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  • 12/12/16--02:14: Article 2
  • Stunted recognition: daring deeds, little reward

    Take that: Stuntwomen are at a disadvantage compared to stuntmen, but they are as important to the success of an action movie. –Photo Courtesy of Quoc Thinh

    Its an ‘unwanted’ and thankless job, but without stuntmen and stuntwomen, no action movie can make the cut, writes Hồng Vân

    Over the last two or three decades, alongside the exploding popularity of made-in-Viet Nam action movies, the need for people to perform stunts has risen accordingly.

    However, given the risks the stunt performers take, they get very little public acknowledgement or praise.

    Worse still, they do not get the protection that a high-risk profession demands. For instance, the stunts can put their lives at risk, but they have no insurance in Việt Nam.

    24-year-old Đặng Phi Long from HCM City is a professional stuntman. Over the last eight years, he has performed in nearly a hundred movies.

    “I still remember clearly the first time I was part of a burning sequence. From the moment I was set on fire, every single second became incredibly slow. I could hear the my own heart beat at that time and was worried sick if people would save me in time," Long said.

    “Each dangerous action is a memorable experience, both scary and thrilling.”
    Long has jumped through glass doors six times. Twice, shards of broken glass tore his hands and made him bleed profusely, but he takes such things in his stride.

     “Accidents in this profession are unavoidable,” he said.

    Quốc Thịnh, another professional stuntman with 24 years of experience, said: “Accidents in stunt performances are more common than in other professions. Accidents can happen both during practice and the actual acting session. It may range from the minor cuts and sprains to getting burned or having legs and arms broken and even more serious injuries.”

    Since 1997, Thịnh has been running a centre providing training for those who want to pursue this dangerous career. The centre has forty trainees at present.

    Like Long, other students of Thịnh including stunt artist Phi Ngọc Ánh, Kim Dung and Thảo Lê have all experienced accidents on the job.

    In Tiger Dream, Ánh had her hands torn and bled when swinging on a rope at a height of 15 metres without any protective equipment. In another movie directed by Quốc Thịnh, Ánh jumped from the third floor and broke her scapula. Kim Dung had her chin bruised badly in fighting scene with her co-actors.

    “Stuntwomen are at a disadvantage compared to stuntmen. There are less job opportunities and their physical capacity is lower than men’s on average,” said Thịnh.

    Air-borne: In Việt Nam, stunt performers have to be versatile to get reasonably stable employment.–Photo Courtesy of Quoc Thinh

    Uninsured risk takers

    “Being exposed to the risk of accidents but not having insurance is the biggest issue of concern for people in this profession,” said Thịnh.

    Currently, Vietnamese stunt performers are only covered by normal insurance plans. In many cases, the low payout  fails to meet the actual expense incurred in treating the injuries, he added.

    Producer and actress Trương Ngọc Ánh is among very few professionals in Việt Nam to buy insurance for actors and stunt persons who performed for the action movie Truy sát (Chasing).

    Ánh had been part of many action movies and experienced some accidents while acting; so, as a producer, she found insurance essential for both actors and those who performed stunts, Ánh said at a press conference.

    “Actors, not only in Việt Nam but also in other countries, face accidents while doing action scenes. The important thing is how to minimize these risks,” said Ánh.

    Actors and stunt performers in Việt Nam have to find ways to protect themselves from risks with extensive training and practice.

    “Normally, we study the script, discuss with director the dangerous sequences and then have to prepare equipment on our own to avoid injuries. For example, when we jump from high floors, we have to fetch mattress to minimise injury. The best way to avoid risk is to practise carefully before the sequence is shot, but no one can guarantee that an accident will not happen,” said Hồ Hiếu.


    Trading blows: In Việt Nam, those who want to perform stunts have to depend on informal training and practising with experienced and professional artists. –Photo Courtesy of Quoc Thinh

    Besides the insurance problem, Thịnh said, "performing stunts is a tough profession which requires more than just a good physique and martial arts skills."

    “Some people may take only two years, and others may take five to become a pro. Like acting, it requires aptitude and a sense of art,” he added.

    "Regular practice is a must for stunt performers. It makes the scene look real and persuasive and can limit accidents," said Thịnh.

    In Việt Nam, there is not much scope for specialising in stunts. You cannot be someone who does only fire scenes, for instance, or jumps or vehicle scenes for that matter. Stunt performers have to be able to do multi tasks like performing with fire, vehicle crashes/ jumps, fight sequences to have contracts with producers. Those that try to do this, have to depend on other jobs to make ends meet.

    There are about 300 stunt performers in HCM City, according to the HCM City Cinema Association. Among them, just a third are professionals.

    There is no training school for this vocation. Those who are interested take informal training and learn from more experienced and professional stunt artists.

    In 2009, a former official of the HCM City Cinema Association, Nguyễn Văn Đây, planned to establish an association of stunt performers to present a collective voice for the artists’ rights and benefits, but it did not come to pass.

    “This is a risky profession. People perform scenes that actors cannot or do not dare to. But the benefits that stuntmen get do not match their efforts, the risks they face,” said Đây.

    “Without an association, there is no award for outstanding stunt performers. So there is no recognition of impressive achievements." 

    Viet Nam News

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  • 12/12/16--02:22: Article 1
  • Could HCM City become next Silicon Valley for startups?

    Ho Chi Minh City has launched a new US$45 million fund to create a start-up ecosystem that aims to provide entrepreneurs the chance to successfully grow their business.

    could hcm city become next silicon valley for startups? hinh 0

    The scheme pulls together all the possibilities that the City already offers and adds a new focus on venture capital investment, said Vu Anh Tuan, chief executive officer of Quang Trung Software City Incubator.

    It will improve access to finance that will provide cornerstone investments of up to a maximum budget of US$88,000 (VND2 billion) for each start-up venture. Depending on each idea and solutions, the budget for each project will be different in line with the fund manager’s discretion.

    It will also allow companies in financial difficulty to restructure early, making it easier for entrepreneurs to launch a second business and be more successful.

    The fund is determined to create an ecosystem modelled after Silicon Valley in California, the US and it aims to support some estimated 2,000 start-up projects over the next five years with needed seed capital.

    The goal is to help start-ups deliver their full innovation and job creation potential, said Mr Tuan and replicate the success of other Vietnamese companies such as Misfit Wearables that was founded by a team of Vietnamese engineers and subsequently sold to Fossill in 2015 for US$260 million.

    He also cites the success story of VNG, a gaming, media and communications focused company founded in 2014 that is rumoured to have a current value in excess of US$1 billion as well as MoMo, a local payments and online wallet company, that raised an unprecedented US$28 million from Standard Chartered and Goldman Sachs in 2015.

    There are many more examples of successful Vietnamese start-ups and its Mr Tuan’s contention that today’s local start-ups nurtured by the City’s ecosystem could become tomorrow’s global success stories.

    This is about new jobs, innovation and competitiveness for the City, he noted, adding that it can accomplish this by fostering an ecosystem where start-ups can connect with potential partners such as investors, business partners, universities and research centres.

    However, there are many leading experts around the globe that would beg to differ significantly with Mr Tuan and the substance of his views on the benefit of start-up ecosystems.

    The best start-up ventures are not the product of an ecosystem, these experts have said, but they are born of isolated events.

    Maybe a group of Ph.D.’s from the US come together and develop a new technology cursorily connected to Vietnam. Maybe a former Facebook engineer decides to leave Facebook and start his own company. Maybe a group of engineers and designers who met in Singapore go onto start an app company. Maybe a pair of strangers, with a strategic mindset and financial set, go on to build a gaming company.

    According to these experts, it means these isolated success stories of a handful of Vietnamese start-ups cannot be easily replicated, nor successfully accelerated, and the simple fact is that most ecosystems around the globe have little to no impact.

    Silicon Valley can be copied, they have said, but even if one could copy its every step, one would never get the same Silicon Valley. Cultures differ, infrastructure differs, commitments differ—wherever one goes.

    If the City really wants to get serious about becoming competitive maybe it should focus its efforts on consolidating all the smaller businesses within the region through mergers and acquisitions into larger ones.

    These larger businesses then just might be able to compete effectively with their giant global counterparts, these experts have said.


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  • 12/12/16--02:43: Article 0
  • VDF points way forward

    In the first year of its redesign, the Vietnam Development Forum 2016 consulted international development partners about broad macro-economic outlooks, global impacts, and fiscal-debt management for the country’s future sustainable growth.

    Amid local obstacles and global uncertainty, Vietnam and its development partners talked approaches at VDF 2016

    Themed “Facilitating an action-oriented government – New driving force for development”, the Vietnam Development Forum (VDF) 2016 took place against the backdrop of rising uncertainty in the global economy. 2016 is also the first year of Vietnam’s new cabinet, which is leading the country on the new five-year socio-economic development plan (SEDP) 2016-2020.

    2016 is also the first year that VDF has replaced the Vietnam Development Partnership Forum (VDPF) and the previous Consultative Group (CG) meeting. This year, the Vietnamese government listened to speakers and development partners’ perspectives and suggestions to issues concerning mid-term and long-term SEDP targets, instead of letting reports and future policy discussions lead the day.

    The global context in 2017 has become difficult to forecast. The new US regime will have great impact on the global political-economic structure, especially in investment, trade, and monetary systems. In addition, the EU will be facing big changes, with the fallout from Brexit to come. And Asia is expected to face unpredictability caused by the greater influence of the Chinese economy and currency.

    “The slow recovery of the global economy and a strong drop in crude oil and necessary commodities have greatly affected Vietnam’s economy. Also, climate change was blamed for the extreme cold in the north, prolonged droughts in the southern-central and Central Highlands regions, salt intrusion in the Mekong Delta, and other challenges,” Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung told the forum.

    “Facing the obstacles ahead, Vietnam wants to consult development partners about our macro-economic outlook perspectives in 2016-2020, global impacts, especially FTAs, and fiscal-debt management. We also seek recommendations to address a series of issues related to market institution, development of driving forces, and investment sources.”

    International development partners including the World Bank (WB) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) lauded Vietnam’s macro-economic stability, while highlighting the challenges for the government to achieve the objectives set out by the SEDP 2016-2020.

    “Vietnam has witnessed five straight years of macro-economic stability, underpinned by stability-oriented macro-economic policies, including steps toward more flexible exchange rate management. 2016 was marked by single-digit inflation, a relatively stable exchange rate, and a strengthening external position,” said Ousmane Dione, country director of WB in Vietnam.

    “Importantly, and in spite of global headwinds, the economy continues to show strong resilience, supported by robust domestic demand and export-oriented manufacturing. Growth has remained high at about 6 per cent – one of the fastest growth rates regionally and globally.”       

    Dione also said that declining productivity growth, the environmental footprint of Vietnam’s growth, and poverty and social welfare are among the country’s key future challenges.

    At the forum, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc committed the country to continue improving the business climate, restructuring the economy, enhancing equitisation of state-owned enterprises, settling bad debts, and ensuring social security.

    NGUYEN XUAN PHUC Prime Minister

    Handling non-performing loans (NPLs) is a task of the utmost importance, as many of the experts have pointed out: if we don’t manage them properly, it’ll eventually take a toll on macro-economic stability and growth. We therefore ought to focus on completing a legal framework for collateral management and enhancing the capacity and the legal basis for the Vietnam Asset Management Company.

    On this occasion, I’d like to propose the World Bank, particularly the International Financial Corporation, support us in resolving the NPL holdup in a most practical way.

    I’d like to also reveal a special piece of news: ADB and a Vietnamese private partner have on hand a plan to buy out a weak commercial bank in Vietnam.

    ADB can also bring in other partners, in a bid to help the country to handle the NPLs and other weak and fragile banks [those that have been brought over at no cost].

    Nguyen Chi Dung Minister of Planning and Investment

    With a number of measures and bold actions, Vietnam’s economy has recovered and developed since the first quarter of 2016. Vietnam’s GDP is predicted to grow 6.3-6.5 per cent in 2016, agro-fishery-forestry industries have rebounded, and the construction and service sectors have all seen higher on-year growth. 2016 was also marked by single-digit inflation, a relatively stable exchange rate, and a strengthening external position.

    Despite these achievements, Vietnam will face many challenges from global integration, including the middle-income trap, environment pollution, and climate change.

    Vietnam needs to solve a series of short- and long-term issues. Thus, we really want to consult development partners about our concerns: macro-economic context, global impacts, feasible solutions to achieve the targets of the SEDP, and international experience in harmonising the relations between growth and public debt.

    Norio Saito Deputy country director of Asian Development Bank

    Significant reforms have been undertaken over the last two years, including the approvals of the new Public Investment Law and the State Budget Law. However, a number of important areas of reform remain, particularly in regards to public asset management.

    Vietnam’s ability to efficiently manage its public assets so that they have a longer lifespan, higher economic returns, and reduced maintenance needs is essential for it to achieve better value for money from its investments. The country has spent an average of 10 per cent of GDP on public infrastructure per annum over the last decade, which is one of the highest levels in the region. Yet while construction has progressed rapidly, approaches to managing these assets once completed have lagged. Three main issues stand out for their importance: complexity, coverage of the national public asset database, and completeness.

    By Bich Thuy, VIR

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  • 12/12/16--19:49: Article 8
  • Foreign groups try to conquer building material market

     After a period of aggressive acquisitions of troubled Vietnamese enterprises, foreign companies have begun increasing their investments in Vietnam.

     vietnamnet bridge, english news, Vietnam news, news Vietnam, vietnamnet news, Vietnam net news, Vietnam latest news, Vietnam breaking news, vn news, cement, building materials, MOC
    A series of foreign companies in the building material sector announced their business performance results and new investment projects in Vietnam in the second half of the year.

    SCG from Thailand said sales in Vietnam did not see a sharp increase in the last months compared with the same period last year, but the situation was very positive.

    The revenue in the first three quarters of 2016 reached $500 million, while the group’s total assets in Vietnam increased by 5 percent to $902 million.

    After cementing its position in the building material market, the group jumped into the packaging industry. In mid-November, Kraft Vina, an SCG subsidiary, put a new production line with capacity of 243,500 tons per annum into operation in Binh Duong province.

    Declining to give exact figures about the revenue, French Saint-Gobain said that Vietnam is a market with great potential which made a big contribution to the group’s revenue of $3 billion in Asia in 2015.

    In early November, a new factory opened making glue products used in construction and waterproofing products with capacity of 100,000 tons a year in HCMC.

    After a period of aggressive acquisitions of troubled Vietnamese enterprises, foreign companies have begun increasing their investments in Vietnam.

    Javier Gimeno from Saint Gobain said the inauguration of the factory in Vietnam shows the French group’s confidence in the great potential of the Vietnamese building material market.

    Sherwin-Williams’ pain products have been available in Vietnam for years through TDD Vietnam, a distributor. However, a source said Sherwin-Williams is considering building a factory and organizing production in Vietnam in the time to come, and that media campaigns will be launched early next year.

    Merger & Acquisition (M&A) experts commented that foreign conglomerates, which have noted signs of recovery of the real estate market, are planning big M&A deals in order to increase their production capacity and expand market share.

    In 2011, SCG spent $5.5 million to buy a 99 percent stake of the Buu Long Cement Plant in Dong Nai province and upgrade it. Later, it bought a 85 percent stake of Prime Group, a well-known tile brand with 20 percent market share.

    At the same time, Indonesian Semen Gresik took over a 70 percent stake of Thang Long Cement JSC in a deal worth $230 million. In 2015, Saint Gobain took over control over Vinh Tuong Company raising its ownership ratio from 14.8 percent to 57 percent.

    Roongrote Rangsiyopash, President and CEO of SCG, said in late October that the demand for building materials in SE Asia was stable and remained high, especially for cement. Therefore, SCG is continuing to speed up outward investment activities as planned.

    Thanh Nam, VNN

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  • 12/13/16--00:51: Article 7

    Ca Mau targets 1.1 billion USD in export revenue for 2017


    The southernmost coastal province of Ca Mau aims to achieve 1.1 billion USD worth of export revenue in 2017, said Pham Bach Dang, standing vice secretary of the provincial Party Committee.

    To realise the goal, Ca Mau prioritises improving business climate and administrative procedures, intensifying trade promotion activities and expanding export markets.

    The province expects to earn 1 billion USD from exports in 2016, or only 77 percent of the year’s plan. This is the second year in a row the province has failed to meet its export target.

    Dang attributed the failure to the low value of some major currency earners, particularly fertilizers and fishery products.

    The recovery of the shrimp industry in many countries coupled with fluctuated exchange rate of the US dollar have reduced prices of Vietnamese export shrimp, he explained.

    Local seafood producers are working to shake up technologies and assembly lines for better processing capacity and product quality.

    In addition to developing concentrated shrimp farming, Ca Mau is implementing a range of eco-farming models that provide clean materials for local seafood processors.

    DATC to sell 3.7m shares of Cosevco

    Việt Nam Debt and Asset Trading Corporation (DATC) will sell 3.7 million shares of Cosevco Ceramic Tiles Joint Stock Company at an auction on January 6 next year at the Hà Nội Stock Exchange.

    Việt Nam Debt and Asset Trading Corporation (DATC) will sell 3.7 million shares of Cosevco Ceramic Tiles Joint Stock Company at an auction next month. - Photo Cosevco

    According to the exchange, the initial price at the auction will be VNĐ10,178 per share.

    Registration to take part in the auction is from December 9 to 29, 2016.

    Foreign investors are allowed to buy 3.315 million shares.

    DATC currently holds 3.7 million shares, or 56.77 per cent, of Cosevco’s charter capital.

    Cosevco curently has two major shareholders -- DATC (56.77 per cent) and Central Construction Corporation (27.39 per cent). Thanh Thanh Joint Stock Co also holds 4.62 per cent of Cosevco’s charter capital.

    Cosevco reported a profit of more than VNĐ6.5 billion last year. The company’s after-tax profit in the first nine months of this year was nearly VNĐ2.46 billion.

    The company is targeting a turnover of VNĐ209.75 billion in 2017 with after-tax profit of VNĐ4.12 billion.

    Unlocking FX hedge may be next in reform agenda

    Vietnam is committed to opening the doors to foreign investors and improving market access, and  unlocking its foreign exchange hedging market is what the country can consider to do first hand.

    Foreign investors who decide to invest in Vietnam, according to ANZ Vietnam’s head of markets Phan Thi Thanh Binh, often have concerns over their currency exposure, and thus wish to manage the exposure through foreign exchange (FX) hedging products.

    Many foreign investors, however, must leave their capital investments or dividend stream unhedged due to Vietnam’s FX regulations. The cost of an unhedged FX exposure is part of the financial cost calculation that foreign investors need to consider when investing in Vietnam. According to Binh, to lower the cost and entry barriers, one of the things that Vietnam should consider is to have a roadmap that allow offshore investors to penetrate more in the local forex hedging market.

    “As Vietnam’s economy and foreign currency reserves get stronger, Vietnam should consider providing foreign investors with some basis of foreign currency risk management products to help them hedge their capital investments,” she suggested.

    While FX risk management products have long been available in developed markets around the world, the hedging market in Vietnam is still underdeveloped due to limited understanding of the risk, lack of hedging corporate governance, and lack of financial planning.

    The old FX regime, where FX daily fixing only changed when there was a planned devaluation, was an obstacle for the development of the hedging market. This has now been replaced by the new FX daily fixing method.

    Binh sees the new FX daily fixing mechanism, implemented by the State Bank of Vietnam earlier in January, as a major development for Vietnam’s FX hedging market. The new fixing, based on a basket of currencies, is more market-oriented and closer to the international market practice of open economies.

    A key advantage of the new FX administration, according to  Binh, is to help Vietnam better cope with external financial volatilities. “The recent spike of USD/VND after Trump’s victory more or less reflected how external sentiment and volatility can impact the FX market in Vietnam,” she said.

    The new FX administration urges corporates and individuals to look at both internal and external factors when considering their hedging strategies.

    “It is indeed harder for corporates and individuals to predict what is in the mind of policy makers [the case under the old FX regime] than predict the market [as it stands under the new FX regime], as we have seen the unpredictability in both Brexit and Trump events,” Binh said.

    As the global economy is likely to remain volatile in the remaining months of 2016 and in 2017, ANZ expects to see its clients actively working on FX hedging strategies to manage their currency risks through FX hedging products, as well as their assets and liabilities management strategies.

    “At ANZ, we leverage our global expertise and local knowledge to provide a comprehensive FX product suite, including FX spot, FX forward, FX swap, and FX options,” Binh said.

    CIMB set its first branch in Hanoi

    CIMB Group has made itself more visible in Vietnam through the official launch of its first branch in Hanoi today, which will be followed by another in Ho Chi Minh City next year. 

    “We are opening a branch in Hanoi and then hopefully we will have a branch in Ho Chi Minh City early next year, and we will then expand into multiple segments,” Nariz Rarak, chairman of CIMB Group, told VIR ahead of the official launch of CIMB Vietnam on Friday, on the side-lines of the Bloomberg ASEAN Business Summit in Hanoi last Thursday.

    “We want to look at the consumer space, but we will pipe into our international investment banking and corporate financing platform, as well,” noted Rarak. 

    Rarak added that they are going to focus on these two branches to then use them as bases to expand operations. “It is a long-term game and we do not want to rush.”

    When asked on how CIMB Vietnam would compete with a raft of local banks on their home turf, Razak stressed that, “We are too small to compete with local banks, so we will focus on a niche affluent market and compete for customers who do lots of business in ASEAN. That’s the whole competitive advantage of CIMB.” 

    In September, Malaysia’s second-biggest lender by assets, CIMB Bank, became the latest ASEAN bank to receive a licence from the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) to operate a 100 per cent foreign-owned subsidiary in the country. 

    CIMB Bank will now join fellow Malaysian lenders Public Bank Berhad and Hong Leong Bank in establishing a presence in the country. Public Bank Berhad obtained approval to operate from the SBV earlier in the year, while Hong Leong Bank began to offer a full suite of banking products in Ho Chi Minh City in 2009, covering a wide spectrum of regional investors and customers coming in and out of Vietnam for business and investment activities.

    Luxury hotel Okura Prestige to open in HCMC

    Hotel Okura Co., Ltd has announced its agreement with the Saigon Trading Group (SATRA) to develop and manage The Okura Prestige Saigon in Ho Chi Minh City in 2020.

    The Okura Prestige Saigon will be the Okura Prestige brand’s first property in Vietnam, Hotel Okura Co., Ltd said in a statement sent to VET on December 12.

    The hotel will be part of Satra Tax Plaza, a 40-story, multipurpose commercial complex under construction on the site of the former Saigon Tax Trade Center. The complex, situated in District 1, one of the city’s prime locations, will offer direct connection to the Ben Thanh-Suoi Tien metro line currently under development.

    It is about six kilometers (3.7 miles) north of Tan Son Nhat International Airport, the nation’s major gateway. Facilities will include 250 spacious guest rooms, Japanese restaurants, all-day dining, rooftop bar, multipurpose banquet/meeting rooms, gymnasium and outdoor pool.

    “The Okura Prestige Saigon will combine meticulous Japanese hospitality with state-of-the-art facilities to deliver our signature Okura Prestige’s quality and ambience.” said Hotel Okura’s President Toshihiro Ogita. “We hope that The Okura Prestige Saigon will be well received by people in its host community.”

    The move is part of an ambitious undertaking by Hotel Okura, whose subsidiary Okura Nikko Hotel Management Co., Ltd. operates Okura Hotels & Resorts, Nikko Hotels International and Hotel JAL City, to expand its global portfolio to 100 properties, primarily in Asia, by 2020.

    “We are focusing on hotel development in Vietnam because of its stable and highly promising GDP growth rate, which is Rendition of The Okura Prestige Saigon averaging 6.5 percent annually, and its affluent and youthful population up to age 30, which accounts for half the nation’s population,” Mr Ogita added.

    “Vietnam suits our business strategy of expanding the scope of our loyal customers’ travel destinations, growing our brand awareness, and further strengthening our customer base and thus competitive advantages in promising markets,” he said.

    The Okura Prestige Saigon will be the third hotel in Vietnam managed by Okura Nikko Hotel Management following Hotel Nikko Hanoi and Hotel Nikko Saigon operated under the Nikko brand.

    Hotel Okura’s partner, SATRA, is a public enterprise owned by Ho Chi Minh City. Incorporated in 1995, SATRA employs more than 16,000 people and owns more than 70 subsidiaries, affiliates and joint ventures in a wide range of businesses spanning trading, distribution and food manufacturing.

