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  • 05/21/13--19:48: Article 24
  •  Vietnamese businesses must know how to “play” with China

    VietNamNet Bridge – Vietnam and China are both WTO members, they are neighbors, they have developing economies and they have the need of trade exchange. There is no reason for Vietnamese businesses to keep away from this market while Chinese businesses enter narrow alleys in Vietnam. That is the wise direction that is supported by many people.

    However, first of all, Vietnamese businesses should firstly look on their own to adjust themselves and to have appropriate policies.


    vietnam-china, trade relations, border trade, businesses
    Dr. Vu Kim Hanh.

    The weaknesses and mistakes of Vietnamese businesses

    Dr. Nguyen Thi Dung, Vice Chair of the Foreign Economics Faculty of the University of Foreign Trade, an expert of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JAICA): We were supposed to have trade agreements with them for a long time. So far, the legal basis for trade relations between the two countries have not fully developed due to production goes faster than the demand of switching mechanisms and policies, resulted in problems in policies.

    Meanwhile, China has taken advantage of our weakness and their forte. The border trade policy has been entirely detrimental to Vietnamese goods to China, but incredibly convenient for Chinese enterprises to sell unqualified and smuggled goods into Vietnam.

    Ms. Vu Kim Hanh, Chair of the Association of High Quality Businesses, Director of the Business Research and EnterpriseSupportCenter: We do business with China in the form of border trade exchange because the scale of our businesses is too small. China has preferred this form of trade because they use this policy to rehearse, to improve their economic strength in their border provinces.

    Border trade is holding the knife blade. The good is that any goods can be sold, at any time. Many contracts were committed orally. When goods were transported to the border, they did not open the border gate. A lot of Vietnamese traders got heavy losses. This way of trade is very easy but it is very risky.

    In this game, we accept to hold the knife blade and give them the handle. The knife cut our fingers many times but we still accept it.

    I really do not understand our market control agency. There are a lot of problems about the management of the country, public order management, market management and economic policy. Chinese traders have cause many serious cases but why do not we manage them?

    Consultant Moc Que, Deputy Director of the Micarcen Research and ConsultancyCenter: Doing business with China is not only doing business but cooperating for mutually benefit; thereby creating dialogue, not confrontation. That’s why they call the knowledge economy. Many countries around the world are unsatisfied with China but still have to organize the economic front very thoughtful, seriously. Because the buyers, i.e. "God", or Chinese people and entrepreneurs are the friends of the people of Vietnam.

    We have not done research to see how the Chinese businessmen work in Vietnam. They usually make three business tricks as follows: Grasping supermarkets, wholesale markets, i.e. the output of Vietnam; carrying out cross-border trade, not through contracts to find ways to buy cheap; and stimulating greed. They advised Vietnamese firms to not open companies in China so that we are not active in information. As a result, our businesses know nothing about the Chinese market.

    Ignoring the golden opportunity...

    Dr. Nguyen Thi Dung: Politically, the European countries and the United States have always criticized China but in fact many European and American leaders often "visit" the China with big business delegations. It is necessary wisdom.

    Vietnam also has many advantages in doing business with China. The two countries share a border, that helps shorten the distance and transportation costs. Vietnam and China have similar cultures so they are very easy to understand each other, easy for negotiation and transactions. The policies of Vietnam and China have disagreement but they are not force majeure as some other countries. It is also convenient for trade between the two countries.

    China is an extremely attractive market, which accepts any kind of goods, with lower taxes. The policy of China is open for foreign goods. We and they are all WTO members, who share the same "playground", why do not we "play?"

    It seems that many businesses of Vietnam are not concerned and do not exploit these advantages. The above advantages are the basis for us to cooperate with China to make products with high competitiveness that China or Vietnam alone cannot make. For example, the U.S. has Coca Cola as a world-wide product. If Vietnam and China together research and take advantage of the potential availability of raw materials, science and technology to produce a unique product, even more amazing than Coca-Cola is so good?

    If we link with China wisely we can master our market and get rid of the tragedy of losing in our home.

    Dr. Moc Que: We have to get to know all reasons to overcome our weaknesses and develop our existing advantages and at the same time learn from the Chinese to quickly build our strategy to enter China. It is illogical and unwise to "forget" our strategic location and turn this advantage into the golden opportunity.

    Chinese consumers are similar to Vietnamese consumers. This is a great advantage for market research and marketing.

    Many ASEAN countries that are away from China but they are successful in selling goods to China while Vietnam still do in the guerrilla style, which is outdated and inefficient.

    Border trade between Vietnam and China is the trade between Vietnamese residents with Chinese people living in communes along the border, with every transaction valuing up to VND2 million ($100)/person/day in accordance with the laws of Vietnam.

    Border trade is often characterized as (but not necessarily) the payment in cash and no purchase agreement. It is noted that this form of trade is not smuggling because it still requires permission and taxed. Goods transported across the border are still subject to inspection by customs, quarantine, border, immigration authorities, etc..

    Border trade is said to have low stability. Because the value of every transaction is small, in many cases commodities are fruits. This makes the trade turnover can vary seasonally, depending on the weather, the change of quarantine policy. This form of trade is thought to be vulnerable to tax avoidance. Because the tax rate is usually lower than the official trade, the procedures is also more simply so businesses can hire people in the border area to make purchases to not have to pay more tax.

    Duy Chien

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  • 05/21/13--23:26: Article 23
  • Over 5 kg of rhino horns seized at airport


    This file photo shows rhino horns recently seized in Viet Nam

    Ho Chi Minh City customs officers at Tan Son Nhat airport seized more than six sections of rhino horn hidden in the suitcase of a passenger who arrived from a European country yesterday.

    The passenger, D.V.S., 31, a Vietnamese national, arrived at the airport on Vietnam Airlines flight VN100 on May 20.

    The total weight of the rhino horn parts is more than 5 kg.

    The city Customs Department made a report about the discovery and seized the goods for investigation.

    A similar case occurred on May 4, when customs officers and police at the airport seized 7.28 kg of rhino horns hidden in the suitcase of a Vietnamese passenger who arrived from Qatar.

    The passenger, N.D.D., 34, arrived on Qatar Airlines flight QR604.

    After finding suspicions signs on the man’s suitcase, customs officers examined it and discovered the horns packed in silver wrapping and hidden among other items in the suitcase.

    The Department handed the man and the rhino horns over to police for investigation.

    Rhino horns are among the goods that are banned from being imported to or exported from Vietnam.

    Recently, the Vietnamese Government issued a directive banning specimens of rhino and several other wild animals from being traded, exported or imported.

    Specifically, specimens of white and black rhinos and elephants, as well as products made from their horns, are banned. Any other animals included in the list of the appendices of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) are also not to be traded.

    The CITES Management Authority Management regulates the international trade of endangered wildlife.
    The specimens described above can only be imported under three circumstances.

    First, the specimens serve diplomatic or scientific research purposes; are to be used for biodiversity conservation, to be displayed at a zoo, or exchanged amongst CITES authorities and its national members.

    Second, the specimens are non-commercial products that meet the import requirements set by CITES Vietnam and the CITES authority from the exporting country.

    Finally, specimens that acquired CITES permission for import prior to the release of this directive reserve the right to be brought to the country.   

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  • 05/21/13--23:48: Article 22
  •  Vietnam has small chance for further rate cut in 2013: central banker 

    Vietnam will find it “difficult” to cut interest rates the rest of this year after two reductions since the start of 2013 as price pressures persist, according to central bank Deputy Governor Nguyen Dong Tien.

    “The pressure on inflation still remains and there are still some factors that will cause inflation to quicken toward the end of the year,” Tien said in an interview in Hanoi today. “A further rate cut by the central bank is difficult. There’s a small chance.”

    While the economy will continue to face challenges, the central bank and government have pursued policies to achieve growth of 5.5 percent and keep inflation at about 6.5 percent this year, he said. Vietnam will need to focus on other prudent policy measures to spur growth, the deputy governor said.

    The country joined nations from Sri Lanka to Australia in easing monetary policy this month as authorities sought to rejuvenate an economy that grew last year at the slowest pace since 1999. Banks burdened by one of Southeast Asia’s highest bad debt levels in 2012 have restrained lending, hurting business expansion and crimping consumption.

    Tien forecast measures to clean up banks will contain bad debt at less than 5 percent of total loans at the end of the year, from 7.8 percent in December 2012. Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung may approve in June a central bank proposal to raise the caps for foreign investment in local banks, he said.

    Foreign caps

    Higher foreign ownership caps in lenders may be allowed on a case-by-case basis, Tien said. Vietnam currently allows each foreign investor to own as much as 20 percent of a bank, with total non-Vietnamese ownership in each bank currently capped at 30 percent.

    The regulator has no plans to inject cash directly into lenders even as it prepares to set up an asset management company to acquire bad debt, the deputy governor said. Banks’ liquidity conditions are “very good,” he said.

    While new bad debt may increase because of economic difficulties, measures to clean up banks will keep non- performing loans at acceptable levels, Tien said.

    The Vietnamese dong is stable and will fluctuate less than a targeted 3 percent this year, he said. The country will consider adding to its gold reserves after it eliminates speculators of the metal in the domestic market, the deputy governor said.

    Vietnam’s economy expanded 5.03 percent last year. The slow restructuring of banks and state companies contributed to the International Monetary Fund’s decision to cut the nation’s growth forecasts for this year and 2014, Sanjay Kalra, the Hanoi-based resident representative, said in an interview on May 3.

    The State Bank of Vietnam cut the refinancing rate to 7 percent from 8 percent effective May 13, while the discount rate was reduced to 5 percent from 6 percent. The rate cuts were the eighth since the start of 2012, following a reduction in March.

    “The government will be consistent in pursuing its goal of maintaining macroeconomic stability,” the central bank said in written answers prepared separately in response to Bloomberg’s questions. Vietnam plans to cut policy rates by 2 percentage points annually and the interest-rate cap on dong deposits by 0.5 percentage point each year, it said.


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  • 05/22/13--02:47: Article 21
  • NA debates draft anti-terrorism law

    Most deputies agreed that the establishment of the steering committees on anti-terrorism at national and provincial levels was reasonable and suitable with the country's current developments.- Illustrative image/Photo chaobuoisang

    HA NOI (VNS) - National Assembly deputies yesterday discussed the draft Anti-terrorism Law, debating international co-operation in this area and measures such as the establishment and operation of the steering committees of anti-terrorism.

    The draft law is scheduled to be submitted for the NA's approval by the end of the month-long session starting from Monday.

    Nguyen Kim Khoa, head of the NA National Defence and Security Committee, said terrorism around the world had seen complicated developments, and had a serious impact on the security and politics of many countries.

    Although no international terrorism organisations have been detected in Viet Nam, high risks remain. So, it is necessary to soon approve the law on anti-terrorism, said Khoa.

    Most deputies agreed that the establishment of the steering committees on anti-terrorism at national and provincial levels was reasonable and suitable with the country's current developments.

    Deputy Nguyen Van Minh from northern BacKanProvince said the committees should be established to ensure regular training and guidance for security forces.

    They suggested that the committees also take legal responsibility for declaring which cases are regarded as terrorism. Smooth co-ordination among sectors and agencies in anti-terrorism activities was also necessary.

    Khoa said that to avoid recruitment of more staff, the law should clearly define that the national steering committee on anti-terrorism is formed by the Government and the provincial-level committees by the provincial-level People's Committees. Members of the committees should hold more than one office concurrently.

    These committees should be responsible for appointing the commander of anti-terrorism activities when terrorism occurs in an area, said Khoa.

    However, deputy Nguyen Anh Son from northern NamDinhProvince asked if more specific regulations in the law were required to ensure quick responses to terrorist activities in public places.

    For example, the headmaster of a school should be responsible for managing anti-terrorism activities when terrorism takes place at his school until there is an appointment and assistance from the steering committee, he said.

    Many deputies said it is not necessary to establish a specialised force for anti-terrorism activities, as it was better to entrust the task to current forces, which can train their staff and equip themselves with the necessary facilities.

    Khoa said the NA Standing Committee suggested that the law should regulate that anti-terrorism forces include the two main pillars of the ministries of National Defence and Public Security and other supporting forces which will be mobilised if required.

    Deputies also said international co-operation was necessary as terrorism is a transnational issue.

    However, they suggested strict regulations on international co-operation activities in this field to avoid turning the country into the target of international terrorism organisations.

    Deputies expressed their concerns over ensuring funds for anti-terrorism activities.

    NA deputies yesterday also discussed the draft amended law on Fire Prevention and Fighting.

    General Tran Dai Quang, minister of Public Security, said the amended law has settled the shortcomings of the current legislation which has been in force since 2001.

    For example, the law regulates the responsibilities of leaders of agencies, institutions and families for fire prevention and fighting and the requirements of businesses related to fire prevention.

    If fires are the result of a lack of responsibility from leaders, it is the leaders that have to pay for fire fighting activities and compensate for losses, he said.

    Tax also discussed

    National Assembly deputies also worked in a group to discuss two draft bills on amendments to the Valued Added Tax Law and Corporate Income Tax Law.

    Deputies said that the tax laws needed to create a favourable investment environment for production and business.

    Most deputies agreed that in four years of implementation, the Corporate Income Tax Law will gradually reduce the general tax rate, help businesses reduce tax obligations, increase business turnover, create equal taxation for local businesses and FDI enterprises and encourage technological innovation.

    Under the draft bill for the revised Corporate Income Tax Law, starting next January, a general tax rate of 22 per cent will be applied. The existing Corporate Income Tax Law applies a general tax rate of 25 per cent, which will continue to be reduced to 20 per cent in January 2016.

    Businesses employing less than 200 employees with sales of VND20 billion per year will be subject to a general tax rate of 20 per cent at the beginning of July this year. This will be reduced to 17 per cent in January, 2016.

    Deputy Tran Du Lich from HCMCity said to reduce the tax rate from 25 per cent to 22 and 20 per cent was reasonable. He noted that many loss-making businesses could not afford tax. For instance, in HCMCity, only 30 per cent of businesses were able to pay tax.

    Lich said reducing corporate income tax in 2014 and 2016 would help avoid a sudden decline in State revenue.

    Regarding the draft bill on amendments to the revised Valued Added Tax Law, most deputies agreed that VAT calculations to apply a turnover-based threshold for VAT registration was reasonable and consistent with the characteristics and specific conditions of Viet Nam. They said this would help save costs and tax collections.

    The threshold will likely be about VND1 billion (US$47,620). All businesses with turnover above this threshold must pay VAT under the credit method, while those with less turnover will pay taxes under direct calculation of value added.

    Deputy Tran Nguyet Huong of Ha Noi said the draft bill needed considering to offer a lower turnover-based threshold for VAT registration because the number of businesses being subject to this threshold was huge. On the other hand, the Law had not yet shown any progress in the management of VAT, she noted.

    Most deputies agreed with the VAT refund in Clause 7 of Article 1, saying that the draft bill would raise the minimum amount of input tax so as to assist businesses to enjoy VAT refunds of between VND200-VND500 million for their investment and exports activities.

    However, deputies asked for stricter regulations for those eligible to enjoy VAT refunds so as to avoid tax fraud that would cause losses to State revenue.

    The draft bill also stipulates VAT reduction for social housing sale or leases. It intends to slash 50 per cent of value-added tax for social housing sale or leases from July 1 this year to June 30 next year

    This is a temporarily solution to help remove difficulties of the property market, therefore the Government proposes a time of 12 months only.

    The draft bill defines social housing as housing or finished apartments with area under 70sq.m and price of under VND15 million per sq. metre.

