The Construction and Building Materials Industry in Vietnam

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This part of the research provides a deeper view on Vietnam building materials industry with concentration on the recent business situation of construction and building materials market. Information about building materials firms is also provided.

1.1 Construction and real estate

Vietnam’s economy has gone through a struggling period of insubstantial credit expansion, because of the decelerated development in the banking system characterized by non-performing loans (NPLs) and a property market slump. The property market in Vietnam is currently disheartened, disputing with market conditions including a lack of capital resources have resulted in construction companies being unable to complete projects, while purchasers are finding it challenging to afford property because of a lack of access to loans. As a result, many construction projects, housing, apartments, etc. are being unfinished .There are also signs of distressed property assets in the country. Therefore the construction industry’s growth rate declined from 19.7% in 2011 to 6.5% in 2012, although the industry reached a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 19% from 2008 to 2012 (Timetric, 2013).

The construction market in Vietnam is expected to be higher than average growth rates until the end of the decade (CB Richard Ellis Group, 2008 - 2013). Construction spending was approximately US$18.6 billion in 2012, which accounted for slightly under 20% of the country’s GDP. This spending is estimated to grow by nearly 7% per annual over the next five years (Savills, 2013). In Vietnam construction market, the residential sector made up the largest proportion of more than half of total construction spending in 2012, followed by the infrastructure sector. The non-residential market constituted just about 10% of total construction spending in 2012. (IHS Inc., 2012)

Currently, a mismatch between supply and demand in the Vietnamese property market has happened. Demand perseveres for affordable housing, office but construction developers of mid to high end assets are in difficulty to attract buyers or rental consumers. This table showed the existing and the new supply for office market in Vietnam.

Chart 10: Existing and new office supply.

Unit: sqm (000s) (Savills, 2013)

In Cushman & Wakefield Market outlook 2013, it stated that current average rents for Grade A in Vietnam have decreased by 46% and 41% in HCMC and Hanoi respectively, compares to 2008. Meanwhile the total value of inventory in housing projects was estimated at more than VND125 trillion (US$6 billion) in 55 cities and provinces in May 2013. High real estate prices and over-supply, which have rocketed due to speculative activities at the peak of the market, are serious problems. They resulted in rental rates declined during the recent years with average rents throughout all grades falling by approximately 2% quarter-on-quarter (DTZ Vietnam, 2012). Contractors are holding on a lot of purchased real estate products at relatively high prices and are unwilling to sell at a loss price throughout the current downward trend. In many reports were submitted to construction firms and Vietnamese government, they all advised to address the over-supply issue, adjustments to the apartment size and level of development are necessary.

In Asia Construction Outlook by AECOM in 2013, they forecasted that all major sectors in Vietnam would grow over the next five years at similar rates. Specifically, total construction output of Vietnam would be at around $18.5 billion till 2018, with the growth rate of about 6.7%. Infrastructure investment, such as highways, rail and ports, will be a main growth area until the end of the decade. However, the government is likely to have limited capacity for funding much of this because it is likely to be constrained by public debt levels. As a result Vietnam is set to offer significant opportunities through privately financed infrastructure projects, with the funding likely to take the form of foreign direct investment or PPP joint ventures. Geographically, the large amount of the investment will be focused on Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh and the North-South corridor in between.

1.2 Building materials market

1.2.1 Characteristics

The companies

In Vietnam building materials industry, almost top manufacturers are state-owned. See the table 3 and 4 below for the top building materials firm in Vietnam according to VNR500:

Table 3: Top 12 biggest building materials firms in Vietnam

Rank

Company

Type

Products

1

Ha Tien Cement JSC

State-owned

Cement

2

Viglacera Corporation

State-owned

Tiles, Building Glass, Sanitary wares, AAC, bricks

3

Cement Holcim Vietnam

Joint Venture

Cement

4

Nghi Son Cement

Joint Venture

Cement

5

Chinfon Cement Corporation

Joint Venture

Cement

6

Vincem Hoang Thach Co. Ltd

State-owned

Cement

7

Vincem Bim Son JSC

State-owned

Cement

8

Vissai Group

Private

Cement

9

Phuc Son Cement JSC

Joint Venture

Cement

10

FICO JSC

State-owned

Cement

11

Phu Tai JSC

Private

Stone, Tiles, Wood

12

Vincem Hoang Mai JSC

State-owned

Cement

Note that the joint venture companies above are among state-owned companies and foreign investors.