    Okura Hotels & Resorts will also add Okura Spa & Resort Cappadocia in Turkey in 2017 and The Hotel Okura Manila Bayshore and The Okura Prestige Phnom Penh in 2019. The next Nikko Hotels International property scheduled to open will be Hotel Nikko Bangkok in 2018.

    Hotel Okura Co., Ltd. was founded in 1958 and opened its flagship hotel, Hotel Okura Tokyo, in 1962. The company has extensive expertise in hospitality-related industries, including asset ownership and consulting on hotel development and operations. The Hotel Okura subsidiary Okura Nikko Hotel Management Co., Ltd. operates three hotel groups: Okura Hotels & Resorts with 25 member hotels, Nikko Hotels International with 37 member hotels and Hotel JAL City with 12 members.

    Huawei funding Vietnam's ICT resource

    The Chinese telecoms giant, Huawei, will invest $1 million into Vietnam’s information-communication-telecommunication (ICT) industry in the 2017-2019 period, a Huawei top leader has said.

    This package includes three major programs of creative application, ICT human resource training and public utility, Mr. David Sun, President and CEO of the Huawei, Southeast Asia Region said. "With the investment, Huawei commits itself to long-term development and the training of more ICT talent in order to boost Vietnam’s ICT industry," Mr. Sun said at the press release meeting in Hanoi on December 7.

    The company will cooperate with the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) to launch the programs and plans to expand its collaboration with universities in the near future.

    Mr. David Sun, President and CEO of the Huawei, Southeast Asia Region

    When asked about Huawei’s plan to launch its factory in Vietnam like Samsung, Mr. Sun said that as a global company, Huawei needs to integrate the capacity of each country and assemble qualified human resources to be successful in all the industries, including in Vietnam.

    The Vietnamese youth, according to Mr. Sun, have a high potential for development but there is a lack of ICT talent. “We will focus on training the local ICT workforce, as well as building and expanding the management staff,” said Mr. Sun. “We won’t expand the market with low standards but focus on quality and devote ourselves to Vietnam’s society in the long term. The next step is to increase the portfolio of employees’ in Huawei’s Vietnamese office.”

    Huawei Vietnam has now 272 employees with the ratio of local staff of up to 82 per cent well over the average local employment around the globe of 75 per cent. The company expects to create opportunities for promotion and include benefits as well as other opportunities for Vietnamese employees.

    Huawei is a global ICT solutions provider and partners with 170 nations and regions, serving one-third of the population around the world. The provider invests more than 10 per cent of its total turnover into research and development (R&D), and 45 per cent of  the total employees work for R&D.

    Huawei opened in Vietnam in 1998 but it was not until 2008 that it officially established Huawei Technologies (Vietnam) Co., Ltd with its head office in Hanoi, a representative office in Ho Chi Minh City and a technology centre in Da Nang.

    Rice exports drop to decade low in 2016

    Vietnam’s rice export has reduced to a ten-year record low this year, reported the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

    Export volume was estimated to reach 4.54 million tons for the last 11 months, dropping 25 percent compared to the same period last year. Value was down 20 percent.

    Most businesses have failed to obtain their export targets with a huge volume of rice in stock.

    The Vietnam Food Association has been forced to lower this year export target to 5.7 million tons, a reduction of 800,000 tons over plan. However experts said that the country was unlikely to reach the adjusted norm.

    At present, China is still the top import market of Vietnamese rice.

    Vietnam spends $906,000 on pesticide import from China a day

    Vietnam is spending VND20.5 billion (US$906,000) on importing pesticides from China a single day, the Ministry of Industry and Trade reported.

    The country’s import turnover of this item in October increased over 48 percent against the previous month to $73.3 million.

    China was the largest market supplying 47.5 percent of the total import turnover of Vietnam with the value hitting $273.2 million during the first ten months this year.

    Mr. Nguyen Xuan Hong, former head of the Plant Protection Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that 85-90 percent of import volume has been from China recently. It is the largest pesticide supplier in the world accounting for 40 percent.

    Vietnamese businesses have imported pesticides for sales and mixture to bottle and packaged for export. Besides China, they have purchased pesticide products and materials from Germany and Singapore.

    Business climate needs further improvement to support growth

     Ca Mau targets 1.1 billion USD in export revenue for 2017, DATC to sell 3.7m shares of Cosevco, CIMB set its first branch in Hanoi, Huawei funding Vietnam's ICT resource, Rice exports drop to decade low in 2016 

    Vietnam’s business environment has continued to improve markedly over the past year as seen by the higher positions gained by Vietnam in the business rankings of international organisations.

    The World Bank’s 2017 Doing Business report placed Vietnam at number 82 out of 189 economies, up nine places from the previous year. The country also jumped 14 notches to number 73 out of 136 economies on the Global Enabling Trade Report 2016 by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

    In fact Vietnam has made significant efforts to improve transport infrastructure, border management, customs procedures, intellectual property protection and the efficiency of government agencies.

    The total time required for paying taxes had been reduced from 573 hours to 117 hours earlier this year and to 110 hours by the end of 2016. Electronic tax declaration and payment have also been applied nationwide. According to the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, 71% of taxpayers are satisfied with the reforms made by tax agencies in the past year.

    But it is still a long way for Vietnam to reach international standards and efforts to improve the business environment will continue by building a facilitating and action-oriented government. The entire government system from the central to local levels must reform themselves to work for the benefit of the people and enterprises.

    On top of that, laws and decrees hindering growth must be revised, the banking system cleaned up and exchange rates stabilised. Moreover, efforts to improve the business climate must come aligned with public investment, state budget and public debt restructuring.

    It is also necessary to fine-tune mechanisms to contain the spread of false information, prevent environmental disasters from happening, severely discipline violating officials and rein in personnel appointments.

    Vietnamese market heats up as Christmas, New Year near

    The Vietnamese market is warming up as local customers have been paying more attention to decorative products to prepare for the upcoming Christmas and New Year celebrations, while more businesses have geared up for the festivities.

    Aside from familiar merchandise, namely Christmas lights and ornaments, new products such as imported real Christmas pine trees have also emerged and quickly become a favorite in the Southeast Asian country.

    During an interview with Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on December 10, Bich Diep, manager of a business in Ho Chi Minh City, said her company has just imported 200 such real pine trees from Oregon, the US.

    “We placed the order back in August due to complicated procedures,” Diep said.

    The pine trees can be kept from six to eight weeks in favorable environments and need to be watered daily, the businesswoman explained, adding that half of the imported plants had already been sold via online orders.

    Most of the buyers are expats or rich Vietnamese families as the trees are rather expensive, selling from VND3.7 million (US$164) each depending on their height,Diep continued.

    Artificial pine trees are also among the best-selling products during the weeks before Christmas, which have been flooding local supermarkets and shopping centers.

    At a mall in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, a Christmas tree is offered at VND1.5 million (US$66) to VND3 million (US$133) depending on its height and thickness.

    Meanwhile, Ho Thi Minh Tam, owner of a shop in District 5, said that about 20 such pine trees and 1,000 ornaments, which had been shipped from Thailand for the first time, are all sold out after only a week.

    At some other stores in the vicinity, decorative products have attracted an increasing number of customers as Christmas and New Year are drawing near.

    According to business insiders, Christmas gifts and ornaments originating from Thailand have been widely offered and purchased in the Vietnamese market due to affordable prices.

    Christmas adornments made in Vietnam have also been selling at a fast pace, including garlands on sale at VND12,000 (US$0.5) a string, decorative snowmen offered at VND120,000 (US$5) to VND600,000 (US$27) each, and other ornaments priced at VND60,000 (US$2.5) per box of six pieces.

    Domestically-made Christmas costumes have been favored by shoppers thanks to varied designs and low prices.

    Such an outfit sells for VND20,000 (US$0.9) to VND80,000 (US$3.5), a shopkeeper said, adding that the number of buyers this year has risen by 40%.

    According to the Ho Chi Minh City Handicraft and Wood Industry Association (HAWA), its members have manufactured thousands of products to meet the high demand during Christmas and New Year.

    Luu Kiet Binh, a representative from a company in Ho Chi Minh City, said that Vietnamese products can lose to imported rivals in terms of design but are chosen for their safety and eco-friendly materials.

    Steel sector to grow 10-12% next year

    The steel industry is likely to enjoy 10-12% growth next year, said the Vietnam Steel Association (VSA) at a workshop in HCM City last week.

    According to Chu Duc Khai, VSA General Secretary, steel consumption depends on the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth. 

    With expected GDP growth of 6.2%  this year, and the operation of 10 steel projects in 2017, the sector’s growth is expected to further expand, Khải said. 

    However, he warned of challenges ahead as cheap steel from China would continue to flood the domestic market. 

    Vietnam also has to meet strict technical standards when it exports steel. 

    To cope with difficulties, the country will have to apply trade protection measures and technical barriers to restrict steel imports, he noted. 

    The VSA has filed petitions to the Government demanding anti-dumping measures be imposed on several steel imports.

    The VSA has sent a document to the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) to propose some changes in the draft zoning plan for Vietnam’s steel sector until 2025 with a vision towards 2035.

    Accordingly, the association suggested the ministry that propose the Government a stop in managing the steel industry by planning. Regarding the current practices, a steel project cannot be approved if it is not named in the master plan for the industry.

    VSA Vice Chairman Nguyen Van Sua, said that economic sectors including steel should not be managed by planning.

    Instead, the zoning plan for Vietnam’s steel sector should be used as a reference for businesses before deciding their investment, he said.

    According to the Law on Planning which has been discussed in the National Assembly since September, 21 sectors would need planning at national level as they relate maritime resources and large scale infrastructure. But most opinions against the planning for the steel industry, yet the ministry has still drafted planning and gathered opinions.

    Besides, the issuance of investment certificates should be done with the agreements of relevant ministries, not just the MoIT.

    The association noted that the MoIT’s draft has shortcomings as it did not provide development targets for hot rolled and high quality steel, as Vietnam has imported 100%  of these products.

    The ministry still put the expansion of the Thai Nguyen Iron and Steel Corporation phase 2 in the draft zoning plan despite losses.

    The VSA proposed that the MoIT resolve issues with the projects which have not started their construction or are unfeasible between 2017 and 2025.

    At a recent Q&A session of the National Assembly, Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh said the country would not implement industrial projects that harm the environment and that no groups could influence the project approval process.

    The ministry wants sustainable growth for industrial sectors and to use natural resources efficiently. 

    The minister reiterated that Vietnam needs more steel projects, because by 2020 the country will have to spend US$15 billion a year on imported steel.

    VSA figures revealed that last year Vietnam imported more than 14 million tonnes of steel. It is estimated that this year the country will import about 17.5 million tonnes.

    Hai Phong builds $175 million industrial zone     

    Hai Phong People’s Committee and Shenzen Investment Holdings Co Ltd last Friday began construction of the An Duong Industrial Zone in this nothern city.

    The Chinese company said it will invest roughly VND4 trillion (US$175 million) to build the zone in Bac Son Commune to attract hi-tech and environmentally-friendly investment projects, which will produce high added value products.

    Specifically, the zone is expected to roll out electronic products, home appliances and high-end consumer goods.

    The land needed for the firm to develop the zone will be available in the first quarter of next year, said Nguyen Van Tung, chairman of the committee.               

    Gov’t targets 5 ineffective projects     

    The Government has asked the Ministry of Industry and Trade to take prompt action on five ineffective investment projects, to ensure maximum protection of the State’s capital and assets.

    A Government resolution adopted last month shows investments worth thousands of billions of dong, but flawed calculations and predictions on demand, or weak management, caused losses of State capital.

    The five projects are the Dinh Vu Polyester Fibre Plant, with an investment worth VND7 trillion (US$311 million) from the Viet Nam Oil and Gas Group’s PetroVietnam Petrochemical and Textile Fiber Company, VND2.2 trillion in the Dung Quat Bio-Ethanol Plant by PetroVietnam Central Biofuels JSC, and Phase 2 of the Thai Nguyen Iron and Steel Corporation’s (TISCO) Production Expansion Project with a capital of VND8 trillion.

    The Phuong Nam wood pulp mill in southern Long An Province with an investment of VND3 trillion by the Transport, Communication, Development and Investment Corporation (Tracodi). This project was handed over to Viet Nam Paper Corporation (Vinapaco) in 2009 in accordance with a prime ministerial decision.

    The final one is by the Viet Nam Chemical Group’s Ninh Binh Fertiliser Plant which invested VND12 trillion in the Ninh Binh Nitrogenous Fertiliser Plant.

    Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh said investments had been made in the five projects since 2008. All had failed to meet deadlines set for completion.            

    Tan Cang Song Than to list on UPCoM     

    Ha Noi Stock Exchange has accepted Inland Clearance Depot Tan Cang Song Than LLC (Tan Cang Song Than)’s proposal to list over 12 million shares on its Unlisted Public Company Market (UPCoM).

    The company will be listed under the stock symbol IST.

    It will also be liable to publish all the information for its shareholders in compliance with the laws.

    Saigon New Port Corporation is currently Tan Cang Song Than’s largest shareholder with 51 per cent of charter capital.

    Tan Cang Song Than was previously a container parking space used by the Saigon Military Port in 1995 and was a mainland clearance depot since 2000. In 2007, it was upgraded to a one member limited liability company and was financially independent in a branch and holding company model with initial charter capital of VND80 billion (US$3.615 million).

    The company had its initial public offering session in March 2016, with 960,694 shares sold at an average of VND10,608 per share.

    In June, Tan Cang Song Than officially operated as an incorporated company with charter capital of VND120 billion and has yet to increase the said capital.

    The company now specialises in storage, transportation and related services.

    As of September 27, 2016, Tan Cang Song Than had 200 stock holders, with two major holders holding 86.25 per cent of total charter capital.

    Tan Cang Song Than has a total area of 387,870sq.m, including 205,000sq.m of storage. The majority of its revenue comes from leasing the storage space, followed by the storage and transportation fee.

    Vinacomin power to debut 680 million shares on UPCoM     

    Vinacomin Power Holding Corporation Limited, a State-owned subsidiary of Viet Nam National Coal and Mineral Industries Group (Vinacomin), will debut 680 million shares on the Unlisted Public Company Market (UPCoM) on December 15.

    This was announced by the Hà Nội Stock Exchange.

    The shares, under code DTK, will start the first trading day at VND14,000 (US$0.62) per share.

    At this price, the company’s market capitalisation will reach VND9.52 trillion, making it among the highest-valued stocks on the UPCoM.

    The power company made its initial public offering (IPO) last year, with 236.4 million shares put up for sale, a record in terms of volume of shares put up for auction at that time. However, only 1.2 million shares, equivalent to less than 1 per cent, were sold.

    Vinacomin, currently, still holds over 99 per cent of the company’s charter capital.

    The power company, established in 2009, engages in development, construction and management of thermal and hydro power plants. It is a major electricity producer in the local power market and is implementing 14 power projects with a total capacity of 5,880MW.

    It has five subordinate companies, two subsidiary firms and four associate companies with holdings of less than 50 per cent of capital.

    Ending September 2016, Vinacomin Power reported a loss of VND228 billion, lifting its cumulative losses to VND1.14 trillion.

    Its equity capital was nearly VND5.8 trillion and total asset value reached VND26.4 trillion.

    The UPCoM, which went live on June 2010, is the market for unlisted or delisted public companies under the management of the Ha Noi Stock Exchange. There are currently 387 stocks here with daily trading volume of some five million shares worth over VND100 billion.                                    

    Mobile World turnover estimated at $1.9b in 2016     

    Mobile World Investment Corporation (MWG) estimated its turnover this year to reach VNĐ44 trillion (US$1.938 billion), according to company chairman Nguyễn Đức Tài.

    MWG’s turnover last year was VNĐ25.25 billion.

    Tài said the company’s turnover this month alone would reach VNĐ5 trillion, adding that the turnover would come from existing and new stores, as well as online sales.

    Next year, MWG is targeting a turnover of VNĐ60 trillion with the expansion of online sales.

    Tài said MWG does not plan to sell its store chain Dienmayxanh, while it would take a final decision on the development strategy of another chain Bachhoaxanh by the end of this year.

    MWG’s shares on Friday closed at VNĐ155,500 per unit. 

    Vietjet offers 50% discount on Thai domestic routes

    Passengers booking flight tickets from HCM City, Hà Nội and Hải Phòng to Bangkok (Thailand) will enjoy a 50 per cent discount on all Vietjet’s domestic flights in Thailand.

    The offer is valid from now until December 20, the airline announced on Saturday.

    The discounted flights will be available on several Thai routes, including Bangkok-Phuket, Bangkok-Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai-Phuket.

    Meanwhile, flyers who buy flight tickets from Bangkok to HCM Ctiy, Hà Nội and Hải Phòng will get a 50 per cent discount on all Vietjet’s domestic flights in Việt Nam.

    “Thailand and Việt Nam have been the favourite destinations of world travelers. While Thailand is attractive thanks to a series of “shocking” promotions during the year-end holidays, Việt Nam is well known for its typical and diversified culture and cuisine,” Vietjet said.

    According to the Việt Nam Administration of Tourism, nearly 240,000 Thai tourists travelled to Việt Nam in the 11 months of this year, up 30 per cent year-on-year. That has helped Thailand become Việt Nam’s sixth largest tourism market for the period. 

    Viet Dragon divests stake in TAC, earns $15m

    Viet Dragon Fund Management (VDFM) has reportedly earned VNĐ334 billion (US$15 million) from selling 23.44 per cent stake in Tường An Vegetable Oil Company (TAC).

    TAC is a listed firm on the HCM Stock Exchange.

    The transaction was conducted off-exchange on December 6. It is believed that the buyer is Kido Corporation (KDC).

    In a filing to the State Securities Commission, the fund management company reported that it has sold 4.45 million shares, equivalent to 23.44 per cent, of TAC’s capital, and reduced its ownership to 0.56 per cent. The fund is no longer a major shareholder of the oil company.

    The selling price has not been disclosed, but it is speculated to be around VNĐ75,000 per share, the TAC’s closing price on December 6.

    In September, the confectionery giant had submitted a tender to purchase 12.33 million shares of TAC, or 65 per cent stake, at a bid price of VNĐ78,000 per share.

    VDFM had bought 4.5 million TAC shares on July 4 at VNĐ62,000 per share. If these shares were sold at VNĐ75,000, the fund has earned a profit of VNĐ55 billion after five months of holding.

    Last Friday, TAC shares were traded at VNĐ73,000 per share.

    VIB shares deposited at Vietnam Securities Depository
    More than 564.4 million shares of Vietnam International Bank (VIB) were deposited at the Vietnam Securities Depository under code VIB as of December 12.

    According to the Vietnam Securities Depository, value of the registered shares is worth more than VNĐ5.644 trillion (US$248.63 million), equal to VNĐ5.644 trillion of the bank’s charter capital.

    The move was the first procedure made by the bank to list on the stock exchange next year.

    Previously, in November, VIB said it was implementing procedures to get listed on UPCoM early next year instead of 2018 as previously planned.

    The bank's representatives said getting listed on UPCoM will increase its value for VIB investors, owing to good liquidity.

    The bank said it has completed procedures to increase its charter capital to VNĐ5.644 trillion, as approved by the State Securities Commission and the State Bank of Việt Nam.

    In April, at the VIB shareholders meeting, the plan to increase charter capital from VNĐ4.85 trillion to VNĐ5.644 trillion by issuing share dividends of 16.5 per cent was approved.

    According to the bank's financial report, its total assets touched VNĐ93 trillion at the end of October. Its capital adequacy ratio and non-performing loans were at 14.46 per cent and 1.49 per cent, respectively.

    The Commonwealth Bank of Australia continues to be a strategic partner of the VIB, holding 20 per cent share.

    VIB, currently, serves some 1.6 million individual customers and 34,000 corporate customers.

    Rubber exports to reach US$4.36 billion in 2016

    Vietnam’s rubber exports this year are expected to reach a total value of US$4.36 billion, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

    Specifically, Vietnam’s total exports of natural rubber are to reach US$1.66 billion by the year’s end. In addition, the country is also to export US$1.5 billion of rubber products such as tyres, rubber accessories and conveyors, in addition to US$1.2 billion from products made from rubber wood.

    According to Tran Ngoc Thuan, Chairman of the Vietnam Rubber Association (VRA), the domestic sector, as well as global natural rubber exports, has been faced with a range of difficulties due to a continued decline in prices lasting from 2012 to 2016.

    Consumption of natural rubber increased slowly while the surplus in output resulted in oversupply, making rubber inventories increase and putting pressure on continuously declining prices. Even at some times, rubber prices fell below production costs, negatively affecting rubber producers and leading rubber plantations to switch to other crops.

    However, most Vietnamese enterprises and rubber farmers have sought to maintain production while increasing the efficiency of land use and diversifying sources of income from rubber, plus applying advanced technologies to lower costs and increase productivity.

    Thanks to the efforts of the rubber industry, Vietnam continues to hold the number-two spot in rubber productivity and ranks third globally in output and exports. In 2015, rubber plantation areas across the country reached more than 981,000ha with production reached 1 million tonnes. It is forecast that rubber production in 2016 will exceed 1.2 million tonnes.

    The year 2016 also marked an important milestone for Vietnam’s rubber industry. For the first time, the certification mark “Vietnam Rubber” was officially announced after two years of licensing and constructing related legal documents. Accordingly, VRA is the legal owner of the “Vietnam Rubber” certification mark.

    The brand is used with Vietnamese rubber products that the enterprise has committed to meeting quality standards and other related criteria applied to Vietnam’s rubber industry.

    Thuan said that in the context of fiercer competition among rubber-exporting countries, Vietnam’s rubber industry is faced with a range of difficulties and challenges due to uneven product quality and lack of a brand for the whole industry. So, the use of the “Vietnam Rubber” trademark would help improve the sector’s competitiveness and Vietnamese enterprises’ reputation, in addition to building trust among foreign partners selecting rubber imported from Vietnam.

    Currently, with 80% of its exports coming from raw materials, Vietnam’s rubber sector relies heavily on the constantly fluctuating rubber prices on the world market. To support the rubber industry’s restructuring towards higher added value and sustainable development, the country has planned to increase the consumption of natural rubber on the domestic market to 30% and to facilitate the processing of rubber and rubber wood products.

    Cigarette smuggling causes huge losses

    Illicit cigarette trade brings huge lost tax revenue for the State, said Nguyen Dinh Truong, director of the Vietnam Tobacco Research Institute.

    Speaking at a seminar on the impact of chemicals on pregnant women and fetuses held at Hung Vuong Hospital in HCMC last Friday, Truong said cigarette smuggling is forecast to cause annual tax losses of VND7 trillion (US$310 million).

    In the first 20 days of July this year, the National Steering Committee 389 and the Anti-Smuggling Police Department (C74 B), in cooperation with law enforcement in Long An and Tay Ninh provinces, busted three cases smuggling cigarettes from Cambodia to Vietnam, with more than 130,000 packs of cigarettes seized.

    Some smuggled cigarettes in Vietnam contain coumarin which is banned in food by the health ministry). Coumarin is one of the causes of miscarriage or birth defects if mothers are exposed to the substance during pregnancy. This chemical is also banned by the Food and Drug Agency (FDA) because it can cause dangerous diseases for the liver, nervous system and heart.

    Stable sugar prices expected ahead of holiday season

    Domestic sugar prices in November have edged up over the previous month but the Vietnam Sugar and Sugarcane Association (VSSA) has predicted that they would stabilize from now to the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday (Tet) owing to abundant supply.

    The association said last month’s sugar prices ranged from VND16,600 to VND17,300 per kilo for white sugar, and from VND17,200 to VND17,800 per kilo for refined sugar, up a slight VND100-200 against October.

    As of December 2, sugar inventories had totaled around 170,000 tons at factories and nearly 3,500 tons at trading companies. Sugar production this month is estimated at around 250,000 tons, and 300,000 tons next month, according to VSSA.

    Therefore, ample sugar supply can meet demand, which is put at 130,000-140,000 tons per month, in the run up to Tet.

    Global sugar prices are projected to stay flat or inch down slightly. Sugar production in Brazil and India is higher than previously forecast while Thailand, one of the world’s largest sugar producing countries, has started another sugar-producing season.

    VSSA estimated stable sugar retail prices would make sugarcane prices stable, at about VND1.1 million (US$48) per ton.

