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Social News In Brief 2/3
Bac Lieu approves measures to fix eroded sea dykes
The Chairman of Bac Lieu People’s Committee Duong Thanh Trung discussed protecting sea dykes from erosion with relevant authorities on March 2.
In the meeting, Chairman Trung said coastal erosion along Ganh Hao Dyke in Dong Hai district and Nha Mat Dyke in Bac Lieu city had become alarming.
Ganh Hao Dyke is likely to fail at any minute, putting the lives of more than 8,000 households in Ganh Hao town at risk, he warned.
The chairman later approved a proposal by the Southern Institute of Water Resource Research to reinforce the dykes by installing concrete pillars at G1-835 section of Ganh Hao Dyke, rebuilding wall breakwaters and using Tetrapod structures.
Bac Lieu Province is a Mekong Delta province vulnerable to climate change. The two sea dykes in the province have been badly damaged by high tides, huge waves and strong winds since late January, threatening the lives and properties of local residents.
According to the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, huge waves and powerful winds swept away nearly 90 metres of Ganh Hao Dyke while damaging about 24 metres of Nha Mat Dyke.
Thua Thien – Hue pays second-batch Formosa compensation to fishermen
A person from Thach Trung commune, Ha Tinh province receives compensation.
The People’s Committee of central Thua Thien – Hue province will distribute 200 billion VND (8.8 million USD) in second advanced compensation to households affected by the Formosa marine environmental incident.
Phong Dien district will receive more than 24 billion VND (one million USD), Quang Dien nearly 14 billion VND (616,000 USD), Phu Vang over 68.5 billion VND (over 3 million USD), Phu Loc 73.6 billion VND (3.23 million USD), and Huong Tra town over 19.7 billion VND (866,800 USD).
The Committee requested the five localities ensure the progress of the second batch payment of compensation.
So far, 18,114 out of 19,000 affected households have received compensation worth a total of nearly 322 billion VND (14.17 million USD), accounting for over 80 percent of the total compensation of 400 billion VND (17.6 million USD) in the first phase.
Phong Dien district distributed nearly 29 billion VND (1.27 million USD) for 2,046 beneficiaries, Quang Dien district paid over 25 billion VND (1.1 million USD) to 1,329 people, Phu Vang district over 129 billion VND (5.67 million USD) for 6,156 people, and Huong Tra town over 19 billion VND (836,000 USD) for 1,552 people.
According to Deputy Director of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Dinh Duc, most beneficiaries used their first-batch compensation to upgrade or buy fishing tools.
In late June 2016, Taiwan-invested Hung Nghiep Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Limited Company admitted responsibility for the environmental incident, which affected the central provinces of Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien-Hue. It pledged 11.5 trillion VND (500 million USD) in compensation.
The Ministry of Finance transferred 3 trillion VND (134 million USD) to the localities in the initial phase. Of the amount, Thua Thien-Hue got 400 billion VND (17.6 million USD), Quang Binh 1.1 trillion VND (48.5 million USD), Ha Tinh one trillion VND (44.1 million USD), and Quang Tri 500 billion VND (22 million USD).
Hanoi leader vows to bring best works to Frankfurt Book Fair
Chairman of the Hanoi City People’s Committee Nguyen Duc Chung has vowed to bring the best Vietnamese books, including German works translated into Vietnamese centuries ago, to the Frankfurt Book Fair 2021, to which Vietnam has been invited as a guest of honour.
During a working session in Hanoi on March 1 with Director of the Frankfurt Book Fair Juergen Boos, Chung asked his guest to assist Hanoi in personnel training for the organisation of major book fairs in the future.
He affirmed that Vietnam and the capital city Hanoi in particular is working for the development of the reading culture, adding that the city has been coordinating with publishing houses to hold book fair each year.
According to him, Hanoi is building a book street which is due to open on May 1, while a national exhibition centre is slated for inauguration in 2018, which will allow the city to hold a large-scale book fair in late 2018 or early 2019.
The Hanoi leader also took note that the capital city is using German advanced technologies many fields, includinghealth care, transport, waste treatment and publishing.
Boos, for his part, said the Frankfurt Book Fair provides a platform for experts and politicians to express opinions on cultural development of their countries.
Hailing Vietnam’s rich cultural treasure which is yet to be fully tapped, he vowed all possible support for Vietnam to increase its presence in Germany, firstly providing training for its staff this June.
