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According to the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV), as of February 6, Vietnam’s forex reserves have reached an all-time high of $57 billion, $4 billion of which have been brought in the course of January and the first few days of February alone, while $13 billion was accumulated in 2017.
|Outlook for the year ahead is also rosy, with divestments and remittances both going strong|
With the upcoming IPOs and further divestments of state-owned enterprises, Vietnam could expect an ample inflow of foreign currency, helping further beef up the country’s reserves.
In mid January, a whopping $6.2 billion was raised from mergers and acquisitions activities, and stake sales of SOEs like Sabeco and Vinamilk in 2017 helped reach an all-time high of $54.5 billion in reserves, according to SBV Governor Le Minh Hung. These activities are expected to continue momentum in 2018, promising to bring Vietnam even more foreign notes.
During the month, the government has also conducted three large-sized initial public offerings (IPOs) for Binh Son Refinery, the operator of Dung Quat Refinery; PV Oil Corporation, Vietnam’s second largest oil retailer; and PV Power Corporation, the nation’s second biggest electricity generator. They have attracted significant attention from foreign investors, altogether raising approximately $737.1 million for the state budget.
Upcoming SOE divestments, such as Vietnam Electricity (EVN)’s subsidiaries Power Generation Corporation (GENCO) 1, 2, and 3, Hanoi Beer Alcohol and Beverage (Habeco), and further divestments from Vinamilk, according to the Ministry of Finance, have been scheduled for 2018. GENCO 3, in particular, is holding an IPO in Ho Chi Minh City on February 9 and anticipates raising some $292 million in total.
In addition, the country’s remittance inflows for 2017, according to data from the World Bank, are expected to shore up to $13.781 billion, an increase from the $11.88 billion received in 2016. Such ample flow of overseas remittances is sure to provide foreign currency notes for the local economy and the market.
Chidu Narayanan, economist at Standard Chartered Bank, earlier told VIR that Vietnam’s foreign reserves will further be boosted by stable inflows of direct capital, which can reach $15 billion in 2018. Exports are also expected to increase by at least 20 per cent, helping with the trade balance and forex reserves at the same time.
“Vietnam’s inflation can peak in 2018, averaging at 4 per cent. However, we believe that this remains under control and it should not be cause for concern,” said Narayanan.