    Interbank rate hikes continue

    Interest rates for Vietnam dong loans have nudged up over the past two weeks, hitting a seven-month high on the interbank market.

    These lending rates rose by 20-30 basis points last Friday, taking the spike in all of last week to 70-80 basis points. In the week earlier, interbank rates for tenors of less than one month soared 1.34 -1.49 percentage points.

    They have leapt 2.2-3.2 percentage points for different tenors over the past two weeks and touched a seven-month high of over 4% per annum, showed statistics of a couple of banks.

    The annual overnight rate for Vietnam dong loans was 4.03% last Friday while the one-week rate stood at 4.15% per year, the two-week rate at 4.38% per year and the one-month rate at 4.7% per annum. Despite the interbank rate hikes, liquidity in the banking system has been stable.

    Such increases are unsurprising as banks are improving their Vietnam dong liquidity ahead of their year-end earnings releases and as borrowing demand and loan disbursements are inching up.

    Lenders such as Vietcombank and Agribank have ample Vietnam dong liquidity at the moment as they have hiked interest rates for depositors.

    According to the State Bank of Vietnam, credit had grown 15.8% and capital mobilization had surged 15.2% on average by end-November, thus causing liquidity in the banking system to drop slightly and interbank rates to go up.

    A number of banks said interbank rates for Vietnam dong loans would likely stay high in the next few weeks and hover in a range of 3% and 4% per annum.

    PM: ADB plans to buy ailing Vietnamese bank

    The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and a Vietnamese private partner are planning to buy an ailing local bank, said Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc at the Vietnam Development Forum in Hanoi last Friday.

    Phuc said the Government is coping with bad debt in the banking system and working on regulations on the handling of mortgaged assets at banks.

    Banks are told to settle bad debts and improve their operations to meet global standards.

    He said the Government had asked International Finance Corporation (IFC) under the World Bank to help Vietnam settle bad debt.

    ADB and a Vietnamese private partner are planning to acquire a domestic weak lender, Phuc said, adding ADB may introduce other partners to support Vietnam to deal with bad debt and the debt-laden banks taken over by the State Bank of Vietnam.

    According to the Government portal (, Phuc reiterated at the forum his determination to build an effective administrative system and an enabling Government as his top priority in the 2016-2020 tenure.

    To this end, the Government will improve institutions and legal system, facilitate production and business activities, strengthen the State administrative apparatus, streamline administrative procedures and prevent corruption and wastefulness.

    The Government will improve the business and investment environment, raise competitiveness by amending, supplementing and accomplishing mechanisms and policies on planning and investment, and encourage innovation, startups and the private sector.

    Besides, it will restructure the economy in line with the transformation of the growth model and raise productivity, quality, efficiency and competitiveness.

    The Government will step up the restructuring of State-owned enterprises and the withdrawal of State capital from non-core businesses.

    The Government will build a legal framework for Vietnam Asset Management Company, develop a debt trading market and efficiently handle non-performing loans.

    The nation will continue to integrate into the world economy and fulfill its commitments to the 12 free trade agreements it has signed.

    HCMC sets budget targets for next year

    The People’s Council of HCMC last Friday passed a resolution on a fiscal plan for 2017, with budget revenue set at VND347.88 trillion and spending at VND70.64 trillion.

    The revenue target for 2017 is 15.79% than the 2016 estimate and probably 13.62% higher than the actual figure this year. Domestic revenue will contribute nearly VND226.5 trillion, import-export tariffs VND109 trillion and crude oil exports VND12.4 trillion.

    Meanwhile, the city’s major expenditures include development investment with VND25.16 trillion, regular expenses with VND34.2 trillion and interest payments with VND1.51 trillion. Budget deficit next year is projected at VND2.9 trillion.

    The city expects to repay more than VND6.37 trillion in loan principal and borrow an additional VND9.27 trillion. The city also intends to issue up to VND5.14 trillion of debt. The city government will draw up a bond sale scheme and submit it to the Ministry of Finance.

    On the same day, the HCMC People’s Council gave approval in principle to a project for dredging Ba Lon Canal in District 8 and Binh Chanh District at a total cost of VND1.85 trillion. In addition, 55 projects of Group B worth some VND20 trillion to be funded by the city budget were passed by the council.

    City leaders said HCMC would tighten fiscal spending and mobilize capital from all sources for investment and development next year. The city will streamline its apparatus and cut spending as revenue from import tariffs will fall in line with the nation’s international integration roadmap and as the city will have a smaller share of budget revenue with the central Government in 2017-2020.

    Toyota Vietnam sets auto sales record in November

    Toyota Vietnam has obtained the highest monthly auto sales of 6,130 units last month, 39% higher than in the same period last year. The southern market took 2,759 units, followed by the north with 2,660 and the central region with 711.

    The two best-selling models of Toyota were Vios with 2,447 units and Fortuner with 1,219 units. Sales of luxury model Lexus shot up a staggering 89% year-on-year to 106 units.

    In January-November, Toyota Vietnam sold more than 50,700 autos, up 13% year-on-year, of which Lexus made up 1,570 units, up 78%.

    Local coffee price stable over output fall

    This year has seen a sharp fall of local coffee output due to severe drought in the Central Highlands, the nation’s largest coffee producing area, thus helping the coffee price stay stable in the coming time, said the Vietnam Coffee and Cocoa Association (Vicofa).

    Vicofa was speaking at a conference on the future of the coffee industry from now to 2030 held as part of the Vietnam Coffee Day event in HCMC from December 8-11.

    According to Vicofa, coffee output in the 2016-2017 crop is estimated to reach 24 million 60-kilo bags, falling over 3.5 million bags against the previous crop.

    Vicofa forecast the country’s coffee exports in the 2016-2017 crop could amount to 25.1 million bags, 2.1 million bags lower than forecast by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

    This year, coffee growers have suffered huge losses. Due to the protracted drought, many coffee farms in Daklak province are now still in blossom while October is the normal harvest time. Heavy rains in Central Highlands provinces have also affected thousands of hectares of coffee.

    Therefore, the coffee price in the region has shot up over VND40,000 per kilo since the end of November. On December 9 it climbed to VND41,800-42,500 per kilo, and the price is expected to stay unchanged in the coming years.

    Auto sales seen hitting new record this year

    Auto sales are forecast to reach an all-time high of 300,000 units this year after more than 271,100 autos found buyers in the January-November period, according to the Vietnam Automobile Manufacturers Association (VAMA).

    The January-November sales figure represents a 26% year-on-year rise and is well above 245,000 autos sold in all of 2015. There were 205,355 units domestically assembled, up 33%, and 65,768 completely-built-up (CBU) cars, up 7%.

    As year-end auto consumption usually picks up, VAMA said, around 25,000 units could be sold this month, taking to 300,000 the year’s total. In November alone, auto firms sold 24,442 units, down 4% year-on-year but up 1% against October.

    According to the Industrial Policy and Strategy Institute (IPSI), Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines are seen as the three biggest growth markets for automakers in Southeast Asia.

    In a report, IPSI said that if a country has less than 250 autos in every 1,000 people, it is deemed as a potential growth market. Malaysia now has 400/1,000 and Thailand more than 250/1,000. Meanwhile, it is 50/1,000 in Indonesia and lower than that in Vietnam and the Philippines.

    The institute said the Vietnamese auto market has posted strong growth in the past two years as demand for private auto ownership has kept rising.

    Thanks to the golden population structure, which is expected to last until 2030, the growing middle class, and the rising per capita income, auto sales would continue to edge up in Vietnam.

    Traffic infrastructure has been improved with a range of inter-provincial and north-south expressways under construction, thereby fueling demand for auto ownership, the institute explained.

    However, the auto industry is facing challenges, especially in attracting foreign firms to come to Vietnam to produce parts for automakers.

    Vietnam is still far behind Thailand and Indonesia in terms of supporting industries and auto production costs, said IPSI. Vehicle prices in Vietnam are 23% higher than in these two regional countries.

    Moreover, the institute pointed out a new problem faced by the domestic auto sector. Import duties on CBU vehicles from ASEAN countries will fall from the current 40% to 30% next year and zero in 2018. By then, auto parts producers may not choose to set up shop in Vietnam.


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  • 12/13/16--01:13: Article 6
  • For coffee chains to survive, investors need to prepare for the long term

    Vietnam is a highly promising market for coffee chains, but not all investors can succeed here.

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    According to IPSARD, Vietnamese consume 0.5 kilos of coffee a year per capita, a low level compared with Brazil with 5-6 kilos and Europe with 10 kilos.

    But the trend are changing. Since 2015, coffee consumption has been increasing rapidly with roasted coffee accounting for 2/3 of total consumption and instant coffee accounting for 1/3 thanks to the continued expansion of coffee chains.

    When foreign coffee chains such as Gloria Jeans, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Starbucks and McCafe arrived in Vietnam, some analysts warned that they would dislodge Vietnamese cafes out of the home market. However, some Vietnamese coffee brands now have the upper hand in the market after realizing the disadvantages of foreign chains.

    Vietnam is a highly promising market for coffee chains, but not all investors can succeed here.

    However, no one can say for sure if Vietnamese coffee chains will be at an advantage forever. To run coffee chains, investors need to prepare for the long race. Meanwhile, Vietnamese businesses do not have advantages over foreign ones in corporate governance skills, resources and management experience.

    Hoang Tung, CEO of Pizza Home, said some brands debuted with original and creative products, but they later failed because rivals copied their models and competed directly with brands at lower prices. If the product core is not stable and if they cannot improve regularly to adapt customers’ demand, they will fail.

    Tung noted that foreign coffee brands are designed to operate well in developed countries, but it is difficult to find suitable workers for the chains in Vietnam.

    Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, admitted that up to 30 percent of workers left the workplace, which made it difficult to operate the chain. It is difficult to find skilled workers in the F&B (food & beverage) sector because Vietnamese consider the work as parttime or temporary jobs, not major jobs for the long term.

    The CEO of The KAfe admitted that the rapid expansion of the chain (it now has 20 shops with 500-600 workers instead of two shops as previously) has caused difficulties in the chain management.

    Tonkin Coffee, a French company valued at $1 million after opening eight shops, also faced crisis because of hot development.

    According to Nguyen Phi Van, president of Retail & Franchise Asia, 80 percent of franchise contracts are successful. 

    However, there are also failures. NYDC which closed shops is a typical example. Gloria Jeans Coffees also has cut the number of its shops from 11 to 3.

    Kim Chi, VNN

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  • 12/13/16--01:48: Article 5
  • As promised, trade agreements good for agriculture

    Vietnam is and must remain one of the world leading agriculture exporters, said officials of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development at a recent sales promotion event in Ho Chi Minh City.

    as promised, trade agreements good for agriculture hinh 0

    Businesses in the agriculture segment excel at growing, producing and exporting a wide variety of agriculture produce such as rice, fruit and vegetables to a vast array of foreign countries, they noted.

    However, if agriculture is to thrive and continue to be a source of prosperity and jobs then it must be able to sell in expanding markets around the globe and – vice versa – products from other countries must be allowed entry into Vietnam.

    This, said the officials, is why the Vietnam government has signed on to a series of bilateral and free trade agreements and instituted other initiatives aimed at tearing down tariff and non-tariff barriers to global trade.

    Even though just starting to be implemented, the Korea, Japan, ASEAN and China free trade agreements have already resulted in growth of Vietnam agricultural exports to those economies for select produce.

    Similarly, products from those economies are experiencing – in some cases –  triple-digit percentage growth crossing the border into Vietnam.

    Official statistics, they said, showed agriculture exports for the first eleven months of calendar year 2016 leading to December registered US$186 million, up US$1.8 billion for the same period in 2015.

    Roughly 70.4% of those shipments went to China, trailed by the Republic of Korea (4%), the US (3.5%) and Japan (3.1%). Meanwhile, they added, that imports (principally from Thailand and China) into country shot up a staggering 44% for the period to US$814 million.

    Geographical limitations, seasonality, capital access, infrastructure restrictions and market access are just a few of the challenges facing the country’s farmers today, they pointed out.

    Luckily, they added, the overall improvement and economic growth in the economy is sprouting a hot bed of agriculture activity and stellar programs that aim to bolster local farmers so they can succeed in the – new marketplace – of today.

    The Ministry is supporting local farmers by providing VietGAP, GlobalGAP, and other good agricultural practices and food safety training along with marketing, advertising and other promotion assistance.

    The Ministry’s aim is to help farmers bridge the gap that exists in accessing the wider marketplace. And bridging this gap also means money, in the form of grants, which help farmers make capital investments and infrastructure improvements.

    To feed the country now and into the future, said the Ministry officials, it’s necessary to support local farmers and producers with programs that offer a chance for the little guy to overcome the obstacles they face and succeed.

    The country’s economy is deep-rooted and well-grounded in agriculture, they concluded, and – as the Government promised –  with the benefits of trade agreements, there are no limits to what farmers and agriculture can achieve.


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  • 12/13/16--02:11: Article 4
  • Vietnam rebukes China’s celebration of so-called Hoang Sa, Truong Sa recovery

    Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Le Hai Binh. 

    Tuoi Tre

    Vietnam has opposed China’s commemoration of the so-called 70th anniversary of the recovery of Hanoi’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagoes.

    Hanoi objects to the Chinese Navy’s celebration on December 8 of what Beijing claimed to be 70 years of recovering the two archipelagoes, Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Le Hai Binh asserted during a press meeting on Monday.

    “China’s above-mentioned activity cannot alter Vietnam’s sovereignty over Hoang Sa and Truong Sa,” Spokesperson Binh stated, adding that it went against the developmental trend of the two countries’ relationship and complicated the current situation.

    “Vietnam resolutely opposes that move,” the Vietnamese diplomat said.

    He reiterated that Hanoi has sufficient historical evidence and legal foundations to affirm its sovereignty over Hoang Sa and Truong Sa, the country’s long-standing territories.

    After World War II, the international community rejected China’s claim to these islands, Binh continued.

    According to historical records, China attacked and seized Hoang Sa from Vietnam in 1974 and later killed Vietnamese soldiers to seize the Gac Ma (Johnson South) reef of Truong Sa in 1988.

    However, the international community has condemned China’s absurd claims to the sets of islands.


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  • 12/13/16--02:45: Article 3
  • Vietnamese province police dismiss terror attacks in blast at headquarters


    Bui Hong Quy, chief of the office of the Dak Lak People’s Committee, speaks at the press conference on December 13, 2016.Tuoi Tre

    Police in the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak have ruled out the possibility that terrorists were involved in a blast that killed three officers at their headquarters on Monday night.

    A press conference was organized by the provincial People’s Committee and the Department of Police on Tuesday morning to provide details about the explosion.

    During the meeting, Senior Lieutenant Colonel Bui Ngoc Tuan, chief of staff at the Dak Lak police department, affirmed that the explosion was an accident, which was not caused by terrorists or other opposing forces.

    Three officers were killed while three others injured in the blast, which occurred in the exhibit storage room of the provincial police headquarters, Tuan stated, adding that several nearby houses were also damaged.

    The three deceased victims were Phan The Trung, 30, officer of the criminal division, Ngo Quang Cuong, 32, and Y Quyet Bkrong, 29, both environmental police officers.

    According to Bui Hong Quy, chief of the office of the Dak Lak administration, BKrong is the son of Nie Thuat, former member of the Central Party Committee and secretary of the provincial Party Committee.

    Local residents observe the incident on December 12, 2016. Photo: Tuoi Tre

    The explosion happened at around 9:00 pm on Monday as some witnesses stated they heard a loud noise before seeing fire and rescue vehicles rushing to the police department.

    The victims were later brought to the Dak Lak General Hospital for emergency treatment, while competent agencies were investigating the scene to determine the cause of the blast.

    Whether or not the explosion damaged the exhibits and would affect the investigations of relevant cases was still unclear as focus has been directed to saving the victims and probing the scene, Nguyen Tuan Ha, vice-chairman of the provincial People’s Committee, said.

    He also refused to answer what the officers were doing prior to the accident.

    The prime minister has requested local authorities to exert all efforts to figure out the reason behind the explosion and properly deal with its consequences.


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  • 12/13/16--06:05: Article 2
  •  Company warns of fake websites selling train tickets


    A fake website reportedly offers train tickets for trips on the occasion of the Tết (Lunar New Year) celebration. - Photo

    HÀ NỘI - Sài Gòn Railway Transport Joint Stocks Company, a subsidiary of Việt Nam Railway Corporation, has warned passengers about fake websites offering train tickets, particularly those for trips on the occasion of the Tết (Lunar New Year) celebration.

    Lê Quốc Trung, vice director of the company, said the fake websites usually offered tickets that were four or five times more expensive than the authentic fares.

    People who buy e-tickets via fake websites would be barred from boarding trains, he said.

    Trung highly recommended people use authentic websites to purchase train tickets, including,, or

    The Hà Nội Railway Transport Joint Stock Company (HARACO), another subsidiary of Việt Nam Railway Corporation, has decided to add 21 train trips on the Hà Nội-Vinh, Hà Nội-Hải Phòng and Hà Nội-Đà Nẵng routes.

    It will operate more trains on the Hà Nội-HCM City, Hà Nội-Vinh, Hà Nội-Lào Cai and Hà Nội-Yên Bái, as well as Hà Nội-Hải Phòng and Yên Viên-Hạ Long routes, to accommodate more people just before and after Tết.

    VNR said it would run these additional routes from January 17 to February 12, 2017. This year, state employees and workers will get Tết holidays from January 26 to February 1. They will get two more days off – January 31 and February 1 – as compensation for the previous weekends.

    Viet Nam News

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  • 12/13/16--06:09: Article 1
  • Vietnam, EU hold annual human rights dialogue

     Hanoi Vietnam and the European Union (EU) have held their annual human rights dialogue in Brussels, exchanging viewpoints and sharing experience and good practices in promoting and protecting human rights.

    The Vietnamese delegation, led by Vu Anh Quang – Director General of the Foreign Ministry’s International Organisations Department, include representatives from the ministries of foreign affairs, public security, justice, information and communications, and home affairs, and the Vietnamese Embassy in Belgium and the EU.

    Meanwhile, the EU side was headed by David Daly, head of the South East Asia division in the European External Action Services.

    In an open, straightforward and friendly manner, the dialogue on December 8 looked into relevant issues of shared concern with a view to enhancing mutual understanding, thereby fostering the Vietnam-EU comprehensive partnership and cooperation.

    The two sides shared information about their viewpoints, policies, efforts, achievements, as well as challenges in ensuring human rights.

    They discussed legal and judicial reforms related to human rights issues; the rights to freedom of speech, belief, religion, association, and peaceful assembly; and the stance on some human rights issues at international organisations, especially the United Nations, and some other matters of mutual interest.

    The EU side recognised Vietnam’s efforts and attainments, particularly in building a law-governed State and overhauling the legal system on human rights. It said it wants to bolster cooperation with Vietnam in judicial reform, in implementing the Convention against Torture, preventing and combating human trafficking, and ensuring the rights of vulnerable groups in the society.

    On the fringe of the dialogue, the Vietnamese officials had working sessions with Belgium’s Interdepartmental Coordination Platform for the Fight against Trafficking and Smuggling in human beings, and the Belgian Federal Police’s organised crime unit.

    They also visited a support centre for human trafficking victims and met representatives of some non-governmental organisations to discuss human rights matters of common concern.-VNA

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  • 12/13/16--06:52: Article 0
  • US firm studies Long Thanh international airport project


    Map of the Long Thanh International Airport (Photo: AmCham)


    Dong Nai – The People’s Committee of the southern province of Dong Nai on December 12 met leaders of Bechtel Corporation, the largest construction and civil engineering company in the US, who are on a fact-finding trip to the province to learn about the Long Thanh International Airport project.

    The field trip aims to gain better understanding of the Long Thanh International Airport project, including issues of investment, construction, airport operation and development of an economic zone surrounding the airport, said a representative of Bechtel at a working session.

    Local authorities also expressed wish that Bechtel will invest in the project, especially providing consultations on the development of the zone.

    Covering an area of 5,000 ha, the Long Thanh airport is designed to be the biggest one in Vietnam, with its construction scheduled to begin in 2019.

    The airport is expected to handle 25 million passengers and 1.2 million tonnes of cargo by 2025 in the first phase, which includes the construction of a runway, a terminal and auxiliary facilities.     

    The second and third phases will build more runways and terminals to bring the total capacity to 100 million passengers and five million tonnes of cargo a year.     

     It will be constructed as a category 4F airport in line with the standard codes of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).     

    The airport aims to ease the overload at the Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City, which serves up to 36 million passengers annually despite its designed capacity of only 25 million.      

    Total investment capital for the project is estimated at 336.63 trillion VND (16.03 billion USD). Of which, 114.45 trillion VND (5.45 billion USD) will be spent on the first phase.

    Project resources will be sourced from the State budget, the aviation sector’s equitisation capital, official development assistance (ODA), public-private partnership capital and other sources in line with the law.

    Dong Nai province has also been planning a 21,000ha economic zone surrounding the airport.-VNA

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  • 12/13/16--23:52: Article 3

    Major home expo to feature 450 firms

    VIETBUILD Home, the annual housing, home decoration and household appliance exhibition,, will take place at the Sài Gòn Exhibition and Convention Centre tomorrow, enabling people to shop for the upcoming New Year holidays.

    Nearly 450 exhibitors from 12 countries and territories, including South Korea, Japan, Singapore, China, the US, India, Germany and Việt Nam will set up 1,500 booths, an increase of 30 per cent from last year.

    The expo will showcase new products related to construction, intelligent housing systems, interior and exterior decoration, as well as household equipment like air conditioners, kitchen utensils and more.

    Property transaction floors will introduce housing for low-income earners together with incentives.

    Nguyễn Trần Nam, chairman of the Việt Nam Real Estate Association and head of the organisation board, said the demand for interior and exterior furnishings usually increases at the year-end, as people renovate their homes to welcome Tết, the Lunar New Year.

    The five-day event is therefore well-timed for companies to market their products and consumers to look for home decor, he added.

    The exhibition will also serve as a forum for local and international businesses to meet and discuss co-operation.

    Gelex initiates plan to take over STG     

    Vietnam Electrical Equipment Joint Stock Corporation (Gelex) has announced its plan to purchase 21.3 million shares of South Logistics Joint Stock Company (Sotrans).

    The shares are equal to 24.93 per cent of Sotrans’s charter capital.

    The purchase is due from December 15, 2016 to January 14, 2017.

    Previously, in its annual general meeting this August, Gelex declared it was expanding its manufacturing operations into the field of logistics business by acquiring stake in Sotran.

    Besides, Gelex is also expected to further invest VND812 billion into logistics.

    To implement this investment plan, Gelex is scheduled to release 77.25 million shares at VND18,000 per share to mobilise over VND1.39 trillion and increase charter capital from VND1.55 trillion to VND2.322 trillion.

    Gelex was originally established in 1995 with initial charter capital of VND177 billion. The company operates in the electrical engineering industry. Its main products are electrical equipment, electrical cables and power metres. 

    PNJ shoots past full-year profit target


    Phu Nhuan Jewelry Joint Stock Company reported pre-tax profits of VND561 billion (US$24.73 million) in the first 11 months of the year, a year-on-year increase of 132 per cent and higher than the full-year target.

    Revenues rose by 9 per cent to VND7.682 trillion ($338.7 million).

    The jewellery manufacturer opened 24 new stores last month, raising the total number to 214 in 47 provinces and cities.

    The company, which has the largest distribution system in the country, will open seven more this month.

    Constant investment in new technologies and equipment and training for its artisans, effective financial management activities and professional marketing are the key factors that help it surpass its targets, PNJ said.

    Meanwhile, PNJ Charity Fund has contributed VND4.5 billion this year for social and environmental protection activities, including construction of houses for poor people in the flood-hit province of Quang Binh. 

    Japan firm to build waste plant in Hung Yen     

    Japanese Kume Group plans to invest in a waste to organic fertiliser plant in Hung Yen, aiming to help the northern province tackle waste and boost environmental protection, according to a local official.

    Nguyen Van Phong, Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee said that Kume Group would work with the Japan International Cooperation Agency to construct the plant.

    A pilot plant will be built to treat and classify waste and turn the waste to organic fertiliser, while guidance will be given to locals on how to classify rubbish, he said, adding that another plant will be constructed after the pilot.

    Kume Group has also asked for support from the province, especially in researching waste releasing in the locality and waste gathering for the plant.

