China Eximbank provides $250 million preferential buyer's credit for Ninh Binh Nitrogenous Fertilizer Plant Construction Project
Constant 2017 USD
Funding agency [Type]
Export-Import Bank of China [State-owned Policy Bank]
Industry, mining, construction (Code: 320)
Export Buyer's Credit
In September 2008, China Eximbank and the Vietnam Ministry of Finance signed a $250 million preferential buyer's credit (PBC) agreement for the Ninh Binh Nitrogenous Fertilizer Plant Construction Project (see '孔铉佑大使出席越南宁平煤头化肥厂建成投产仪式'). The PBC carried the following borrowing terms: a 15-year maturity, a 5-year grace period, and a 4% interest rate (see 'Ninh Binh Nitrogenous Fertiliser under investigation' and 'Bộ Tài chính đề xuất không giãn nợ dự án Đạm Ninh Bình'). On September 30, 2008, the Vietnam Ministry of Finance signed an on-lending agreement (No. 17/ĐLUT/HĐ) with Vietnam National Chemical Group (Vinachem), a Vietnamese state-owned enterprise for this project. As of December 31, 2014, China Eximbank had disbursed $225 million of the PBC and ultimately disbursed $249,999,999. As of March 31, 2017, Vinachem had repaid $62.5 million of the principal.The loan was secured by (i.e. collateralized with) the the fertilizer plant that Vinachem developed with the loan proceeds. The Government of Vietnam also issued a sovereign guarantee in support of the China Eximbank PBC. The Ninh Binh Nitrogenous Fertilizer Plant Construction Project was co-financed by Vinachem, Ninh Binh provincial government, and Vietnam Development Bank. The proceeds of the loan were to be used by the ultimate borrower to partially finance a $480 million EPC contract with China Huanqiu Contracting and Engineering Corporation, which was signed on November 15, 2007. The purpose of the project was to construct a nitrogenous fertilizer plant (coal-based urea production plant) in Ninh Phuc Industrial Zone within Ninh Binh province. Upon completion, the plant was expected to provide the domestic market with 560,000 tons of urea fertilizer per year. A project commencement ceremony was held on May 10, 2008 and the plant went into use on March 30, 2012 (after 45 months of construction). It began commercial operations in September 2012, and the plant was operating at 90% capacity as of November 2013. The plant temporarily halted its operations in March 2016 due to financial losses. The plant ended its operations in July 2016. Then, on April 18, 2017, the Ministry of Industry and Trade issued an official letter (No. 3285 / BCT-HC), announcing that Vinachem was not generating enough cash flow to meet its repayment obligations related to the China Eximbank loan for the Ninh Binh Nitrogenous Fertilizer Plant Construction Project. The plant resumed operations on January 22, 2018 at 80 percent of its designed capacity. However, its indebtedness and lack of access to working capital put its long-run solvency in jeopardy (see 'Ninh Binh Nitrogenous Fertiliser under investigation' and 'Bộ Tài chính đề xuất không giãn nợ dự án Đạm Ninh Bình' and 'Vinachem loses big-time in fertiliser plant'). In March 2019, Vinachem Chairman Nguyen Phu Cuong announced that, if the difficulties at the fertilizer plant (the largest, wholly-owned project of Vinachem) were not resolved, the project could 'bring down the whole corporation.' By the end of 2019, Ninh Ninh Fertilizer Company had negative equity of VND 3,392 billion (VND 9,837 billion in total assets and VND 13,184 billion in total liabilities), and accumulated losses amounted to VND 5,706 billion. China Eximbank ultimately held the Ministry of Finance of Vietnam responsible for loan repayment rather than Vinachem.
The Vietnamese project title is Dự án nhà máy đạm Ninh Bình or Dự án Đạm Ninh Bình. The Chinese project title is 越南宁平煤头化肥厂. The China Eximbank loan that supported this project is not included in the Overseas Development Finance Dataset that Boston University’s Global Development Policy Center published in December 2020. Vinachem may have on-lent the proceeds of the loan from China Eximbank to a subsidiary called Ninh Binh Nitrogenous Fertiliser One-Member Co., Ltd. (Công ty TNHH một thành viên Đạm Ninh Bình). However, this issue requires further investigation. According to Vinachem (source #25635), a review (Decision No 555/QD-HCVN published on November 15, 2006) of the project's feasibility report expected the Chinese Government to loan $391,773,856 for this project. However, the feasibility report was amended on November 27, 2007 (Decision No. 646/QD-HCVN) in which China's contribution was decreased to $250 million. Some sources indicate that the original face value of the China Eximbank loan was worth $391,773,856, but subsequently revised in 2013 to $250 million. This 2012 Chinese Embassy article (see source #119251), the EPC contract value was actually $540 million-- $60 million more than what was reported in November 2007 when the contract was originally signed.
Number of official sources
Number of unofficial sources
Receiving agencies [Type]
Vietnam Ministry of Finance [Government Agency]; Vietnam National Chemical Group (Vinachem) [State-owned Company]
Implementing agencies [Type]
Huanqiu Contracting & Engineering Corporation [Private Sector]; Vietnam Ministry of Industry and Trade [Government Agency]; Vietnam National Chemical Group (Vinachem) [State-owned Company]
Accountable agencies [Type]
a nitrogenous fertilizer plant (coal-based urea production plant) in Ninh Phuc Industrial Zone within Ninh Binh province