He proposed that the Vietnamese side select outstanding works and translate them into many languages for the fair. Vietnam should also work with other Southeast Asian nations to build a forum on ASEAN reading culture development, he said.
Concluding the working session, Chairman Chung suggested signing a memorandum of understanding on cooperation, under which, the Frankfurt Book Fair will help Hanoi with training and organisation of major book fairs in the future, while Vietnam and Hanoi will organize annual book displays and art shows in Germany, among others.
Japanese company interested in water supply project in Dong Nai
Representatives from Japan’s Kobelco Corporation expressed their desire to invest in the Nhon Trach 2 water supply plant project in the southern province of Dong Nai at a working session with local authorities on March 1.
They said besides construction, steel and machinery, the corporation has a unit specialising in water treatment – Kobelco-Eco Solution, which boasts advanced, energy-saving and environmentally-friendly technologies.
According to Tran Van Vinh, Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee, with a population of more than 3 million, the province is forecast to need around 1 million cu.m of water per day. However the capacity of its current system is about 400,000 cu.m per day.
In 2014, the Nhon Trach 1 water supply plant (the first phase) with a capacity of 100,000 cu.m per day was built with Japan’s official development assistance (ODA) capital.
Dong Nai is implementing the second phase of the plant (Nhon Trach 2) with a loan of 15 billion JPY (132 million USD) from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to bring its total capacity to 200,000 cu.m per day.
RoK foundation to build new rural village in Hau Giang
A delegation from the Saeumaul Globalisation Foundation (SGF) of the Republic of Korea discussed building a Vietnam-Korea village in the Mekong Delta province of Hau Giang during a working session with the provincial authorities on March 1.
An Deok-jang, Director of the SGF management board for Africa and Asia, said local people’s effort is crucial to the new rural movement and hoped that the Vietnam-Korea village model in Luong Tam commune, Long My district and Binh Thanh commune, Phung Hiep district would be a success.
The goal of the project is to enable local residents to adopt effective economic models after five years, he said.
Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Truong Canh Tuyen vowed all possible support for the project, which has an investment of more than 72.4 billion VND (3.14 million USD).
Work on the Vietnam-Korea village will start this year with the hope to complete the village in 2020 in order to multiply the model across the province and the Mekong Delta after 2020.
Between now and 2020, both sides will offer training in household and collective economic management for local residents, build production infrastructure, transfer technology, develop education-health care and cultural exchange, and create a better business environment.
Party balloon explosion injures five, one hospitalize
Dozens balloons used for party decoration have exploded in northern Vietnam, leaving five people with burn injuries, one of them has to be hospitalized, one of the victims said.
The 40 balloons, bought by a family in Hanoi to celebrate a member's birthday, went off when a woman was removing them from a plastic bag, said the 34-year-old victim, identified only as Minh.
She was rushed to hospital with multiple burns on her face and hands.
“It was lucky that children were standing far,” said Minh with her face and arms covered in white bandage, “I was aghast at seeing the balloons blowing up that violently.”
The victim was admitted to the Saint-Paul Hospital in shock and would stay for treatment for two weeks, said doctor Nguyen Thong, head of the adult burn department.
The hospital has also been treating a female patient who suffered from various burns on her face and arms due to an explosion of 55 party balloons on Valentine's Day.
The hospital has received dozens of patients with burn injuries caused by balloons, said doctor Thong.
It is suspected that the balloons which exploded and caught fire after coming contact with high temperature were filled with highly inflammable hydrogen, instead of helium.
Both the gases are lighter than air so they make balloons fly. Cheaper hydrogen is sometimes favored by balloon suppliers.
Two killed in truck, motorbike accident in Đồng Nai
A pregnant woman and an 8-year-old student were killed on Tuesday after a truck hit their motorbikes in the southern province of Đồng Nai.
The accident occurred at 5:30pm when the truck lost control outside Sông Mây Primary School on Vĩnh Cửu District’s ĐT 767 Street and swerved into four motorbikes, killing two and injuring two others who were later sent to the hospital.
Many parents were waiting to pick their children up at the time of the accident, a local resident said.
The truck driver’s identity has not been determined.
An investigation is continuing, according to authorities.
Heat edge Alab Pilipinas to sneak into playoff conversation
The Saigon Heat, who limped through the first eight games of the season, have suddenly come to life.
Battling for their lives in the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) playoff picture, the Heat pulled out a gritty performance against Alab Pilipinas with a 78-74 victory Sunday night in Ho Chi Minh City. The win, coupled with losses by rivals Westports Malaysia Dragons and the Kaohsiung Truth, slide the Heat into the fourth playoff position at a record of 5-8.