    Phong expressed his belief that the project would be effective, pledging that the province will create optimal conditions for its implementation, especially in land use, clean water, infrastructure and power supply.

    The province will back the construction of the pilot plant, while directing provincial departments and agencies to co-ordinate with Kume Group during the project, stated Phong. 

    Experts differ on VN investment     

    Deputy Chairman of the National Assembly Economics Committee, Nguyen Duc Kien, is urging investors to pour money into production and business rather than into traditional investment areas.

    Speaking at a conference hosted by on Saturday in northern Thanh Hoa Province, Kien said that Viet Nam expected to become a start-up nation and the Government was developing policies to promote the start-up wave that would provide investment opportunities. “Look at the market demand when making a decision on investment,” Kiên said.

    Kien said the ongoing privatisation of State-owned enterprises (SOEs) would open significant opportunities for private investors to participate in a number of sectors, which were previously Government domain.

    But experts at the conference also said that privatisation of SOEs would help boost the securities market.

    According to Nguyen Thanh Long, Chairman of Hà Noi Stock Exchange, the stock market performed well in 2016, with capitalisation value increasing by 40 per cent to $135 billion, or 65 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP).

    Although it is difficult to forecast market performance as developments in the global market is unpredictable, foreign investors remain bullish on the stock market of Viet Nam, Long said.

    Economic expert Nguyen Tri Hieu said investments next year in securities and real estate appeared promising.

    The securities market will receive stimulators from the listing of many SOEs, while the property market is more diversified in term of products together with commitments of returns by developers, Hieu said. However, Hieu said the property market should be a choice for those looking for long-term investments.

    Still, Hieu said bank savings remained the least risky investment avenue, adding that there would be unpredictable developments in gold and foreign currencies in 2017.

    Hieu said that Vieệt Nam’s economy was facing the pressure of mounting public debt, plus out-of-control factors such as climate change, as well as developments in the world, such as Brexit.

    Economic expert Ngo Tri Long said Viet Nam needed to have measures in place to tackle the public debt and boost reform amid potential instabilities in the global economy. 

    Credit guarantee policies need revision to further support SMEs     

    Policies related to credit guarantees need to be revised to improve the credit access of enterprises, especially small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and micro firms, Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue said on December 13.

    He emphasised the important role of credit guarantee mechanisms given that the State budget is limited and the business community has not received significantly efficient support.

    In 2011, the then-Prime Minister issued a decision on credit guarantee mechanisms for SMEs to access loans from commercial banks. In 2013, another decision on establishment of credit guarantee funds in provinces and cities was promulgated.

    Deputy minister of finance Tran Van Hieu said that the legal framework is expected to create favourable conditions for SMEs to access capital from credit institutions in order to maintain operation and expand production.

    Currently, there are 27 credit guarantee funds nationwide but most of the funds have weak financial capacity because the capital comes mainly from local State budgets, Hieu said.

    Credit guarantee funds have three sources: local State budgets, contributions from enterprises, and finances from domestic and foreign organisations. The overseas source is almost insignificant while contributions from enterprises are not regular as they have to struggle themselves.

    The total charter capital of the 27 funds is approximately VND1.4 trillion (US$65 million) while the amount of guaranteed loans reaches VND361 billion.

    Nguyen Chi Trang, deputy general director of the Viet Nam Development Bank (VDB) which is also assigned by the Government as a guarantor for SMEs, said the bank’s guarantee activities are hindered by the inconsistencies in the project appraisal procedures by VDB and commercial banks, not to mention the shortage of money.

    Due to the inconsistencies, it takes SMEs up to three months to get loans, deputy governor of the State Bank of Viet Nam Nguyen Dong Tien said.

    The Viet Nam Association of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Chairman Cao Sy Kiem told the Vietnam News Agency that the majority of enterprises hesitated to use credit underwriting to borrow bank loans.

    He attributed the hesitation to complicated procedures in accessing the guarantee service. When firms deal with both guarantee funds and commercial banks, they face the same assessment process but have to pay fees twice, he added.

    The lack of close co-operation and mutual confidence between guarantors and commercial banks is also an obstacle for SMEs to receive supports, Kiem said.

    Given the situation, Deputy PM Hue asked relevant ministries and agencies to work out clear criteria to define which enterprises really need supports.

    He assigned the Ministry of Finance to revise the credit guarantee mechanism, study the possibility of providing guarantee service without requiring collaterals, and set reasonable guarantee fee levels. 

    PM approves Quang Binh solar power project adjustments     

    Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has approved adjustments to the solar power project in the central province of Quang Binh, which is funded by South Korea’s official development assistance.

    Under the project, solar panels will be installed in households and administrative buildings in hamlets in communes which the national grid has not reached.

    The project will be carried out in eight border communes of four districts – Ngan Thuy and Kim Thuy of Le Thuy District, Truong Xuan and Truong Son of Quang Ninh District, Thuong Trach, Tan Trach and Son Trach of Bo Trach District and Trong Hoa of Minh Hoa District.

    The project is expected to provide solar power to more than 1,200 households in 40 hamlets once it is completed on July 1, 2018.

    The US$13.7 million project was launched on July 1, 2015, with the initial aim that 46 hamlets in nine communes in the four districts get access to solar electricity. It was scheduled to begin operation in the fourth quarter of this year. 

    Dung Quat shipbuilding company may declare bankruptcy


    Dung Quat Shipbuilding Industry Co. Ltd (DQS) may declare bankruptcy, one of the possible solutions for the company, due to the huge losses it has incurred over the past years.

    This was stated in the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s report submitted to the prime minister recently.

    Two other solutions are to restructure DQS to resolve its difficulties in production and business or to transfer DQS to other companies to manage. Under the ministry’s report, this transfer would be planned by Viet Nam National Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam), the parent company of DQS.

    Bankruptcy according to existing regulations is the last choice for DQS, the ministry said.

    The ministry reported that DQS was established in 2006 and was a member of Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (SBIC), formerly Vinashin. In 2010, the company was transferred under the management of PetroVietnam.

    According to the financial statement as of June 30, 2010, when DQS was transferred to PetroVietnam, the former had chartered capital of VND3.758 trillion and total losses of VND7.44 trillion, including bank loans worth VND4.8 trillion. DQS did not have the ability to pay its debts, reported.

    When PetroVietnam took over management of DQS, it pumped VND5.095 trillion into DQS, including chartered capital of VND1.99 trillion and VND3.104 trillion for paying its debts.

    However, by June 30, 2016, DQS still had a total loss of VND6.893 trillion, including loans at banks worth a total of VND1.227 trillion.

    DQS made profits in 2014 and 2015, but it was expected to incur a loss of VND103.7 billion in 2016 because of the current difficulties in business.

    This shipbuilding company still has three large loans pending -- a loan of VND490 billion from Vinashin Finance Company (VFC), a loan of VND528 billion from Viet Nam Development Bank (VDB) and a loan of VND548 billion from YMC-Transtech, a contractor of DQS. 

    VN tea exporters enjoy record year     

    Tea exports in the past 11 months reached 118,000 tonnes, earning US$197 million, increasing 7.1 per cent in volume and 4.3 per cent in value compared to the same period last year.

    Of these, the export volume of Vietnamese tea in November is estimated at 12,000 tonnes with a turnover of $21 million, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).

    However, the tea price for exports in the first ten months decreased nearly 14 per cent compared to the same period last year, to $1,656 per tonne on average.

    According to the Viet Nam Tea Association (Vitas), export value for the whole year is expected at $235 million, with 46 per cent from green tea and 53 per cent from black tea.

    Top importers of Viet Nam’s tea products include Afghanistan, Indonesia, Russia, Pakistan, Taiwan, the US, mainland China, the UK and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

    Pakistan was the top consumption market of Vietnamese tea in the first 10 months of the year, accounting for 34 per cent of market share. Export volume to the market increased 1.8 per cent but declined 8.7 per cent in value compared to the same period last year. Markets whose tea imports increased include China, Indonesia and Malaysia.

    The association also predicted that tea export volume would increase by 10 per cent next year. However, according to Vitas, to meet the expectation, co-operation between central and local relevant agencies is required, such as planning tea plantation land and processing units with suitable capacity.

    The association also suggested tight control for safe tea production, as well as supporting policies for enterprises and farmers in production, investment and material purchase.

    The Hai Quan (Customs) newspaper quoted Nguyen Thi Anh Hong, Vitas vice president, as saying that ASEAN was becoming a more important market for the Vietnamese tea sector.

    In the last five years, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore have always been in the top 10 importers of Vietnamese tea. However, Indonesia imports lower grade tea compared to the two other countries, but with a larger volume.

    Besides the three countries, Thailand is emerging as an important importer of Vietnamese tea, she said.

    Among tea importers, Pakistan remains a stable import market. Meanwhile, export to Taiwan’s market faced a lot of difficulties due to the exceptionally strict conditions on residues in plant protection products. However, the problem was solved after the MARD’s National Agro-Forestry Fisheries Quality Assurance worked with the Taiwan side. Taiwan raised the permitted residue levels, therefore, tea exports, especially, jasmine tea, to the market have improved, she added. 

    Textile exports to hit US$28.5b

    Vietnam’s textile and garment exports this year are estimated to reach US$28.5 billion, meeting roughly 92% of the set plan due to market difficulties, the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (Vitas) reports.

    According to the association, the industry’s largest export market in 2016 remains China, which accounts for more than half of the industry’s export value.

    Exports to the US this year are also estimated at $11.4 billion, up 4% against last year.

    The EU, Japan, India, Brazil, Russia and Canada were also large importers of Vietnam’s textile and garments in 2016, the association reported.

    The association attributed the low export turnover to a lack of export orders in 2016 due to fierce competition from foreign textile and garment producers, while global demands declined.

    Hoang Ve Dung, chairman of the Duc Giang Garment and Textile Corporation, said obtaining orders had become more complicated, demanding higher quality and moving forward delivery deadlines.

    Nguyen Xuan Duong, chairman of the Hung Yen Garment Joint Stock Corporation, said that importers asked his company to lower selling prices by 18-20%, and even 30%. However, several still found partners who were less expensive in other countries.  

    Increasing production costs, limited orders and pressure by exporters to reduce selling prices have placed a burden on the corporation, Duong said.

    Experts said that the textile and garment sector would continue facing challenges in 2017 due to fierce competition by other major exporters – including China, India, Bangladesh and Pakistan –while global demand is forecast to slow down.

    Le Tien Truong, General Director of the National Garment and Textile Group (Vinatex), said textile and garment exports to the US and the EU will also see negative impacts, as consequences of Brexit and US President-elect Donald Trump, who opposes the TPP trade pact.

    Therefore, the sector anticipates an export growth rate of just 5-7% next year, if no appropriate policies are enacted, Truong said.

    Vitas chairman Vu Duc Giang said that it made several proposals to the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) to support local industry, including strengthening management of both domestic and foreign investment projects in the industry, reviewing policies on minimum wage increases and working hours.

    The association also asked for adjustments to the sector’s development and assistance in human resources training.

    In addition, Vitas proposed that the MoIT review and revise legal documents causing difficulties for garment and textile businesses.

    Korean strawberries officially imported into Vietnam

    aT Center Hanoi under the Korea Argo-Fisheries & Food Trade Corporation under Korea Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs organised December 13 event to introduce Korean strawberries, on the occasion that this product is officially licensed to be imported into Vietnam.

    This event aims to promote advantages of Korean strawberry – a new product which has been licensed for quarantine by Vietnamese government and will be imported into Vietnam from this year. 

    This highly competitive Korean product with strict quality management system has been exported to about 20 countries all over the world, such as Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand,…

    At the event, aT Center Hanoi introduced the processes of production and management, which use science and technology to help maintain the good quality and sweetness of Korean strawberries.

    In Korea, strawberries are grown in smart farms with complete automation from cultivation to rearing in order to minimize the use of fertilizers and pesticides in accordance with Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) standard. 

    Moreover, the Korean government also has technical training on cultivation and production management for farmers with an aim of improving quality and sweetness of the product; thereby improving its competitiveness. 

    In the other hand, the issue of food hygiene and safety is also ensured thanks to training on safety and hygiene carried out continuously by the Korea Institute of Agricultural Products Quality Management. 

    After being harvested, strawberries are classified, packaged with high CO2 content process technology and specialised packaging, then transported by air. Just two days after being harvested, the products will be available in Vietnam with the freshness and deliciousness equivalent to the ones sold in Korea.

    In Vietnam, Korean strawberry is promoted by a famous celebrity - actress and singer Miu Le, which gives a friendly image to the product.

    Because of the different climatic conditions, products with trade exchange potentials between Vietnam and Korea are so diverse and abundant. 

    In the last five years, the commercial transaction value of agriculture, fisheries and food between the two countries has increased twofold, up to US$1.9 billion.

    “In the context that Vietnam is focusing on development of agriculture, food industry as well as diversification of food products, that Korean strawberry products are licensed for quarantine and officially imported into Vietnam will help Vietnamese consumers access high-quality, safe and healthy Korean agricultural products,” said Kim Dong Kwan, representative of aT Center Hanoi.

    aT Center Hanoi, like aT Centers in other countries, is responsible for promotion of Korea’s agricultural – fisheries products and food through the organisation of product advertising programs such as sales promotion programs at supermarkets, Korean food free trial programs at cultural festivals and food fairs,…, supporting Vietnamese businesses in importing food items from Korea by providing cold storage, connecting Vietnam importers and Korean exporters, and inviting customers to visit food exhibition programs in Korean.

    Meanwhile in Korea, besides commercial functions such as importing agricultural products such as cereals, rice and vegetables for domestic consumption, aT is a tool which, on behalf of the government, stabilises agricultural – fisheries market prices by event organizing and price support programs such as promotional product exhibitions and fairs.

    Developing resources of rice gene adapting to climate change

     Gelex initiates plan to take over STG, PNJ shoots past full-year profit target, Experts differ on VN investment, Dung Quat shipbuilding company may declare bankruptcy, VN tea exporters enjoy record year

    Vietnam is one of the countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, so it is essential for the Vietnamese rice industry to help ensure sustainable national food security.

    In the context of such efforts, the development of varieties of rice tolerant to drought and salt intrusion (from 0.4% to 0.6% or even higher) for crossbreeding with the existing crops in the country is a top priority.

    By the end of 2014, 90 hybrid rice varieties from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) were certified in Vietnam and Vietnam sent 3,000 rice varieties to the IRRI’s banks to be preserved. 

    Earlier, the IRRI provided 2,000 crops for Vietnam to use in research, as well as in selecting and creating new seeds.

    According to Deputy Head of the Cultivation Department Tran Xuan Dinh, currently, the domestic production capacity only meets 40%-45% of demand. 

    In implementing the programme supporting hybrid rice seed production (both parental strains and F1 hybrid seeds), Vietnam produces 6,500-7,000 tonnes of seeds per year; meanwhile, around 11,000 – 12,000 tonnes of other seeds are imported.

    However, the importing of hybrid rice varieties is not likely to result in many advantages for domestic rice production. 

    Particularly in the context of complicated climate change, unusual weather such as droughts and flooding have seriously affected the results of production, resulting in corns with few seeds and a shortage of tomatoes, which has left some families in poverty. 

    Therefore, cooperation in researching and crossbreeding varieties of rice adapted to the affects of climate change has become an urgent task.

    According to statistics released by the Vietnam Agricultural Sciences Institute, Vietnam was provided with 40 top-quality rice seeds from numerous countries around the world. 

    However, they could not be used immediately due to weather conditions in the country; therefore, it is essential to select, improve and utilise genes with good resilience in the face of such disasters and high productivity in order to create varieties suited to changing climate conditions in the country.

    The IRRI has been the traditional partner of Vietnam’s rice industry since the 1980s. 

    In a seminar on prior programmes to raise the position of the Vietnamese rice industry on November 4 in Hanoi, the IRRI’s General Director Matthew Morell affirmed that the institute’s gene banks were collecting natural resources for natural genes, the genetic structure and representatives of selected rice seeds. 

    They are important natural resources for the collection of important traits as well as the varieties adapted to the impacts of climate change in Vietnam.

    The IRRI can support Vietnamese partners in increasing productivity and reducing inputs (including pesticides, fertilisers, water, workers and seeds) while improving the rice quality. 

    Its research can contribute to reducing losses during and after the harvest, as well as optimising the supply of resources and the quality of products.

    In order to face the challenges presented by climate change, the enhancement of cooperation between Vietnamese rice industry and the IRRI is very essential, creating favourable conditions in which for Vietnam to maintain its top position in rice exports around the world. 

    Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Le Quoc Doanh proposed that Vietnam should change the ways it cooperates with the IRRI in selecting and creating new rice varieties with the aim of developing Vietnam’s rice brand.

    In order to develop Vietnam’s gene bank, in addition to expanding cooperation, domestic scientists need to be more active in developing rice varieties through crossbreeding and producing seeds in the country.

    Professor Le Huy Ham, Director of Vietnam’s Agricultural Genetics Institute, said that Vietnam is home to many rice varieties, therefore it is not essential to create more new seeds. 

    Vietnamese scientists should bring genes that can adapt to climate change into existing varieties, he added. In addition, Vietnam wants to promote cooperation in new scientific fields, such as agronomic genetics.

    Currently, domestic research facilities have fully mastered the technology to select and create varieties through the traditional hybrid methods, in combination with techniques from biotechnology; therefore, Vietnamese scientists can proactively produce hybrids and genuine breeds, contributing to curbing the need for imports of rice seeds. 

    The country should also pay much attention to the co-operation with foreign countries to exchange material resources, contributing to diversifying exported rice products.

    Vinacomin Power debuts on UPCoM

    Vinacomin Power Holding Corporation Limited, a State-owned subsidiary of Vietnam National Coal and Mineral Industries Group (Vinacomin), will debut 680 million shares on the Unlisted Public Company Market (UPCoM) on December 15.

    This was announced by the Hanoi Stock Exchange.

    The shares, under code DTK, will start the first trading day at 14,000 VND (0.62 USD) per share.

    At this price, the company’s market capitalisation will reach 9.52 trillion VND, making it among the highest-valued stocks on the UPCoM.

    The power company made its initial public offering (IPO) last year, with 236.4 million shares put up for sale, a record in terms of volume of shares put up for auction at that time. However, only 1.2 million shares, equivalent to less than 1 percent, were sold.

    Vinacomin, currently, still holds over 99 percent of the company’s charter capital.

    The power company, established in 2009, engages in development, construction and management of thermal and hydro power plants. It is a major electricity producer in the local power market and is implementing 14 power projects with a total capacity of 5,880MW.

    It has five subordinate companies, two subsidiary firms and four associate companies with holdings of less than 50 percent of capital.

    Ending September 2016, Vinacomin Power reported a loss of 228 billion VND, lifting its cumulative losses to 1.14 trillion VND.

    Its equity capital was nearly 5.8 trillion VND and total asset value reached 26.4 trillion VND.

    The UPCoM, which went live on June 2010, is the market for unlisted or delisted public companies under the management of the Hanoi Stock Exchange. There are currently 387 stocks here with daily trading volume of some five million shares worth over 100 billion VND.-

    Seminar promotes GI development for Binh Thuan dragon fruit

    Measures on sustainable development of geographical indication (GI) for the dragon fruit – a fruit specialty of the southern central province of Binh Thuan, were the main focuses of a seminar in the locality on December 13. 

    Participants discussed issues related to the GI system for Binh Thuan dragon fruits and difficulties facing the locality in effectively managing the system. 

    Director of the provincial Department of Science and Technology said the locality’s relevant sectors has paid due attention to raising public awareness of the importance of intellectual property protection for the Binh Thuan dragon fruit trademark, contributing to improving the prestige of this product in the market. 

    A total of 85 local organisations and individuals have been so far granted GI protection for their dragon fruits with a combined area of 2,300 hectares. Up to now, 12 countries and territories worldwide have agreed to protect GI for Binh Thuan dragon fruits, including the US, the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, and Japan.

    Participants stressed the need to build a strategy to promote GI registered products in domestic market and potential markets. 

    The local authorities should build a dragon fruit production value chain.

    Binh Thuan boasts 26,500 ha of dragon fruit-farming land, producing about 500,000 tonnes per year. Up to 80 percent of the volume is sold abroad, mainly in China, the US, the Netherlands and the Republic of Korea.-

    ADB maintains economic growth forecast for Southeast Asia

    The Asian Development Bank (ADB) on December 13 maintained its estimates for Southeast Asia’s economic growth in 2016 and the next year.

    In a supplement to its Asian Development Outlook 2016 Update report, the bank said growth forecasts remain unchanged at 4.5 percent in 2016 and 4.6 percent in 2017, with Malaysia and the Philippines expecting stronger growth.

    The bank also slightly lowered its 2016 growth forecast for developing Asia, including India.

    The developing Asia, which groups 45 countries and territories in the Asia-Pacific region, is expected to expand 5.6 percent this year, slightly weaker than a previous forecast of 5.7 percent, the ADB said in its report.

    The bank trimmed its growth estimate for India this year to 7.0 percent from 7.4 percent due to weak investment, agricultural slowdown and the government's recent demonetisation, but India is expected to end 2017 at faster growth rate of 7.8 percent.

    The ADB said China is seen expanding 6.6 percent this year and 6.4 percent next year.

    Meanwhile, the bank downgraded the forecast in South Asia from 6.9 percent to 6.6 percent in 2016. Growth will bounce back in 2017, reaching 7.3 percent.

    Kazakhstan holds great potential for Vietnamese investors

    Kazakhstan can be the gateway for Vietnamese firms to enter the East Europe market, according to Kazakhstan’s Ambassador to Vietnam Beketzhan Zhumakhanov.

    He said Kazakhstan has opened its border entirely to Russia and Belarus, and with the free trade agreement between Vietnam and the Eurasia Economic Alliance (EAEU), Vietnamese goods can go through Kazakh to neighbouring East European countries. 

    The ambassador also stressed that the country is undertaking economic reform while offering incentive policies to foreign firms. 

    Kazakhstan is rich in oil and gas, and recently the country is looking to diversify its economy to reduce its dependence on oil industry. The focus is put on metallurgy, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, machinery manufacturing, light industry, tourism, information and communication technology, and energy.

    Lying on the corridor connecting Europe and Asia, Kazakhstan has seven railway routes connecting China, Southeast Asia to Russia, Europe and Turkey, making Kazakhstan a great place for moving goods between Europe and Asia.

    Trade between Vietnam and Kazakhstan has been expanding in recent years but the scale is still modest compared with potential, according to Vietnam’s Ambassador to Kazakhstan Doan Thi Xuan Hien.

    The Vietnamese Embassy in Kazakhstan is assisting several companies such as Interserco and Viettel in studying the market in Kazakhstan and Central Asia. 

    Vietnam will attend the world largest international fair EXPO 2017 in Kazakhstan’s capital city of Astana.

    The Vietnam area includes a Vietnam House and a commercial space where Vietnamese enterprises can display their products. 

    This is an opportunity for Vietnamese companies to seek contracts with partners from Kazakhstan as well as around the world.

    According to the Kazakhstan Embassy in Vietnam, two-way trade value grew from 44 million USD in 2010 to 162 million USD in 2015.

    Workshop promotes market-relevant human resource development

    The Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) jointly organised a workshop to seek ways to help Vietnamese workforce better prepare for changes in technology and labour requirements.

    Addressing the event, MOLISA Deputy Minister Dao Hong Lan highlighted challenges facing Vietnam’s economy that are brought about by the globalisation process and the technology revolution.

    He said the world has witnessed enormous leaps forward in information and communication technology, internet, automation, and the digital revolution based on knowledge and artificial intelligence, but Vietnam has lagged far left behind regional and international nations.

    As of 2016, 79.4 percent of the total 54.36 million labourers in the country do not receive any training, and there is a big quality gap between the urban and rural workforces, the Deputy Minister said, adding that at the same time, vocational training has failed to meet market’s demand.

    Major industries critical to economic growth such as mechanical engineering, electronics and electrical engineering suffer from serious workforce shortages, according to Lan.

    Meanwhile, Chairman of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) Vu Tien Loc said the economy’s major industries such as garment-textile, footwear, and electronics are still relying on low-skilled workforce.

    Therefore, labour market reform must be the most important task to enhance the Vietnamese economy’s competitiveness and ensure jobs for local workers, he said.

    Loc called for businesses to join human resource training, by linking up with training establishments to provide high-quality vocational training.