    Most deputies agreed with the draft bill and said the reduction of 50 per cent of VAT would help ease difficulties for the frozen property market and assist those who have a real demand for housing while stimulating demand and reducing inventories in the real estate industry.

    For VAT reduction for social housing, deputies Nguyet Huong, Nguyen Minh Quang and Dinh Xuan Thao of Ha Noi and Tran Ngoc Vinh from northern Hai Phong city said that the duration was quite short. They proposed to extend the duration of this policy to the end of 2014. - VNS

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  • 05/22/13--06:00: Article 20
  •  Blowback: Vietnam labors to send workers abroad 

    Vietnamese workers erect scaffolding at a construction site in the Middle East

    The government has always been keen to export labor since it meant providing jobs for more people, jobs that could not be generated at home, but a failure to properly manage the system is coming home to roost.

    The policy is focused almost entirely on sending workers abroad, and nothing is done to ensure they return once their contracts expire and their skills are used back home.

    Many workers who go abroad for jobs overstay their visas since they fear they will not get jobs if they return to Vietnam. As a result, the country’s main markets are closing their doors to its workers.

    In the early 2000’s Vietnam benefited much from this policy, with exports of labor growing, especially to markets like South Korea, Malaysia, and Taiwan. Remittances by the guest workers helped improve the lives of many poor families in rural areas.

    But from 2009 the situation deteriorated as demand slumped amid the global economic slowdown and large number of Vietnamese workers began to overstay their visas.

    The International Labor Organization said Vietnam has not focused on generating jobs for guest workers who return home, adding this was one of reasons for the high rate of overstaying workers.

    Vietnam also lost by failing to use the skills and experience of the workers, it said.

    It is not as if there are no policies in place. The labor departments of provinces and cities have the task of creating a database of workers going abroad and providing it to job centers. But this has not been done anywhere, the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs admitted.

    Closing doors

    The high rate of Vietnamese workers overstaying visas has caused many markets to shun the country.

    The South Korean government last year decided not to extend its Employment Permit System to Vietnam after the latest agreement expired in August. Other major markets like Japan and Taiwan also look set to close their doors to Vietnamese, according to the ministry.

    South Korea, Vietnam’s second biggest market, recently stopped hiring Vietnamese after taking in 1,560 at the start of this year.

    Many Vietnamese in South Korea overstayed their visa after their contract ended, prompting that country to make such a move, Minister of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs Pham Thi Hai Chuyen said.

    Last year only 9,000 workers went to Korea compared to 15,000 normally.

    According to the ministry’s Overseas Labor Management Department, some 57,000 Vietnamese workers are in South Korea, more than half of them overstaying their visa.

    The department’s head, Nguyen Ngoc Quynh, admitted that the government has not done much to reduce the number of overstayers in foreign countries, including South Korea.

    South Korea has decided it will only resume recruitment of Vietnamese workers when the rate of illegals comes down to 20 percent.

    Le Van Thanh, deputy head of the ministry’s Overseas Labor Management Department, said opportunities for overseas employment are still available to Vietnamese workers in some new markets like Germany, Saudi Arabia, and Finland.

    Germany has a pilot recruitment project for Vietnamese mechanical engineers at salaries of US$2,000 per month, he said.

    Vietnam will also send nurses to the country later this year following an agreement with Germany’s Ministry of Economics and Labor.

    Saudi Arabia and Finland have also said they are interested in recruiting Vietnamese nurses.

    But Chuyen admitted it would be extremely difficult to meet the labor export target this year.

    Vietnam plans to send 100,000 guest workers abroad in 2013, but if figures from the first quarter are any indication, the target is likely to prove elusive. Labor agencies managed to send only 19,800 workers abroad in the period, according the Overseas Labor Management Department.

    Last year 80,320 Vietnamese workers went abroad, 10 percent less than the government had targeted.

    By Bao Van, Thanh Nien News

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  • 05/22/13--18:12: Article 19
  • Crane truck accident causes massive power outage in southern Vietnam 

    Traffic congestion on
    Le Trong Tan Street
    , Tan Binh District, HCMC following an abrupt power outage on May 22

    The massive power outage that struck in Ho Chi Minh City and Vietnam’s southern provinces Wednesday was caused by the cargo of a crane truck that struck a main cable.

    The incident, which unleashed chaos in streets, schools, hospitals and businesses throughout HCMC, took place at around 2 p.m. and the power was not resumed for several hours, the country’s power monopoly Electricity of Vietnam (EVN) said in a press release.

    According to the company, the blackout began when a 10-meter-long tree being carried by a crane truck came in contact with a section of the north-south 500kV power grid in the southern province of Binh Duong, causing an electrical discharge.

    As a result, all generators in the area were disturbed, along with the 220kV and 110kV cables, it said.

    Related agencies confiscated the truck for further investigation, EVN said.

    A report on VnExpress quoted truck driver Ngo Tan Thao as saying that he was in the process of lowering the tree into a garden when it struck the cable.

    A big explosion followed, he said, adding that he jumped out of the truck at that time and received a minor electric shock.

    By 4 p.m. the power had been resumed to parts of HCMC including Thu Duc District, Tan Binh District, and District 1.

    However, as Thanh Nien reporters observed, traffic congestion had already worsened considerably at many intersections in the city following the shutdown of traffic lights.

    Local companies, meanwhile, complained of losses caused by the outage, including necessary expenditures to run alternate generators.

    At many schools, classes ended early, while doctors complained of possible negative impacts the unexpected outage could have on patients.

    By Thanh Nien Staff, Thanh Nien News    

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  • 05/22/13--18:33: Article 18

    Partnerships key to infrastructure

    Investments under the public-private partnership (PPP) model would be encouraged in HCMCity to develop key technical infrastructure projects, a Sai Gon Giai Phong (Liberated Sai Gon) report has said.

    In its Saturday edition, the daily said that the municipal administration had sought permission from relevant ministries and agencies to invite PPP investments for major transport infrastructure projects.

    The projects deemed suitable for PPP investments include the RachChiecBridge on the eastern outer belt road, which links the road with the
    Ha Noi Highway
    , a bus terminal at Cho Lon, and two water loss reduction projects.

    The city has called for all sectors to participate in the development of technical infrastructure systems under Build-Transfer (BT), Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) and other forms of investment.

    Such investments have seen several infrastructure works completed, like the
    King Duong Vuong Road
    , the RachChiecBridge and Phu My, thus making important contributions to the city's socio-economic development.

    However, Bui Xuan Cuong, director of the municipal transport department, said BT and BOT investments were no longer attractive to investors for several reasons, so the city had to seek other investment models.

    Under the PPP model, the private party provides a public service or project and assumes substantial financial, technical and operational risks.

    For its part, the Government's contribution to a PPP may also be in kind (notably the transfer of existing assets).

    In projects for public good, the Government may provide a capital subsidy in the form of a one-time grant, so as to make it more attractive to the private investors.

    In some other cases, the Government may support the project by providing revenue subsidies, including tax breaks.

    Given these advantages, the city administration had proposed that a series of technical infrastructure projects be developed using the PPP model, Cuong said.

    Although this plan is still on paper, it has been welcomed by many companies since they expect to receive significant support from the State when they participate in the projects.

    Some companies have said that the legal aspects of the State's participation in the PPP model had to be clarified to make it more feasible and attractive.

    Le Binh, general director of the HCMC Infrastructure Investment Joint Stock Company, said the State should have specific regulations on the guarantee it provided for enterprises to borrow capital from official development assistance (ODA) sources.

    He said if joint stock companies were facilitated in getting early returns for their investments, they would find it easier to raise capital through various means.

    Binh also suggested the State organise tenders for PPP projects and ensure their quality as well as availability of their investment capital.

    Restructured Viettel to concentrate on core business

    Viettel corporation's charter capital will be doubled to VND100 trillion (US$4.7 billion) after restucturing, reports VnExpress online.

    The corporation is required to withdraw all of its capital from financial investment, but it will be allowed to invest in other projects such as broadcasting in radio and television.

    The decision to restructure the Telecom Corporation (Viettel) between 2013-15 was recently approved by the Prime Minister.

    Under the restructuring project, apart from its telecoms services, IT and telecoms spare-part production, Viettel will be permitted to invest in broadcasting and postal sectors.

    A Viettel representative said the corporation considered the broadcasting industry to be core business thanks to its available telecommunication infrastructure and information technology.

    Recently, the corporation was granted a licence by the Ministry of Information and Communications to provide a cable TV service.

    In addition, Viettel is also involved in the trading and retail distribution of telecoms products, information technology, finance, banking and real estate industries.

    With the expansion of business sectors, from now to 2015, Viettel's charter capital will be lifted to VND100 trillion.

    However, the corporation is asked to withdraw its investments from five businesses, including Viettel Technologies Corporation, Vinaconex Commercial Development JSC, EVN International JSC, Vinaconex – Viettel Finance JSC, and Coecoo Rubber Industry JSC.

    In addition, it must merge EVN Telecommunications to Viettel's parent company.

    In 2012, Viettel's revenue reached VND140 billion, up 18.5 per cent compared to the previous year.

    SME owners determined to succeed

    The latest survey from Regus, the world's largest provider of work places, shows that up to 89 per cent of Vietnamese entrepreneurs from small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) would continue to pursue a business career if they had a chance to redo things.

    The survey questioned 26,000 managers and entrepreneurs in 90 countries. The global average of the same index is 85 per cent. Accordingly, regardless of the current challenges that Vietnamese SMEs face, it seems that the entrepreneurs are still determined to develop their own businesses.

    Up to 92 per cent of Vietnamese people in business think that the current economic situation is the largest barrier to establishing companies, followed by challenging administrative procedures (agreed by 83 per cent) and the overwhelming power of some big players in the market (agreed by 77 per cent).

    More than half of Vietnamese respondents also mentioned the restrictions in approaching capital sources and lack of Government support as severe obstacles for developing a business.

    Serge Dupaux, director of Regus Viet Nam, said that Vietnamese SMEs were playing a more important role in the current economic situation as large enterprises were experiencing some withdrawals in the market.

    Meanwhile, Nguyen Xuan Anh, chief executive officer of Deli International Solutions, said that SMEs with simple organisational structures and high adaptability would play a key role in stimulating the economy.

    Moody's rating for VietinBank ‘stable'

    Moody's Investors Service yesterday affirmed the debt and deposit ratings of the Viet Nam Bank for Industry and Trade (VietinBank) as B2 in local currency and B3 in foreign currency. The outlook on the bank's ratings is stable.

    At the same time, Moody's raised Vietinbank's baseline credit assessment (BCA) to b3 from caa1 following the capital transfer from the Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ, which acquired a 19.73 per cent ownership in VietinBank for VND15.5 trillion (US$743 million).

    This leaves VietinBank with the highest BCA among Moody's-rated banks in Viet Nam.

    According to Moody's, the completion of the transaction with the Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ results in a substantial increase in VietinBank's Tier 1 capital ratio, to 14 per cent from 9.34 per cent as of March 2013.

    "This injection of fresh, measurable capital in the bank gives us confidence that the transaction has distanced VietinBank from the risk of requiring external assistance in the near term to remain economically solvent," Moody's stated.

    Moody's said the affirmation on VietinBank's debt and deposit ratings reflected its assessment that the probability that support would be provided by the Vietnamese Government (B2 stable) in a systemic crisis was still very high, given the presence of the Government ownership and VietinBank's market share of 12.53 per cent of the banking system loans and 11.23 per cent in terms of system deposits as of the end of 2012.

    The Government stake would be diluted to about 64.46 per cent after the transaction with the Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ.

    Nevertheless, the Government would continue to exert considerable influence on VietinBank through its majority interest.

    This Moody's rating on VietinBank concluded the review for an upgrade that was announced on January 16, 2013.

    Vinacomin clarifies tax confusion

    The Viet Nam National Coal-Mineral Industries Holding Corp (Vinacomin) has clarified a statement on the export of aluminum oxide (alumina).

    It has said that a zero tariff would apply, but that it did not extend to the export of aluminum ore, for which tariffs of 15-40 per cent were applicable.

    The comment followed opinions arising after the two bauxite projects, Tan Rai and Nhan Co plants in the Central Highlands, were reported to be efficient at conference late last week, Viet Nam Economic Times reported.

    The opinion was that the economic efficiency was due to the group enjoyed zero preferential tax in the export of aluminum ore. This caused misunderstanding, Vinacomin said.

    Under Resolution 710/2008/UBTVQH12, the tariffs of 15-40 per cent were applied for iron ore and aluminum ore, not for alumina.

    According to Vinacomin, alumina with code 2818.20.00 attracted zero export tax. Big alumina exporting countries, such as Brazil, India and Australia, applied the same rate.

    Alumina is different in nature to aluminum ore. Alumina is a product of the extracting and refining of aluminum ore.

    During bauxite mining, the group must also pay environmental tax, value added tax, corporate income tax and natural resource use tax.

    At the conference late last week, Vinacomin said that the bauxite mining plants in the Central Highlands were socio-economically efficient and environmentally safe.

    Officials off to Thailand to boost tourism

    Twenty-five Thai and Vietnamese officials headed by the Royal Consul General in HCMCity visited southern Viet Nam yesterday on their way to Bangkok to promote tourism activities.

    Accompanied by Vietnamese and Thai media, the officials aim to promote the sustainability of tourism in the ASEAN Economic Community through 2015.

    The Thai Royal Consul General in HCM City, Panpimon Suwannapongse, travelled with Pham Thanh Tuoi, Chairman of the Ca Mau Province People's Committee, Tran Kim Mai, Vice Chairwoman of Tien Giang Province's People's Committee and Dao Anh Dung, Vice Chairman of Can Tho Ciy's People's Committee

    Leaders of other localities in the Mekong (Cuu Long) Delta along the tourism economic corridor were also present.

    The corridor is located along coastal route R10 that connects the Trat province of Thailand to the border of Cambodia through Koh Kong.

    It goes along the Thai coastline to Kampot and Kep of Cambodia, and then links to the border through Ha Tien and ends at southernmost Ca Mau Province in Viet Nam.

    Thailand considers the southern coastal route linking Cambodia and Viet Nam to be important for economic cooperation and development.

    Beginning from HCMCity, the officials stopped at Can Tho, Ca Mau and KienGiangProvince. They then plan to visit Sihanoukville and Koh Kong in Cambodia on their way to other stops.

    At each province in both countries, the participants will learn about the area's economic potential and opportunities.

    The Gross Domestic Product of the five provinces combined is one-fifth of Thai GDP.

    Thailand also wants to open a sea route from the ThailandGulf to Viet Nam's Ca Mau province.

    According to an official from ThaiTradeCenter in HCMCity, trade volume between the two countries has increased 20 per cent each year in recent years. Thai investment in Viet Nam ranks 10th among other countries.

    Thailand also wants to promote investment in small-and medium-sized enterprises in Viet Nam, especially in the Mekong Delta's agricultural sector, fishery and food processing.

    Thai investment is now mostly for infrastructure for industrial zones, new urban centers and hotels, and facilities for tourism and industry in southeast Dong Nai and Binh Duong provinces, and HCM City and Ha Noi.

    With further investment along the corridor, Ca Mau is expected to become an important economic area in the Mekong Delta and a business gate for the ASEAN member nations.

    PVF shareholders approve merger plan

    A shareholder meeting on Saturday of PetroVietnam Finance Corp (PVF) resolved that the company would merge with Western Bank to form a new institution.

    The new entity was expected to have an equity of VND9 trillion (US$428.6 million) and total asset value of VND100 trillion ($4.8 billion).

    Western Bank's shareholders also approved the plan late last month, which was believed to help build an entity with adequate resources for developing banking services and major energy projects.