The Heat are peaking at the right time, winning four of their last five games in dramatic fashion. Heat star Lenny Daniel led all scorers with 24 point and added 15 rebounds, while teammate Jordan Henriquez added his own double double with 13 points and 13 rebounds. Henriquez has helped the Heat to two wins filling in for the injured Christien Charles, although the Heat may try to find a way to keep him around if Saigon continues winning.
Four players hit double digits for Alab, led by Sampson Carter with 20 points and 11 rebounds.
“We always believe in the game plan,” said Swedish-Vietnamese marksman Stefan Nguyen. “We know we can win every game.
“We’ve been playing with urgency the whole season.”
Saigon came out firing on all cylinders in the first half, leading 37-26 at the break. But Alab came alive in the third quarter, with the game tied 53 apiece heading into the fourth. Contributions from David Arnold and Moses Morgan sealed the game, despite some late jitters with an ill-advised three-shot foul by Nguyen on Alab’s Bobby Ray Parks, Jr. with seconds remaining in the game.
The next game should be just as intense, with both teams facing one another this Friday, once again at CIS Stadium in Ho Chi Minh City.
Workshop talks sustainable livelihood for disadvantaged labourers
Experts gathered at a workshop hosted by the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour (VGCL) in Hanoi on March 1 to seek ways to ensure sustainable livelihood for disadvantaged labourers.
The workshop was part of a national scientific research project on the issue.
The targeted group includes beggars, crime victims, the disabled, youths in underprivileged circumstances, the unemployed, ex-prisoners, the elderly, prostitutes, and the homeless. Those living under the poverty line and refugees are also in this category.
Addressing the event, Director of the Confederation’s Institute of Worker and Trade Union Vu Quang Tho stressed that the disadvantaged group is the focus of attention of the trade union organisation.
Participants agreed that the State needs to provide more support for the group, who are faced with many difficulties and obstacles in integrating into the community. Those difficulties and obstacles may be related to their physical conditions, their
capability, professions, living conditions or social prejudice and psychological problems.
They suggested offering incentives to encourage organisations and individuals to invest in remote, mountainous areas and use local labourers in their investment projects, while localities need to promote vocational training and general education.
Job placement service should be developed in tandem with vocational training designed specifically for the disabled, through strengthening connection among the service providers, enterprises and labourers, it was proposed at the workshop.
Heineken sponsors water protection research
Heineken Vietnam Brewery Limited Company (Heineken Vietnam Brewery) on February 28 announced to give VND420 million to four water protection research projects conducted by students and lecturers in HCM City.
Students and instructors from the HCM City University of Technology and Education and the University of Science of HCM City will focus on researching new materials and devices for water treatment.
On the same day, Heineken Vietnam Brewery awarded 22 scholarships worth a total of VND30 million to students of environment in the city. An extra 33 scholarships will be granted to students in the Mekong Delta on March 2.
Presenting financial aid to students and scientific research projects is key to the company’s program to nurture local talent since 2012.
Since 2012, Heineken has awarded 186 scholarships worth VND1.9 billion and sponsored 20 water resource research projects with a total value of nearly VND2.3 billion.
Central city to start landmines education project for kids
The central city People’s Committee will start a landmine and bomb awareness and education project funded by the United States Secretary through Catholic Relief Service organisation.
The city said the VNĐ855 million (US$37,800) project will aim to spread awareness about landmines and bomb-related accidents for students at schools and field trips education from 2017-2020.
The city, in co-operation with relevant agencies and its US partner, plans to implement the project in the second quarter this year.
Last year, the Đà Nẵng-based branch of the Bomb and Mine Action Support Association donated VNĐ240 million ($11,000) to support 20 landmine victims in seven districts of the city.
According to a survey in 2002, nearly 96.6 million hectares of land across Việt Nam are contaminated with post-war unexploded ordnance (UXO), accounting for 21.12 percent of the country’s land.
UXOs claimed 42,135 lives and injured 62,163 others from 1975 to 2000.
In 2012, a US government-funded programme to remove unexploded ordnance (UXO) and landmines was launched in the central province of Quảng Nam Province
In 2013, Danish Demining Group (DDG) Việt Nam also launched an education project for the prevention of accidents related to landmines and UXO in Quảng Nam province’s Duy Xuyên District.
The Peace Trees Việt Nam, a NGO from the US, built up the Danaan Parry Landmines Education Centre in Quảng Trị Province to provide landmine awareness education for provincial residents and children.