    Deputy Chairman of the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour Mai Duc Chinh was of the opinion that Vietnam needs to enhance labour productivity and promote technology application in production.

    For his part, ILO Deputy Director for Asia Pacific Countries David Lamotte suggested Vietnam strengthen coordination among policy-makers, employers and training institutions to modernise the vocational training system to better prepared for changes in workplaces.

    He also called for incentives to encourage young people pursue science- technology, engineering and mathematics.

    HCM City authorities vow to facilitate British investment

    Ho Chi Minh City is resolved to improve its investment environment and create favourable conditions for foreign investors, including those from the United Kingdom, to do long-term business in the city, said a local official.

    At a meeting with leaders of the UK Consulate General and the British Business Group in HCM City on December 13, Vice Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Le Thanh Liem noted that, based on the growing Vietnam-UK strategic partnership, relations between HCM City and the UK is developing well, opening up new cooperation opportunities.

    Liem affirmed that HCM City wants to continue cooperation with British investors during its development process, especially in building a smart city.

    British Consul General in HCM City Ian Gibbons spoke highly of the municipal administration’s efforts to perfect its investment climate, thereby attracting more British enterprises.

    During the meeting, the city’s officials and representatives of the British Business Group exchanged views on arrange of issues such as tax policy, infrastructure development and high-quality personnel training.

    The UK currently ranks 12th among 79 countries and territories investing in HCM City, with 126 valid projects worth over 500 million USD.

    Two-way trade between HCM City and the UK reached 755 million USD in the first 11 months of 2016.

    Korea Rice Foodstuffs Association opens office in Can Tho

    The Korea Rice Foodstuffs Association (KRFA) of the Republic of Korea inaugurated its Vietnam representative office in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho on December 13. 

    KRFA Chairman Kim Nam Doo said the opening of the office is aimed at facilitating links between food processing firms of the two countries, contributing to the development of the industry in both countries. 

    The office will help connect RoK firms with the Vietnamese market, KRFA executive director Lee Soong Ju said, adding that it will provide information on the market, the distribution system, local farm produce and development trend to DRFA member companies which want to invest in Vietnam. 

    The office also works as a bridge for enterprises of both countries, proposing possibilities for their cooperation and assisting with the export of products to the other country. 

    Vice Chairman of Can Tho People’s Committee Truong Quang Hoai Nam said he hopes the representative office will help bring more KRFA member firms to Vietnam 

    Can Tho is seeing more RoK investor coming, with a remarkable investment project being a 171 million USD sport shoe factory of Tae Kwang group. 

    The city has exported 30.3 million USD worth of goods to the RoK so far this year, and imported 4.2 million USD from the Northeast Asian country, mostly pharmaceutical materials, fertilizer, cloth and garment accessory.

    Vietnam should clear economic bottlenecks to keep high growth: experts

    Vietnam should recognise factors that affect its economy’s productivity and competitiveness to maintain high and sustainable growth, domestic and foreign experts have said.

    They made the recommendation at a workshop in Hanoi on December 13 that discussed research on Vietnam’s economy and growth diagnostics.

    The country’s economic growth reached 6.68 percent in 2015 – a five-year high since 2011. This year’s GDP is expected to expand 6.3 percent.

    Presenting the research findings, Ricardo Hausmann – Director of Harvard University’s Centre for International Development – said there are three groups of bottleneck in Vietnam’s economic growth.

    Short-term bottlenecks include the ineffective administrative system, wastefulness, corruption, inappropriate land policies, and high financial costs. The mid-term ones are macro-economic and micro-institutional risks. In the long term, bottlenecks lie in infrastructure and human resources issues. 

    The research says the State plays a key role in outlining a vision for economic development, making flexible mechanisms and policies, and attracting and encouraging businesses’ participation to tackle bottlenecks.

    Vietnam’s production potential is in hi-tech industries like machinery and electronics. The Government also needs to keep attention on traditional manufacturing and export sectors like agriculture, apparel, footwear and mining, but should diversify products and prioritise ones with high added value, according to the research.

    Cao Duc Phat, deputy head of the Party Central Committee’s Commission for Economic Affairs, said Vietnam’s economic growth still depends on natural resources exploitation, investment and cheap labour, instead of science-technology application or economic restructuring.

    The economy is growing at a slower pace and with lower quality, he noted.

    The research on Vietnam’s economy and growth diagnostics was conducted by the Economic Commission and some domestic and foreign experts with the assistance of the US Agency for International Development.

    GENCO 1 produces nearly 20.6 billion kWh of electricity

    The Power Generation Corporation 1 (GENCO 1) said in the past 11 months, the company produced nearly 20.6 billion kWh of electricity, equal to 91.5 percent of its yearly plan.

    Of which, 5.5 billion kWh was generated by hydropower plants and the remaining by thermal power plants.

    In December, GENCO 1 plans to produce more than 2.4 billion kWh of electricity.

    The corporation will sign a contract with the Vietnam Coal and Mineral Industries Group on supplying and transporting coal to Duyen Hai 1 and Uong Bi thermal electricity plants.

    Among underway power projects, the first turbine of the Duyen Hai 3 thermal power plant completed trial tests while the work on the second turbine will finish before December 15.

    Efforts have been made to accelerate the progress of hydropower projects like the expanded Ban Ve and Da Nhim plants.

    Vietnam taxpayers want bigger relief to cover illness

    Vietnamese taxpayers want to enjoy more lenient rules when they become ill, as the current regulations will give little or no relief for their financial burden.

    vietnam taxpayers want bigger relief to cover illness hinh 0 Local payers of the personal income tax lament that they will still have to fulfill tax obligations, or are only eligible for a modest exemption or reduction even when they catch serious or fatal diseases.

    In the meantime, the current procedure for sick taxpayers to apply for such a reduction or exemption is so complicated that few are able to follow through all the paperwork to get their benefits.

    Vietnam currently applies progressive personal income tax, with the taxpaying threshold set at VND5 million (US$223) and the tax rates ranging from five percent to 30%.

    The taxable income is calculated by deducting VND9 million (US$402) from an individual’s total income, and another VND3.6 million (US$161) for each of their dependents.

    For instance, a man who earns VND20 million (US$893) a month with an under-18-year-old child has a taxable income of VND7.4 million (US$330).

    Also under the current tax law, if that person has one in a list of 42 serious diseases – cancer, heart attack, stroke, coma, kidney failure, brain injury and blindness – or has paralyzed/amputated legs/arms, he/she can apply for a tax reduction or exemption.

    The tax relief, however, is not allowed to exceed the total tax that person has paid in the year he becomes ill or starts receiving treatment.

    This regulation is causing trouble to taxpayers.

    In 2015, Tran Thi Hau, a Hanoi liver cancer patient, had to spend VND150 million (US$6,696) covering treatment for her disease.

    Due to her illness, Hau had to quit work for six months, and her income dropped accordingly. The woman paid a total of VND26 million (US$1,161) in income tax in 2015, meaning she was only able to enjoy a tax reduction of VND26 million as per the rule.

    Hau said she had paid up to VND30 million (US$1,339) in income tax every year in the pre-2015 period, but the calculation was done on the very year when she had lower earnings.

    A chief accountant at the tax office in Phu Nhuan District, Ho Chi Minh City, said there have been cases in which taxpayers started their retirement or almost had no taxable income in the very year their tax reduction and exemption are calculated, so they “received no tax relief at all.”

    “Taxpayers feel unfair as the huge amount of taxes they paid in the past is useless,” he said.

    An official at a tax office in Ho Chi Minh City said the current regulation just “provides insignificant relief for sick taxpayers.”

    He added that this appears to be the reason why his tax office has so far received only a couple of taxpayers who came to apply for tax exemption or reduction to cover their medical treatment.

    But the chief accountant in Phu Nhuan District said red tape may be another reason because “you have to provide numerous different papers to complete the procedure.”

    Many taxpayers have demanded that the reduction and exemption be calculated based on their tax payments in the subsequent years from the year they become ill or start treatment.

    “This is a reasonable proposal and I personally back this idea,” said Ta Thi Phuong Lan, deputy head of the agency in charge of personal income tax under the General Department of Taxation.

    Lan said businesses are currently allowed to carry over their losses in one certain year to the following years to reduce the amount of corporate income tax, so individuals should be allowed to do the same to ensure fairness.

    “The tax rule must be changed to create fairness between individuals and businesses,” she said.

    “Exempting or reducing taxes for taxpayers suffering ailments basically has no impact on the state budget revenue.”

    As promised, trade agreements good for agriculture

    Vietnam is and must remain one of the world leading agriculture exporters, said officials of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development at a recent sales promotion event in Ho Chi Minh City.

    Businesses in the agriculture segment excel at growing, producing and exporting a wide variety of agriculture produce such as rice, fruit and vegetables to a vast array of foreign countries, they noted.

    However, if agriculture is to thrive and continue to be a source of prosperity and jobs then it must be able to sell in expanding markets around the globe and – vice versa – products from other countries must be allowed entry into Vietnam.

    This, said the officials, is why the Vietnam government has signed on to a series of bilateral and free trade agreements and instituted other initiatives aimed at tearing down tariff and non-tariff barriers to global trade.

    Even though just starting to be implemented, the Korea, Japan, ASEAN and China free trade agreements have already resulted in growth of Vietnam agricultural exports to those economies for select produce.

    Similarly, products from those economies are experiencing – in some cases –  triple-digit percentage growth crossing the border into Vietnam.

    Official statistics, they said, showed agriculture exports for the first eleven months of calendar year 2016 leading to December registered US$186 million, up US$1.8 billion for the same period in 2015.

    Roughly 70.4% of those shipments went to China, trailed by the Republic of Korea (4%), the US (3.5%) and Japan (3.1%). Meanwhile, they added, that imports (principally from Thailand and China) into country shot up a staggering 44% for the period to US$814 million.

    Geographical limitations, seasonality, capital access, infrastructure restrictions and market access are just a few of the challenges facing the country’s farmers today, they pointed out.

    Luckily, they added, the overall improvement and economic growth in the economy is sprouting a hot bed of agriculture activity and stellar programs that aim to bolster local farmers so they can succeed in the – new marketplace – of today.

    The Ministry is supporting local farmers by providing VietGAP, GlobalGAP, and other good agricultural practices and food safety training along with marketing, advertising and other promotion assistance.

    The Ministry’s aim is to help farmers bridge the gap that exists in accessing the wider marketplace. And bridging this gap also means money, in the form of grants, which help farmers make capital investments and infrastructure improvements.

    To feed the country now and into the future, said the Ministry officials, it’s necessary to support local farmers and producers with programs that offer a chance for the little guy to overcome the obstacles they face and succeed.

    The country’s economy is deep-rooted and well-grounded in agriculture, they concluded, and – as the Government promised –  with the benefits of trade agreements, there are no limits to what farmers and agriculture can achieve.


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  • 12/14/16--00:04: Article 2
  • Nearly $700mil. cosmetics market still out of reach for Vietnamese firms

    Vietnamese manufacturers have found it difficult getting a foothold in the cosmetics market, valued at VND15 trillion (nearly $700 million) with a high growth rate of 20 percent per annum.  

     vietnamnet bridge, english news, Vietnam news, news Vietnam, vietnamnet news, Vietnam net news, Vietnam latest news, Vietnam breaking news, vn news, cosmetics, ginseng, FDI
    The market survey last September by Asia Plus found that 30 percent of Vietnamese make up everyday, while 23 percent only make up for special occasions and 25 percent rarely make up.

    Most Vietnamese woman (90 percent) own at least one tube of lipstick and 80 percent said they use lipstick regularly.

    Besides, powder and foundation cream are also commonly used as 63 percent of women have them and 29 percent use them regularly. It is estimated that women spend VND200,000-500,000 a month on cosmetics. Many women are willing to spend money on many other cosmetics, even though they don’t use the products very often.

     Vietnamese manufacturers have found it difficult getting a foothold in the cosmetics market, valued at VND15 trillion with a high growth rate of 20 percent per annum.  

    The manager of a company specializing in importing and distributing European cosmetics in Vietnam said that the market has been witnessing a stable growth rate of 30 percent for many years.

    Reports all show that 95 percent of the Vietnamese cosmetics market share is held by foreign manufacturers, especially brands from South Korea, Japan, Europe and the US.

    According to Euromonitor, LG Vina Cosmetics (The Face Shop), Revlon Inc, Estee Lauder Vietnam and Skin Food Vietnam are the major players in the market. Of these, LG Vina holds the biggest piece of the cake with 16 percent of the color cosmetics market share in 2015.

    Analysts said that Vietnamese, affected by ad campaigns, believe that foreign made products are better than Vietnamese items, and therefore, are much more expensive.

    With powerful financial capability, foreign manufacturers and suppliers can spend big money on ad campaigns and expand their distribution networks.

    A survey by Asia Plus showed that the origin, price, brand and components affect consumer shopping behavior.

    Director of Phan Nu Hoang Cung (Royal Powder), a Vietnamese brand, said her business receives 2-3 partners from Japan every month.

    She said Japanese and South Korean brands have shown interest in the Vietnamese market because the products are suited to the Vietnamese climate and skin.

    Vietnamese choose Japanese cosmetics because they believe in ‘Japanese quality’, while they like South Korean products for their modern makeup style.

    However, Nguyen Phuong Khanh, the owner of Phan Nu Hoang Cung, still believes that with natural herbs, the Vietnamese brand will still be favored internationally.

    US$1 = VND22,500

    Kim Chi, VNN

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  • 12/14/16--01:24: Article 1
  • Researchers present Vietnam island proof

    Vietnamese leading researchers gathered at a workshop in the central coastal province of Thua Thien – Hue on December 14 to present old documents issued by the Europeans, which are proof of Vietnam’s sovereignty over Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago.

    researchers present vietnam island proof hinh 0

    According to Dr. Tran Duc Anh Son, a well-known researcher in the field, French Navy sailor Jean Baptiste Chaigneau wrote in his memoir Le mesmoire sur la Cochinchine that Hoang Sa was an uninhabited island until Emperor Gia Long, the first King of the Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945) declared sovereignty in 1816.

    The Journal of an Embassy from the Governor-General of India to the Courts of Siam and Cochinchina by late diplomat John Crawfurd, published in 1830 in London, also includes lines saying that the emperor in 1816 took over the Paracel, which was then under no dispute over its sovereignty.

    The book Die Erdkunde von Asien by Calt Ritter, published in Berlin in 1834, said the same, adding that neighbouring countries, including China, did not dispute the sovereignty declaration over Paracel by the emperor.

    The Nguyen Dynasty’s Dai Nam Thuc Luc (Great South Real Record) in 1816 recorded that the emperor sent a royal marine troop to monitor and undertake measuring work on Hoang Sa. Dai Nam is the former name of Vietnam.

    Son said Vietnam’s sovereignty over the archipelago has been clear since over 200 years ago. 

    Professor Nguyen Quang Ngoc, deputy chairman of the Vietnam Scientific History Association, said royal documents issued by the Nguyen Dynasty presented details of the work and contributions of localities, including central coastal provinces of Thua Thien – Hue, Quang Ngai and Binh Thuan, for protecting the archipelago, and these also served as evidence of Vietnam’s sovereignty.

    The researchers gathered for a seminar on the issue where they pledged to research more old documents from Japan, the Republic of Korea, and China related to the archipelago in an attempt to present an accurate picture of the East Sea dispute to citizens around the world.


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  • 12/14/16--01:46: Article 0
  • More investors show interest in airports in Vietnam

    The limited capacity of key airports could hinder the growth of the aviation market in the medium term, experts have said.

     vietnamnet bridge, english news, Vietnam news, news Vietnam, vietnamnet news, Vietnam net news, Vietnam latest news, Vietnam breaking news, vn news, ACV, Vietnam Airlines, Tan Son Nhat

    According to the Airports Corporation of Vietnam (ACV), in the first nine months of the year, the number of passengers increased sharply by 29.6 percent compared with the last year’s same period to 60.5 million. This included 17.5 million foreign passengers, an increase of 25.2 percent, or 29 percent of total passengers. Meanwhile, the number of domestic travelers increased by 31.5 percent to 43 million, or 71 percent of total passengers.

    However, the expansion of T2 Terminal at Noi Bai Airport in 2015 and the terminal at Hai Phong Airport in May 2016 has helped ACV ease the overloading. 

    But experts have warned that continued overloading at Tan Son Nhat, Da Nang and Cam Ranh airports will slow growth at the airports.

    The limited capacity of key airports could hinder the growth of the aviation market in the medium term

    The rapid expansion of Vietjet, a budget airline, has led to a sharp increase in the number of passengers. Vietjet customers accounted for 41.4 percent of total passengers on domestic flights in the first half of 2016. Vietnam Airlines’ passengers accounted for 42.5 percent. 

    In June 2016, Vietjet held 43.1 percent of the market share, while Vietnam Airlines had 41.3 percent.

    In addition, Vietnam has been increasingly integrating into world trade and becoming a production base, which is expected to boost growth of air cargo transportation. 

    Business Monitor International (BMI) predicts that Vietnam’s volume of goods to be carried by air may increase by 6.5-7 percent in the 2015-2019 period.

    ACV operates 21 existing airports in Vietnam, and holds a 10 percent stake of Cam Ranh Airport after capital disinvestment in 2016. The corporation has put its shares on the bourse.

    Aeroport de Paris (ADP) has expressed its intent to become a strategic shareholder of ACV with expected ownership ratio of 25-30 percent. ADP has joined forces with Credit Suisse, the Vietnam Ministry of Transport and ACV to mobilize $2-3 billion capital for the building of Long Thanh Airport. 

    Vietnam Airlines has said it wants to take over the terminal reserved for domestic passengers at Noi Bai Airport from ACV, while Vietjet wants Terminal No 1 at the airport. 

    T&T Group, a conglomerate which has injected money into many business fields owned by billionaire Do Quang Hien, is asking for permission to invest in Phu Quoc Airport, which is now wholly owned by ACV. 

    In recent news, IPP, the corporation of Johnathan Hanh Nguyen, a well-known businessman, has asked for permission to expand the terminal for international travelers at Noi Bai Airport.

    Nam Lich, VNN

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  • 12/15/16--06:33: Article 3
  • How much is a cup of coffee?

    With the cost price accounting for only 20-25 percent, high-end coffee chains are making big profits selling coffee at VND40-90,000 per cup. 

     vietnamnet bridge, english news, Vietnam news, news Vietnam, vietnamnet news, Vietnam net news, Vietnam latest news, Vietnam breaking news, vn news, coffee chain, Starbucks, highlands coffee

    Of the best-known café brands in Vietnam, Starbucks is the coffee chain with the highest prices. Every cup of Espresso, Cappuccino and Latte there is VND15,000-20,000 higher than other foreign brands such as Gloria Jeans Coffee, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Illy, Dunkin Donuts and Caffe Benne, and VND25,000-35,000 higher than Trung Nguyen and Highlands Coffee.

    With the current business model, Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, said the revenue from the first shop has met expectations.

    Setting prices cheaper than foreign brands, the revenue of the best shop of Trung Nguyen, a Vietnamese brand owned by Dang Le Nguyen Vu, dubbed the Vietnamese Coffee King,  is about VND2.2 billion a month, while the figure is VND400-500 million a month for other shops.

    According to the manager of a Highlands Coffee shop in district 1, HCM City, a cup of coffee has the cost price of only 20-25 percent of the selling price.

    On average, one kilo of coffee, priced at VND60,000, can make 30-40 cups of coffee. If selling a cup of coffee at VND8,000, one would make a profit of 50-60 percent. Coffee chains set up the prices of up to VND85,000 per cup, which means, they are making ‘super-profit’.

    With reasonable prices, targeting different groups of customers, Highlands Coffee is the chain which offers the lowest prices among luxury brands.

    A cup of ice milk coffee at Highlands is priced at VND29,000, while it is VND55,000-60,000 at Trung Nguyen. Meanwhile, an Espresso is priced at VND44,000-54,000, Cappuccino VND54,000-64,000, Latte VND54,000-64,000.

    Meanwhile, its customers can use free wi-fi for indefinite time and be served different kinds of food.

    Cafes make money from other drinks as well. Truong Anh Tuan, deputy director of Caffe Benne Vietnam, said the revenue from lunch, sandwiches, pastries and drinks make up a high proportion of the chain’s revenue.

    However, though the selling prices are high, the profits remain unknown.

    One of the biggest challenges for coffee chains is the race for retail premises.

    Positioned as a high-end coffee chain, eight Starbucks shops are located in advantageous positions, despite the high rent.

    Sources said that Starbucks has to pay VND320 million a month to rent the space located near the New World Hotel. 

    Kim Chi, VNN

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  • 12/15/16--06:57: Article 2
  • As Vietnam becomes choosier about investment projects, FDI decreases

    The latest report by the Foreign Investment Agency (FIA) shows that only $490 million worth of foreign direct investment (FDI) was registered in November, the lowest level this year.

     vietnamnet bridge, english news, Vietnam news, news Vietnam, vietnamnet news, Vietnam net news, Vietnam latest news, Vietnam breaking news, vn news, FDI, FIA, real estate sector

    FIA, an arm of the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI), pointed out that the decrease in November followed the downward trend seen in September and October.

    The report shows that 2,240 projects had got investment certificates by November 20 with the total registered capital of $13.028 billion, which is equal to 96.1 percent of the last year’s same period.

    Meanwhile, investors registered 1,075 projects with additional investment capital of $5.075 billion. The figure represented a 25 percent decrease compared with the same period of 2015.

    Thanh Nien quoted analysts as saying that there were two reasons behind the decrease. First, investors had delayed registration because they were following the news about the US presidential election. Second, Vietnam has become more cautious attracting FDI after incidents related to the environment.

    The representative of the HCM City Industrial Zone and Export Processing Zone Management (Hepza) said on the newspaper that the FDI into the city decreased because of the municipal authorities’ policy that focuses on attracting FDI into four key industries and nine service sectors. 

    The latest report by the Foreign Investment Agency (FIA) shows that only $490 million worth of foreign direct investment (FDI) was registered in November, the lowest level this year.

    “HCM City does not intend to attract FDI at any cost,” the official said.

    Nguyen Mai, a renowned expert on FDI, now chair of the Vietnam Foreign Invested Enterprises’ Association (VAFIE), said the prediction about the TPP cancellation was not the cause behind the FDI decrease.

    He believes the major reason was the tighter control over FDI followed by local authorities after the serious environment scandals this year.

    FDI to Vietnam increased sharply by 89 percent in the first half of 2016, but then decreased significantly in the second half. The mass fish deaths in the central coastal areas caused by the Taiwanese Formosa company in Vung Ang Economic Zone in Ha Tinh province in July were the major reason.

    After the incidents, local authorities said they would not sacrifice or exchange the environment for more FDI.

    Vo Tri Thanh, deputy head of CIEM, said on Hai Quan that the FDI decrease might continue in upcoming months, and that TPP implementation would affect the situation.

    “As big questions about TPP remain unanswered, investors will have to reconsider their investment plans,” he said, adding that in the last 2-3 years, many investors, especially in textiles and garments, came to Vietnam because they hoped they would enjoy benefits from the TPP of which Vietnam is a member.

    Thanh Mai, VietNamNet Bridge

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  • 12/15/16--07:11: Article 1

    Vietnam Food Association proposes rice export volume cut


    The Vietnam Food Association (VFA) suggested exporting 2-3 million tonnes of rice per year through 2020 instead of 7-8 million tonnes at present.

    At a workshop in Ho Chi Minh City on December 13, the VFA said nearly 70 percent of Vietnamese rice is sold in Asia each year with China the biggest importer, followed by the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia.

    However, Vietnam’s rice exports to these markets are sluggish.

    VFA Chairman Huynh The Nang said in previous years, the three ASEAN nations imported around 2-3 million tonnes of rice from Vietnam.

    However, currently, rice export volume to the markets has reduced due to their governments’ policies of balancing domestic food and reducing dependence on rice imports.

    Meanwhile, China has put forth new quarantine regulations, and signed a protocol with Vietnam setting stricter sterilisation inspections on Vietnamese rice and rice bran imports.

    Nang said it is necessary to improve quality and ensure food safety by building safe material areas which trace the origin of products.

    He advised making use of potential rice production regions, including Dong Thap Muoi (the Plain of Reeds) and Tu Giac Long Xuyen (Long Xuyen Quadrangle) and the rice-shrimp rotational crops region between the Tien and Hau rivers in the Mekong Delta.