Table 4: Top 12 biggest private building materials companies in Vietnam

Rank

Company

Products

Note

1

Vissai Group

Cement

2

Phu Tai JSC

Stone, Tiles, Wood

3

Quangninh construction and cement JSC

Cement

Sub-company of SOE

4

Prime Vinh Phuc Company

Tiles

5

Vinh Tuong Industrial Corporation

Ceiling, drywall grid

6

Song Gianh Cement Co. Ltd.

Cement

Sub-company of SOE

7

Viglacera Ha Long JSC

Terracotta tiles

Sub-company of SOE

8

DIC Intraco JSC

Steels, AAC, Wood, Roof tiles, Klinkers

Sub-company of SOE

9

Le Phan Construction Co Ltd

Concrete

10

Vicostone

Stone

11

Prime Dai Viet JSC

Tiles

12

Tay Do Cement JSC

Cement

Sub-company of SOE

As you can see from the above tables, the state-owned building materials companies account for large proportion in the industry. They also are the dominating factor in private sector, it has created bad business environment in Vietnam due to incentives that SOEs have received. Therefore, they do not have very active domestic rivals who put pressure on them to innovate.

Regarding to types of products, it is seen that cement is the top priority in the industry. 10 out of 12 biggest manufacturers are producing cement and cement related products. This sector has contributed a large ratio in export activities of Vietnam (see table 9). However, nowadays, tiles sector attracts more attention of government because of this sector’s importance on the global market. Vietnam ceramic tiles sector was ranked in the top ten countries of manufacturing and exporting tiles (Stock, 2010).

1.2.2 Domestic performance

As stated in above part, all 3 main sectors of construction and real estate (residential, infrastructure and non-residential) has been struggling in the ability to complete their projects. Not only that, the economic crisis led to high inflation, tightened credit expansion, and lower spending of people. It made people less likely to buy, or rent a new house or even fix or upgrade their house. Therefore, the building materials market of Vietnam has also suffered a serious downward trend in development.

Regarding ceramic market, according to reports and articles from Vietnam building ceramic association (VBCA) in 2013, the amount of manufactured tiles was slightly under 70% of total capacity, estimated around 289.8 million square meter. This number is much lower than 375 million square meter in 2010 when Vietnam was ranked the 5th on top manufacturing countries over the world with 3.9% on the world production (Stock, 2010). Stock of tiles that was difficult to clear, was approximately 50 days of production, about 40 million square meter or 112.800.000 USD. On the other hand, sanitary ware products were produced nearly 70% of total capacity, assessed at 9 million units, and number of units in inventory hit an average of 50-60 days of production, about 1.2 million units or approximately 28.200.000 USD.

Table 5: Total consumption for tiles and sanitary ware of Vietnamese manufacturers.

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

Total domestic consumption volume

Tiles (million sqm)

150

203.65

297.5

290

272

246,9

Sanitary ware (million unit)

7.5

7.8

9.0

9.7

9.3

8.5

(Vietnam Ceramic Business Association, 2013)

As we can see from Table 5, the volume of domestic consumption for tiles and sanitary ware started to decrease significantly from 2011, since Vietnam stand in its own recession. Before this year, the world economic crisis obviously had no negative effects on the local market because the amount kept raising until 2010.

Table 6: Total tiles (ceramic and porcelain) in stock of some Vietnamese manufacturers

No.

Company

Max Capacity (million sqm/ year)

Actual Capacity (million sqm)

In Stock (million sqm)

1

Mikado

1.5

1.07

0.1

2

Viet Y

1.8

1.30

0.25

3

Granite Trung Do

3.5

2.43

0.4

4

Prime

99

74

5.5

5

Catalan

15

10.5

1.3

6

CMC

5

4

0.3

7

Vinh Thang

9

6.5

0.6

8

Vitaly

4.5

2

0.3

9

Thach Ban

2

1.2

0.2

10

Toko

15

10.5

2

11

Viglacera

25

20

2

(Vietnam Ministry of Construction, 2013)

From Table 6, it is clearly seen that those 11 manufacturer of tiles in Vietnam did not reach the maximum target capacity of them, and also had a large quantity of tiles in stock which is very difficult to clear.

Regard to building glass products, Vietnam has 7 companies producing over-size building glass with maximum capacity is over 150 million square meter. However, in 2012, the goods in stock was approximately more than 60 million square meter of standard glass. It slightly equaled 4 month capacity of all manufacturers. Moreover, in that 60 million, there was 57 million meter of float glass, respectively 5 month production output. Besides that, imported glass from China and ASEAN countries with lower price also impacted on Vietnamese firm’s consumption. Therefore, some factories had to temporary stop producing for a while, for instance, Viglacera Dap Cau glass factory was closed from middle 2012 to September 2013 due to oversupply.