    The two sides pledged to continue normal operations, maintain current business relations and assure the rights and interests of relevant organsations and individuals, including their customers, suppliers and agents.

    PVF chairman Nguyen Dinh Lam told online newspaper that the scheme was just waiting for the State Bank of Viet Nam's approval, adding that Western Bank's financial situation had been cleaned up although it had previously been exposed to significant bad debts.

    Industry insiders said the greatest advantage of the merger bank would be the network since PVF, under the brand name of the oil and gas industry, had advantages in financing economic groups, while Western Bank had quite a large network in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta region.

    After the merger, the 78 per cent stake which Viet Nam National Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam) was holding at its affiliate PVF would fall to 52 per cent at the new entity.

    PetroVietnam general director Do Van Hau said the parent company would then sell more stakes to further reduce its equity in PVF following a capital withdrawal road map, but he affirmed that the group would continue to be "a firm stay" for the merger bank.

    "We have over VND10 trillion ($476.2 million) deposited in a PVF account and don't have any plans to change this amount even after the merger," he said.

    According to the law, PVF share listings would be terminated after the merger. The company's shares are currently being traded at around VND8,500 ($0.4) on the HCM City Stock Exchange.

    The equity of the new bank corresponded to 900 million shares worth VND10,000 ($0.47) each and the possibility of listing these shares on the stock market was still under consideration, according to the PVF management board.

    Non-banking financial corporation PVF had planned to become a banking institution for two years and merging with Western Bank was the easiest way for it to do so.

    For Western Bank, which had been facing liquidity troubles, merging with the PVF offered a means to save itself from bankruptcy, industry insiders said.

    Constipated credit flows stunt enterprises

    Improving credit flows between banks and enterprises was important at a time when bad debts remained uncleared and businesses were struggling, a seminar in Ha Noi heard yesterday.

    Economist Tran Dinh Thien said that first-quarter domestic economic indices showed uncertain prospects for economic recovery this year.

    Two factors decisive for recovering growth and stability were weaker than those in the past years, he said, pointing out that total lending grew only 0.03 per cent while budget revenues and spending had reached 16.6 per cent and 18.5 per cent, respectively, of the quotas allocated for the whole year.

    Purchasing power was extremely weak with the consumer price index (CPI) declining 0.19 per cent in March and edging up only 0.02 per cent in April.

    The index of industrial production (IIP) expanded 4.9 per cent in the first quarter, lower than the 5.9-per-cent rise in the same period last year.

    For the first time, the number of closed-down enterprises nearly equalled the number of newly-registered businesses, reaching 15,300 and 15,700, respectively.

    Last month, total deposits at credit institutions increased 5.34 per cent over the end of last year while their combined lending expanded only 1.4 per cent.

    Thien said that recent deposit interest-rate cuts hadn't helped much in easing firms' access to loans, suggesting the Government immediately apply a ceiling lending rate instead of setting the current deposit cap (of 7.5 per cent).

    The State Bank of Viet Nam Credit Department director, Nguyen Viet Manh, said many enterprises still failed to manage loans, although lending rates had declined because they didn't meet banks' standards. Proving the ability to pay debts was necessary for firms to improve the situation.

    Economic expert Dang Duc Son urged firms to enhance management of resources, especially balancing cash flows, to cope with capital limits.

    Solving bad debts should continue to be a top priority and restructuring economic groups should be a focus for the country to facilitate lending, Thien said.

    SeaBank general director Dang Bao Khanh said that the bank would continue to offer small – and medium-sized enterprises an interest rate of 9.9 per cent within a preferential lending package worth VND2 trillion ($95.2 million) in this year, a programme it applied since March 15.

    SCB introduces online term deposits

    Standard Chartered Bank Viet Nam has launched online term deposits, allowing customers to make daily term deposits at the highest interest rates and make unlimited withdrawals.

    The service is suitable for employee banking and priority banking clients who regularly make term deposits. It is available in VND, AUD, GBP, EUR, SGD and USD with minimum opening balance of 1,000 in a Foreign Monetary Unit or VND10 million (US$476).

    VPBank, VCCorp enter partnership

    The Viet Nam Prosperity Joint Stock Commercial Bank (VPBank) and the Viet Nam Communications Corporation (VCCorp) recently signed a strategic agreement in Ha Noi aimed at providing better services to their customers.

    Under the agreement, the two sides will work together to promote communications, develop brands, and integrate e-commerce, financial and technological solutions to improve the quality of their service.

    The agreement would allow both sides to take advantage of each other's strengths and improve operations and efficiency for customers, said VPBank General Director Nguyen Duc Vinh.

    VPBank is committed to creating favourable conditions for VCCorp and its customers to access and use the bank's services with the most preferential service charges.-

    Banana profits ripen

    Farmers from the Mekong Delta are earning high profits from bananas exported to China. Nguyen Hoang Bac, a trader from Dong Thang Commune in Can Tho City's Thoi Lai District, said he had hired 20 to 30 workers to purchase 15 to 20 tonnes of bananas from plantations in the region each day. The bananas, which were bought for VND3,300 (US$0.16) to VND6,000 ($0.29) per cluster, were packed into containers before being exported to China through border trading. Bac said a large volume of bananas had also been exported to China from HCMCity. A farmer can earn profits of VND12 million to VND15 million on 1ha of banana cultivation, he said.

    Domestic rice exports hit $1 billion

    Viet Nam exported 2,385 million tonnes of rice by the middle of this month, reaching a revenue of more than US$1 billion so far this year, said the Viet Nam Food Association (VFA).

    The figures have the country meeting 30 per cent of its rice export targets, which are set at 7.5 million tonnes this year.

    Last year, the country exported 7.72 million tonnes of rice.

    Market data showed that global rice exports have been stagnant due to abundant supplies from major rice exporters around the world.

    Domestic rice value, in line with the global trend, has been falling. The International Rice Research Institute forecast that India, the world's largest rice exporter, would ship only 7 million tonnes of rice this year, 32 per cent less than the record high of 10.25 million tonnes last year.

    Thailand is forecast to export more rice, at 8.5 to 9 million tonnes of rice this year, higher than the level of 6.95 million tonnes last year. Viet Nam's rice exports are expected to top 7 million tonnes this year.

    Another forecast from the US Department of Agriculture said India would export 9 million tonnes of rice this year.

    According to VFA, higher quality broken rice is sold at VND7,550 -7,650 per kilo while lower grades sell for VND7,250-7,350 and as low as VND7,050-7,150 per kilo.

    The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) forecast world rice productivity would increase by 2.1 per cent this year to 497.7 million tonnes. Rice inventories would reach 171.8 million tonnes due to a surplus of supplies over demand.

    Circular finally issued to guide implementation of amended IP law

    Law 36/2009/QH 12 dated June 29, 2009, amends and supplements a number of Articles of Law on Intellectual Property 2005 (Law on Intellectual Property) and provides some new amended regulations on establishment of industrial property rights, including, inter alia, regulations on rights to registration of a collective mark, certification mark in respect of the geographical name or other signs indicating the geographical origin of special products from Viet Nam, the first-to-file principle, time limits for examination of the applications for registration of IP objects. Accordingly, a number of Articles of Decree No. 103/2006/ND-CP, guiding the implementation of a number of Articles of the Law on Intellectual Property have been amended and supplemented under Decree No. 122/2010/ND-CP dated 31 December 2010 (Decree 103). In connection with such amendments and supplementations, the Ministry of Science and Technology has issued Circular No. 05/2013/TT-BKHCN dated February 20, 2013, amending and supplementing a number of Articles of Circular No. 01/2007/TT-BKHCN dated February 14, 2007, guiding the implementation of Decree 103, amended and supplemented under Circular No. 13/2011/TT-BKHCN dated July 30, 2010, and Circular No 18/2011/TT-BKHCN dated July 27,2011.

    Under Circular 05, the application for registration of a certification mark certifying the geographical origin of the products, or collective mark, certification mark containing a geographical name or other signs indicating the geographical origin of the local special products, requires a geographical map certified by and a letter of consent from the local People's Committee of the city, province directly under the central authority. And regarding the signs indicating the geographical origin of a product, it is specified that such signs may be local geographical names (including official or common names currently or historically used), local symbols (including images of local maps, typical works, famous landscapes, etc) or other relevant signs used for special products from the locality, plants or animals grown at the locality or products manufactured from such plants or animals, products exploited from the natural resources at the locality, products of the developed industries of the locality.

    Regarding the time limits for examination of applications for registration of IP objects, Circular 05 clarifies that the time period served for the applicant to respond to a official notification shall not be counted to the time limit for examination of a registration application, and such time period is counted from the issuing date of the notification to the submitting date of the response, or the time period fixed in the notification, including permitted extension time.

    Circular 05 also provides details for application of the first-to-file principle in respect of patent applications, industrial applications and trademark applications which have been determined to satisfy the patentable conditions or registration requirements, respectively (complied applications). Namely, for checking the priority in respect of the relating complied patent applications for the purpose of applying , it is required to do the patent search upon, but not limit to, the mandatory patent information resource in respect of all patent applications received by the National Office of Intellectual Property ("NOIP") up to the time of the checking, which have the same ICP (counting to the third index) and sooner filing date or priority date (if applicable) in comparison with the ones of the patent applications in question, and have not yet been published or have been published with the publication date later than filing date or priority date of the patent application in question.

    (i) In checking the priority for the application of the first-to-file principle for complied industrial design applications, it is required to do the industrial design search upon, but not limit to, the mandatory industrial design information resource in respect of all industrial design applications received by the NOIP up to the time of checking, having the publication date, filing date or priority date (if applicable) sooner than filing date or priority date (if applicable) of the industrial design application in question; all industrial design applications and patents for industrial design published by other organizations, countries within the time of 25 years prior to the filing date or priority date (if applicable) of the industrial design application in question; and other industrial design information collected and kept by the NOIP. (ii) In checking the priority for the application of the first-to-file principle for complied trademark applications, it is required to do the trademark search upon the trademark information in respect of all trademark applications received by the NOIP, having the publication date, filing date or priority date (if applicable) sooner than filing date or priority date (if applicable) of the trademark application in question.

    The Circular 05 comes into effect from 5 April 2013.

    SBV gives assurance that VAMC to be approved

    Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung yesterday approved a plan to set up the Vietnam Asset Management Company (VAMC) and a decree on its organisational structure and activities.

    The company, therefore, would be likely to go into operation in the second quarter.

    Under the plan, VAMC is a one-member limited company, 100 per cent State-owned and subject to the Government's management and supervision. VAMC has charter capital funded by the SBV.

    The company will issue bonds to buy debts of credit institutions who can use the bonds to access refinancing loans of the central bank.

    Through its debt purchase process, VAMC will ease debt repayment pressure; support firms to overcome their temporary financial difficulties. These firms' debt schedules can be adjusted or their overdue interests can be reduced or exempted.

    With special authorities, VAMC will also co-ordinate with other relevant ministries and agencies to help firms deal with legal and tax policy difficulties.

    With the VAMC participation, the process to cope with guarantee assets of credit institutions will be speeded up. Investors will be also allowed to take part in the process as the assets will be bid for according to market rules.

    According to the central bank, local firms that sell non-performing loans to the VAMC can still borrow funds from commercial banks.

    Bird's nest farming to be regulated

    The first decree dealing with the farming of edible nests built by swifts using their saliva will impose conditions on the farms' location, maintenance and the use of sounds to lure the birds.

    At a meeting organised by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in HCMCity yesterday, several enterprises, agriculture officials and experts agreed on the need for regulations to enable better management of the industry.

    The regulations would also provide a greater sense of security for enterprises, they said.

    Farming swifts for their edible nests has developed strongly in Viet Nam since 2007, mostly in HCMCity and other southern and central provinces, said Nguyen Duc Trong, deputy head of the Department of Livestock Production.

    However, there was no legal framework or development guidelines that would enable the new industry to develop in a sustainable manner, he said, explaining the ministry's rationale for drafting a decree.

    The draft decree stipulates conditions that cover the location, the use of sound to lure the birds, hygiene, disease control, as well as other aspects of exploitation.

    Participants expressed basic agreement with the contents of the draft decree, but said it should have details to be effective.

    According to the draft decree, birdhouses that are built after the decree takes effect should comply with local zoning plans or obtain approval from local authorities.

    It also encourages the building of birdhouses far from residential areas, hospitals, schools and markets.

    But Tran Quang Cui, deputy director of the southern Kien Giang Province Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said, "the ministry should regulate that birdhouses must be located far from residential areas, hospitals and schools and markets, instead of just encouraging enterprises to do so."

    Many other participants agreed with Cui that conditions for the location of birdhouses should be mandatory.

    Delegates also agreed that those birdhouses that were built before having the decree must be upgraded to minimise negative health and environment impacts, and wanted the decree to stipulate clearly how the upgrade should be done and the time period in which it should be done.

    The draft decree stipulates that the sounds used to lure the birds should not exceed 70dBA between 6am and 9pm, and 55dBA in the hours thereafter.

    Many delegates disagreed with this provision, saying the condition should only apply to the hours between 9pm and 6am, and there was no need to regulate the sound during daytime.

    Huynh Phuoc Trung, deputy director of the HCM City Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, asked the Veterinary Department to issue guidelines on dealing with diseases to help localities and breeders.

    Do Tu Quan, general director of the Cuu Long Phi Joint Stock Company, said that to export the edible nests to foreign markets, the products must meet requirements set by importing countries, like having legal certificate for swifts breeding as well as certification that the nests from the farms are fit for consumption and have export permits.

    However, all these conditions are not covered by the draft decree, she said.

    Deputy Minister Vu Van Tam said the ministry would work further on the decree to help enterprises meet requirements set by importing countries and facilitate exports of the edible nests.

    The ministry would collect all opinions from delegates and promulgate the official decree as soon as possible to help develop the industry in a sustainable manner, he said.

    With its favourable weather, Viet Nam has good potential for farming swifts for their nests, according to Dang Pham Minh Loan, general director of theYen Viet Joint Stock Company.

    Currently, Thailand, Malaysia and Thailand are the world's biggest suppliers, accounting for 80-90 per cent of the world output.

    Viet Nam is said to have about 700 enterprises and households engaged in breeding swifts in 1,500 birdhouses, producing around 10 tonnes of bird's nests a year.

    Firms seek Mexican deals

    The Viet Nam Embassy in Mexico is organising a business matching meeting between Vietnamese firms and 150 Mexican companies on June 6.

    The event may be a good chance for domestic firms to meet and seek new business opportunities.

    Viet Nam's exports to Mexico continue to grow, with the value last year estimated to pass USS$1 billion. Among key exports were footwear, seafood, coffee, and garments and textiles.

    Work starts on Big C Ha Long

    Construction of Big C Ha Long, a trade centre and supermarket complex, began yesterday in the northern province of Quang Ninh.

    Capitalised at US$18.6 million, the 20,000sq.m complex is expected to be finished within 14 months.

    Speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony, provincial People's Committee vice chairman Nguyen Van Thanh said that the complex's opening would help to better meet increasing demand of local consumers.

    Trade deficit hits US$830 million in May’s first half

    The first two weeks of May have seen Vietnam earn US$5.11 billion from exports, but spend US$5.94 billion on imports.

    According to the latest Vietnam General Department of Customs statistics, trade turnover from May 1–15 totalled US$11.06 billion, up 5.4% from two weeks earlier.

    It has brought Vietnam’s trade value to US$89.94 billion thus far this year, a year-on-year increase of 16.8%. Exports contributed US$44.21 billion, up 16.4%, while imports increased 17.1% to nearly US$45.73 billion.

    At the end of May’s first fortnight, Vietnam faced a US$1.51 billion trade deficit equivalent to 3.4% of its total import-export turnover.