Workshop talks sustainable livelihood for disadvantaged labourers
Experts gathered at a workshop hosted by the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour (VGCL) in Hanoi on March 1 to seek ways to ensure sustainable livelihood for disadvantaged labourers.
The workshop was part of a national scientific research project on the issue.
The targeted group includes beggars, crime victims, the disabled, youths in underprivileged circumstances, the unemployed, ex-prisoners, the elderly, prostitutes, and the homeless. Those living under the poverty line and refugees are also in this category.
Addressing the event, Director of the Confederation’s Institute of Worker and Trade Union Vu Quang Tho stressed that the disadvantaged group is the focus of attention of the trade union organisation.
Participants agreed that the State needs to provide more support for the group, who are faced with many difficulties and obstacles in integrating into the community. Those difficulties and obstacles may be related to their physical conditions, their
capability, professions, living conditions or social prejudice and psychological problems.
They suggested offering incentives to encourage organisations and individuals to invest in remote, mountainous areas and use local labourers in their investment projects, while localities need to promote vocational training and general education.
Job placement service should be developed in tandem with vocational training designed specifically for the disabled, through strengthening connection among the service providers, enterprises and labourers, it was proposed at the workshop.
Central Theoretical Council convenes second session
The Central Theoretical Council convened its second session for 2016-2021 in Hanoi on December 7 under the chairmanship of Dinh The Huynh, Politburo member and standing member of the Party Central Committee’s Secretariat.
At the session, the council focused on discussing two draft consultant reports on “A number of theoretical and practical issues on completing the socialist-orientated market economy” and a number of theoretical and practical issues on continuing to reform mechanisms and policies to encourage and facilitate the private economic sector.
Addressing the session, Politburo member Huynh urged the Council’s Permanent Board to seriously absorb the opinions and comments on relevant issues expressed by the Council’s members at the session in order to submit them to the Politburo and Secretariat at the upcoming meeting of the Party Central Committee.
The socialist-orientated market economy is an economy operating fully and synchronously according to the rules of a market economy while ensuring a socialist orientation suitable to each period of national development. It is a modern and internationally integrated market economy that is administered by a law-ruled socialist state and led by the Communist Party of Vietnam toward the goal of a rich people and a developed, democratic, equal and civilised country.
It is a type of organisation of the economy based on not only the principles and rules of a market economy but also on the principles and characteristics of socialism shown in three respects: ownership, organisation of management and distribution.
It is an organised market economy led by the Party and administered by the socialist state, which is socially orientated to minimise the defects of the market in order to best serve the interests of the majority of the people and the sustainable development of the country.
Youth Action Month observed nationwide
A total of 20 gifts worth VND 20 million in total were also presented to the families of policy beneficiary and poor households in Hoa Binh Province by the Youth Union of the Centrally Run Business Bloc at the launching of its Youth Action Month on March 1.
The construction of a VND 110 million house started as a gift for national veteran revolutionary Do Xuan Dau in Thai Thinh Commune, Hoa Binh to mark the occasion.
At this year’s action moth, Youth Union of the Centrally Run Business Bloc committed to implementing volunteer activities that will benefit the community and ensure social welfare with a total value of VND 35.5 billion.
The youth union also launched a tree-planting programme, with 86 trees being planted at the Hoa Binh Hydropower Plant.
The Youth Action Month kicked off the same day in Thu Dau Mot City, Binh Duong Province with a focus on popularising the fine tradition of the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union and providing vocational training for the youth.
In response to the Youth Action Month, Thanh Hoa’s provincial Youth Union has committed to studying and following President Ho Chi Minh’s moral example, improving local traffic routes, bridges and canal systems and collecting waste in Nong Cong Town.
A total of 64 volunteer groups each including 10 youth union members were debuted yesterday in Ho Chi Minh City by the city Youth Union to help maintain traffic safety in university areas and traffic congestion spots in the city.
More than 300 youth union members and students in Lang Son Province took part in the launching ceremony of a Youth Action Month yesterday. 200 elders, children, and people from policy beneficiary and poor households in Thuy Hung Commune were provided with free health check-ups at the event.
HCMC attempts to tidy up pavements for pedestrians this year
Chairman of the HCMC People’s Committee Nguyen Thanh Phong required 24 district leaders’ commitment to him that they will basically tidy up pavements and restore street order this year at a meeting with Traffic Safety Committee, agencies and districts on March 1.