    Luong Hoang Thai, head of the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Multilateral Trade Policy Department, said 90 percent of Vietnamese rice exports come from the Mekong Delta.

    Over 1 million tonne of rice was lost due to drought and saltwater intrusion in the 2015-2016 winter-spring crops, he said, adding that rice production in the delta will face more difficulties from climate change and rising sea levels.

    This requires the country to build large-scale paddy fields and stable material areas to create high-quality and competitive products, the panel suggested.

    Can Tho strives to become Mekong Delta’s startup hub

    The Mekong Delta city of Can Tho, an economic hub of the Mekong Delta, is expected to become a startup valley in the Mekong Delta region by 2020.

    The goal was made at a workshop on “Vietnam Startup Index 2015/2016” held on December 13 by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce andIndustry (VCCI) Can Tho branch and the municipal of Department of Planning and Investment in the city.

    The workshop focused on measures for startup development in Can Tho based on the startup situation in Vietnam in 2015 - 2016.

    Can Tho had 67,000 enterprises and business households as well as 221 cooperatives in 2016, contributing 4 trillion VND to the local budget and providing over 125,000 jobs, said Nguyen Thanh Dung, Vice Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee, adding that the city’s economy steadily grew at 5.88 percent per year, ranking 14th among 63 cities and provinces in competitiveness.

    However, a lack of a comprehensive legal framework and stable government investment has posed challenges to local startups. They also lack confidence, experience and creativity.

    To tackle these problems, the city is advised to create a creative environment while promoting training programmes for startups and businessmen, said Truong Quoc Trang, Deputy Director of the municipal Department of Planning and Investment.

    He added that a training course themed “Your startups” will be held by the department and the VCCI Can Tho chapter in 2017.

    The course is expected to provide basic skills and knowledge on startups for youths.

    Meanwhile, the municipal Department of Science and Technology will coordinate with the city’s VCCI to create and expand a working space network and suggest business directions for startups, said Tran Hoai Phuong, the department’s Deputy Director.

    Startup competitions will be held to encourage enterprises to exchange their experience, he added.

    A support foundation will be founded by the VCCI with a targeted budget of 10 billion VND in 2017 – 2020 to support infrastructure construction and training programmes, according to Vo Hung Dung, Director of VCCI Can Tho chapter.

    The foundation will call for government financial support and investment of big businesses to professionalise startups.

    Russian food businesses seek market entry in Vietnam

    Representatives of more than 20 Russian food and drink businesses joined an exchange with leading Vietnam distributors and importers on December 14 in Ho Chi Minh City.

    Robert Kurilo of the Russian Export Centre in Hanoi said the Centre hopes that diverse trade promotion activities in Vietnam will help Russian products gain market entry and get fast grocery store shelf space.

    Russian businesses have introduced a variety of food and drink products to local business partners including instant cereals, confectionary, fruit juices and processed meat products.

    Klimova Elena, general director of the Znamensky Company, said Russian products are of high quality because they are made on hi-tech production lines. Besides, local customers are interested in discovering new flavours, which bodes well for Russian food to find a niche in the market.

    Doan Thi My Linh from SATRA noted the company currently needs to import foreign food to diversify their goods at its supermarkets. She hopes that high quality Russian products will be chosen by local customers.

    At the exchange, businesses from two countries identified some difficulties in transporting products to Vietnam, noting in particular the vast geographic distance results in high freight charges.

    Russian autos gain free access to ASEAN via Vietnam

    Vietnam-Russia commercial trade remains relatively insignificant, said Hoang Quang Phong, vice chair of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry at a recent business forum in Hanoi.

    Official statistics for 2015, said Mr Phong, showed that the combined exports and imports of Vietnam to and from Russia was roughly US$4 billion, which is only a small fraction of the trade figure of other trade partners.

    For comparison purposes, the country’s commercial trade with its five largest trading partners for 2015 was – China (US$66 billion), ASEAN (US$42.1 billion), the US ($41.5 billion), the EU ($41.2 billion) and the Republic of Korea ($36.7 billion).
    With total foreign direct investment estimated at just US$2 billion, Russia ranks No. 17 among other economies currently doing business in Vietnam, noted Mr Phong.

    While on the reverses side, he added, that Vietnamese companies have foreign investment of approximately US$3 billion in Russia, substantially all of which is in the oil and gas segment.

    However, despite the relatively weak economic ties, the two countries have strong cultural and political links dating back to the Soviet Union era, Mr Phong observed.

    Notably, a study by the Pew Research Centre, a think tank based in Washington DC, the US, conducted in 2015 showed that 75% of Vietnamese people viewed Russia positively. Of all the people surveyed in some 40 countries, only 30% saw Russia favourably.

    Russia became Vietnam’s first strategic partner in 2001 even before its major Asian neighbours like Japan (2006), India (2007) and China (2008). Alongside China, Russia is currently one of the two countries with which Vietnam has established a comprehensive strategic partnership.

    In May 2015, following six years and eight rounds of negotiations, Vietnam signed a free trade agreement with the Russia-led Eurasian Union (EAEU), comprised of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia.

    That Agreement and the new free trade region it created came into force this past October 2016, noted Mr Phong, adding that it holds great promise for eliminating both tariff (previously at 5.63%) and non-tariff barriers to trade of Vietnam with the EAEU.

    Pursuant to the Agreement, the EAEU eliminates import duties on 88% of goods imported from Vietnam either immediately when the Agreement came into force or with a phase-out transit period of five to 10 years.

    Thus, Vietnamese producers have already gotten significant preferential access to many consumer goods markets of the EAEU including clothes, shoes, fish, rice, fruits, vegetables and consumer electronics.

    In return, the average level of Vietnam duties imposed on EAEU goods will drop from 10 to 1%.

    Vietnam has agreed to eliminate its import duties on 91% of its goods' nomenclature, which means that zero duties will apply to EAEU beef, dairy products, tinned fish, flour, cereals as well as to rolled steel, pipes, asbestos, ships, petroleum products and many other categories of goods.

    The duty on petrol will be reduced from 19 to 0% with a transition period; on cables, from 20 to 0% over a period of 10 years; for large goods vehicles, from 17 to 0%.

    Vietnam has also agreed to partially liberalize access to its market for EAEU tobacco products, while the EAEU automobile industry companies will be given exclusive access to the Vietnamese market.

    Vietnam has signed an investment agreement for the industrial assembly of cars and trucks with companies from Russia and Belarus. Assembled vehicles will be considered as manufactured in Vietnam and will thus have free access to the markets of ASEAN member states.

    We hope that the growth in trade resulting from the newly created free trade EAEU region will increase to US$10 billion by 2020 as agreed upon by the two governments, noted Mr Phong.

    However, the challenges such as high shipping costs due to the geographical distances, along with differences in business culture and languages may prove to be too formidable obstacles for Vietnamese companies.

    HCMC begins forcing business offices out of condo buildings

    The HCMC Department of Planning and Investment has urged those businesses having offices in condo buildings in the city to move out within 15 days.

    They will have to stop operation inside condo buildings and register for new office addresses. If they fail to do so, the department will coordinate with the Construction Department and district authorities to deal with them in accordance with law.

    According to Government Decree 99/2015, which guides the implementation of the Housing Law, business offices are disallowed inside condo buildings. Those having business registration licenses and using apartments as transaction offices are required to move to other places within six months starting from December 10 last year, which means the June 10 deadline is over.

    But many businesses are still operating in many condo buildings around the city. Data of the Department of Planning and Investment shows the city now has around 2,000 enterprises whose head offices are based in such residential buildings.

    More than 30 condo units at 42 Nguyen Hue Boulevard in District 1 are used for doing business. Seven to eight households still live at this place while the rest have moved to other places and leased their homes to others, said Tran Quoc Thang, member of the condo’s management board.

    “We cannot manage those doing business in these condo units. It is the right of the owners to lease their properties to anybody as wished. It is the responsibility of authorities to order those businesses to move out or stop operation,” he said.

    A representative of a business at this condo said it is a difficult for enterprises to relocate their offices within 15 days. “It will take a lot of time looking for a new location with a reasonable rental. When relocating elsewhere, enterprises will have to inform banks, tax authorities, partners and customers of their new addresses.”

    Cu Thanh Duc, deputy head of the business registration office at the Department of Planning and Investment, said many enterprises are using condo units as their offices as the business registration rules do not require them to declare where they are headquartered.

    Lawyer Tran Duc Phuong, member of the HCMC Bar Association, said Decree 99 bans enterprises from using condos as business locations but the decree does not clearly define “business location.”

    “The Enterprise Law describes a business location as a place where enterprises carry out specific business activities. In line with the law, Decree 99 only prohibits enterprises from using condo units as transaction locations, but not head, branch, or representative offices,” said Phuong.

    However, authorities can still order enterprises operating in condo buildings to move out based on the regulation that specifies condos must be used for the right purpose, which is living.

    The lawyer suggested authorities provide specific sanctions against those violating the rule, instead of simply banning.

    Each province to sue 10-50 businesses in premium debts this month


    Each province in Vietnam will file lawsuits against 10-50 businesses for not paying social, health and unemployment insurances more than six months and big debtor names will be publicized on the media by December 31.

    The announcement was made by Mr. Nguyen Tri Dai, head of Premium Collection Division under the Vietnam Social Insurance Agency, at a conference in Hanoi on December 13.

    According to Mr. Dai, the agency has implemented many measures to collect premium arrears including coordination with provincial and municipal labor unions to sue the debtors. They are now preparing documents to start proceedings by the end of the month.

    The agency has set target to reduce the ratio of businesses’ social and health insurance debts to 2.9 percent this year.

    Last month, the arrears were down 1.25 percent against the previous month but still accounted for 5.6 percent of the total premium, he said. Social, health and unemployment insurance arrears hit VND13,135 billion (US$578 million) in the country.

    Deputy director of the Vietnam Social Insurance Agency Tran Dinh Lieu said that the agency would work with provinces and cities natiowide to unexpectedly inspect businesses over their insurance payment in December.

    Each province will inspect 15 businesses in premium arrears for more than three months and issue fines.

    The agency will transfer documents to police agencies for investigation to those deliberate not to pay the fines.

    Rice industry should reduce output, increase quality: deputy minister

    Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Quoc Khanh said that four million ton rice export a year with high prices would be better than low price export of 6-7 million tons, at a workshop in HCMC on December 13.

    He said that rice production thought need be changed by improving quality instead of running after quantity. Farmers just cultivate two instead of 3-4 crops a year.

    Formerly, chairman of the Vietnam Food Association Huynh The Nang said that the world market has been on the trend of high quality rice and competitive prices as the number of supply countries has been increasing.

    Meantime, import countries such as the Philippines, Malaysia and China have trended towards developing domestic production and cutting import output.

    Vietnam’s rice export value has reduced for five years in a row since 2012 although volume saw year on year increase in 2012 and 2015. Therefore, output should reduce to 3-4 million tons a year by 2020 and 2-3 million tons after 2020.

    VinaCapital changes Hoi An South resort brand

    Vietnam-based asset management firm VinaCapital along with its Hong Kong and Macau joint venture partners, have re-branded its long-stalled $4 billion integrated leisure project Hoi An South into HOIANA Integrated Resort in the central Quang Nam province.
    “We have already set the timeline to launch the first phase of the project by Quarter 1 of 2019,” a representative from VinaCapital told VET.
    HOIANA Integrated Casino Resort held the groundbreaking ceremony in late April this year on an area of 985 hectares that spans the Duy Xuyen and Thang Binh districts in central Quang Nam province.
    The Vietnam-focused asset management company VinaCapital, Hong Kong-based Gold Yield Enterprises Limited and Macau’s Sun City are the investors of the project. The complex has seven phases and is expected to be fully completed by 2035.
    Construction of the first phase will be implemented on an area of 163 hectares with a capital of $500 million and is expected to be finished by the first quarter of 2019. It will include an 18-hole golf course, which was recently approved by the Prime Minister as part of the government’s golf course development plan.
    Once operational, HOIANA will be the second largest casino in Vietnam, after the Ho Tram Strip resort and casino complex in the southern province of Ba Ria Vung Tau. It is poised to become “one of Asia’s most renowned resort destinationsa and a new benchmark for high-end tourism in Vietnam,” according to Mr. Don Lam, CEO of VinaCapital.
    Last year VinaLand Limited, VinaCapital’s London Stock Exchange’s Alternative Investment Market-listed fund, announced plans to become a strategic shareholder (instead of being the project’s largest shareholder) by divesting its stake to Gold Yield Enterprises, a unit of the Chow Tai Fook Group.
    The first phase of HOIANA will feature a resort and casino complex which will include a 445-room hotel, 200 apartment-suites for sale on a buy-to-let basis operated by Hong Kong’s New World Hotels, a ultra-luxury Rosewood spa resort incorporating 75 guest villas and 25 exclusive residences, and a golf course.
    The developers also plan further investment for the $4 billion township in the next construction phases, which are due to be completed over the course of 10 to 15 years.
    Licensed in 2010, the project was initially supposed to be developed by VinaCapital and Genting Malaysia Berhad. It would have been comprised of five-star hotels, villas, and an electronic gaming facility primarily targeting foreign tourists. In September 2012, however, Genting announced its withdrawal in the middle of site clearance, forcing VinaCapital to find another partner.
    Chow Tai Fook Enterprises Limited, a Hong Kong property and jewelry conglomerate, already has a presence in the country through its New World Development unit in Vietnam with two large hotels in Ho Chi Minh City - the New World and the Renaissance Riverside. The company is run by Hong Kong’s fourth richest person, Cheng Yu Tung.
    Founded in 2007 and based in the world’s busiest gambling hub of Macau, Sun City is a hotel and entertainment group that also deals in casinos. It provides gaming, travel, dining, media, and amusement services.
    The company, through its subsidiaries, operates property development, natural resource development, equine trade, film production, food and beverage, luxury products businesses, among others. In a bid to fortify its casino business, Hong Kong billionaire Cheng Yu Tung acquired 70 per cent of Sun City for $948 million.

    HSC gains 50 per cent in third quarter

    Ho Chi Minh Stock Company (HSC) announced that the date of closing shareholder list for dividends payout at a rate of five per cent is December 28.
    The dividends payout date is expected to be on January 12, 2017, according to HSC. There are three major shareholders, Dragon Capital Markets Limited, Ho Chi Minh City Finance and Investment State-owned Company (HFIC), and PXP Vietnam Emerging Equity Fund with capital of 30 per cent, 29 per cent and 7 per cent respectively.
    Dragon Capital will receive VND 19.6 trillion ($864,947), HFIC VND18.7 trillion ($825,230) and PXP Vietnam Emerging Equity Fund VND4.2 trillion ($185,345) in the first dividend payment. The total money that the three major shareholders will receive is over VND42 trillion ($1.85 million).
    According to the third quarter financial report of 2016, the revenue of HSC significantly gained 50 per cent, equivalent to VND 219 trillion ($9.66 million). Stockbroker revenue reached VND102.36 trillion ($4.52 million), up 37 per cent; loan interests reached VND92.85 trillion ($4.1 million), up 65 per cent.
    After-tax- profit of HSC was VND81.8 trillion, up 80 per cent compared to the same period in 2015. Its HCM shares are trading at around VND 25,000 ($1.1) per share at the moment.
    In the first 9 months of 2016, after-tax- profit of HSC reached over VND228.7 trillion ($10.1 million), up 59 per cent compared to the same period in 2015. HSC had completed 76 per cent of the 2016 plan.
    In the third quarter financial report of 2016, the total action fee of HSC was VND104.08 trillion ($4.6 million). This figure, in the same period of time in 2015, was VND74.93 trillion ($3.3 million).
    In the first 9 months of 2016, the total action fee of HSC was VND 237.42 trillion ($10.45 million), which is higher compared to the same period in 2015.
    HSC was listed on HOSE in May 2009 with the stock code of HCM. It is the best stock company in Vietnam. The main business sector of HSC includes  stockbrokerage and consulting, investment, market analysis and company management under a sustainable development program. HSC also supplies various financial services to customers.

    Tax incentives provide few benefits

    Oxfam tax research reports the world's worst tax havens and how the laws adversely affect developing economies like Vietnam.
    Despite Vietnam's widespread use of tax incentives, "there is little evidence that incentives have contributed to increased investment or economic growth", the Oxfam tax report remarked.
    The largest incentives, particularly tax holidays, according to Oxfam, go to large investments in manufacturing and real estate. "These investments would likely have occurred regardless, leading to significant revenue losses without corresponding economic benefits," the report stated. "The complexity of Vietnam’s incentive regulations and the overall lack of information and data make it difficult for both researchers and investors to accurately analyze the costs and effectiveness of tax incentives."
    Citing specific examples of high-profile tax competition within South-East Asia are also covered in other studies, the Oxfam report took the case of South Korea's Samsung investment in Vietnam as an example. "In 2014, in competition for Samsung’s investment, Indonesia offered a corporate income tax exemption for 10 years, while Vietnam offered 15 years," it noted.
    A separate report from the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) also said that the real effectiveness of tax incentives given to foreign-invested enterprises (FIEs) in Vietnam has not yet been made clear. Vietnam has offered FIEs in prioritized sectors a reduced corporate income tax (CIT), lowering the standard rate from 25 per cent to 10-20 per cent for up to 30 years, according to VCCI.
    In addition, these FIEs can have their land rental fees waived for up to 15 years. At least 62 per cent of FIEs reported receiving investment incentives. But "it is difficult to tell whether the incentives truly lead to more benefits or drawbacks for FIEs and domestic firms,” the VCCI report delivered at Vietnam Business Forum (VBF) on December 5 noted.
    The Oxfam report also reveals how tax havens are leading a global race to the bottom on corporate tax that is starving countries out of billions of dollars needed to tackle poverty and inequality. Significantly, foreign direct investment (FDI) to Vietnam from tax havens increased 47 per cent compared to last year.  
    Some tax havens listed on Oxfam’s report include Singapore, the British Virgin Islands, Jersey, Luxembourg, the Cayman Islands and Bermuda. Oxfam warned that if Vietnam continues to accept FDI from tax havens, they would lose a lot of money.
    The full list of the world’s worst tax havens according to Oxfam, in order of significance is: Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Singapore, Ireland, Luxembourg, Curaçao, Hong Kong, Cyprus, Bahamas, Jersey, Barbados, Mauritius and the British Virgin Islands.
    Oxfam report cited World Bank research in 2015 that stated "tax competition in East Asia and the Pacific is an issue that needs to be addressed in regional forums, rather than being left to individual countries." Otherwise, a race to the bottom could develop, with competing tax breaks leading to the long-term loss of tax revenue with few offsetting benefits.
    Oxfam researchers compiled the world’s worst list by assessing the extent to which countries employ the most damaging tax policies, such as zero corporate tax rates, the provision of unfair and unproductive tax incentives, and a lack of cooperation with international processes against tax avoidance, including measures to increase financial transparency.

    Handicraft products exports to US rise in first 10 months

    Vietnam’s rattan, bamboo and sedge products export value to the United States reached US$212.1 million in the first 10 months of 2016, a year-on-year rise of 1%, according to data from the General Department of Vietnam Customs.

    Rattan, bamboo and sedge products of Vietnam have been shipped to 19 countries and territories, with the US the biggest importer with US$51.2 million, accounting for 27 percent of Vietnam’s exports of those items, followed by Japan and Germany.

    Overall, rattan, bamboo and sedge products exports to other countries increased in the first 10 months of the year. Exports of the products to China grew sharply, by 36.49 percent, along with other markets including Taiwan, Spain and Denmark

    High-tech agricultural production is the need: experts
    A conference on building high-tech agriculture in Viet Nam, organised by the Digital Agriculture Association (DAA), will be held in HCM City on Sunday.

    At the conference, delegates will be hearing about successful experiences in high-tech applications in agriculture and build the value chain through the presentations of businesses, such as Seafood Co., Central Seafood Company, Hung Nhon JSC and Huy Long An-My Binh limited company.

    These companies are pioneers in the application of advanced technology with production and management by shifting from traditional farming methods to agricultural enterprises to obtain high efficiency in poultry breeding and fruit growing for export purposes.

    Central Seafood Company, in particular, has met the standard for high-tech business.

    At present, the company has six shrimps breeding farms equipped with US technology, capable of breeding10-12 billion shrimps per year. The company can sell 1,000 tonnes of shrimp annually.

    The event will also be an opportunity for the government, ministries and relevant agencies to hear opinions and proposals from businesses to implement timely support policies by working towards a new model of agriculture production.

    Based on the foundation of high-tech applications in manufacturing and integration of value chain, DAA has proposed high-tech complexes. The complexes will consist of large-scale agricultural production, where businesses will closely work together to achieve production targets with high-yield and high-quality products, which are competitive both in domestic and international markets.

    Nguyen Thi Lan Huong, vice president and general secretary of DAA Vietnam, said one of the most important tasks in the process of industrialisation and modernisation was to industrialise and modernise rural agriculture. Application of advanced technology should be promoted to meet standards of national and international activities in agricultural production. In addition, promoting people and businesses to create a high-tech agricultural production value chain was aimed at ensuring a healthy and prosperous life for the people and providing safe and clean food.

    World Bank’s Vietnam Development Report 2016, “Transforming Vietnamese Agriculture: Gaining More from Less,” launched in September, details the challenges and opportunities facing the sector.

    To remain competitive in the international market, the report said Viet Nam needed to improve supply, quality and food safety with added value. It outlines an agenda of short and longer-term strengthening of public and market institutions which will be needed to achieve the ambitious goals for Viet Nam’s agriculture and overall food system.

    Ousmane Dione, World Bank country director for Viet Nam, said, “’Business as usual’ is no longer an option for the sector. Growth has slowed down; it is vulnerable to climate hazards and leaves a large environment footprint. Change will help overcome these challenges, ensure the future of agricultural growth and better meet the expectations and aspirations of the people of Viet Nam.”

    The report offers various policy recommendations to address the challenges. The government can deploy an effective combination of improved regulations, better incentives and streamlined services to stimulate and push for greener agriculture and a more effective food safety and consumer protection system.

    It can help with policy instruments to better manage agriculture-related risks, as well as create and maintain a favourable enabling environment for agribusiness.

    In a more flexible, market-driven and knowledge-based agriculture system, reducing direct state involvement will make modernisation of the Vietnamese agro-food system smoother.

    Large scale fields developed in northern region

    Northern provinces have built 895 large scale fields on more than 42,300ha for the Summer-Autumn crop, an increase of about 2,700ha year-on-year, according to the Department of Cultivation under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

    Head of the Department Nguyen Hong Son said that after years of work, localities have gained experience to generate the best results.

    Along with rice, the model has also been applied for corn and vegetables.

    Businesses also participated in the production chain in localities such as Thanh Hoa, Thai Binh, Hanoi and Hai Duong, raising the efficiency of cultivation and rice production. The model has enhanced links between farmers and businesses and showed its sustainability.

    Many cities and provinces have set up Steering Committees and devised policies to support the model, including Thai Binh, Nam Dinh, Nghe An, Ha Tinh and Hanoi.

    Aside from applying advanced technology and research in agriculture, the provinces have also looked to mechanisation to lower production costs and increase productivity.

    Vietsovpetro taps 5.04 million tonnes of crude oil this year

    The Vietnam-Russia joint venture Vietsovpetro expects to tap 5.04 million tonnes of crude oil as targeted this year, heard the 47th meeting of Vietsovpetro’s Council recently held in the southern province of Ba Ria – Vung Tau.

    Vietsovpetro has achieved a majority of goals and set a new record of 2,547m/month/machine in commercial drill speed, just above the target, said General Director Tu Thanh Nghia.

    For the whole year, the joint venture plans to drill 91,400m, complete the construction of 28 wells and repair 18 drilling wells.

    It will also bring ashore more than 1.6 billion cu.m of gas, or 127 percent of the target.

    Since it began operation in 1981, Vietsovpetro has tapped over 223 million tonnes of crude oil and supplied more than 30.8 billion cu.m of gas.

    At the meeting, participants adopted production and trading plans for next year and tasks for 2017-2021.

    Gelex initiates plan to take over STG

    Vietnam Electrical Equipment Joint Stock Corporation (Gelex) has announced its plan to purchase 21.3 million shares of South Logistics Joint Stock Company (Sotrans).

    The shares are equal to 24.93 per cent of Sotrans’s charter capital.

    The purchase is due from December 15, 2016 to January 14, 2017.