    Some export commodities declined in value, including vehicles, machinery, and steel. Key exports like garments and footwear enjoyed sharp increases of up US$50 million and US$33.5 million respectively.

    Foreign direct investment (FDI) businesses contributed US$3.14 billion to the reviewed period’s export revenue, 6.5% percent lower than in the second half of April 2013. Over five months, they have earned US$26.36 billion from exports, representing a year-on-year increase of 27.9% and accounting for 59.6% of Vietnam’s total export value.

    The FDI sector imported goods worth US$3.37 billion in May’s first half, increasing its five-month import value by 26.4% from a year earlier to US$25.4 billion. This constituted 5% of the country’s total import spending.   

    A step towards bad debt settlement

    The Prime Minister has decided to establish the Vietnam Asset Management Company (VAMC) in an effort to settle bad debts that are hampering banking and business operations.

    Under a decision signed on May 21, VAMC will operate in the second quarter of 2013 in the form of a wholly State owned single member limited liability company and under the supervision of the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV).

    The company will issue special bonds to purchase debts from credit organisations. Businesses that owe banks are allowed to access new loans after selling their debts to VAMC.

    Bad debt is considered the biggest obstacle to banking and business operations. Businesses cannot access new loans unless they pay back their debts. Meanwhile, banks find it difficult to disburse their huge deposits despite subsequent interest rate cuts.

    In a report presented at the ongoing National Assembly session, the government said the bad debt ratio has decreased considerably to 7.6 percent.

    However, former SBV governor Cao Si Kiem told the media on May 21 that the rate remains high, and if the issue is not addressed immediately, it will be a bottleneck in credit disbursement.

    According to Kiem, VAMC cannot shoulder the burden alone, and the ball is still in banks’ and businesses’ court.

    “Bad debt will be run up again if it is not settled within five years,” he warned. “The crux of the matter is addressing the quality and health of businesses. Inefficient businesses will be eliminated from the market.”

    Economic expert Dr Nguyen Tri Hieu noted that bad debt is a thorny problem for interest rate adjustments.

    “The current widening gap between deposit and lending interest rates is the result of bad debt. If the matter is not tackled completely, banks will have to put their invisible fund on hold that eventually widens the rate gap.”

     Dr Vu Dinh Anh, another economic expert, said VAMC’s bad debt settlement is just the tip of the iceberg, and the bottom line is restructuring the economy.

    At the press briefing, Nguyen Thi Hong, an SBV official, reported that the number of businesses that declared bankruptcy or suspended operations remains high, and banks are reluctant to offer subprime loans due to substantial risks.  

    RoK businesses seek opportunities in HCM City, Danang

    A business forum was held in Ho Chi Minh City on May 21 for Vietnamese and Republic of Korean enterprises to meet and seek partners and investment opportunities.

    The event was held on the occasion of the arrival of a RoK business delegation, as a joint effort of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry in HCMCity and the Korean Small and Medium Business Corporation (SBC).

    The Korean guests, who operate in manufacturing machinery, electrical home appliance and building materials and chemicals, are visiting the southern economic hub to study the local business-investment environment.

    *** Representatives from the Korean Aerospace Industries, the Republic of Korea, has arrived in central Danang city to study the possibility of setting up a factory producing spare parts for planes.

    Local newspaper Dau tu (Investment) cited the management board of the Danang high-tech zone as saying that such a factory will produce parts for the European Aeronautical Defence and Space Company N.V, the parent company of Airbus, adding that representatives of EADS also arrived in Danang at the same time.

    The scale of the factory and investment has not been revealed. However, the newspaper reported that in 2010 the Korean Aerospace Industries had proposed a similar project in the locality.

    The company wanted to set up a joint venture with Vietnam Airlines to carry out the project. But now, it will implement the project on its own and the selected location for the factory will be the DanangHigh-TechPark.

    If realised, this will be the second factory to manufacture spare parts for airplanes in the country. The first one was the MHI Aerospace Vietnam Ltd. Company invested by Japan’s Mitsubishi group. MHI , located in the Thang Long industrial park in Hanoi , was granted a licence in January 2008 with a total registered capitalisation of US$7 million.     

    CPI down in Hanoi, HCM City

    May’s consumer price index (CPI) in both Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi declined by 0.16% and 0.22 % respectively from the levels of the previous month.

    This is the third successive month the CPI has tumbled in the two cities.

    Food and drink prices in Ho Chi Minh City, especially in relation to eating out, increased slightly, while culture, entertainment, and tourism services saw moderate declines of 0.09%. Healthcare prices also slipped down by 0.02%.

    Hanoi’s transportation costs saw the highest decrease of 0.78%, followed by food and drink (down by 0.49%), postage and telecommunications (down by 0.3%), and restaurants, utilities, and building materials (down by 0.04%).

    Hanoi Statistics Office Head Cong Xuan Mui said the CPI’s decline in the capital city can be credited to low consumer demand in spite of the month’s long holiday.

    April's three consecutive petrol price cuts also contributed to the CPI’s downward trend.

    Hanoi is planning to launch major promotional sales involving 500 businesses in the hope of stimulating local consumer demand.

    ASEAN agricultural standards promoted

    Delegates from eight Southeast Asian countries are gathering at the 4th Expert Working Group Meeting on ASEAN’s Good Agricultural Practices (EWG ASEAN GAP), held in Hanoi over May 21–24.

    The event, hosted by the Vietnam Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, focuses on strategic action plans promoting ASEAN GAP during the 2013–2016 period. It aims to strengthen ASEAN GAP application collaboration between regional countries and encourage additional involvement by the private sector, civil society, and non-governmental organisations.

    ASEAN GAP pilot projects have been implemented on several of the region’s farms. These pioneers hope to receive ASEAN GAP certificates by 2015.

    ASEAN agricultural experts discussed measures to ensure fruit and vegetable hygiene and safety and reviewed the implementation of GAP fruit and vegetable policies in ASEAN member nations.    

    India, Vietnam boost trade exchange

    A business exchange programme was held in Hanoi on May 20 with the aim of helping Vietnamese and India businesses to seek investment and trade opportunities.

    The event was co-organised by the Indian Embassy in Vietnam , the Haryana Chamber of Commerce and Industry (HCCI) and the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI).

    In his speech, Indian Ambassador Ranjit Rae highlighted the time-honoured friendship and long-standing cooperation between the two nations while saying that India is now one of Vietnam’s ten biggest trade partners.

    In 2012, despite facing global economic difficulties, bilateral trade achieved relatively high growth. In the first four months of 2013 it reached more than US$1.8 billion and is expected to exceed US$5 billion by the end of this year.

    However, the two countries’ economic and trade relations are still far from matching their potential and strengths, Rae affirmed, saying that he hopes through the exchange programme, businesses will understand more about their partners to create more specific cooperation programmes to intensify investment, thus stimulating bilateral economic growth.

    Deputy Head of the African, West and South Asian Markets Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Tran Quang Huy, praised the effective cooperation between Vietnam and India over the years and reiterated Vietnam’s consistent policy of fostering ties with India within bilateral and multilateral frameworks.

    Vietnam is also becoming an important trade and investment partner to India and is one of priorities in the latter’s “Look East” Policy, Huy said.

    Deputy PM encourages Thai investment in Vietnam

    Vietnam hopes that the Thai government will encourage more Thai businesses to invest in Vietnam’s central region, especially the East-West Economic Corridor.

    Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan expressed his hope at a meeting with Thai PM Yingluck Shinawatra in Chieng Mai on May 20 on the sidelines of the ongoing 2nd Asia-Pacific Water Summit (APWS).

    He also proposed that the Thai government and Yingluck herself share experience and support Vietnam in successfully hosting the second Mekong River Commission (MRC) Summit in 2014.

    Both host and guest noted with satisfaction the growing ties of the friendship and comprehensive cooperation between the two nations in all fields, from politics, security, and national defense to trade, investment, culture, and social affairs, especially following the second joint Vietnam-Thailand Cabinet meeting in October 2012.

    Nhan said that the upcoming Thai visits by Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong and Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, as well as the third joint Cabinet meeting this year will add fresh impetus to bilateral relations.

    He welcomed Thailand’s initiative to host the 2nd APWS which he said has offered a good opportunity for regional participating nations to devise effective measures to protect and use water resources sustainably.

    Yingluck and Nhan also discussed regional and international issues of mutual concern. They exchanged issues relating to Vietnamese guest workers in Thailand and agreed to speed up the negotiation and signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on labour cooperation between the two countries.


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  • 05/22/13--18:56: Article 17
  •  How to “play” with China for mutual benefit?

    VietNamNetBridge - As a girl just wonders "Love is pain but it is great loss without love" so how should she do. The issue is which way that she "loves" to earn "profit" not to get loss from “love,” Dr. Nguyen Thi Dung said. It is similar for the trade relations between Vietnam and China.

     trade relation, vietnam-china, businesses, border trade, chinese market
    Ms. Vu Kim Hanh - Chair of the Association of High Quality Businesses, Director of the Business Research and EnterpriseSupportCenter: "A lot of Thai businesses participated in trade fairs in China. They joined together to make a "common house of Thailand" to introduce Thai goods to Chinese customers. Vietnamese businesses opened several stalls introducing fine-art wood products, which could not help promote Vietnamese brands in China."

    Dr. Nguyen Nha - a well-known historian - said: Experience of fighting foreign invaders of our ancestors in thousands of years shows that Vietnam is very small in compared with China but our ancestors were "not afraid" of that giant to defend the country's independence. In commerce, I think, our businesses should not be afraid, just do it to know about our partner, about ourselves to achieve good results.

    Dr. Nguyen Thi Dung - Vice Chair of the Foreign Economics Faculty of the University of Foreign Trade, an expert of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JAICA): We are afraid because we do not have enough information about them. We must have a consistent approach. "Love is pain but it is great loss without love" so how should she do. The issue is which way that she "loves" to earn "profit" not to get loss from “love.” "Love" means to open the door, to boldly do business with them.

    China is the emerging economic power in the world. There are three major markets in the world that any nation which is strong enough to dominate one of them will win. The first is energy, the second is the food market, and the third is the financial market. China has made deep penetration into the global market and its power is increasingly rising to be strong enough to dominate the global food market.

    In other words, China will control the world agricultural market with the Chinese-made price. These countries that have the ability to provide agricultural products like it or not will also be affected. For example, Vietnam’s 90 percent of raw cassava is consumed by Chinese buyers. It is the same for rice and rubber. This is the syndical relations, or controlling the supply-demand relations in the international market.

    Whether we like it or not, Vietnam must be very wise in this relationship to benefit itself.

    Mrs. Vu Kim Hanh: Many businesses of Vietnam had a fallacy that China can produce from the plane to the needle so how can Vietnamese goods enter that market.

    In fact, in the vast range of consumers, there are a lot of opportunities for Vietnamese goods. I visited many supermarkets in China and I saw that Vietnamese goods were sold well, particularly coffee, especially Trung Nguyen coffee. Tea, Biti's and Bita's footwear, food were also favored by Chinese consumers.

    In particular there are huge opportunities that we can take advantage of. Chinese consumers no longer trust the quality of Chinese goods, especially food so they have turned to foreign goods. Vietnamese goods are also interested by Chinese people.

    Dr. Nguyen Thi Dung: Who dare to say that America is not strong? It is so strong, the strongest in the world. But why America has to impose "anti-dumping" tax to protect American businesses? It is clear that though it is very strong, the US is not strong at some points.

    China, too, is very strong but it also has some points that are not strong. If we find out these points, we will succeed. Some Vietnamese businesses have found out the point and gained success. I think that Vietnamese businesses can successfully bring catfish to the Chinese market like they did with the U.S. market.

    The next is the Chinese market is changing quickly so we have to change our products constantly otherwise we will fail. For example, our Ben Tre coconut candy was initially successful in the Chinese market. But the product was not changed for a long time. Chinese people researched of Vietnamese coconut candy then bought fresh coconut from Vietnam to product coconut candy in China. Vietnamese coconut candy producers lost this market.

    Vu Kim Hanh: We will succeed if we are determined. I believe so. I know some successful Vietnamese investors in China. For example, Nhon Hoa Scale Company has pursued that market for a decade. They built a scale manufacturing plant in Guangxi. Nhon Hoa scales not only defeat Chinese scales in Vietnam but also compete very effectively in the Chinese market. The Chinese made faked Nhon Hoa scales and lost in a lawsuit with Nhon Hoa in the land of China!

    Who is the conductor?

    Ms. Vu Kim Hanh: We need a strategy for Vietnamese goods to enter China. To do so, we must have strong distributors in China or we can be associated with Chinese enterprises. We can also hire reputable companies of China to bring Vietnamese to China’s consumption systems.

    The initial difficulty is setting up a distribution channel for Vietnamese goods in China.

    In the country, the state should strictly manage the local market and have institutions that research of the Chinese market besides organizations to advertise Vietnamese goods in China during trade fairs.

    Who will do this? Our business cannot afford to do that. It must be carried out by the trade promotion agencies of the State.

    But is it the violation to Vietnam’s commitments to the WTO?

    Ms. Vu Kim Hanh: No violations at all. In contrast, the WTO also encourages such activities. As long as the state does not give money to businesses to distort the competitive environment, the state can support businesses through policies and providing market information.

    At the macro level, the State should adopt policies to increase the official trade exchanges and gradually slash border trade. A few months ago I had the opportunity to read the recommendations of a group of experts, led by former Trade Minister Truong Dinh Tuyen, with some interesting recommendations and measures for the Chinese market.

    2015 is coming, then the Asean + 1 market is formed, without tariffs. Can our goods go to other countries when their goods flood our market?

    Dr. Moc Que - Deputy Director of the Micarcen Research and ConsultancyCenter: China has about 1 million supermarkets and wholesale markets. Vietnam should have policies and measures to promote Vietnamese goods there.

    In the Qing Dynasty, 12 capitalist countries established trade offices in China to take their goods to China. China has well used this experience in trade promotion. We need to learn similar experience. Vietnamese businesses should have offices in China and promotion plans to bring their goods to supermarkets and wholesale markets in China. The state should support capital, technology and warehouses for businesses that export goods to China.

    Professor Ngo Vinh Long, University of Maine (United States): Vietnam is difficult to reduce the trade deficit with China while China has huge volumes of stock and they are ready to sell to Vietnam at any price. In addition, Vietnam goods are more expensive while the quality is worse. If consumers in Vietnam with higher incomes can buy better goods, they will purchase goods of other countries, not Vietnam goods. Consumers of low income need cheap goods so if the government bans Chinese products of low quality, it is still hard to stop the smuggling. The ASEAN countries have a trade surplus with China because they sold high added value products to China. Vietnam sell only agricultural products and raw materials, fuels to China and these items always have lower value than processed items.

    Therefore, Vietnam should re-orient its trade and development policy.

    In other words we need diversify the market!

    Duy Chien

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  • 05/22/13--19:48: Article 16
  •  Trillions of dong worth of capital left unused, wasted

    VietNamNet Bridge – Commercial banks have reported they have hundreds of trillions of dong left in their coffers. Tens of trillions of dong have been kept at securities accounts. Many enterprises suffer a headache because they have nowhere to invest in.
     Vietnam, capital, government bonds, banks, interest rate, waste
    The Tuong An Vegetable Oil Company’s (TAC) Q1 finance report showed the sharp increase in the revenue from financial investment activities. Especially, the interests from deposits were 9 times higher than that of the same period of the last year. The balance by the end of the first quarter of 2013 had increased by 25 percent to VND250 billion.