In 2013, consumption of bricks and roofing tiles experienced a 70% of overall capacity. The actual produced quantity of brick was estimated of 17 billion units, but the purchased quantity just reached 14 billion bricks, about 80%.

Table 7: Bricks manufacturing capacity and consumption in 2012.

Product

Maximum Capacity

Actual output

Consumption

Factory standard brick

14 billion

12 billion

10 billion

Manual brick

6 billion

5 billion

4 billion

Total

20 billion

17 billion

14 billion

Unit: brick. (Vietnam Ministry of Construction, 2013)

A new kind of brick (or block that is non-fired) which was started to produce in Vietnam not long ago, is Autoclave Aerated Concrete (AAC) blocks. It also has been struggling with output clearance because of low demand in construction, especially no new projects tend to implement this kind of brick. Beside the unstable quality, lack of synchronous building solution also one of the stand-out issues. Therefore, there was not many construction contractors in Vietnam using this building material. As a result, consumption of AAC is limited, it reached just around 60-80% of total capacity and some fresh-built factories are facing perfunctory production or threat of bankruptcy. However, according to non-fired products development program of the government, the prime minister signed the decision that AAC will replace 30-40% traditional bricks, and it is mandatory for building higher than 8 floors. So, with this policy the future of AAC in Vietnam is valuated as brightest among other materials.

Table 8: Vietnam AAC Factories production and consumption in 2012.

No.

Company

Location in Vietnam

Capacity (m3/year)

Actual Consumption (m3)

Total 9 factories

1.500.000

1

Viglacera AAC

Bac Ninh

200.000

150.000

2

Vinema

Ha Nam

100.000

60.000

3

Song Da Cao Cuong

Hai Duong

200.000

100.000

4

Phuc Son

Hoa Binh

150.000

90.000

5

An Thai

Phu Tho

300.000

240.000

6

Truong Hai

Hai Duong

200.000

110.000

7

Vinh Duc

Lam Dong

100.000

50.000

8

Vuong Hai

Dong Nai

100.000

60.000

9

Ky Nguyen E-block

Long An

150.000

70.000

(Vietnam Ministry of Construction, 2013)

Concerning cement market in Vietnam, it has been even worse than other materials. Due to government policy on lowering inflation, stabilizing market price and macroeconomic, from 2008 to present, cement price just increased about 30% while input materials, coal price raised 4 times. In addition, electricity, fuel price also rocketed continuously. Moreover, from 2010, the exchange rate between VND-USD rose and the access to banking credit was difficult, so cost over cement price jumped up 20-30%. According to Vietnam Cement Association, total cost of manufacturing is 60% of selling price, exchange rate increased, loan interest is about 20%/year, almost all cement companies in 2011, 2012, 2013 suffered losses. For example, Cam Pha and Ha Long cement factory had accumulated debt of 1200 billion VND (about 56 million USD) and 1090 billion VND (51 million USD) respectively.

Reports of Vietnam Cement Association said 48 million tons of cement was manufactured in 2012, the number decreased 5% compared to that of 2011. Domestic consumption recorded a figure of 40 million tons, around 18% of decline. The designed capacity is approximately 70 million tons, but the actual production just hit 52 million tons (72% of capacity).

Vietnam steel and metal industry has stayed in the same situation. However, the troubles are not only oversupply caused by frozen construction sector, but also the limited capital, numerous debt from loans, raw input ingredients relied on importing sources, out-of-date production technology. All of those reasons led to weak competitive strength on its own home-market. According to Vietnam steel association’s 2013 report, about 30% of Vietnam steel manufacturers were using old technology, more than 40% with average technology, and just less than 30% of steel firms had new technology for production and management. Moreover, 2013 growth rate was 7%; total capacity reached 10 million tons, 8.5% y-o-y growth but the actual domestic consumption poorly hit 1/3 of capacity.

In summary, Vietnamese building materials companies have been endeavoring to find solutions to overcome domestic crash since crisis happened. Although the government provided some supporting actions for the sector since 2011 and then ratified $3.3 billion economic package in early 2014 (Dieu Tu Uyen, 2014), the building materials industry seems to be difficult to recover. In 2013, there were 10077 construction and real estate companies went bankruptcy, while other firms were struggling in tackling the oversupply issue.

1.2.3 Export & international business situation

Due to the difficulties of local market, many companies have tried to enhance exporting activity. However, the majority of products is still mainly used for consuming inside the country and export’s profits could not cover the losses of domestic sale. It happened to all kind of building materials.