Those failing to complete the task would be proposed to to do another job, he said.
Reporting to Mr. Phong, deputy head of the board Nguyen Ngoc Tuong said that HCMC has 4,869 streets but only 2,271 routes have pavements. For the past time, the board has set up inspection teams to survey and found many business households have encroached pavements and road beds to sell goods, place sign boards and park vehicles.
Lot of restaurants have occupied pavements at night to arrange furniture to sell food or beverages. Hours long parking has occurred in some streets even in areas with no-parking boards.
Most districts said that they had attempted to tackle the issue. However, the remedy has not worked long as right after inspectors leave, citizens continue encroaching pavements to do businesses. Relevant agencies have yet to well coordinate together to solve the pavement and roadbed encroachment, which has worsened in adjacent areas of two localities or more.
Propaganda has been irregular and inconvincible to create citizens’ agreement and change their awareness. Many districts’ leaders have not taken drastic actions.
At the meeting, most districts said that they had instructed relevant sides to build and implement plans to streamline streets and pavements in their localities. They made a pledge of determination to settle the encroachment.
According to chairman Nguyen Thanh Phong, street order restoration has drawn much public attention so the city should implement the plan more drastically instead of following movements. Many solutions should be combined to gain high efficiency.
The plan should be carried out drastically and lawfully to contribute in bettering living environment for citizens as pavement and street infringement has much affected traffic safety and urban civilization, he stressed.
District 1 has recently made great efforts to clear pavements. For instance, local authorities have talked to 500 business households about their business premise reorganization.
Chairman Phong said that the city had issued some legal documents on pavement and street management since 2002. The matter now is how relevant districts and agencies’ determination to implement the plan.
Tackling violations must abide by the law. Authorized agencies should first propose citizens to remove their furniture and goods from pavements themselves before applying coercive measures, he required.
Implementing the chairman’s requirement, the People’s Committee of Ward 2, District 8 on the same day sent an announcement to households, businesses and organizations in the ward, asking them to remove three step staircases, concrete ramps, lean to roofs, electric sign boards from pavements.
According to the announcement, citizens should remove business supplies, goods and ornamental tree pots from pavements in front of their houses within seven days after receiving the announcement. Afterwards, wards’ people’s committees will inspect and issue the fine of VND2-3 million to violating individuals and VND4-6 million to organizations according to Decree 46 of the Government.
At a cabinet meeting yesterday, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc appraised HCMC for its efforts and determination to clear pavements for pedestrians.
Conference spotlights significance of science, technology growth
As advantages of natural resources and labor forces cannot last forever, education, science and technology will help with the country’s growth and competitiveness, stated Deputy Minister of Science and Technology Tran Van Tung.
Tung was addressing a conference themed “Advancing the future of Vietnam: Inspiring students, makers, educators and entrepreneurs to innovate,” held by US Arizona State University’s Higher Engineering Education Alliance Programme (HEEP) and Vietnamese partners in Hanoi on March 1-2.
He held that developed education, science and technology will help Vietnam achieve sustainable development and narrow its development gap with other countries.
Tung also lauded the theme of the event, the fifth edition of the Vietnam Engineering Education Conference under the new name science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) conference. It is expected to gather ideas to contribute to the modernization and industrialization of the country.
Over the past years, Vietnam’s science and technology sector has been developing in all spheres, from human resources to policies.
The Government has strengthened investment in the field through the privatization of investment resources, while encouraging enterprises to give an adequate amount from their profit to science and technology development.
The Ministry has also conducted various projects on science and technology to create new breakthroughs in the field to boost socio-economic growth, said Tung.
Currently, science, technology, and engineering have become important forces behind the economic development in the world and ASEAN, as well as an important factor of global trade.
The conference aims to seek measures to boost the growth of professions in the field of science, technology, engineering and math.
During the event, HEEP and Intel Products Vietnam Ltd. announced a technology master scholarship programme for 19 Vietnamese students in ASU, as part of efforts to implement Intel’s commitments to contributing to the building of a smart city in Ho Chi Minh City. The ASU will also organise a week-long training course for 10 competent officials of the city.
Lai Châu police seize heroin, arrest 2
Police in the northern Lai Châu Province’s Tân Uyên District have arrested two persons for illegally transporting 39 cakes of heroin.
The suspects were identified on Tuesday as Hạng A Lau, 52, from Mộc Châu District’s Chiềng Hắc Commune in Sơn La Province and Sồng Thị Dí from Lóong Sập Commune.