    The big volume of cash being kept by TAC and many enterprises shows a big problem of the national economy: the investors cannot find investment opportunities. Since the market demand is weak, enterprises dare not make heavy investment to expand the business scale. As a result, the cash flow has got stuck.

    The finance report of Tuong An also showed that the net revenue of TAC in the first quarter decreased to the 13-quarter deepest low.

    Analysts have commented that keeping cash and taking cautious in every investment decision proves to be a good choice in the context of the stormy economy. However, it is really problematic that enterprises have money surplus and they don’t know how to use the money.

    Binh Minh Plastics Company (BMP) reportedly has the surplus of VND400 billion in the first quarter, which was higher than its chartered capital. The plastics manufacturer had the revenue from finance investments increasing by 8 times in comparison with the same period of the last year, the majority of which came from the bank deposits’ and loans’ interests.

    TAC and BMP still have been “living well” in the current big economic difficulties, because they operate in the consumer goods manufacturing sector, which stays safe from the economic crisis. However, even the powerful enterprises also meet problems in expanding their business.

    The “money redundancy” has become more serious than ever. In the first 4 months of the year, the banking system reported the credit growth rate of 1.4 percent, which was must lower than the mobilized capital growth rate of 5.34 percent. This means that hundreds of trillions of dong worth of capital still have not been put into the national economy.

    Commercial banks, in an effort to optimize the capital use, have poured over VND60 trillion into bonds despite the low interest rates.

    Securities companies also have tens of trillions of dong worth of unused capital which they have been depositing at banks, even though the interest rates have been slashed sharply recently, while further decreases have anticipated.

    The 95 securities companies which have made public their Q1 finance reports showed that their had VND20,257 billion, not including the deposits under the mode of “short term finance investments.” This includes VND16.6 trillion deposited at banks.

    Securities companies don’t know what to do with their big capital to make profit, except depositing money at banks. KLS has VND1.8 trillion deposited at banks, SSI has VND2.7 trillion and VPBS VND1.3 trillion.

    Individuals, who have idle money, also don’t know what to do to preserve their money and make profit. The gold price has been fluctuating so heavily. Securities investors keep worries about the liquidity. Meanwhile, the real estate market remains frozen. As a result, the idle money has been flowing to commercial banks, which are believed to be the safest coffers for their money.

    Huan Tu

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  • 05/23/13--01:17: Article 15
  • Vietnam’s aviation industry dreams of flying high

    The demand for air cargo transportation has bounced back in the world. Vietnam is one of the three fastest growing markets in the world.

    Vietnam, Vietnam Airlines, aviation, cargo transportation, logistics
    International air transportation still growing in crisis

    The demand for air cargo transportation has been increasing rapidly since early 2013, following the recovery of the world’s economy.

    According to IATA (International Air Transport Association), the demand would increase by 2.7 percent in 2013 which would ensure the stable profit for air carriers.

    Handling 40 percent of the total cargo volume in the globe, the airlines in Asia Pacific are believed to make a great contribution to the creating of the $4.2 billion profit in 2013.

    The region would be the biggest beneficiary if the cargo air transportation demand increases as forecast.

    The opportunity for Vietnam

    Luu Thanh Binh, Deputy Head of the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV), said despite the big difficulties caused by the global economic recession, the Vietnamese aviation market still grew steadily in 2012 with the international cargo transportation value up by 17 percent.

    Experts believe that Vietnam is one of the three aviation markets with the highest growth rates in the world. Over 50 international airlines have been present in Vietnam.

    Juha Järvinen, a senior executive of Finnair, a Finish air carrier, while agreeing that Vietnam is one of the fastest growing markets in the world, has announced that the airline would provide 2 flights a week on Hanoi – Helsinki, commencing from June 2013. It is also considering opening the HCMCityHelsinki route soon and may provide cargo air transportation services the next year.

    Cyrille Picard, Marketing Director of Airbus also thinks that Vietnam’s cargo air transportation would increase rapidly which would help develop the country’s aviation industry. The WTO membership and the stable annual 5 percent economic growth rate have led to the sharp increase in the international trade, thus bringing about the increase in the demand for goods transportation services.

    However, despite the great potentials, Vietnam’s aviation industry still lags far behind the rest of the world.

    Do Xuan Quang, Chair of the Vietnam Logistics Enterprises’ Association, said the air transportation logistics have been developing just over the last 20 years, which explains why Vietnam is still weak in technology, governance, infrastructure. Of the current 800 operational enterprises in the field, domestic enterprises only account for 10 percent.

    Experts say the Vietnamese aviation’s development needs to be supported by the practical policies in the development of the airport system and infrastructure items. It also needs to renovate the technologies to save costs and upgrade the service quality.

    Besides, a big problem exists that the labor force in the industry just can satisfy 40 percent of the demand.

    Regarding the airport system development program, Lai Xuan Thanh, Head of CAAV said in 2012-2020, Vietnam would upgrade and build 26 airports with the total investment capital of VND221 trillion.

    Especially, Vietnam is considering calling for foreign investments into the airport development projects instead of relying on the state’s budget as it has been doing so far.

    According to Nguoi lao dong, some foreign investors have expressed their intention to make investment in the airport projects. South Koreans are eying the airport in Quang Ninh province, Japanese are aiming the Long Thanh airport and the US seeks the opportunity at the airports in Da Nang and Khanh Hoa province.

    Source: DDDN

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  • 05/23/13--02:34: Article 14
  • Socio-economic plan discussed by officials

    Most deputies agreed with the Government's report on the implementation of socio-economic development plans in 2012 and during the first four months this year.-Illustrative image/Photohanoimoi

    HA NOI (VNS)- National Assembly deputies reviewed the country's socio-economic development plans and the 2012 State budget while also reviewing socio-economic development during the first months of 2013.

    Working in groups, deputies reviewed the results of economic development in 2012 by focusing on efforts to ensure social welfare policies, control inflation, stabilise the macro economy and maintain economic growth at a reasonable rate.

    Most deputies agreed with the Government's report on the implementation of socio-economic development plans in 2012 and during the first four months this year.

    Deputy Nguyen Viet Sinh from northern HaiPhongCity said the world economy continued to face a series of difficulties, which had a great impact on the country's economic development. Under the Party's leadership and with the Government's drastic measures, the nation had gained certain achievements, Sinh said.

    Many deputies also spoke highly of the Government's implementation of the National Assembly's resolution on the country's economic development and the State budget for 2013.

    Deputy Bui Thi An from Ha Noi said the Government and relevant ministries had responded to and dealt with pressing concerns raised by the public while meeting the NA's requirements in this area.

    Deputy Dinh Xuan Thao from Ha Noi said there was still concern over discrepancies between statistics in the Government's report and National Assembly's Economic Committee's appraisal report.

    Deputy Bui Thi An supported Thao's comments, noting that several statistics remained inconsistent and required further study.

    Many deputies said that in the time to come, the Government needed to continue consistently strengthening macro-economic stability, curbing inflation and obtaining higher economic growth while focusing on solving bad debt and expanding markets as well as increasing purchasing power.

    Regarding social security and social welfare, deputies said the Government should pay more attention to natural disasters and environmental pollution while enhancing administrative reforms and strengthening the fight against corruption and waste.

    Deputy Pham Huy Hung from Ha Noi said the country's economic restructuring plan should clearly identify specific goals and lay out a more detailed road map. Hung said the Government needed to ease difficulties for businesses and revive the real estate sector.

    Many deputies said they highly appreciated the Government's management of the gold market, which has improved under the new regime and helped to stabilise the exchange rate and macro economy.

    They also hailed the Government's timely policies to remove difficulties for enterprises. Deputy Phan Van Quy from central Nghe An Province said that the restructuring of commercial banks was an issue that had to be kept in mind. He noted that there was no quick fix for this difficult issue, and a solution required the study of experiences from other countries.

    Most deputies suggested the Government pay more attention to development of the marine economy. Deputy Nguyen Duc Hien from central Nghe An Province said investment in the marine economy still failed to meet expectations.

    The Government should further study development of the marine economy to ensure the sovereignty of the country, said Hien.

    Deputy Dinh Xuan Thao said science and technology should be considered as the country's most important sector requiring further investment, and several deputies said the Government needed to develop the science and technology sector and enhance management of quality measurement and intellectual property. - VNS

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  • 05/23/13--05:58: Article 13
  • Nick Vujicic inspires audience at Vietnam debut

    Viet Toan 

    Nick Vujicic sliles during his speech in Ho Chi Minh City on May 22, 2013. Tuoitre

    The limbless inspiration Nick Vujicic delivered his first presentation in Vietnam on Wednesday evening and inspired a live audience and TV viewers with encouraging stories.

    Vujicic opened his maiden show in Ho Chi Minh City, which was telecast live to millions on national channel VTV1, by saying“Xin chào Việt Nam!” (Hello, Vietnam!) in a struggling but passionate accent.

    “It is my privilege to be here tonight,” Vujicic said, adding that he has “never come to a country of people who have been so excited for me to be there” like Vietnam after having given speeches in 46 countries around the world.

    “This is my first time to Vietnam but not my last,” the strong-willed Serbian Australian asserted.

    ‘Be thankful for what we have today’

    He told the crowd of around 2,500 people at a convention center in Phu Nhuan District that many people have asked him what the definition of disability is, and his answer has been living his full life with the undying support of his family over the years.

    Vujicic said that fear is holding back many people in their life, whether it is "fear of what people think of you, fear of the future" or "fear of failing.”

    But he is not a person who is disabled by fear, the man insisted.

    Everyone has their own beauty no matter how they are, the father of a son said. “I want everyone to know whether you have a disability or not, we're all of equal value. You’re beautiful just the way that you are ... Your value is not determined on what you can or cannot do ... Everyone is different,” he said it in an assertive and inspiring voice to the audience that included more than twenty Vietnamese people with disabilities.

    “You need to know that every day is a gift,” Vujicic said, “and yes, of course we can always wish that we had more but we must be thankful for what we have today … I can either be angry for what I don’t have or be thankful for what I do have.”

    He recalled being helped to go to college by an Australian nonprofit in which people put money to provide support to people like him.

    Then he said that he wants “Vietnamese people helping Vietnamese people” this way because “we can all do our part” and everyone "can be a miracle for someone else.”

    ‘I wished to have met at least one person like me’

    Among the stimulating stories he told last night was when he met a little boy just like him seven years ago.

    “We’re at a presentation and we got the father to bring up his child upon stage. He was less than two years old. He was looking up at me and I was looking down at him. And he was smiling and everyone was crying. Why? Because it was a miracle.

    “You know there were times in my life where I wished things were different in my body. And when I was a child at school I only wished to have met at least one person like me. If I knew just one person like me then I would know that I’m not alone. That would have been a miracle.

    “I can either be sad that I didn’t get that miracle or realize I can be that miracle now for this little boy.

    “His mother hugged me and she was crying and crying. She said, ‘now I know there’s a greater purpose for my son’s life.’ And I told her that when he’s 6 years old I’ll go to his school.

    “He went to school and he turned six years old last year. And he was getting teased at school. People were making fun of him. So I went to the school, and now he’s the coolest kid in his school.”

    ‘I nearly gave up’

    Vujicic then moved on to tell two jokes he had made on passengers of a plane and one girl in her car some day in the past.

    “One morning I dressed up as a pilot. Seriously. It was very funny. People were coming to the plane and then they saw me and I said, ‘Good morning!’ And I had my hat and my jacket on. I looked like a pilot,” he said.  

    He then managed to persuade the passengers to get on board the plane and acted as if he was going to fly it. They were amused then while some kids got surprised at the physical appearance of ‘the pilot.’

    “So I tricked all these people,” Vujicic smilingly said.

    The other story was about him being in a car and watched by another girl from her own car.

    “When you see me from the outside of the car, you don’t see my whole body. All you see is my head,” the special man said.

    “This girl from another car was looking at me. And I was looking at her … So she was looking at me and all she saw was my head. So I just did this (Moving his body so that his head seemed to turn around his body).”

    “And she thought my head did a 360 degree turn, her face was like (showing his goggle-eyed and jaw-dropping face),” Vujicic said.

    Then he said that he wants to inspire everyone with his own example: “When I was 10 years old I nearly gave up. I never thought I'll get a job. I never thought I'll get married. Not only am I married but now we have a baby boy. So never ever give up!"

    Vujicic will give more speeches in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City from now until May 25.

    Nick Vujicic was born on December 4, 1982 in Melbourne, Australia with tetra-amelia syndrome, a rare disorder characterized by the absence of all four limbs.

    He struggled mentally, emotionally and physically, but eventually came to terms with his disability.

    The man has come to 47 countries, including Vietnam, to deliver over 2,000 motivational speeches about hope and finding meaning in life with a disability.

    He authors inspirational books “Without Limits: Inspiration for a Ridiculously Good Life,” “Unstoppable – The Incredible Power of Faith in Action,” and “Limitless,” all of which have been translated into Vietnamese.

    He married his fiancée, Kanae Miyahara, on February 12 last year and became father of a son on February 13 this year.


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  • 05/23/13--17:35: Article 12
  •  Ho Chi Minh City’s pagodas celebrate Buddha's birthday
    Photo for illustration.
    Pagodas in Ho Chi Minh City this week have lit seven lotus-shaped lanterns to celebrate the anniversary of Buddha's birth.
    The lanterns, which have 24 petals arranged in three layers, will be kept lighting on the Nhieu Loc canal until May 25.
    The 2,557th birthday of Buddha falls on the 15th day of the fourth lunar month.
    City pagodas will also mark the 50th death anniversary of the Venerable Thich Quang Duc, who died of self-immolation in June in 1963 to protest the then American-supported Saigon government's repression of local Buddhists, the HCM City's Buddhist Sangha said.
    The event will be highlighted by an exhibition featuring Buddhism culture at the Pho Quang Pagoda in Tan Binh district. The exhibition will close on May 24.
    Talks about the life of Buddha have also been organised at pagodas where many followers are taking part in incense offerings.
    In addition, 32 flower-decorated floats joined in a parade on the city's main downtown streets on May 22.
    Also, five boats decorated with flowers by pagodas and Buddhist followers sailed in a parade on the Sai Gon River.
    Activities to celebrate Buddha’s birthday were also held in the Mekong delta province of Hau Giang, the central coastal province of Ninh Thuan and the central Da Nang city. 
    Source: VNA

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  • 05/23/13--18:47: Article 11
  •  Vietnam should reproach itself for letting Chinese goods dominate market
    VietNamNetBridge– The lack of the technical barriers has created a “flat word” which paves the way for Chinese low quality goods to penetrate the domestic market.

     Vietnam, Vietnam-China two-way trade, trade deficit, low quality imports
    Vietnam inferior in official two-way trade…

    Chinese goods -- from food, household goods to materials and machines, have been flowing to Vietnam through different channels, either through official channels or across the borders.

    A report of the Ministry of Industry and Trade showed that Vietnam imported $40.2 billion worth of goods in the first 4 months of 2013. Of this amount, $10 billion worth of goods came from China, the biggest market.

    Meanwhile, only $3.9 billion worth of Vietnamese products went to China, which means the trade deficit of $6 billion in the first 4 months of 2013.

    Dao Ngoc Chuong, Deputy Director of the Asia-Pacific Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, noted that the majority of imports are the input materials for domestic industrial production. Meanwhile, Vietnam’s export items are mostly natural minerals like crude oil or coal. The exports of the products have decreased recently under the Vietnamese policy on reducing the exports of the minerals and reserving for domestic production.

    Vo Tri Thanh, Deputy Head of the Central Institute for Economic Management, (CIEM) noted that the big imports of intermediate products (which are the input materials for making finished products) showed the heavy reliance of the Vietnamese economy on Chinese products.