In general, export turnover of building materials in 2011 hit slightly over 766 million USD, that was an 86.45% increase compare to 2010. See the table below:

Table 9: Export turnover of building materials in 2011 and percentage of increase.

No

Type of building material

Turnover (thousand USD)

Percentage of increase (%)

2010

2011

1

Building Stone

105.646

131.715

24.67

2

Tiles

109.656

185.144

68.84

3

Sanitary ware

46.481

64.343

38.42

4

Glass

40.135

49.027

22.15

5

Clinker and cement

96.887

319.101

229.35

6

Raw materials

12.027

16.682

38.70

Total

410.832

766.012

86.45

Regarding building stones, top ten companies accounted for more than 66% of total exporting revenue of stone. The top consuming markets of Vietnam stone are Belgium (29.21%), Australia (13.38%) and United States (9%).

Referring to ceramic products, just about 15% of total manufactured goods was exported. Top ten companies constituted 56% of total revenue, and the biggest markets are Laos, Taiwan, Thailand, Cambodia, etc. Besides that, tiles and sanitary ware have been imported with lower price than Vietnamese firms, most of them come from China. It has pushed domestic manufacturers to face high pressures and challenges in selling products in the country market.

Table 10: Import and Export situation of tiles and sanitary of Vietnam.

Consumption

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

Export (million USD)

Tiles

77.16

80.88

69.57

109.66

185.14

190

Sanitary ware

35.7

41.3

37.4

46.5

64.3

65

Import (million USD)

Tiles

33.65

22.4

70.16

95.5

46.4

46

Sanitary ware

4.2

6.8

6.7

8.07

12.54

12

(Vietnam Ceramic Business Association, 2013)

According to top exporting countries of ceramic tiles, Vietnam was ranked the 12th with 28 million square meter exported in 2010, that accounted for 0.3% and 1.5% on the world consumption and the world export respectively (Stock, 2010). However, in terms of money, the total value of exported tiles of Vietnam is much lower than Thailand and Malaysia (not mentioned China here). The Vietnam Association for Building materials A said that the reason is because the competitive strength of Vietnamese firms is lower than Thailand, Malaysia, and China.

Regarding to glass, total value of glass and glass related products was $0.54 billion in 2012. It was a 46.7% rise compare to 2011. However, because of the domestic downturn, this increase could not cover the loss in glass sector. For example, Mr. Nguyen Anh Tuan said in the interview that Viglacera Corporation still had to close their glass factory in the north for more than 12 months in spite of having foreign customers.

About cement sector, in the last 10 years, Vietnam cement generally had the lower selling price than other countries in ASEAN. It stayed at around $50/ton, while the ASEAN average cement price fluctuated from $65 to $75/ton (Vietnam National Cement Association, 2013). In 2012, exporting volume levelled up to 1.7 million tons of cement and 7.3 million tons of clinker. After that, in 2013, total cement and clinker exported increased to nearly 14 million tons. This was a big leap in Vietnam cement industry on international business.

It is clearly seen that building materials products such as tiles, sanitary ware, glass, cement, or steel have had a stable increase in export. However, these improvements could not help to overcome the downward trend in domestic market. According to building materials business community, the ASEAN market is considered as similarities and has strong points for Vietnamese companies to expand businesses. So, most of building materials manufacturers in Vietnam has focused mostly on this areas. The imposed tax for goods from Vietnam is 0%, but the technical barrier and quality is highly required. Especially, ASEAN countries also strictly control and apply the anti-dumping policies. Together with the competition with China, it makes the profits of exports stay relatively small.

However, if Vietnam succeeds in signing the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, Vietnamese firms will have greater chances to expand their business into different nations outside ASEAN. Currently, Vietnam companies are paying import tax for members of TPP such as Mexico 25%, Chile 6%, Peru 5%, etc. Therefore, when Vietnam joins TPP, import tax equals 0%, companies will have more incentives to exploit these potential markets. This also true for other trade agreements Vietnam is negotiating.

1.3 Conclusion

The financial crisis did have an extremely negative impact on construction and building materials industry. Factories had to cut down their capacity around 30% in general. The goods in stock increased and was difficult to sell, especially for tiles sector. Many companies went bankrupt, some have to close their factories, and many of them suffered losses.

The export volume and value of building materials products have kept rising recent years. However it can not cover the huge losses in domestic market.

On the other hand, the state-owned enterprises have dominated the sector over the private companies.

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