In early January, the local police received information that a person from the ethnic H’Mông community often transported drugs to Mộc Châu District for consumption in Lào Cai Province.
On February 24, following a tip-off, around 2pm, the police stopped a motorbike on National Highway 32. The two men on the bike flung their backpack containing 39 cakes of heroin on the pavement and tried to escape by shooting at the police.
As the police gave chase, the duo ran and took cover in a ravine, but within an hour Dí was arrested. After over two hours of persuasion, Lau surrendered and was disarmed and arrested. One policeman was injured during the chase.
The police also seized a K59 pistol and seven bullets during the case.
At the police station, the suspects confessed that a Laos national had asked them to transport the heroin to Lào Cai Province for a payment of VNĐ150 million (US$6,600), which would be made after delivery.
This is the largest drug case that has been busted by the local police, and further investigations are underway. The investigation team has received an award for the breakthrough.
In a separate incident, police officials from the northern province of Điện Biên on Tuesday arrested a suspect for possession of 22,000 synthetic drugs in the form of tablets. The suspect, Vàng A Thông, 28, was a resident of Điện Biên District’s Hẹ Muông Commune.
At 1pm, the local police stopped a motorbike heading to the district centre. Thông tried to speed away, but was caught later. He allegedly admitted that he had bought the drugs near the border and was planning to sell it locally. Investigations are on.
US Army Pacific Hands Over Kindergarten School in Vietnam
General Robert Brown, commanding general of the United States Army Pacific, officially handed over the Quang Phuoc Kindergarten in Thua Thien Hue Province to the local community on February 24, 2017.
This United States Army Corps of Engineers Humanitarian Assistance project is the result of hard work and a comprehensive total-government approach to build trust and deepen the relationship between the United States and Vietnam.
Since 2009, the U.S. Government, through the Overseas Humanitarian Disaster Assistance and Civic Action Program, has partnered with the Vietnamese government to construct schools, clinics, disaster coordination centers, and bridges in many towns and villages throughout Vietnam.
“As a father and grandfather, I understand the importance of having a safe and good environment for education,” said Brown.
The new two-story school consists of four classrooms which will accommodate 80 students and their teachers. During the rainy season, the school also serves as a flood-shelter.
The best pictures of Van Long Natural Reserve
Around 80 kilometers from Hanoi, Van Long Nature Reserve in Gia Van Commune, Gia Vien District, Ninh Binh Province is as beautiful as a painting.
The site is where tourists can come to find peace in a tranquil atmosphere. Although it was opened for tourism in 1998, Van Long is still as primitive as ever. It remains an attractive destination for local and foreign visitors.
Along with Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex and Tam Coc-Bich Dong National Park in the province, Van Long Nature Reserve is considered an overland equivalent of Halong Bay with imposing cliffs and mountains and vast lakes which form a stunning scene.
Van Long has 33 caves of different sizes but only some of them are open to tourists.
Coming to the site, tourists should take bamboo basket boat tours to see Delacour’s langur in Ca Cave and the shades of mountains reflected on the crystal clear water surface in Bong Cave.
A sightseeing trip by boat takes around one hour and a half and costs VND75,000 (nearly US$3.4) per adult . Tourists should take the tour early in the morning to watch the site at dawn, or late in the afternoon to admire the breathtaking view of flocks of storks returning to their nests at sunset.
Van Long Nature Reserve holds two national records: the biggest community of Delacour’s langur and the largest natural painting.
The biggest wetland nature reserve site in the northern delta with an area of 3,500 hectares is home to thousands of terrestrial and aquatic animals and plants.
Among them are rare and endangered species such as waterfowl, giant water bug which is in Vietnam’s Red Book, and Delacour’s langur, a critically endangered species at home and abroad.
Compiled by Pha Le
Tracing Vietnamese ‘sand drain’ to Singapore: How much does the resource cost?
After discovering where sand dredged from Vietnam’s waters is being transported to in Singapore, Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper found that the precious resource is being sold at rock bottom prices, at least according to customs papers.
The cargo ship Yangtze Harmony (L), having loaded sand from Vietnam's Phu Quoc Island, unloads the resource to Tekong Island, off Singapore, February 19, 2017. Tuoi Tre
Like some Southeast Asian countries, Vietnam bans the export of sand, with the exception of saline sand, resulted from river or sea dredging projects.
According to data reviewed by Tuoi Tre, more than ten businesses across Vietnam have obtained a license from the construction ministry to export saline sand since 2016.