    He has warned that if China stops exporting goods to Vietnam one day, Vietnamese enterprises, especially small and medium ones, would be put on the point of death, because they have no alternative material supply sources.

    Experts believe that in order to stand firmly amid the flow of Chinese goods in masses, Vietnam should pay more money to develop the domestic supporting industries. It may offer big investment incentives to persuade multinational groups to set up their production bases in Vietnam.

    Especially, the government has been urged to tighten the cross-border trade to encourage businessmen to shift to import goods through the official channel.

    Thanh has noted that with the big advantages in the geographical position and the reasonable priced goods, it would be impossible to ease the trade deficit in the trade with China immediately, especially when Vietnam’s supporting industries remain underdeveloped.

    …and lose again and again in cross-border trade

    The pieces of news about the invasion of Chinese low quality goods appear on local newspapers every day. Most of the products have been penetrating the Vietnamese market through the border gates.

    The products, bearing either the Chinese or Vietnamese brands, have been available everywhere in the domestic market.

    Vu Kim Hanh, Chair of the association of enterprises that make high quality products, noted that Vietnamese once ignored the warnings about the toxicity of Chinese goods. They have been just aware of the risks, but it seems too late, because Chinese goods have been cementing their firm positions in the market.

    Meanwhile, Vietnam has not done much to prevent the toxic products. The representative of the market management taskforce in HCMCity said it’s necessary to prevent Chinese low quality goods right at the border gates.

    Once Chinese goods can go through the border gates’ examination stations, they would be distributed widely in Vietnam, and it would go beyond the capability of the market management taskforce to control the products.

    The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said the Ministry of Industry and Trade has to take the responsibility for the low quality imports. Meanwhile, the industry and trade ministry complained that its labor force is not big enough to settle the current problems.

    Nam Phong

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  • 05/23/13--19:01: Article 10

    Revealing real estate tricks of the trade

    In what is a difficult time for the property market and real estate agents, some in the sector are still thriving, but what is their secret to success? While experts argue over what is the decisive factor for a successful transaction - position, price or construction speed, we reveal some of the tricks of the trade.

    Hong Quynh Phuong, director of apartment sales at the real estate service provider Savills, said the stagnant market had made customers believe the sector was in crisis.

    Customers are puzzled over whether they should buy property now or wait for prices to fall further, she said in a seminar recently. She went on further to say that some customers who had been determined to make purchases changed their minds after hearing the news that property prices had not fallen to the absolute bottom.

    "Since customers hesitate to purchase we are not in a hurry to urge them to make any decision," Phuong said.

    "Instead we help them understand more about the market and send them our quarterly report and analysis."

    Phuong also revealed that she tried to learn about customers' need and the difficulties they face.

    "If they have a limited budget we help them approach preferential bank loans," she added.

    She also said that despite many preferential loan packages advertised it was not easy for customers to secure loans themselves.

    While admitting that customers are smart buyers, Phuong said she could only persuade customers by ensuring them product quality and investors' written commitment of construction speed and services rather than merely using spin and beautiful words.

    Regarding advertising banners which are hung on trees and lamp posts around the city to promote the sector, Phuong said this strategy not effective as advertisers had used it overwhelmingly.

    Meanwhile Vu Cuong Quyet, general director of Dat Xanh Property Joint Stock Company shared the view that customers are the ones who have the real need for accommodation not the dealers as was the case a few years ago.

    So his company choose to distribute apartments for prestigious investors and often focused on residents of the area where the project was located when hoping to promote sales.

    For instance, Dat Xanh company is putting up for sale the Dang Xa project with prices of VND15-17million per square metre, so his targeted customers are middle income residents in Gia Lam District.

    "People tend to buy houses near their work so traveling is convenient," he said.

    "By targeting certain groups of customers it's easier to sell."

    However, Phan Ngoc Anh, a marketing officer at the Newland Company, said her firm still applies traditional marketing measures such as TV, radio and newspaper advertisements and these methods still work.

    "I think advertising can only be useful when your advertising content matches people's needs," Ngoc Anh said.

    "There are always customers with real demand so it's more important that you offer them suitable products at reasonable prices. In other words, you sell property of real value not bubble value," she added.

    She said NewLand had projects in the nearby city of Hai Duong, 60km from the capital, so her company was still seeing good business as real estate markets in small cities were seeing slow but steady growth.

    Anh said that prices of property in Ha Noi has spiraled over the past years and the discount rate that some property companies are offering has properties approaching their real value.

    Experienced property consultant Dang Hung Vo, who is also former Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, meanwhile said property prices must fall further to warm up the market.

    He told VTC news that more apartments between VND7-11 million per square metre will bring the sector back to its heyday.     

    Measures to help businesses through crunch time

    Businesses regard value added tax (VAT) reductions as a practical measure to help them through a difficult time.

    Despite the Government’s stimulus packages in 2012, many are not yet back on track in the wake of the global economic downturn. So they require further assistance from the Government’s incentive policies.

    Phu Giang Packaging Company General Director Nguyen Nhan Phuong says his firm plans to upgrade technical facilities and is asking all businesses to improve the design and quality of their products in line with world market trends.

    As Vietnam is in the process of global economic integration they need to have a leg to stand on home turf and promote trade exchange against all odds in the world.

    Phuong says Vietnam’s consumer goods are increasingly sought after in both domestic and foreign markets.

    Dr. Luu Bich Ho, a former Director of the Ministry of Planning and Investment’s Development Strategy Institute, says as a developing country Vietnam has allowed international businesses to operate and invest in the country. In the face of tough competition domestic businesses are urged to restructure themselves in line with the State’s guidelines for their own good in the long run.

    Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chairman Vu Tien Loc says most businesses expect the Government to help ensure macroeconomic stability and gradually control inflation. They hope to receive more incentive loans with lower interest rates as soon as possible, he adds.

    Loc calls for intensive efforts to push through institutional reform and create a healthy business climate for all economic sectors.

    “Helping businesspeople in need is a virtue of necessity,” Loc says, adding that lowering VAT rates will assist many businesses to reduce their production costs, clear excess stock, and meet increasing customer demand.        

    Spain supports Vietnam’s sustainable tourism

    A Spanish-funded project on sustainable tourism development in Vietnam’s highland regions has been a great success, a conference was told in Hanoi on May 21.

    The project, sponsored by the Spanish Government’s Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), was implemented in Central Highland and northwestern mountain provinces, including Dien Bien, Ha Giang, and Lao Cai from November 2011 to February 2013.

    Ha Van Sieu, head of the Institute for Tourism Development Research (ITDR), reported that despite the moderate EUR400,000 budget, the project has successfully fulfilled all of its targets.

    A website on community tourism in northwestern provinces was launched, serving as a forum for localities to exchange experiences in developing and promoting the tourism sector’s image.

    Domestic and foreign experts worked together to release a bio-tourism and marine tourism guidebook for managers and visitors as well as a separate green tourism publication advising shops, restaurants, and tourist destinations.

    Spanish Ambassador Alfonso Tena said Vietnam is gradually improving the quality of its tourism services, aiming to welcome 7 million foreign visitors in 2013.

    Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) Head Nguyen Van Tuan noted tourism cooperation between Vietnam and Spain has grown considerably in recent years.

    Vietnam received more than 31,000 Spanish visitors in 2012 and a further 7,243 in the first four months of 2013 alone.

    Spain is currently providing Vietnam assistance for a number of tourism development projects including popularising tourism law, creating a national marketing strategy, planning Cat Ba Island and HueCity, and managing the country’s world heritage sites.

    Malaysia Airlines provides attractive tours to Vietnam

    Malaysia Airlines is providing package tours of three days and two nights from Kuala Lumpur to Ho Chi Minh City at a cost of US$292 from now until August 31.

    Each tour covers a two-way economy class, airport tax and transfer, accommodation at Equatorial Hotel and daily breakfast.

    It operates three flights a day to HCMCity.

    Economy class and business class tickets for its flights from HCMCity to Kuala Lumpur cost US$136 and US$331, respectively, from now until May 31.

    Passengers can book their package tours on line at website, or by phone (Number 1300883000), to agents of Malaysia Airlines.

    France, Vietnam increase science cooperation

    The President of the French Institute of Research for Development (IRD) Michel Laurent began a three-day working visit to Vietnam on May 22, as part of activities to intensify bilateral scientific cooperation.

    Laurent will chair a signing ceremony of a framework agreement on collaborative research activities, mainly the study of Vietnam’s mangrove forests with the Ho Chi Minh City University of Natural Sciences.

    He will also witness the signing of another cooperation agreement in the fields of science-information technology-communication between the Hanoi University of Science and Technology, the Information Technology under the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology and La Rochel University of France.

    The IRD president is also scheduled to meet leaders of the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology, the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences and the Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Science to discuss joint research programmes.

    Improvement marked for labour export firms

    There have been drastic changes in the implementation of the Code of Conduct (CoC-VN) for Vietnamese enterprises sending workers for employment overseas, shows a survey of 20 target businesses.

    The survey results were announced at a meeting to review the first year of CoC-VN implementation in Vietnam jointly held by the Vietnam Labour Export Association and the International Labour Oganisation in Hanoi on May 21.

    The survey shows that the 20 selected enterprises all comply with regulations on orientation training for future guest workers in terms of duration and curriculum.

    Participating workers showed their satisfaction with the quality of training provided by the enterprises. They got a better understanding of the traditional culture and customs of target countries.

    Apart from individual participating firms, the survey’s outcomes were partially based on the assessment of Departments of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs in provinces and cities where many labour export enterprises are based, such as the northern provinces of Bac Ninh and Phu Tho, and central Thanh Hoa, Nghe An, Ha Tinh and Quang Ngai provinces.

    The departments agreed that enterprises in their localities have conformed to rules in recruiting and maintaining information channels with local authorities to provide timely protection for workers in need of help when working abroad.

    The association will install the CoC-VN into 30 more enterprises and sign cooperation agreements with eight other provincial departments on information supplying mechanisms relating to labour export enterprises.

    Training 150,000 rural labourers in 2013

    The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) disbursed VND93 billion for 36 out of 63 provincial departments to train 91,000 rural labourers in 2012.

    Many provinces claimed to have finished training courses on scheduled but others could fulfill 24–25 percent of their plans.

    Vocational training certificate project was first conducted in Thanh Hoa and Ben Tre provinces, and then expanded to other localities.

    In 2012, ThanhHoa had 80 courses held for 2,790 labourers, raising the total of trainees to 4,750. The focus of training was on sugar cane cultivation, food safety in fruit and vegetable cultivation, cattle, poultry and field crab husbandry, irrigation management, and environmental sanitation.

    Ben Tre had 4,230 labourers trained in planting, husbandry, and fishery. Seventy percent of them have been employed. The rate of employment in some fields like fisheries, pork husbandry, and coconut planting was much higher up to 90 percent.

    In 2012, the MARD spent VND10 billion on training workers for tea, rubber, fruit, and vegetable corporations, the southern food corporation, the northern food corporation, the husbandry corporation, and the fisheries corporation.

    The National Agricultural Encouragement Centre worked with localities to arrange for 132 training courses for nearly 4,000 labourers involved in ten fields of production. Seventy two of them have been conducted to meet 55 percent of the plan.

    Both authorities and rural workers are very pleased with the training project to raise local production capacity.

    However, there are some snags to overcome such as low funding, lack of animals and plants for practice during the training courses, not to mention inappropriate subjects and complicated certificate granting procedures.

    The local Departments of Agriculture and Rural Development plan to train 150,000–160,000 labourers in 2013 and the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Labour, Invalids, and Social Affairs have agreed to provide VND920 billion for them to carry out the program in three years until 2015.

    MARD Deputy Minister Nguyen Thi Xuan Thu emphasised that those training centres failing to meet quality standards will be removed from the list of funding priorities. Both quality and efficiency are priorities. Vocational training must be based on the needs of local agricultural production plans, she added.

    Foreign brands set bar high

    Domestic retail businesses should increase connections with producers and distributors to provide professional services as they prepare to face fierce competition from foreign brand names.

    Statistics from the Foreign Investment Agency show that in the first four months of the year, wholesale, retail and repair work were third in the list of foreign direct investments (FDI) in Viet Nam.

    There were a total of 49 projects worth a total of US$127.62 million, an increase of 1.6 per cent over the same period last year.

    By the end of last month, Viet Nam had attracted 336 FDI projects in food and accommodation services with investment of $10.1 billion.

    There were another 951 projects in wholesale, retail and repairing sectors involving capital of more than $3 billion.

    Another report from the General Statistics Office said that total turnover in the retail sector last year increased 16 per cent over 2011, despite economic difficulties.

    In the first four months of the year, total turnover of retail and social services reached VND850 trillion ($40.5 billion), representing an 11.8 per cent increase over the same period last year.

    Dinh Thi My Loan, general secretary of the Viet Nam Retailers Association, said the retail market had seen fierce competition as both domestic and foreign brand names had striven to search for expansion.

    Loan said Viet Nam's retail market had 21 wholly foreign invested businesses which had rapidly expand their market share.

    In addition, modern retail channels, including hypermarkets, supermarkets or small self-service stores, accounted for only 20 per cent of the market, leaving big opportunities for businesses.

    Viet Nam has targeted to increase the percentage of modern retail channels to 45 per cent by 2020. By the end of last year, the country had 130 commercial centres, 700 supermarkets and more than 1,000 self-service stores.

    Many famous foreign brand names now have a presence in the country such as Big C, Metro and Lotte.

    Last week, Singapore NTUC Fair Price Co-operative Limited (FairPrice), which accounts for 57 per cent of the Singapore retail market, announced a joint venture with Sai Gon Co.op to create a new chain of hypermarkets named Co.opXtraplus with total investment of VND200 billion. It plans to expand nationwide.

    Nguyen Thi Hanh, general director of Sai Gon Co.op told Vietnam Investment Review the current trend in Viet Nam was to develop hypermarkets, shopping malls together with traditional supermarkets.

    In many countries, hypermarkets accounted for a big proportion. For example, the model accounted for more than a half of modern retail channels in Malaysia and Thailand.

    Savills Viet Nam said competition in the food and beverage (F&B) sector had significantly increased.

    It forecast that retail demand would increase as several F&B brand names prepared to jump into Viet Nam.

    Vietnam unlikely to meet 5.5% GDP growth target

    The government's report on May 20 has shown that it will be very difficult to achieve a 5.5% GDP growth rate in 2013 amid the current challenges.

    The issue was discussed at the 5th session of the 18th National Assembly.

    In 2012, Vietnam recorded GDP growth of 5.03%. The growth rate was lower than NA's goal of 6-6.5% because of difficulties besetting the global economy. The Vietnamese government also had to adopt deflationary measures to stabilise the macro-economy.

    GDP growth during the first quarter of 2013 reached 4.89%, higher than the rate of 4.75% last year thanks to the services sector. The construction industry showed some improvements after major efforts by the government.

    However, consumer spending power will not be able to improve since incomes and job opportunities have dwindled.

    As of late 2012, 69% firms reported losses. In Hanoi, 46,000 of 90,000 firms reported total losses of VND47 trillion (USD2.3 billion).

    Credit growth will also remain low if the problem of bad debt is not resolved. Banks have been asked to develop solutions to classify suitable borrowers instead of tightening lending activities in general which have had an adverse effect on the economy.

    To deal with the problems, the government set plans to reduce the gap between deposits and lending rates, and domestic and world gold prices and ensured the value of VND.

    The government will focus on preventing tax debts, a growing budget deficit, and intends to speed up the disbursement of FDI capital.

    Banks warned about risks of lending to large-scale enterprises

    While banks often hunt for or prioritise large-scale businesses for lending, one expert said they should be more careful to prevent possible risks.

