of other meats as the production of other livestock increased by up to 390,000 tonnes this year compared to 2018, he said.
Deputy minister of industry and trade Đỗ Thắng Hải, meanwhile, warned that a pork price surge during or after Tết holiday would affect the lives of residents and the CPI if the Government acted carelessly.
“In China for example, pork prices hiked by 100 per cent and the CPI also rose by 1 per cent,” he said.
Hải reported that his ministry demanded the Việt Nam Directorate of Market Surveillance to halt exporting pork to other markets like China as well as to prevent pork smuggling from Thailand into Việt Nam via the Cambodian border.
“We haven’t signed any deals on pork trade with Thailand and Cambodia,” he added.
“Pork smuggling from those markets poses risks to food safety while it might also infect the domestic pigs with diseases.” — VNS
PM Phúc says goodbye to leaving health minister
Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc on Monday praised former health minister Nguyễn Thị Kim Tiến for her dedicated contribution to the health sector in her last cabinet meeting.
The National Assembly in its meeting last month voted to remove the 60-year-old Tiến – the only female minister in the incumbent Government - from her post as she already reached the retirement age.
The health sector under Tiến’s leadership since 2011 gained great achievements, the PM said at the regular cabinet meeting on Monday. She was the one who initiated the policy to grant financial autonomy to hospitals, which helped to lift the income for medical staff, Phúc said.
“The health sector also contributed to raising the life expectancy of Vietnamese through preventive health care and medical treatment. Việt Nam is proud to be one of the leading countries in terms of life expectancy,” he added.
The former minister said that she would always remember the last day she attended the cabinet meeting.
“I am grateful to the Party, the Government, the National Assembly, the ministries, the municipalities and organisations which have accompanied the health ministry the whole time, especially during my tenure as a member of the Government,” Tiến said. — VNS