    Previously, in its annual general meeting this August, Gelex declared it was expanding its manufacturing operations into the field of logistics business by acquiring stake in Sotran.

    Besides, Gelex is also expected to further invest VNĐ812 billion into logistics.

    To implement this investment plan, Gelex is scheduled to release 77.25 million shares at VNĐ18,000 per share to mobilise over VNĐ1.39 trillion and increase charter capital from VNĐ1.55 trillion to VNĐ2.322 trillion.

    Gelex was originally established in 1995 with initial charter capital of VNĐ177 billion. The company operates in the electrical engineering industry. Its main products are electrical equipment, electrical cables and power metres.

    The Nam Hai joins Four Seasons

    The luxurious resort Nam Hai Hoi An will be part of the Four Seasons family starting on December 20, 2016. Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai will introduce guests to a unique contemporary experience combining the classic Nam Hai style with the flair of Four Seasons.
    All 60 hotel villas have been renovated and now feature outdoor showers, terraces, and more expansive indoor and outdoor living spaces.
    To celebrate this exciting new phase in The Nam Hai’s life, the resort plans to offer complimentary round trip airport transfers, two-rounds of cocktails and tapas at its brand new Beach Bar for villa bookings from January 7 to June 30, 2017.
    Guests will also get to experience one complimentary Fire Breath & Sound treatment at The Heart of the Earth Spa.

    Shining a light on Vietnam’s cultural heartland, Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai, Hoi An, Vietnam, offers an illuminating connection to three extraordinary UNESCO sites from a private kilometer-long stretch of one of Forbes’ “best beaches in the world.”
    Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai, Hoi An, Vietnam, rests on a tranquil 1-kilometer (half mile) stretch of Ha My Beach, just 11 kilometers (7 miles) north of the UNESCO city of Hoi An in Quang Nam province on Vietnam’s central coast. An ancient trading port, Hoi An had the largest harbor in Southeast Asia in the 1st century. It even opened its own stoneware kilns in the 15th century to support the growing popularity of the Japanese tea ritual.
    Both Christianity and Buddhism found their way to Vietnam’s shores via Hoi An in the 17th century, and today its eclectic collection of some 87 pagodas, temples and communal houses, and 82 ancient tube-shaped houses – many located on original streets – stand as a testament to its vibrant ancient personality.
    Since opening in December 2006 The Nam Hai has set the benchmark by which all other resorts in Vietnam are measured. The resort’s first major award came in 2008 when Travel + Leisure’s Design Awards panel dubbed it “World’s Best Resort.” It has also received praise from Condé Nast Traveler, CNN Travel, Luxury Travel, Cigar Aficionado and many other esteemed overseas media outlets.
    Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, opened its first hotel in 1961, is a tale of continual innovation, remarkable expansion and a single-minded dedication to the highest of standards. The Canadian-based company has, for nearly 50 years, transformed the hospitality industry by combining friendliness and efficiency with the finest traditions of international hotel keeping. In the process, Four Seasons has redefined luxury for the modern traveler.

    Khanh Hoa export fetches over one billion USD in fifth consecutive year

    Export value of the south central province of Khanh Hoa is expected to reach 1.21 billion USD in 2016, an eight-percent increase against last year.

    This is the fifth consecutive year Khanh Hoa’s export value has surpassed one billion USD.

    Khanh Hoa’s main export commodities include new vessels, processed seafood, coffee, salanganes, garment and textile, and sand.

    The province’s import value is estimated at 720 million USD, producing a surplus of nearly 500 million USD.

    According to the Khanh Hoa statistics office, from 2014-2016, import value was over 700 million USD with machinery, raw seafood, fibre, silk for industrial production being key import goods.

    In 2017, Khanh Hoa aims to fetch 1.32 billion USD from exports. The shipping industry plans to build eight vessels, four less than in 2015 when the ship-building industry’s export value hit 390 million USD.

    Vietnam cement export estimated at 15 million tonnes


    Vietnam’s cement and clinker export volume in 2016 is estimated at about 15 million tonnes, according to the Vietnam National Cement Association.

    The figure represents a seven percent decrease from 2015. By the end of November, the country exported 13.97 million tonnes, down six percent year-on-year.

    The country consumed 54.52 million tonnes of cement, up seven percent from 2015.

    At present, Vietnam has 78 rotary kiln cement production lines with a combined capacity of 86.16 million tonnes.

    Ministry announces list of prestigious exporters

    The Ministry of Industry and Trade has officially announced a list of 310 Vietnamese prestigious exporters for 2015, aimed at supporting local firms in promoting exports and expanding markets.

    The ministry last week promulgated a decision to approve the list of local prestigious exporters for 2015.

    The vote was held in co-ordination with the provincial departments of industry and trade, other ministries, sectors, associations and relevant agencies after publishing the list of exporters on the ministry’s website for selection.

    The list of exporters was chosen based on the proposals of relevant agencies, along with the ministry’s criteria of maximum export turnover, prestige with foreign partners and duties to the tax and customs sector.

    Notably, the ministry has given priority in choosing sectors in which the country has encouraged exports as well as those facing difficulties in finding export markets.

    The ministry’s Import-Export Department said the vote aimed to recognise exporters’ positive contributions to the country’s export growth while giving them support in seeking markets.

    It also aimed to encourage Vietnamese exporters to further improve their image towards international integration with the world economy.

    The chosen exporters will be permitted to advertise their products for free on the ministry’s website and its newspapers and magazines.

    They will be given priority in participating in national trade promotion programmes and receive free training courses on e-commerce. The ministry will also directly introduce the list to foreign partners.

    The exporters were chosen from 22 sectors, including seafood, rice, rubber and coffee, as well as garment and textile.

    Some of the names on the list are Intimex Group, Viet Phu Thinh Rubber Joint Stock Company, Tan Phong and Nha Be Corporation, as wel as Viet Tien Garment and Textile Company, and B.Braun Vietnam.

    Cambodia’s rice, dried tobacco to enjoy zero percent import tariff

    Rice and dried tobacco leaves imported from Cambodia will enjoy a import tariffs of zero percent from January 1 – December 31, 2017.

    The decision was made in a circular recently issued by the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

    It states that the imported goods must have certificates of origin licensed by the Cambodian Ministry of Commerce or concerned agencies and go through customs clearances at border gates listed in the circular’s Appendix 02.

    Merchants who import dried tobacco leaves must also have licenses.

    The circular will be effective from January 18 – December 31, 2017.

    Vietjet launches two new international routes

    Vietjet launched two new international routes -- Hải Phòng-Seoul and HCM City-Kaohsiung -- on Monday.
    The new routes are expected to meet the increasing travel demand of travellers, aimed at boosting regional trade and integration, the airline said.

    Flights on the Hải Phòng-Seoul route will operate every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday, with a flying time of some five hours per leg. The route’s flight frequency will be increased to daily operations from January 19, 2017 to February 13, 2017.

    “Conveniently located in northeast Việt Nam as the centre for economic and social growth for the region, Hải Phòng has great potential for tourism development with a series of local specialties and services for international tourists to experience,” Vietjet said, adding that it has so far operated 10,000 flights, carrying nearly two million passengers on the nine routes to and from Hải Phòng.

    Meanwhile, South Korea is a favourite tourist destination for travellers thanks to a developed entertainment industry, the culture and the shopping malls. With the new route, Vietjet has a total of three services connecting Việt Nam and South Korea, targeted at facilitating travel of individuals at an affordable cost.

    The second route, HCM City-Kaohsiung, will have five return flights per week on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. The flight duration is three hours 30 minutes per leg.

    Vietnam weighs doubling overtime limit following calls from foreign firms

    The Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs has proposed an amendment to the Labor Code that would sharply increase the country's overtime limit.

    Under the proposal, an employee may work a maximum of 600 extra hours per year, doubling the overtime limit currently imposed on some specific areas, the government portal said in a statement on December 10.

    Vietnam’s Labor Code stipulates that an employee can work a maximum of 200 extra hours per year. In some specific areas like textiles and garments, leather, aquaculture processing, telecommunications, water and power supplies, overtime is capped at 300 hours per year.

    The move comes after Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc asked relevant ministries and agencies to consider adjusting the overtime limit following recommendations from foreign firms.

    Several Korean and Japanese firms have complained that the current limit in Vietnam is too low, and have suggested the government should double or triple the figure.

    These thresholds are holding back the development of IT companies as engineers need to work overtime if any technical problems arise, the Japan Business Association in Vietnam said at the annual Vietnam Business Forum last week.

    Han Dong Hee, chairman of the Korea Business Association, echoed the same opinion, adding that the rule has raised labor costs and delayed production schedules.

    The maximum number of overtime hours allowed in Vietnam is currently less than other Southeast Asian countries.

    While Vietnamese workers can’t work for more than 300 extra hours per year, it’s 1,800 hours in Thailand, 1,250 in Malaysia, 860 in Singapore and 540 in Laos.

    This restriction is taking its toll on both enterprises and their workers.

    A recent survey conducted by national television broadcaster VTV at the Thang Long Industrial Zone in Hanoi revealed that 97% of manual workers want to work overtime as the money from those extra hours accounts for a third of their monthly incomes.

    El Nino hits Vietnam's coffee output; exports run out of steam

    Aging crops, flooding and drought: not the ideal blend for the world’s second largest coffee exporter.

    Vietnam’s coffee exports are likely to be hit this year due to changes in the weather, with output forecast to fall by 20%.

    Vietnam’s Association of Coffee and Cacao (Vicofa) said that coffee output will hit 1.3 million tons for the 2016-2017 season (from the start of October 2015 till the end of September 2016) following the worst El Nino in the last 20 years.

    October is traditionally the start of the coffee harvest, but this year many plantations in the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak, one of the biggest producers in the country, are still in blossom due to the lack of water.

    According to incomplete statistics from Vicofa, 115,000 hectares (284,000 acres) of coffee, equivalent to nearly a fifth of Vietnam’s total plantations, have been damaged by water shortages.

    Rain and flooding that hit the Central Highlands in November also made it difficult to harvest and dry the beans.

    Apart from the weather, farmers have also been cutting down their coffee plants to make room for other industrial crops, and a large area of coffee is entering an "aging" period with reduced output.

    To increase the value of coffee exports, Vicofa has called on businesses to step into the processing industry rather than focusing on exporting raw materials.

    The association has set a target of increasing the proportion of processed coffee exports to 30% of the total by 2020 from the current rate of 10%.

    Data from Vicofa revealed that Vietnam’s coffee exports jumped by 34.8% on-year to 1.75 million tons during the 2015-2016 season.

    Export value also surged by 17.2% to reach US$3.16 billion.

    However, this growth has been attributed to a large inventory of around 300,000 tons carried over from the previous season.

    Can Tho, RoK association cooperate in rice production

     Representatives from the Can Tho city People’s Committee and the Korean Food and Rice Association met in the Mekong Delta locality on December 12 to discuss ways to expand cooperation in rice processing and export.

    The meeting took place ahead of the inauguration of the association’s representative office in the Vietnam-Korea Incubator Park in the Tra Noc 2 Industrial Park on December 13.

    According to Vice Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Truong Quang Hoai Nam, Can Tho has become a potential destination for enterprises from the Republic of Korea (RoK) and many firms decided to pour investment into the locality.

    Notably, Tae Kwang Industrial Co., Ltd constructed a 171.48 million USD plant to produce semi-finished sport shoes in the Hung Phu 2B Industrial Park in Cai Rang district.

    The RoK Government also invested in many big projects in Can Tho like the Vietnam-Korea Incubator Park in the Tra Noc 2 Industrial Park, and a water supply plant in Vinh Thanh district, Nam said.

    For his part, Chairman of the Korean Food and Rice Association Kim Nam Doo said the establishment of the association’s representative office in Can Tho is a strategic decision as the city is a food and rice centre in the Mekong Delta region.

    The office will serve as a bridge promoting partnership between Vietnamese food firms and member enterprises of the association in the time ahead, he affirmed.

    Can Tho boasts 115,000 ha of agricultural land and 90,000 ha of which is for rice cultivation.  Can Tho produces 1.4 million tonnes of rice, with over 1 million tonnes being shipped abroad every year through 26 rice export enterprises.

    The city’s export turnover to the RoK is estimated to hit 30.3 million USD in 2016, while import value will be 4.2 million USD.

    PM adopts adjustments to ODA-funded economic restructuring project

    The Prime Minister has approved adjustments to an investment plan for the project “The Restructuring for a More Competitive Vietnam” using non-refundable official development assistance (ODA) from the Australian Government.

    Accordingly, the project will focus on studying impacts of economic restructuring on gender equality; examining policy on competitiveness and revising the Law on Competition; supervising the enforcement of the enteprise and investment laws, and the implementation of commitments to the European Union (EU) and the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC).

    The implementation of the project will be extended to June 30, 2017. Additional capital for the project will value at 522,000 AUD (around 391,233 USD), including 500,000 AUD (360,000 USD) in non-refundable ODA sourced from the Australian Government, and 490 million VND (21,662 USD) in counterpart capital of the Vietnamese Government.

    The Prime Minister asked the Ministry of Planning and Investment to coordinate with the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to carry out the adjustments in accordance with the project’s targets and regulations on the management and use of ODA capital.

    No zero-interest loans for Tết
    The capital city has followed HCM City in stopping zero-interest loans to enterprises participating in the price stabilisation programme for the Tet (Lunar New Year) season.

    Despite this, markets in both cities will have sufficient food items in stock, authorities say.

    Nguyen Duc Chung, Chairman of the Ha Noi People’s Committee, said his administration would facilitate enterprises’ access to bank loans for purchasing goods to stock for the festival season, the Giao thong (Transportation) newspaper reported.

    This is the most efficient way to ensure enough goods for Tet and will create good conditions for the enterprises to step up their production and business efficiency, Chung said.

    The report also quoted Le Ngoc Dao, deputy director of HCM City Department of Industry and Trade, as saying that the municipal administration had not been giving out the zero-interest loans since 2013.

    Instead, the city has encouraged commercial banks to give loans at preferential interest rates so that the enterprises can access funds for production, trading and stocking, ensuring stability in demand and supply, Dao said.

    This has seen the number of enterprises joining the price stabilisation programme increase every year, he added.

    Nguyen Ngoc An, deputy director of Vissan, a major food company in HCM City, said that over the past three or four years, his company had not obtained the zero-interest loans from the State budget.

    The company has joined the price stabilisation programme to get loans at preferential interest rates from commercial banks that are also part of it, he said.

    After joining the programme, Vissan has restructured its production process to compete in terms of price and quality of goods, An said.

    So far, ten commercial banks have joined HCM City’s Tet goods price stabilisation programme to provide loans worth VND12 trillion (US$530,750) this year, VND1.1 trillion higher than last year, said Nguyen Hoang Minh, deputy director of the State Bank’s branch in HCM City. The loans carry interest rates of between 4.15 per cent and 6.5 per cent per year.

    An said Vissan has prepared 3,200 tonnes of processed food and 3,000 tonnes of fresh food for the Tet season. He said demand for food for Tet 2017 will not increase strongly in the HCM City with many people leaving their homes or on tours.

    Lotte Mart has increased supply by 30-40 per cent for confectionery and beverages and 25 per cent for fashion products; while Coop Mart has said it will cooperate with suppliers to offer discounts of 10-50 per cent on thousands of products.

    Nguyen Xuan Duong, deputy director of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Livestock Department, said the domestic livestock industry would supply enough food to the local market for the Tet season because of increased output, the Vietnam News Agency reported.

    According to the General Statistics Office (GSO), output in November increased by 5.5-6 per cent for poultry meat, 6-6.3 per cent for eggs, 1.8 per cent for beef, 10 per cent for milk and 5 per cent for pork year-on-year.

    Pork prices fell to VND35,000-37,000 per kilo in southern Dong Nai Province, but was more stable in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta provinces at between VND38,000-43,000 per kilo.

    Chicken prices have also been stable in the southern provinces because there has been no sudden spike in demand, a GSO report said.


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  • 12/15/16--07:36: Article 0
  • Social News 15/12

    Conference looks to strengthen support for UXO victims

     Conference looks to strengthen support for UXO victims, Forum sees to key changes in Civil Code 2015, Arts festival honours diverse ethnic cultures, Enough buses to meet Tet demand, Depression zone brings tropical heavy downpours
    A victim of bomb and mine. Data shows that there are about 800,000 tonnes of unexploded ordnance (UXO) left from war in Viet Nam.

    The Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs and The International Center, a non-governmental organisation, held a conference in Hanoi on December 14 to enhance international cooperation in aiding bomb and mine victims.

    Data shows that there are about 800,000 tonnes of unexploded ordnance (UXO) left from war in Vietnam, contaminating nearly 20 percent of the country’s area and killing and injuring more than 100,000 people since the American war ended in 1975.

    In past years, the Vietnamese Government has made efforts to settle UXO consequences as evidenced by the national action programme on settling post-war bomb and landmine impacts for 2010-2025. Assisting UXO victims is among important activities of this programme.

    However, addressing UXO consequences and supporting victims requires considerable human and material resources.

    At the conference, participants shared information about support for UXO victims, the settlement of post-war UXO consequences, and plans for future activities. They discussed solutions to assist victims and help them with social reintergration.

    They also gave opinions on a draft plan on assisting UXO victims’ reintegration which will be combined with a support programme targeting people with disabilities between 2017 and 2020.

    The plan focuses on medical services for victims, developing functional rehabilitation systems, supporting means of living, and making mechanisms and policies for social services development.

    Ca Mau ups efforts to improve people health

    The authorities of the southernmost province of Ca Mau have urged its health sector to improve the quality of healthcare.

    Suggested measures include developing a modern health system allowing all people to access basic health services.

    The province will encourage the development of non-state health services, expand healthcare at home and increase health insurance coverage.

    In 2017, Cau Mau aims to have doctors at all commune-level health centres, reduce the rate of ill-nourished children to 11.8 percent and raise the rate of health insurance coverage to over 80 percent.

    In 2016, the province made efforts to develop healthcare infrastructure and provided health checks. All grassroots health centres now meet national standards.

    Forum sees to key changes in Civil Code 2015

    The Ministry of Justice organized a forum in Hanoi on December 14 to introduce key changes in the Civil Code 2015 and solutions for the implementation of the Code in a number of areas of interest for Vietnam’s national and international communities in Hanoi.

    The forum was attended by Deputy Minister of Justice Nguyen Khanh Ngoc, Mission Director of USAID Vietnam Mike Greene and Deputy Country Director of UNDP Vietnam Akiko Fujii.

    At this forum, the Ministry of Justice officially introduced the Legal Partnership Group, which was established in July 2016, with the mandate to share information about legal policies, strengthen international cooperation in legal areas and advocacy, and coordinate funding opportunities in Vietnam.

    The ministry intends to organize regular meetings to encourage dialogue on legal and judicial reforms through this forum. This forum is the continued partnership between the Ministry of Justice and UNDP since 2014.

    The focus on this law forum was on the 2015 Civil Code, ratified by the 13th National Assembly on November 24, 2015, and will take effect on January 1, 2017. The new Civil Code includes a number of significant changes relating to property and personal rights, which have received great acknowledgement from the nation and international communities.

    Participants reviewed key changes in the Civil Code 2015, the solution for the development and amendment of legal documents to support effective implementation of the Code, and discussed the formal mechanism for international cooperation through the Legal Partnership Group.

    Arts festival honours diverse ethnic cultures

    The ‘I believe I can’ arts festival, featuring the unique and diverse cultures of ethnic minorities in Vietnam took place at the Vietnam National Academy of Music, No.77 Hao Nam Street, Hanoi on December 13.

    Organised for the first time in 2015, the event has now become a festival dedicated to the unique and diverse cultures of ethnic minorities in Vietnam.

    This year’s event themed “Indigenous knowledge – Spring of life” aims to highlight the practical values of indigenous knowledge, a complete system accumulated and refined after thousands of years.

    It also is to honour the cultural values, mutual understandings and support between different ethnic groups nationwide.

    The festival attracted the participation of over 100 members of different groups nationwide, including Khmer, Tay, Gia Rai, Pa Co, Muong, Pa Then and Mong.

    All dances and songs are rehearsed, curated, and performed by ethnic people themselves, just as they are in everyday life.

    During the festival, a series of activities, including an exhibition, traditional games and art performances, were also organised.

    Earlier, a street performance was held in Hoan Kiem Lake on December 11.

    The event was organised by the Institute for Studies of Society, Economics and Environment (iSEE).

    Information and Press Department marks 70 years of establishment

    The Information and Press Department under the Foreign Ministry held a ceremony in Hanoi on December 13 to celebrate 70 years of its establishment (1946-2016) and receive the Labour Order, first class, from the Party and State.

    The event was attended by Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh, former Deputy PMs and FMs Nguyen Manh Cam and Pham Gia Khiem, and former Deputy PM Vu Khoan.

    In his remarks, Director of the Information and Press Department and Foreign Ministry Spokesman Le Hai Binh reviewed the 70 years of the agency’s foundation and development, affirming that external information work is closely attached with foreign affairs.

    Addressing the ceremony, Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Quoc Dung noted that over the past seven decades, external information work has contributed significantly to the struggle for national liberation and reunification; the elimination of sanctions; the normalisation of ties with countries, international organisations and the region; and the safeguarding of the nation’s sacred sovereignty.

    The department has not only successfully performed its information tasks but also worked actively to build and promote Vietnam as an innovative and open country, a vibrant economy, an active and responsible member of the international community, a country of peace and prosperous development as well as an appealing destination to international friends, Dung said.

    He urged external information workers to be agile and creative; build on experience and the traditions of predecessors; promote the strength of the youth; scientifically and creatively apply advantages brought about by information technology, the Internet, social networks and modern means of media to fulfil their duties and promote the image of the country.

    At the ceremony, Deputy PM and FM Pham Binh Minh, authorised by the President, presented the Labour Oder, first class, to the Department of Information and Press.

    On the occasion, the department also received congratulatory flowers from President Tran Dai Quang, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Chairwoman of the National Assembly Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan and Politburo member and Standing member of the Party Central Committee Secretariat Dinh The Huynh.

    Literature and Arts Theory and Criticism Council debuts

    The Central Council for the Theory and Criticism of Literature and the Arts for the 2016-2021 term made its debut in Hanoi on December 12.

    The event was attended by Vo Van Thuong, Politburo member and head of the Party Central Committee's Commission for Communications and Education; Party Central Committee member and Deputy Head of the Party Central Committee's Commission for Communication and Education Nguyen The Ky; VTV General Director Tran Binh Minh; a former Chairman of the Central Council for the Theory and Criticism of Literature and Arts and delegates from various ministries and departments.

    The council has 31 members who are chairpersons of the central literature and arts associations and researchers and critics working in the field. Party Central Committee member Nguyen The Ky was assigned the council’s chairmanship.

    The council is designed to provide the Vietnam Union of Literature and Arts Associations (VULAA) Presidium with updates on the development of literature and arts and promote Party’s guidelines in the fields.

    It was also tasked with boosting the production of high-quality literary works, which are expected to truthfully reflect life in Vietnam and the country’s national construction and defence, while contributing to building an advanced Vietnamese culture.

    The council's action plan for the new 2016-2021 term was announced at the launch.

    Enough buses to meet Tet demand


    Vice Director of Department of Transport in Ho Chi Minh City Mr. Le Hoang Minh in a meeting on  planning for traveling during  New Year and Tet holidays on December 14 asked bus stations to ensure that there would be enough coaches to transport passengers.

    Inspectors from the municipal Department of Transport, in coordination with local traffic police, will carry out more regular inspections of vehicles and at illegal bus stations in the city, especially parking lots No. 391 and 397 on Dinh Bo Linh Street in Binh Thanh District. The department will also put 9 bus stations into operation at the city's east entrance, Mr. Hoang Minh added.

    According to the Mien Dong (Eastern) Bus Station in Binh Thanh District, the number of passengers is estimated to rise by three percent on December 22-28 of the lunar calendar compared to last year’s holiday.

    In addion, travel businesses will be not allowed to raise fares on coaches from Hue to the northern provinces by over 20 percent for departure on January 9-13, over 40 per cent for coaches for departures on January 14-16 and over 60 per cent on January 17-27.

    On routes from Phu Yen province to Quang Nam, Da Nang and central highlands routes, bus fares will not increase over 20 percent for departure on January 9-13, over 40 per cent for coaches for departures on January 14-17, and over 60 percent for bus departures on January 18-27.