    Pham Thi Thu Hang, General Secretary of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) said at a seminar on the issue on May 20 that the rates of equity on loans at many enterprises were rather high.

    According to her, while the standard rate is a half of equity on a half of loans, equity often accounted for just a third of the value of loans for over the past decade. This figure underlies the heavy dependence on bank loans among some enterprises.

    “Larger enterprises tend to more heavily depend on bank loans as they have more chance to get access to funding. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) find it harder to borrow from banks, so they have tried to mange by themselves,” she noted.

    Dang Bao Khanh, General Director of SeABank, agreed, saying that several big enterprises have loans that are 10 times higher than their equity as they borrow from different banks.

    Hang said that the rates of bad debts among such big enterprises was also higher.

    “More attention should be paid to business size during the restructuring process. While business sizes have been becoming smaller, the scale of capital seems to have increased, which could be an uneven development trend,” she said.

    She added that banks should pay more attention to SMEs for safe and sustainable operations.

    Fruit, vegetable exports strive to increase turnover

    The global economic crisis has greatly influenced export turnover of some of Vietnam’s key exports such as pangasius, frozen shrimp and rice. Nevertheless, since 2007 to date, export of vegetables has seen growth as the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said that demand of vegetables in the world has increased by 3.6 percent per year while output has increased only 2.8 percent.

    Turnover of some export items such as rice, cashew and seafoods was US$1 billion five years ago, when this situation began improving in 2007.

    According to the Fruit and Vegetable Association (Vinafruit), exporters touched $305 million in revenues in 2007 and this figure is spiraling every year. The figures are $407 million, $628 million, $829 million in 2008, 2011 and 2012, respectively.

    Vinafruit said fruit and vegetable exports this year are expected to increase to $1 billion.

    This can totally be achieved as turnover of fruits and vegetables export in first four months increased by 17 percent against the same period last year.

    The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said the Plant Protection Department is working with countries to clear quarantine barriers  of blue dragons, rambutans and longan into the US, Japan, and Australian markets. From June 30, fresh fruits and vegetables will be export to EU countries.

    The Ministry has said the figure of $1 billion is within reach if the country can grasp the opportunity to focus on key export items and meet GlobalGAP standards when the rising global demand for farm produce is benefiting Vietnam’s sector this year.

    Professor Nguyen Quoc Vong, who used to work in the Ministry of Agriculture in New South Wales in Australia is currently working in Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Vietnam, said the country has been listed as one of the world’s five biggest farm produce exporters with revenues of around $10 billion a year.

    Other farm produce like tea, cashew and pepper also yield $3 billion annually, while vegetables bring in $103 billion a year. Vietnamese fruits and vegetables export is much dependent on the Chinese market--an unstable and risky potential market.

    The country has 1.4 hectares under fruit and vegetable cultivation, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. The area is seven million hectares less that paddy.

    In addition, fruits and vegetables are planted in a smaller scale resulting in unstable quality and are consumed within the country only. In the future, farmers should cooperate with each other to create bigger farms for better production.

    Seafood exports show signs of recovery

    According to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers, seafood exports have shown signs of recovery after a long period of slow down.

    In April, seafood export turnover reached US$520 million, an increase of 11 percent over the same period last year. Exports of frozen shrimps, pangasius fish and tuna fish are on the rise.

    The association said that importers have highly appreciated the quality of several seafood products from Vietnam.

    Authorized organs from Europe, the US, Japan, South Korea and Russia have well assessed Vietnam’s efforts to control quality and food hygiene of export seafood products.

    Seventy three percent of 415 seafood processing plants in Vietnam are able to meet requirements of the European markets. Authorized organs target an increase of 80 percent by 2020.

    Firms expect to hire more staff

    VietnamWorks released its latest online employment report just last week which revealed that labor demand at its corporate clients was on the rise, especially in a number of specific industries.

    A key finding in the first Online Employment Report for 2013 of the largest online recruitment provider in Vietnam was that 62% of its clients were likely to increase hiring in 2013 over 2012, even though the country’s macroeconomic problems remain unaddressed this year.

    VietnamWorks did not clarify the number of companies participating in the survey for the first quarter but its chief executive officer Carlton Pringle said the website was the preferred partner of over 10,000 employers in Vietnam in its 11 year history.

    “When our team looked at our data, we saw very strong correlations between our numbers and those of government, economic and financial institutions. In many ways this is logical - when companies are investing and launching new projects, they need the team to make that happen,” Pringle said.

    VietnamWorks reported stability in the total number of job postings that it experienced when compared to the first quarter to that of last year. “While this stability in total jobs may sound a little unexciting, we regard it as a great base for the rest of the year,” Pringle said.

    “2012 kicked off in a period of high inflation and general growth, and high wage inflation resulted in more people changing jobs and so on, so our quarter one numbers reflected that. 2013 commenced with the hangover of late-2012, and general economic malaise, so to return an almost identical quarter YOY is quite a solid foundation for a strong 2013,” Pringle said.

    The company’s online employment demand index rose significantly in January this year but declined in February when Lunar New Year took place before rebounding in March. The index reached 172 points in March, a year-on-year (YOY) increase of 9%.

    “Further - and most encouragingly - we saw our best week in our history at the end of February 2013, followed by a strong month in March with YOY 9% growth in terms of job postings,” Pringle said.

    Other important findings from the company’s research were the best industries for job seekers. The first quarter of this year saw electronics up 28% compared to the same period last year, consulting up 32%, textile and footwear up 38%, pharmaceuticals and bio-tech up 66%, and retail and wholesale up 105%.

    On the contrary, various administrative/clerical sectors, marketing, and architecture/interior design, oil and gas and personnel management did not fare as well, reporting falls of 38%, 31%, 23%, 22% and 19% respectively year on year.

    Pringle noted the legal profession, medical and healthcare industries and agriculture were all reporting skills shortages. “Employers have to work very hard to offer compelling packages and work environments to attract the best talent in those fields,” he said.

    The research revealed Hanoi as currently the best city in the nation to find a job in the first quarter, ahead of HCMC and Danang based on a ratio that measures the number of listings to the working age population of the three major cities.

    However, the research indicated the online labor demand in Hanoi and HCMC in the January-March period declined slightly year-on-year while demand grew 28%, 11% and 39% year-on-year respectively in Binh Duong, Bac Ninh and Danang.

    PVFC, Western Bank merger plan approved

    Shareholders of PetroVietnam Finance Corporation (PVFC) at its annual general meeting last Saturday approved plans to transform the firm into a commercial joint stock bank and merge with Western Bank.

    The would-be bank will have a chartered capital of VND9 trillion and total assets of VND100 trillion.

    The capital consolidation is based on capital and assets of PVFC and Western Bank. Each PVFC share and Western Bank share will be swapped for one share of the to-be-merged bank and shareholders’ all assets, rights, obligations and legal interest will be transferred to the new bank.

    In a draft merger contract, PVFC and Western Bank pledged to maintain normal operations, organization, business opportunities, relationships and protect interests of customers, staff, partners and related parties from now to the contract signing date. After that, the new bank will take over all debts, rights and obligations of both PVFC and Western Bank.

    According to PVFC, the merger deal will bring about opportunities for the new bank to carry out all banking services. The merged bank will also be able to reach out to big clients and key projects.

    In 2012, PVFC obtained nearly VND7.4 trillion in revenues, or 32% higher than last year’s target, and VND54 billion in profits after deductions for reserve funds. The enterprise’s total outstanding loans stood at VND43.3 trillion while its total assets reached VND87.7 trillion.

    Demand for government bonds to fall

    Demand for government bonds will be on the downtrend as credit growth is changing for the better, while the annual coupon of this debt paper is no longer as lucrative as before, Bao Viet Securities Company (BVSC) forecasts.

    “We suppose that demand for investment in government bonds will fall gradually as credit activities have been improved and interest rates might be lowered further in the near future. Besides, in the current context, coupons of government bonds are no longer so attractive that commercial banks and credit institutions should pour money into the channel,” according to a report of BVSC.

    “As of now, investors have considerably ventured in government bonds, so we believe that the preliminary market will continue to move flat and show no considerable changes in the near future,” says the report.

    Similarly, credit institutions also predict the moves in the bond market will change if lending activities show improvement in the coming time. The latest data announced by the State Bank of Vietnam shows that credit growth is put at 2.11% as of the end of April.

    Liquidity of the banking industry has still remained abundant, while credit demand has yet to rise strongly and capital mobilization is still seen as positive. The low base rate in the inter-bank market has created an attractive gap for bond investors.

    In the meantime, the foreign exchange market stays stable while the consumer price index posts low growth and shows no signs of a strong rise in the months to come. These elements have prompted local banks to predict government bond rates to tumble by an additional 5-10 basis points this week.

    VAMC to come online in Q2

    The decree and project on establishment of the Vietnam Asset Management Company (VAMC) will be adopted quickly to ensure the enterprise starts operating in this quarter.

    According to the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV), while VAMC is handling bad debts and mortgaged assets bought from banks, investors are allowed to join this process through auctions following market rules. If the plan goes smoothly, a debt trading market will be created.

    VAMC, the 100% State-owned firm established by the Government to handle bad debts of credit institutions in Vietnam, will be put under management and supervision of the central bank. This agency will also fund charter capital of the company.

    To tackle bad debts, VAMC will issue bonds to buy debts of banks and the lenders will use these special bonds to take out refinancing loans from the central bank.

    VAMC will provide solutions to support enterprises whose bad debts have been sold to it. The enterprise will reschedule these loans, give overdue interest rate exemptions or reductions and provide financial assistance to help the enterprises overcome their hardship.

    Notably, these enterprises will be eligible to continue taking out loans from credit institutions following current regulations.

    Besides, VAMC with its specific operations and cooperation with other relevant agencies will help enterprises solve difficulties in legal procedures and tax policies. VAMC will speed up handling of mortgaged assets and bad debts and investors are able to join this process through auctions.

    SBV said that establishment of VAMC will speed up the bad debt handling process, improve credit supply capability for the economy and help boost State-owned enterprise (SOE) restructuring. VAMC will also help SOEs divest capital from credit institutions.

    Saigon Co.op, FairPrice open first hypermarket in Thu Duc

    The venture between Vietnam’s Saigon Co.op and Singaporean retailer NTUC FairPrice last Friday opened the first hypermarket Co.opXtra Plus which is located on
    National Highway
    1A in HCMC’s Thu Duc District.

    Co.opXtra Plus Thu Duc, which requires an estimated cost of some VND200 billion and occupies 15,000 square meters on a total area of 2.1 hectares, features some 50,000 items.

    Besides essential items such as foodstuff, cosmetics and textile, the mega-supermarket also sells electronic products, computers, sport equipment, stationery items and vehicles. The hypermarket is expected to meet diversified demand from both individuals and entities like companies, factories, schools, restaurants and hotels. Corporate customers will be subject to special sale policies offered by the shopping facility.

    Besides the mega-supermarket, the venture Saigon Co.op-FairPrice also plans to open the hypermarket Co.opXtra targeting end-users. This is the model to be jointly developed by Saigon Co.op and NTUC Fair Price, two leading retail enterprises in Vietnam and Singapore.

    According to the venture, incentives for loyal customers deployed at Co.opMart and Co.op Food are also offered at Co.opXtra and Co.opXtra Plus, while promotional programs at Co.opMart and Co.op Food also apply periodically at the new facilities.

    Nguyen Ngoc Hoa, chairman of Saigon Co.op, said he expected the venture to open one to two hypermarkets bearing this brand in big cities annually.

    To mark its inauguration, Co.opXtra Plus launches five big promotional programs, with discounts of up to 50% on thousands of products there.

    PPI seeks partners for projects in Thu Duc

    Pacific Property and Infrastructure Development Joint Stock Company (PPI) is calling for investments into its two property projects in HCMC’s Thu Duc District.

    The two projects are the riverside complex Water Garden covering over two hectares and the 2,400-square-meter apartment project PPI Tower which was planned to have 80 apartments and 8,000 square meters for office space.

    Pham Duc Tan, chairman of PPI, said the two projects have had land sites cleared and investment procedures finished. However, due to difficulties of the property market and difficult access to capital sources, the firm is incapable of carrying out those projects on its own.

    Therefore, PPI has called for investors who have financial capabilities and want to cooperate with PPI to develop the projects. Partners can choose suitable cooperation models, but the prior solution is to set up a joint venture, Tan said.

    PPI has also registered to adjust the average area of apartments to 50-75 square meters with an average price of less than VND15 million per square meter so that the project can be more commercially viable.

    Investor found for pedestrian bridge to Thu Thiem

    HCMC authorities have approved Dai Quang Minh Real Estate Investment Joint Stock Company as the project owner of the pedestrian bridge project connecting District 1 with Thu Thiem new urban area under the build-transfer (BT) format.

    Trang Bao Son, deputy head of Thu Thiem Investment and Construction Authority (Thu Thiem ICA), told the Daily on Sunday that the pedestrian bridge found the investor after it had been separated from a mammoth project that also included the central square and the riverbank park schemes in Thu Thiem.

    The bridge as a component of the huge project had been separated since it was difficult to find a financially-capable investor for developing such facilities, he explained.

    Some investors earlier had presented to the city’s government designs of the bridge across the SaigonRiver but no plans as well as no investors have been selected so far, Son said.

    Tran Ba Duong, general director of Dai Quang Minh, said his firm is seeking ideas for the bridge’s design through a contest, adding detailed information on the estimated capital and scale of the work is not yet available now.

    According to Son, the bridge will run from BachDangWharf across the SaigonRiver to the square in District 2 instead of stretching from
    Dong Khoi Street
    as planned earlier.

    Under progress in Thu Thiem urban area now are four main routes and a number of low-storey residential areas, with Dai Quang Minh active as the developer of some.

    Russian investors eye resort projects in Khanh Hoa

    Some Russian enterprises are seeking to invest in tourist facilities in the coastal province of Khanh Hoa given a strong growth of Russian tourists coming to the province, especially its capital city of Nha Trang, a local official said.

    Truong Dang Tuyen, director of the provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said Russia’s Focus Travel Co. and another firm are conducting procedures to develop two resorts along Long Beach, which is the section between CamRanhInternationalAirport and NhaTrangCity.

    “The two enterprises are performing investment procedures. Focus Travel will build a resort consisting of over 200 rooms while the other resort will have some 400 rooms, mainly to cater to Russian tourists. Other investors are exploring investment opportunities here,” Tuyen told the Daily last week on the sidelines of the meeting introducing Nha Trang Sea Festival 2013 held in HCMC.

    The number of Russian tourists has increased strongly in recent years. KhanhHoaProvince expects to welcome around 100,000 tourists this year, up 20,000 from last year.

    Currently, in addition to charter flights taking Russian tourists to the province, Vietnam Airlines has opened the direct Cam Ranh-Moscow air service with a frequency of a weekly flight which will be increased to two flights from October.

    Tuyen said that Russian tourists account for one-fifth of the total number of international tourists to Khanh Hoa, and hence the province has made investments to offer better services. The province has coordinated with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism to offer trainings on the Russian language for tourism staff as well as prepare cultural programs for Russian tourists.

    Another steel item faces dumping accusation

    After welded carbon-quality steel pipe and steel hanger, now stainless steel pipe from Vietnam faces an anti-dumping case petitioned by U.S. steelmakers, said the Vietnam Competition Authority under Ministry of Industry and Trade.

    Three U.S. steel producers last Thursday sent to the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) and the International Trade Commission (ITC) an anti-dumping petition against stainless steel pressure pipe imported from Vietnam, Thailand, and Malaysia.