These companies are those that have carried out various river or sea dredging works, and have been allowed to sell the dredged sand to recoup expenses.
However, Tuoi Tre has found out that these companies seem to have sold the nonrenewable resource at an average price of only US$1 per cubic meter, and in some cases, as low as $.01 per cubic meter, according to customs declarations.
Most of the dredging projects, whose sand will be exported, are in the central coastal provinces of Khanh Hoa, and Phu Yen. Similar projects also took place in Quang Binh, Quang Tri, Ha Tinh, Quang Nam, Binh Dinh, Thua Thien - Hue, Binh Thuan, and Ninh Thuan.
In the Mekong Delta in southern Vietnam, only one project on Phu Quoc Island, off Kien Giang Province, was recorded.
Khanh Hoa and Phu Yen each were home to four dredging projects, with one project in Khanh Hoa having exported more than 7.3 million cubic meters of sand to Singapore.
Those projects in Khanh Hoa were carried out by Cai Mep Investment Co, Green Environment Development Co. , Saigon - Hanoi ICMM., JSC, and those in Phu Yen: BKG Co., Bao Chau Co., Saigon - Hanoi ICMM., JSC, Quoc Bao Trading Construction, and Investment Advisory Co.
Dirt cheap prices
According to export contracts in 2008 and 2009, Vietnamese sand was sold from $3 to $6.6 per m3. However, prices started to slip in 2013.
In 2014, BKG and Quoc Bao declared to customs that their sand exports cost $2 per m3 while Phuong Thao Nguyen Co declared $2 per m3.
In January 2015, prices continued to drop by 50 percent. On January 8, Green Environment Development Co. charged Singapore’s TNS Resources $1.21 per m3, and only $1.1 per m3 just four days later.
In the meantime, Kien Hoang and Binh Minh Vang asked for even more shocking prices: the former sold to Le Tong Resources at $0.8 per m3, and the latter to Ky Tuong Singapore at $0.9 per m3.
These exporters asked for similar rates for contracts signed in 2016 and early 2017, according to documents seen by Tuoi Tre.
Sand bought from Vietnam is seen at an area near Changi Airport.
Despite the throwaway prices, Vietnamese businesses sold a total of 31.6 million cubic meters of saline sand in 2015 alone, accounting for 50 percent of the total sand exports between 2008 and 2016.
Many construction companies have expressed skepticism at the dirt cheap export prices, saying it is impossible to sell the resource for less than a dollar per cubic meter.
One industry insider said he was forced to buy saline sand for $1.2 per m3 to use in a land reclamation project, so it is illogical for the export price to be cheaper than the domestic rate.
The exporters have apparently declared the export price much lower than the real rates when completing customs paperwork, according toTuoi Tre investigation.
For instance, in May 2015, Vietnam’s Hai Duong KG signed a deal to sell sand dredged on Phu Quoc Island to Cambodia-based JIA DA Investment & Construction for $4.4 per m3, according to the contract obtained by Tuoi Tre.
However, Hai Duong KG only declared an export price of $1 per m3 to customs when they started to send four sand-loaded ships to the customer in October and November 2015.
The customs department had indeed marked those shipments as ‘suspicious’ and ‘needs reviewing,’ however, the exports still eventually cleared checks and were successfully transported to the buyers.
Among the suspicious customs declarations is that of Duc Long Co., which said it sold two ships of sand to Singapore’s Hua Kai at only $1.3 per m3, even though the contract, obtained by Tuoi Tre, shows the price was $4.6 per m3.
On February 20, Tuoi Tre visited the office of Hua Kai on the fourth floor of an office building on Balestier Street, and was received by a woman named Li Fang and a man. Li’s business card says she is the company’s CEO.
Li Fang (R)
Tuoi Tre gave Li a copy of the contract her company had closed with Duc Long, with the sand export price was set at $4.6 per m3 and asked her about the low price the exporter declared with customs.
However, the CEO quickly refused to comment, suggesting Tuoi Treto “ask Vietnamese authorities.”
She did confirm the contract was authentic, and that Hua Kai had bought two ships of sand from Duc Long before signing a new contract in 2016.
But the CEO refused to disclose the buying price in the new deal.
Before showing Tuoi Tre to the door, Li reiterated that she could not comment anything about the disparity between the contract price and the rate declared with customs.
On February 27, Tuoi Tre asked to have an appointment with Duc Long Co. leaders, but has yet to receive a response.
