Vietnam will not monitor trade on Facebook

The ministry of industry and trade announced it will not monitor the trading activities carried out on social networks not registered in Vietnam.

According to the ministry, it will only monitor trading activities conducted on social networks with representative offices or branch offices in Vietnam or those with domains ending in ".vn."

Therefore, trading on Facebook will not be controlled, according to the department of e-commerce and IT under the trade and industry ministry.

The ministry's answer came after a number of queries were raised concerning the recent regulation that requires businesses using social networking sites to register with the ministry.

The regulation was stated in circular 47/2014/TT-BCT, which was signed on December 5, 2014. It was formulated to strengthen the booming e-commerce activities in Vietnam.

The new circular, which will be effective starting January 20, 2015, will replace the existing regulations, 12/2013/TT-BCT and 2/2013/ND-CP, signed in 2013.

According to the new circular, commodity-trading businesses with special conditions will not be allowed to trade via e-commerce. These enterprises include those handling hunting and sport guns and bullets, cigarettes, cigars and alcohol.

Enterprises running businesses involving endangered animals and plants and other commodities with special trading conditions are prohibited from participating in e-commerce trade as well.

Meanwhile, the ministry also requires businesses with websites applying auto uploading filters to closely monitor the content automatically uploaded on their sites to avoid inappropriate feeds.

Viet Nam's e-commerce market is forecast to generate revenues of US$4 billion (S$5.3 billion)  in 2015, according to a recent report by the Vietnam e-commerce and information technology agency (Vecita).

The agency said that online shopping in Viet Nam experienced a boom last year when revenue rocketed to US$2.2 billion, which indicated a rise of more than 300 percent from US$700 million worth of profits in 2012.

The average spending of the Vietnamese people was estimated at US$120 per capita in 2013, according to Vecita.

There are currently 30 million online shoppers in Vietnam, and increasing Internet penetration will cause this number to rise by 40-45 percent by 2015, it said.

Vecita's survey of 781 online shoppers in 2013 indicated that 61 percent of them had purchased items via e-commerce websites, 51 percent through group-buying websites, 45 percent by means of social forums and 19 percent by way of e-marketplace websites. Meanwhile, 6 percent shopped online via mobile applications.

The popular online product categories were fashion, shoes and cosmetics, making up 62 percent. Technology products (35 percent) were ranked second, followed by household products (32 percent) and flight tickets (25 percent).

The most popular payment method was cash on delivery (74 percent), while 41 percent of the customers preferred bank transfers, according to Vecita.

Vietnam ranks 7th in Asia and 18th worldwide in terms of Internet usage, according to the 2014 White Book on Vietnamese information and communication technology.

The country, with a population of 90 million, has 41 million Internet users and 33 million Internet subscribers