    According to the data provided in the petition, Vietnam in 2012 exported over 4,600 tons of stainless steel pipes worth US$16.3 million to the U.S. market, accounting for 6.61% of the U.S. imports of this product.

    This has been the third lawsuit against steel products imported from Vietnam filed by the U.S. since 2011. In 2011 and 2012, the local steel industry struggled with five anti-dumping proceedings and two anti-subsidy cases initiated by the U.S., Brazil, Thailand and Indonesia, making up almost half of the total cases in the past few years.

    Welded carbon-quality steel pipe and steel hanger faced dual lawsuits (both anti-dumping and anti-subsidy) brought by the U.S.

    It requires double time, effort and money to deal with such cases, according to the Trade Remedies Council (TRC). For an industry inexperienced in anti-dumping and anti-subsidy cases like the steel industry, it is extremely difficult to cope with consecutive lawsuits in a short time.

    Early this year, Tran Tuan Nghiep, general director of Huu Lien Asia (HLAC), a voluntary respondent in the anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigation into carbon-quality steel pipes, said the U.S. was the main market of the company in its long-term strategy. HLAC’s new products are aimed for this market, he said.

    The price competition in the steel market is quite fierce, so an extra duty deals a really hard blow to steelmakers. If imposed high tariffs, local steel firms could no longer export their products to the U.S. market, said Nghiep.

    As per the U.S. investigation results published in late 2012, Vietnam’s welded carbon-quality steel pipe is not subject to anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties stateside.

    Cash-strapped furniture makers cut wood imports

    Many companies in the local woodwork industry have halved the volumes of imported wood materials to minimize their inventories and ease pressure of bank loans.

    Speaking with the Daily on Monday, Huynh Quang Thanh, general director of Hiep Long Woodwork Company, said due to economic woes, woodwork processors are importing input materials every quarter or small batches in line with each order instead of importing huge volumes enough for the whole year’s production.

    Multiple enterprises have failed to take out bank loans while others successfully gaining access to the loans are charged with high lending rates. This means members in the industry have had to scale down imports of input materials to avoid paying huge interest sums in the current tough business conditions, said Thanh, who is also chairman of the Binh Duong Wood Processing Association.

    Thanh noticed numerous members in the association in the year to date have slashed input material import by over 50% against the same period last year.

    According to the director of a woodwork exporting company in HCMC, interest sums for bank loans alone make up more than 30% of total production costs at his firm.

    “Our firm has calculated demand and volumes of necessary input materials and as of now only imported enough materials for production in the first quarter,” the director said. With the new material import method, his company has removed the pressure of high lending rates and enjoyed a fast capital rotation in production as well.

    In fact, owing to difficult business, input material imports of the whole industry have slumped in recent years as processors seek to buy more materials locally, the Vietnam Timber and Forest Product Association (Vietforest) reports. For instance, imported processed materials for the woodwork industry from 2005 to 2010 accounted for up to 80-90% of the total, which fell to only 66% in 2012.

    Latest data of the Ministry of Industry and Trade in the first three months of the year shows that Vietnam imported over US$314 million worth of input wood materials and products, a decrease of 5.22% year-on-year. In March alone, import value of this kind of products only reached US$113.2 million, tumbling 14.43% from March in 2012.

    Export of woodwork and forestry products brought home US$4.67 billion last year, up 15.3% year-on-year and up to nearly 200% from 2007, and is among the industries with high trade surplus compared to the whole country.

    Woodwork export is forecast to grow around 10% to an estimated US$5.5 billion this year.

    Credit flow to remain poor despite VAMC: official

    Credit flow will remain stagnant because the upcoming Vietnam Asset Management Company (VAMC) will not be able to quickly resolve the problem of bad debt, said Chairman Vu Viet Ngoan of the National Financial Supervisory Commission.

    Talking to the media on the sidelines of a seminar on financial supervision held in Hanoi last Thursday, he said: “Credits would hardly grow due to the huge bad debt. So, VAMC is not a magic wand to solve the problem.”

    In the draft scheme for VAMC establishment, the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) admits bad debt is blocking the cash flow in the economy, and hopes VAMC will handle some VND100 trillion worth of bad debt. VAMC is scheduled for establishment this month.

    Ngoan said: “Although VAMC is expected to handle approximately VND100 trillion, it will only partially address the problem. Bad debt settlement will take a couple of years.”

    A report by SBV published in late February informed the bad debt ratio of the banking system had fallen to 6% from 8% in mid-2012 because many banks had made risk provisions.

    The National Financial Supervisory Commission estimated banks had set aside about VND60 trillion as risk provisions.

    Such an amount does not meet the scale of bad debt, Ngoan remarked. Several banks make little provision even though bad debt is surging, he explained.

    In this regard, economist Le Dang Doanh also has deep concerns. “I know a bank which gives most of its loans to just one client, who spends the fund on only one property project,” he said, declining to reveal the name of the bank.

    “That indicates how terrible the risks to the banking system are,” he stressed.

    Credit growth in the first months of 2013 was significantly lower than the capital needs of the economy, says a report that the financial supervisory commission sent to the Government earlier this month.

    In the first quarter, credits should have risen 1.5% over the end of 2012, equivalent to an increase of around VND50 trillion, to meet the target for total investment. However, as of mid-April, credit growth had only been 1.44%.

    The poor credit growth is also mentioned in a report that the Government submitted to the Standing Committee of the National Assembly (NA). As per the report, total deposits had increased 5.04% against end-2012 as of April 18, while credits had inched up a mere 1.44%.

    Meanwhile, the latest data of the central bank released last Wednesday show that credits after falling in January have rebounded since February and grown 2.11% against late last year by the end of April.

    Outstanding loans in dong had risen 4.15% and deposits had picked up 5.2% compared to end-2012 as of late April.

    Limited access to bank loans is exhausting enterprises, reflected in the surging number of inactive and bankrupt firms. In the first four months, some 16,600 businesses disbanded or suspended operations, up 17% year-on-year.


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  • 05/24/13--01:06: Article 9
  •  Phu Quoc Economic Zone to be established in July

    PhuQuocenternationalairport is seen in PhuQuocisland, KienGiangProvince in this December 2, 2012 file photo. Tuoitre

    The Phu Quoc Economic Zone will officially be established this July in the Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang, according to a decision signed by the Prime Minister on Thursday.

    The EZ is classified as a coastal economic zone and will cover the entire area of the island district of Phu Quoc, including Duong Dong town, and the eight communes of Cua Can, Ganh Dau, Bai Thom, Ham Ninh, Cua Duong, Duong To, Tho Chau and Hon Thon.

    The 58,923-hectare zone will be divided into a duty free section, which includes An Thoi Port and PhuQuocAirport, and a duty section, which covers the remaining areas.

    The duty section will provide tourism, services, port logistics, and include an industrial area, urban and residential zones, an administrative section, and more.

    The decision will take effect July 10.

    The Phu Quoc EZ is also among the five coastal economic zones that will receive focused government investment for development between 2013 and 2015, according to the Vietnam Economy news website.

    The others include the Chu Lai EZ in Quang Nam, Dung Quat (Quang Ngai), Dinh Vu – Cat Hai (Hai Phong), Nghi Son (Thanh Hoa), and Vung Ang (Ha Tinh).


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  • 05/24/13--01:39: Article 8
  • Vietnam tries to hold cashew nut export prices to rescue growers

    VietNamNet Bridge – In an effort to save the cashew industry, local authorities have been moving ahead with the special plans to develop cashew growing areas.

     Vietnam, cashew nut exports, Vinacas, investment, Indian market, farmers
    Cashew growing areas shrink

    Cashew nuts were once the key export item of Vietnam. However, Vietnamese farmers recently have given up farming because the profits from cashew gardens cannot feed them.

    In Binh Phuoc province, the biggest cashew metropolis of Vietnam, the cashew growing area has decreased sharply from 150,000 hectares to 130,000 hectares. The local farmers, who could not earn enough money with cashew farming, have shifted to grow rubber and other industrial trees.

    Though cashew trees are suitable to the local soil conditions, cashew growers still have been facing high risks due to the bad weather and price fluctuations. As a result, they have become no more interested in planting cashew.

    In Ba Ria – Vung Tau, the cashew productivity and quality both have decreased in recent years due to the bad weather, the market price fluctuations. A report of the provincial agriculture department, in 2011 and 2012 alone, the cashew area in the locality decreased by 500 hectares. In 2013, the province saw another decrease of 900 hectares to 12,700 hectares.

    The local authorities, in an effort to rescue the cashew farming, have been strongly determined to revive the industry by launching the special programs to develop cashew growing areas. Vo Dinh Tuyen, a senior official of the Binh Phuoc provincial authorities said that the province has focused on building up the Binh Phuoc cashew brand and giving technical support to farmers to help them increase profits.

    Dong Nai provincial authorities has reaffirmed that cashew should still be the key plant in the locality. Pham Minh Dao, director of the provincial agriculture department, said a specific program for developing cashew growing area has been implemented.

    The program, implemented by Donafood, a big enterprise in the province, with the support of the local agriculture department, aims to develop the growing areas to ensure suitable supply of materials to cashew nut processing factories.

    Meanwhile, Dao said that it is necessary to lay down the policy on sharing risks with growers, which helps minimize the negative impacts of the price fluctuations. Once farmers feel secure with their farming plans, they would continue growing cashew plans, even if they meet some problems.

    Vietnam will hold cashew prices stable

    According to Nguyen Van Chieu, Vice Chair of the Vietnam Cashew Association (Vinacas), India may buy a big amount of cashew nuts for the domestic sale in summer. The US, European countries and China would also seek cashew nut supplies from Vietnam, once their storehouses have decreased.

    Therefore, if Vietnamese exporters continue lowering the export prices as they are doing now, they would have to lower the prices at which they buy materials from farmers. If so, farmers would suffer from this.

    “With the current price of VND25,000 per kilo, growers can make a modest profit of VND3,000 per kilo. And if the prices go down further, farmers would chop down cashew trees,” Chieu warned.

    Nguyen Duc Thanh, Chair of the Vietnam Cashew Association (Vinacas), said cashew enterprises should raise the cashew nut export prices by 15-20 percent. However, Vietnam would ensure the high quality of exports to protect the Vietnamese cashew brand. Vinacas’ member companies have been told not to mix Vietnamese cashew nuts with the African imports.

    Phong Anh   

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  • 05/24/13--02:02: Article 7
  •  Vietnam has new Finance Minister

    The National Assembly on May 24 approved the government’s nomination of Dinh Tien Dung as Finance Minister of Vietnam with 71.28% of votes in favour.

     Viet Nam, new Finance Minister, Dinh Tien Dung
    Mr Dinh Tien Dung. (Photo: VNN)

    The legislature also voted in favour a resolution relieving Dung of his position as General Auditor, paving the way for the legislative ratification of the government’s proposed nomination.  

    At the current NA session on May 23, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung proposed General Auditor Dinh Tien Dung to replace his predecessor Vuong Dinh Hue who was assigned to head the Party Central Committee’s Economic Commission.

    Born in 1961, Dung was elected State General Auditor of Vietnam in August 2011 by the National Assembly.

    NA Chairman Nguyen Sinh Hung, on behalf of the NA Standing Committee, presented a report nominating Nguyen Huu Van, Secretary of the Lao Cai provincial Party Committee, as General Auditor of Vietnam.

    Van, 57, is a PhD in Economics.


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  • 05/24/13--03:15: Article 6
  •  Asian nations urge to form strong links to avoid conflict

    Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan speaks at the International Conference on the Future of Asia in Tokyo yesterday. - AFP/VNA Photo

    TOKYO (VNS)- The region and the world are facing swift and unpredictable changes and stronger integration between nations is required to withstand the resultant challenges, Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan has declared.

    Joining a regional co-operation mechanism is one way to build confidence and diminish the risk of conflict, Nhan told Government leaders and top business executives at the 19th International Conference on the Future of Asia, which began in Tokyo yesterday.

    Themed "Asia's Search for Steps towards Stronger Ties and Integration," the conference discussed issues relating to economic integration and development and challenges to regional security in the context of new leadership in a number of countries, including Japan, China and the Republic of Korea.

    Rising tensions in territorial disputes in the region was another topic that drew the attention of the participants.

    In his speech, Nhan said that Viet Nam has always actively and responsibly participated in regional co-operation and integration frameworks.

    According to the deputy PM, in order to maintain dynamic growth for a more stable and prosperous region, Asian countries need to strengthen co-operation and integration in six areas: Trade and investment; workforce supply for both developed and developing countries; goods transport services; sustainable management and exploitation of water resources; the fight against environmental pollution and climate change; and cyber security.

    Nhan also proposed the establishment of six specialised forums in Asia, covering partnerships in pollution minimisation and climate change mitigation; development of shipping services; maritime security and safety; water resources protection and utilisation; cyber space security; human resources development and overseas labour; and transparency of financial markets.

    The Deputy PM also hailed the positive relationship between Viet Nam and Japan, stressing that their ties rest upon a solid foundation of trust, understanding and friendship, meeting the aspirations and interests of the two peoples and actively contributing to peace, stability, co-operation and development in the region and the world.

    Addressing the forum, speakers from regional countries discussed the target of establishing the ASEAN Economic Community by 2015, the role of big countries in the region's stability and development, disputes in the EastSea and the co-operation between countries in and outside the region.

    In his speech, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong highlighted the latest movements related to regional politics, economics and security, including the tension on the Korean peninsula and sea and island disputes among some countries.

    He stressed that big countries must contribute to the stability and development of the region through their actions, citing that the US and China need to build strategic trust while Japan and China should exercise restraint.

    The Philippino Foreign Minister Albert Del Rosario emphasised the need to obey the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea in resolving disputes in the EastSea.

    On the same day, Nhan met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Chairman of the Japan-Viet Nam Friendship Parliamentary Alliance Toshihiro Nikai and President of the Japan International Co-operation Agency Akihiko Tanaka.

    During the meetings, the two sides spoke highly of the good relations between the two countries and agreed to further enhance the bilateral strategic co-operation.

    The conference was co-organised by the Nikkei newspaper and the Japan Centre for Economic Research (JCER). It was also attended by representatives from international organsiations and scholars from regional countries. - VNS

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  • 05/24/13--17:43: Article 5
  • Vietnam fashion show organizer, models in the dock for lingerie show 
    An unauthorized lingerie show at the annual Leggy Night in Ho Chi Minh City on May 20that authorities have also slammed as "inappropriate"

    Ho Chi Minh City cultural authorities are considering what penalty to slap on the organizer of a high-profile fashion show that featured women models parading in undergarments and adverts for a liquor company, the show's sponsor, both without obtaining permission.
    The display of lingerie at Venus Modeling Company's annual Leggy Night show was “inappropriate” and not authorized, the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism said Wednesday.
    Vo Trong Nam, deputy director of the department, told Tuoi Tre newspaper that Venus had “deliberately” repeated several violations, and banning it from organizing fashion shows for a certain time would be a better option than a mere fine.
    Before the show the company had been ordered to change its invitation cards since it carried the photos of 19 half-nude models, which the department said was “not appropriate” in Vietnam.
    The modified invitation carried the logo of the liquor company without authorities’ approval, Nam said, though it is not clear why the authorities allowed it to be given out.
    The company was also found illegally plugging the liquor company with a poster in which models hold wine glasses with its logo.
    One of the most popular fashion events in Vietnam, “Leggy Night” this year cost VND7 billion (US$333,333) and saw the participation of models from other countries like Thailand and South Korea.
    But it was criticized for imitating lingerie shows held by the US-owned Victoria’s Secret and being poorly organized with a badly designed stage and poor collections.

    By Tri Nam, Thanh Nien News 

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