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Banks fear foreign currency capital shortage   2009-11-19 - TBKTVN

Commercial banks are concerned at slow foreign currency capital mobilization while demand for capital is increasing towards the year end.


Unlike the second quarter of the year, when banks could not persuade clients to borrow dollars instead of VND because they had abundant dollars to lend, they are now facing difficulties in attracting dollar deposits.


Banks have all have raised deposit interest rates to attract more capital in foreign currencies. SeABank, for example, has raised interest rates for dollar and euro deposits, now offering the interest rate of 3.7 percent per annum at its highest for dollars and 2 percent per annum for euro deposits


Maritime Bank has also announced sharp interest rate increases of 0.3-0.5 percent per annum for fixed term deposits. Its one month term deposit interest rate is 2.35 percent per annum, which means an increase of 0.3 percent, while 36-month term deposits now have the interest rate of 0.5 percept per annum, now offered at 4.5 percent per annum.


Habubank, which is believed to be offering the highest deposit interest rate, has decided to raise the interest rates 0.1-0.65 percent for all kinds of saving products and all terms of deposits.

Even state owned banks are offering high interest rates for dollar deposits. The Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV), for example, offered the interest rate of 2.96 percent per annum for 24 and 36 month term deposits.

According to the State Bank of Vietnam’s report, the average 12 month term deposit interest rates of state owned banks is 2.5-3 percent, while rates of 2.6-3.5 percent are being applied by joint stock banks.


Despite the high interest rates, capital mobilization grew slowly in October. Deposits increased by one percent over the previous month, while loans increased by 2.06 percent.


The slower growth of capital mobilization in comparison with the outstanding loans has made banks worried. Bankers all believe the demand for foreign currency credit will be high in the last months of the year.


Ly Xuan Hai, general director of Asia Commercial Bank (ACB), said businesses now have large demands for foreign currencies to import machines and materials for domestic production when the national economy enters the recovery period.


Meanwhile, importers are trying to borrow dollars to import goods at low prices, and hoping to sell later when the prices go up. In addition, the year-end is considered the “payment season”, when businesses need large volumes of dollars to pay foreign partners.


A senior executive of a bank says it is too soon to say if Vietnam lacks foreign currency loans to provide to businesses and if banks will have to limit the disbursement in foreign currencies.  However, he believes banks will need thorough consideration before deciding to provide loans


Under current regulations, no cap has been set for foreign currency capital like the one set for VND capital. However, commercial banks cannot increase interest rates for foreign currency deposits to overly high levels to lure more capital. They need to set the dollar interest rate in the harmonization with VND interest rates and the VND/US$ exchange rate.

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