    The Management and Operation Center for Public Transport will allocate around 1,048 buses on 17 routes to meet the high demand of passengers for the coming New Year holiday.

    Depression zone brings tropical heavy downpours

    According to the National Hydrology Meteorology Forecast Center, a tropical low pressure was weakened into the low pressure zone after it entered the central territorial waters from Ninh Thuan to Binh Thuan yesterday.

    The low pressure zone brought heavy downpours and powerful wind of level 6- 8 in the southern territorial waters from Ninh Thuan to Ba Ria- Vung Tau provinces.

    Besides, the strong operation of the tropical low pressure and turbulence of east wind caused medium- heavy rains in the provinces from Quang Ngai to Binh Thuan with the highest rainfall of 50- 100 mm.

    Medium- heavy rain is predicted to cover over Ho Chi Minh City, the southwest and southeast provinces today and the highest temperature reaches at 28- 29 degrees Celsius.

    Meanwhile, cold air has affected to the northern mountainous provinces since last night.

    The turbulence of east wind has caused a drop in temperature in the northern region however medium- heavy rains would continue hitting the central provinces from Quang Binh to Ninh Thuan from December 14- 17.

    The weather center warned that floodwaters on Ba river (Phu Yen) and river systems in Khanh Hoa province are rising rapidly. The flood level on river systems of Thua Thien- Hue, Quang Nam, Quang Ngai, Binh Dinh, Khanh Hoa and Ninh Thuan will continue increasing in the next several days.

    Flood tide at the Cuu Long (Nine Dragon) and Sai Gon rivers is forecast to record high on Wednesday and Thursday. The highest water level on Sai Gon river at Phu An station will reach 0.1 meters.

    Hip-Hop dance festival held in Hanoi

    A Hip-Hop dance festival and “Hanoi – All in One” dance competition are organizing in Hanoi from December 13-15.

    Hip-hoppers, b-boys and b-girls and dance lovers have an opportunity to enjoy spectacular performances and participate in workshops, competitions and talks with Vietnamese and international well-known hip-hop artists during the 3-day long event.

    The competition includes a wide range of styles primarily popping, power moves and footwork.

    Storm Robitzky and Majid Kessab, two German b-boys and choreographers took part in the festival as members of the jury and also conduct a workshop.

    Niels “Storm” Robitzky is an internationally renowned choreographer and b-boy. From 1991, his crew “Battle Squad” was one of the leading b-boy groups worldwide. In 1992 he and his crew won the "International Balle of the year". In 1996, he opened a dance academy in Berlin and was touring the whole world. He is working within the field of theater, performance and dance.

    Majid “Magilla” Kessab is a choreographer and dancer. ith his experience in dancing New Style, Hip Hop and House dance he has become a well-known and established part in the German and even worldwide urban dance scene. He has organized many international workshops, won numerous dancing awards and worked as a member of jury committees. In 2014, he won the TV competition “Got to dance” and became hip-hop world champion at the Juste Debout Germany 2014.

    The festival’s activities took place at 1900 Theater on December 13, Savico Megamall on 14 and will continue taking place at S.I.N.E Studio on December 15.

    Managers to inspect medical workers’ behavior to patients

    Deputy Director of the Department of Health in Ho Chi Minh City Dr. Tang Chi Thuong said that from now to January 12, 2017, inspectors from four inspection groups will call on 100 state-run and private hospitals to check patients’ satisfaction to healthcare service and medical workers’ behaviors.

    Inspectors will focus on how doctors and nurses behave to patients; launching hot line, mail box, commend and reward regulation, punishment regulation aiming to improve examination and treatment quality.

    Additionally, inspectors will have preliminary treatment quality grade which will be publicized on media on which residents can select good hospitals.

    Before, inspectors have trained on the new standards to assess hospital as per the guideline issued by the Department of Medical Examination and Treatment under the Ministry of Health. This year, the Ministry has updated and supplemented more details in the assessment. One of new item in the assessment is “red alert system” among wards in a hospital and amongst hospitals.

    In addition to 83 standards to assess a hospital’s quality, inspectors will carry out surveys on essential services and ambulance competence on which the Department of Health will work out a plan to raise the quality and capacity of ambulance in 2017.

    HCM City reports 119 positive cases for Zika virus

    14 pregnant women among 119 people are positive for the Zika virus in the city, reported  the Ho Chi Minh City Preventative Health Center yesterday.

    By this time, Binh Thanh district still is the district with highest number of 22 infection cases, followed by district 2 with 17 cases, district 12 with 11 infections and Tan Phu district being inclusive 10 cases.

    District 8 and 11 are two safe localities with the Zika virus.

    In order to cope with complicated development of the disease, the health center advised residents and pregnant women should actively prevent mosquito bites, destroy mosquitoes and mosquito larva.

    HCM City Party chief urges remedies for traffic congestion

    Speaking at his meeting with Tan Binh District on December 12, the HCMC Party Committee chief, Dinh La Thang, urged the district and relevant city agencies to propose solutions to severe traffic congestion in Tan Son Nhat International Airport area.

    A Tan Binh District report says solving the traffic problem around Tan Son Nhat is tough. The district has been unable to find a suitable location for a car park because all land in the area belongs to State agencies.

    Nguyen Toan Thang, director of the HCMC Department of Natural Resources and Environment, said his agency together with the Department of Transport had found some lots for car parking. Currently, they are completing necessary procedures.

    According to the Department of Transport, the city now has as many as 11,000 taxicabs, excluding about 5,000 Uber and Grab cars. In Tan Son Nhat airport area, two investors have proposed building a car park at Gia Dinh Park, said the department.

    In response to a complaint about the difficulty in finding a site for car parking, Dinh La Thang told Tan Binh District to do a review of land use in the area and take back land that is being improperly used. He requested leaders of the natural resources and transport departments to get directly involved in the search for a parking lot location and hit the ground running as soon as a site is found.

    “We must do it fast. When land is available and investors are decided, it would take just about four months to get everything done,” Thang said. “If everyone makes a little effort right now, the traffic situation can improve. A laid-back approach will make congestion worse.”

    There are more traffic jams happening in Tan Son Nhat International Airport area, said the transport department. Some urgent measures have been taken, such as rearranging lanes, adding traffic regulators and upgrading roads, but they can help ease the situation temporarily.

    The transport department said five priority projects should be carried out, including building overpasses and intersections, and widening some roads, at a total cost of about VND1.8 trillion. These projects are expected to solve the traffic problem in Tan Son Nhat area.

    Painting auction to raise funds for building flood-resistant houses

    A music and painting auction to raise funds for Nha Chong Lu, a local charity program to build food-proof houses for needy people, will take place on December 15 at the Gem Center in HCMC’s District 1.

    The event in HCMC will feature pianist Nguyen Nhat Trung, singers Phuong Vy and Hoang Bach, and showcases paintings by local popular artists like Nguyen Quan, Le Kinh Tai, Ha Tri Hieu, Bui Tien Tuan and Nguyen Quang Vinh. Another program to raise funds for the program was held in Hanoi on December 12, featuring pianist Pho An My, contrabassist Do Hai Nam, singers Le Cat Trong Ly and Minh Quan, and put on show paintings by Ha Tri Hieu, Pham An Hai, Tran Nhat Thang, and Duong Thuy Duong.

    The two painting auction sessions in Hanoi and HCMC are conducted by RiverOi, an open art forum initiated by Nha Chong Lu to support community activities and promote creativity. Apart from live auction and silent auction of 50 artworks with prices ranging from US$2,000 to US$15,000 at the two events, the organizer also runs two online auction sessions of 80 paintings priced from VND7 million to VND70 million.

    The paintings are curated by artists Tran Luong, Le Quang Dinh and journalist/art scholar Ly Doi and collector/art scholar Nguyen Duc Thanh.

    Half of the money from the painting auctions will go directly to a foundation of RiverOi to support activities of Nha Chong Lu and other art promotion and development programs.

    Nha Chong Lu, established in November 2013, has so far helped build 350 houses for people in the Mekong Delta, the northern and central regions of Vietnam.

    For further information, visit Facebook page of Nha Chong Lu or website

    Lack of transparency

    A controversy has heated up these days as alleged irregularities concerning the recruitment and placement of a young man into senior positions at State agencies in the Mekong Delta have unfolded. Having earned two Master’s degrees, the 26-year-old Vu Minh Hoang reportedly has a good command of five foreign languages. While his talent is not yet publicly proven and explanations by the agencies concerned are far from clear, the history of his employment sheds light on the privileges he may have earned owing to relationships and connections.

    As reported by local media, Vu Minh Hoang was recruited as an intern in August 2014 without having to go through a qualification test at the Southwest Steering Committee, an umbrella body overseeing the socio-economic development of the entire Mekong Delta region. One month later, the organization allowed him to pursue a Ph.D. program at the Tokyo University that is scheduled to last until September 2017.

    His internship, however, was declared accomplished a year later, in August 2015, although he did not spend a single day at the Southwest Steering Committee. In January this year, Hoang was named deputy director of the Economic Division of the Southwest Steering Committee, only to be transferred a month later to the new post of deputy director of Can Tho City’s Investment Promotion Center. Hoang’s latest appointment amounted to a scandal when officials at the Economy Division of the Southwest Steering Committee, including the director of the division, were stunned to hear that the young man used to be their colleague.

    Given this controversy, Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue, head of the Southwest Steering Committee, has ordered relevant agencies to clarify all issues relating to Hoang’s recruitment and appointment. In explanations to leaders as well as to the media, officials at the Southwest Steering Committee say that all processes have conformed to the law, without irregularities.

    However, such assertions are easily seen as clumsy and naive. The public is by no means convinced why a young man could be seen as having accomplished his internship without working a single day, and why he could be promoted and transferred from one position to another without any previous work experience. And explanations given by officials are also full of conflicts, one example of which is a letter of explanation signed days ago by Nguyen Quoc Viet, deputy director of the Southwest Steering Committee. This letter was claimed as inaccurate on December 11 by Son Minh Thang, standing deputy director of the committee.

    Apparently, the country is in dire need of talent to serve the nation’s economic development and integration. Vu Minh Hoang can be a gifted person who is needed for the above-mentioned posts, but hasty moves by State agencies in recruiting and promoting a young man, and leapfrogging all normal processes, are the root cause of public disapproval. It is the lack of transparency.

    US-Supported Project Sustains Vietnam’s HIV Response

    More than 280,000 people in Vietnam received HIV testing services, and 15,000 adults and children newly enrolled for antiretroviral treatment (ART) thanks to support from the U.S. Agency for International Development's (USAID) Sustainable Management of the HIV/AIDS Response and Transition to Technical Assistance Project (SMART TA) funded under the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

    Launched in 2011, the five-year SMART TA project developed and deployed innovative models that addressed gaps in HIV prevention, care, and treatment, and improved the efficiency of these services. In its final year alone, SMART TA provided treatment to more than 23,000 people living with HIV and methadone treatment for nearly 19,000 people who inject drugs, which is more than 20 percent of all HIV and methadone treatment patients in Vietnam.

    “Vietnam has achieved great results in the country’s HIV response in recent years as the response increasingly relies on local resources such as health insurance and national and provincial funding become the key support sources,” said USAID Vietnam Mission Director Michael Greene at today’s final project review workshop. “I am very pleased that the USAID SMART TA project made such significant contributions.”

    As Vietnam assumes greater leadership of the HIV program, SMART TA helped integrate HIV services into the curative health system where facilities can be reimbursed through Social Health Insurance (SHI). HIV patients in Dien Bien and Nghe An were the first in the country to receive social health insurance reimbursement for HIV services as a result of the program’s close collaboration with and support provided to local partners.

    Implemented by FHI 360 in partnership with Vietnam Administration for AIDS Control (VAAC), SMART TA also led or contributed to the development of national policy and curricula for every aspect of the HIV response, from testing and treatment to tuberculosis and methadone treatment, changing how HIV services are delivered in Vietnam. SMART Technical Monitoring Tools are now routinely used to assess and strengthen HIV services. Methadone treatment service models and local mentors, developed under SMART TA, are now the predominant mode for delivering and sustaining high quality and efficient methadone treatment across the country. The project’s work to integrate facility health information systems for HIV and health insurance is considered a best practice and is being replicated within and outside Vietnam.

    Since 2005, the U.S. government through PEPFAR has supported life-saving ART for almost 57,000 people, and provided care to more than 62,000 adults and children nationwide. In the last year, PEPFAR assistance provided HIV tests to over 375,000 people and methadone replacement therapy to almost 25,000 people.

    Hanoi to host seminar on 30-year military reform

    Scene at a press conference to announce the event

    A seminar on achievements and experiences over 30 years of military-defence reform is scheduled to take place in Hanoi on December 16, announced the Defence Ministry.

    According to Major General Nguyen Phuong Dien, Deputy Director of the Department of Popularisation and Training under the General Department of Politics, the seminar aims to highlight the leadership of the Communist Party of Vietnam as a key factor to the reform.

    Achievements, shortcomings and learned lesson from the period will also be discussed, he said on December 13.

    The seminar is expected to gather the participation of senior officials from the Defence Ministry, General Department of Politics, General Staff of the Vietnam People's Army, and history experts.

    Party official extends Christmas greetings to Catholics

    Politburo member Truong Thi Mai, head of the Party Central Committee’s Commission for Mass Mobilisation, attended a Christmas gathering held by the Committee for Solidarity of Vietnamese Catholics (CSVC) in Hanoi on December 13.

    Mai wished Catholic dignitaries and followers a merry Christmas, and took the occasion to praise the committee’s efforts to encourage Catholics to follow the Party’s guidelines and the State’s policies and laws, participate in social and economic activities, and fight the abuse of religious, democratic and human rights issues to drive a wedge between religions and undermine the great national unity bloc.

    Noting that the CSVC is an organisation representing the patriotic movement of Vietnamese Catholics, the official expressed her hope that it will better serve as a bridge linking the religion and society and encourage Vietnamese Catholics to continue complying with the pastoral direction “Living out the Gospel in the midst of the Nation to serve the welfare of the people", as written in the public letter issued by the Episcopal Council of the Catholic Church of Vietnam in 1980.

    She believed that the Catholic Church of Vietnam and Catholic followers will always stand side by side with the nation, actively engage in patriotic emulation movements and humanitarian activities so as to be both a good follower and citizen.

    Acknowledging the Party and State’s attention, VSVC Vice Chairman and General Secretary Priest Tran Xuan Manh, said the committee will make all-out efforts to fulfill its missions.

    At the gathering, the CSVC sent Christmas greetings to priests and Catholic followers nationwide. Participants also listened to Christmas letters of the committee and President of the Vietnam Fatherland Front Central Committee Nguyen Thien Nhan.

    RoK partners help southern provinces with personnel training

    The People’s Committee of southern Binh Duong province on December 13 signed a cooperation agreement on in high-quality personnel training with Kyungsung University and Sunghyun Vina Joint Stock Company from the Republic of Korea.

    Under the terms of the five-year deal, the Kyungsung University and Sunghyun Vina will fund 50 percent of full scholarships for Binh Duong’s civil servants, enabling them to pursue master courses in the Korean university.

    In addition, each of the partners will provide 50 percent of expenses for eligible civil servants to attend six-month Korean classes at the Korean Language Centre. Enrollment fees will be covered by the Kyungsung University.

    In return, the provincial authorities will create optimal conditions for the Kyungsung University to deploy training cooperation projects and organise seminars on studying in the RoK.

    The same day, a similar cooperation deal was also inked between the People’s Committee of neighbouring Dong Nai province and two partners, the Kyungsung University and the Pusan Vina Plastic Company.

    HUBT asked to become typical non-public tertiary institution

    Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has urged the Hanoi University of Business and Technology (HUBT) to make greater efforts in a bid to become an exemplary model in terms of non-public higher education.

    While addressing the university’s 20th founding anniversary in Hanoi on December 13, PM Phuc suggested HUBT reform its teaching and learning methods to meet the country’s manpower demands and turn itself into a high-quality, competitive personnel training centre.

    The PM hoped that the university will build on the current accomplishments to realise its goal of training qualified economists and technicians, recommending it to take vocational training and practice as primary orientations.

    The Government leader also called on HUBT to continuously improve the qualifications of its lecturers and management staff while focusing on developing facilities and providing students will soft and start-up skills.

    PM Phuc took this occasion to present a Labour Order, first class, to the university.

    “Winter in Hue” programme to highlight traditional arts

    An art performance themed “Winter in Hue” is due to take place at the Hanoi Opera House from December 14-15 as part of art activities to promote preservation of traditional art genres launched by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

    Musician Nguyen Viet Duc, Director of the Hue Music Academy and general director of the programme, said the event, which will saw the participation of artists throughout the country, is expected to bring different emotions to Hanoi audiences.

    Traditional folk melody like “Ho mai nhi”, “Ho mai sap”, “Quynh tuong” and “Ly con sao” will be featured at the event by artists from the Hue Royal Traditional Arts Theatre.

    Additional, romantic sings about love and the Hue ancient capital composed by famous musicians such Nguyen Van Thuong, Tran Hoan, Minh Ky, Duong Thieu Tuoc, and Trinh Cong Son,  will be also performed at the programme.

    The event will bring together well-known singers including Bao Yen, Van Khanh, Quang Linh, Dang Duong, Lo Thuy among other, who are famous for songs about Hue.

    Doctors once again warn of sharp rise in new cancer cases in Vietnam

    The number of new cancer diagnoses in Vietnam is forecast to hit 200,000 in 2020, nearly doubling from 126,000 cases in 2010, with health experts warning that the rise will add to the burden already weighing upon the healthcare system.

    Speaking at a workshop in Hanoi on December 12, experts said the most common cancers among Vietnamese men are lung, prostate, colorectal, stomach, esophageal and liver cancer. Among women, the five most diagnosed cancers are breast, colorectal, lung, cervix and ovarian cancer.

    It is estimated that between 2010 and 2020, esophageal cancer will see an alarming surge as the number of cases is expected to almost triple to 10,920.

    Experts also estimated that the number of new lung cancer cases will increase by 1.56 times over the period to 23,000 cases while colorectal cancer cases will rise by 1.75 times.

    In 2010, as many as 12,500 cases of female breast cancer were diagnosed, with 64.7% of the cases below age 50. The number is forecast to increase by 1.8 times to 22,612 cases in 2020.

    An estimated 2,185 Vietnamese women were diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2010 and the number is projected to double in 2020.

    Vietnam, like many other developing countries, is dealing with the double burden of infectious and non-infectious diseases, said associate professor Luong Ngoc Khue, a senior health official.

    Khue said among non-communicable diseases, cancers have emerged as an alarming problem.

    Doctors said most cancers can be cured with early diagnosis and proper treatment.

    According to the World Health Organization (WTO), more than a third of cancer deaths could be prevented by avoiding the five leading behavioral and dietary risks, including high body mass index, low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity, tobacco use, and alcohol use.

    Under a new plan, people living in Hanoi aged 35 and older who have health insurance are eligible for free screenings for digestive cancers at the city's new high-tech center for digestive surgery.

    Songwriting contest on Vietnam-Laos relations launched

    A songwriting contest has been opened to all Vietnamese citizens to look for songs praising the time-honoured friendship, special solidarity and comprehensive cooperation between Vietnam and Laos.

    The competition is one of a number of activities to mark the 55th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between Vietnam and Laos and the 40th anniversary of the Vietnam-Laos Amity and Cooperation Treaty.

    It is designed to further cement the friendship between the two Parties, Governments and peoples that has been keenly nurtured for more than seven decades, as well as helping to strengthen cultural and economic cooperation between the two countries.

    The songs will affirm the eternity of the Vietnam-Laos special friendship and solidarity.

    Suggested themes include the Vietnam-Laos relationship established by Presidents Ho Chi Minh and Kaysone Phomvihane and nurtured by subsequent generations of leaders, and the two countries’ shared vision for peace and prosperity.

    The winner will receive a cash prize of VND30 million (US$1,320) and each of the two runners-up will be awarded VND15 million (US$660). There are also three third prizes and four consolation prizes.

    The entries are to be submitted to the Agency for the Performing Arts at 32 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street, Hanoi from March 1-30, 2017.

    Hanoi, HCM City rank low in 'livable' index

    Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City have been ranked 119th and 122nd respectively out of 140 cities in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2016 global ranking of living conditions.

    “Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh rank very poorly in terms of infrastructure,” said Miguel Chanco, ASEAN lead analyst at the EIU in an exclusive interview with VnExpress International on December 13. “In our survey data, they have very inadequate road networks and transport systems, which have dragged the course of the cities down quite considerably.”

    The EIU 2016 special report on livability assesses healthcare, education, stability, culture and environment and infrastructure to find the best and worst cities in the world.

    Melbourne, Australia tops the list for the sixth year in a row, while the war-torn Syrian city of Damascus is the lowest-ranked city. Rankings for top and bottom cities were first announced earlier this year.

    According to Chanco, Vietnam can boost its rankings by addressing traffic congestion, which has resulted from increased vehicle ownership and the lack of capacity to accommodate development.

    “Singapore is a good model for Vietnam to emulate,” said Chanco. “They are very developed in public transport system which reduces certain needs for private vehicle ownership, which I think will suit Vietnam’s long-term needs very well. “

    However, the EIU analyst believes the country's two biggest cities still hold many economic opportunities, as the country’s economic growth prospects are much better than many others in ASEAN.

    In another worldwide survey by the EIU on the cost of living aimed at expats and business travelers, Hanoi ranked the 62nd most expensive city, while Ho Chi Minh was placed 81st.

    In July, local media reported that Ho Chi Minh City needs US$45 billion to develop its infrastructure to sustain the growth of its population and economic activities over the next 15 years, but is struggling to find that money.

    Truong Sa exhibition ready to open in Hanoi

    The Hanoi Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism has unveiled it will present a photo exhibition on the Truong Sa (Spratly) Islands on Dec. 31, 2016-Jan. 3, 2107 at the Exhibition House on 45 Trang Tien Street, Hanoi.

    At the exhibition, 100 photographs by photojournalists from across the country will go on display.

    These maps, publications and other documents written by Vietnamese and foreign historians and researchers provide historical and legal evidence that prove Vietnam’s sovereignty over the two archipelagos.

    They document that Vietnam has exercised sovereignty over Hoang Sa and Truong Sa islands since the 17th century in an uninterrupted and peaceful manner.

    Through the exhibition, the Department hopes visitors will develop a better appreciation and understanding of the historical truth of Vietnam’s sovereignty over the islands.

    Cooking class invites Vietnamese to experience authentic Korean cuisine

    The Korean Cultural Centre in Vietnam (KCC) hosted a cooking class on December 13 to introduce Korean cuisine and culinary culture.

    Under the instruction of culinary expert Hong Shine, participants learnt how to make three typical Korean dishes, including Gujeolpan (platter of nine delicacies), Jeyuk-bossam (pork belly slices with kimchi), and Kimchijeon (kimchi pancake).

    The programme, jointly held by the KCC, the Korean Embassy in Vietnam and the Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corporation (aT), aimed to provide participants with an experience of authentic Korean cuisine and cooking methods.

    According to KCC Director Lee Dae Joong, the culinary culture of a country can tell a lot about its nature, history and environment.

    The KCC will make more efforts to introduce Vietnamese visitors to Korean cuisine along with its striking flavours and fragrances, he said.

    Culinary expert Hong Shine has developed her own recipes for many Korean dishes. She has starred in many cuisine programmes in the Republic of Korea, and has authored a cookbook on family recipes.

    Chef Alain Dutournier brings French flair to Hanoi

    The La Table Du Chef Restaurant on December 16-17 will present a dynamic French culinary experience featuring a menu by two-star Michelin Chef Alain Dutournier.

    The – Special days with Alain –project will offer Hanoian food enthusiasts the unique opportunity to partake in enjoyable French menu selections and chat with the famous chef, who is also an owner of the establishment.

    In addition, on the morning of December 16, Alain Dutournier will offer a special cooking class at the Press Club building featuring French-style dishes.

    The French chef, who was awarded the Knight of Order of Academic Palms, was born in the Landes region in south-western France, into a family where his grandmother and mother dedicated most of their time to cooking.

    He opened his first bistro Au Trou Gascon when he was 24 years old. Today the bistro is a Michelin 1-Star Restaurant in the 12th District of Paris. His Le Carré des Feuillants is a Michelin 2-Star Restaurant.

    He also runs the casual chic papas Pinxo restaurant and Mangetout, featuring French food with Aquitaine's flavour.


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