TUOI TRE NEWS
Japanese Emperor, Empress visit Hue
Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko on March 4 visited the Hue imperial citadel where they were welcomed at Thai Hoa Palace and enjoyed Hue royal court music, recognized as a “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” by UNESCO in 2003.
Phan Thanh Hai, Director of the Center for Hue Ancient Citadel Preservation said, “The Japanese Emperor and Empress loved Vietnam's heritages. In 2007, we sent a troupe of Hue royal court music to accompany President Nguyen Minh Triet to Japan. The troupe performed at the Royal Court in Tokyo.
Women's footwear and products: multi-billion dollar market
Many Vietnamese businesses have spent big money to build up their brands to conquer the home market, despite the popularity of Chinese cheap products here.
Unwrapping a gift box on Valentine's Day, Minh Ha felt excited when realizing that the gift was a pair of boots. After trying on, Ha put the boots into her closet with five other brand-new pair of boots.
Ha and other Vietnamese women spend more money on shoes, cosmetics and fashion products than their mothers and grandmothers did in the past. This has prompted many investors to pour money in the projects to develop fashion brands.
Besides the once-famous brands such as Hanh Dung, Hong Thanh and Dong Hai, the market has seen a lot of newcomers including Vascara, Evashoes, Junor and Sablanca.
Analysts said that joining the domestic fashion market is a daring move for domestic investors. Vietnam, while listed among the world’s top four footwear manufacturers, mostly does outsourcing instead of making products under its brands.
This explains why Hanh Dung, Hong Thanh and Dong Hai, considered the ‘elder brothers’, have fewer than 10 shops each, mostly in HCMC. Some brands have shifted to distribute products of other manufacturers, while others have failed to build up their brands in the domestic market because of the weak distribution networks or unreasonable products.
However, the failure cannot prevent other investors from proceeding. Established in 2007, Vascara, with Brazilian origin, design and production center in Vietnam, managed by Vietnamese, has had more than 80 shops throughout the country.
Juno, present for 10 years in the Vietnamese market, has become well known in the last two years after receiving investment from Seedcom. With support, Juno now has nearly 40 shops in six provinces and cities.
While fashion companies generally don’t pay high attention to online marketing, Juno spends big money on this work. A report of Buzzmetric showed that Juno was the brand with leading number of interactions on last year’s Black Friday, 52,000, which was higher than foreign brands such as Zara, H&M and Adidas.
There are two common characteristics for Vascara and Juno. First, both of them focus on mid-end products, not luxury items. Second, their products are diverse and have youthful designs.
According to Juno and Vascara, the domestic footwear & handbag market is estimated to have value of $1 billion, in which businesses like Juno and Vascara hold 1-2 percent of the market share, while the gross profit is between 30 and 40 percent.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade estimates that the domestic market needs $1.5 billion worth of footwear products each year, while Vietnamese companies can satisfy 40 percent of the demand.
Le Ha, VNN
Bank chairman admits violations
Trade barriers may seriously affect Vietnam’s seafood industry
A number of seafood companies have been dissolved or have halted operation, while trade barriers from import countries are expected to.pose challenges to Vietnam’s fishery sector.
Thuan An, Hung Vuong, Camimex, Viet An, Phuong Nam, Binh An and Thien Ma, once famous names in the seafood sector, have been meeting with difficulties.
Thuan An still cannot pay bank debts, while the general director has disappeared. Hung Vuong, a big player in the industry, has unexpectedly reported a loss of VND49.3 billion, while Camimex has reported a loss of VND51 billion for 2016.
Meanwhile, Carrefour, the French retail group, has unexpectedly announced the stop of the sale of Vietnam’s catfish in Spain, Italy, France and other countries.
The decision was released after a Spanish TV channel gave false information about Vietnam’s catfish farmed in the Mekong River. They said the catfish were being bred in unclean cages and were not fed standard fish.
The EU’s import companies said that the catfish volume consumed by the retail group is inconsiderable. However, the secretary general of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) said the media speaking ill of Vietnam’s catfish products has seriously affected the image and prestige of Vietnam’s catfish industry.
As such, Vietnamese exporters, who are worried about the effects of Brexit, have more reasons to worry about consumption of the EU market.
While the EU market imports will decline, bad news has come from the US which has applied a catfish monitoring program to Vietnamese catfish imports.
From September 2017, if export countries do not submit lists of export companies and documents to prove the national food hygiene programs as requested by FSIS (USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service), they won’t be able to export products to the US.
The strict requirement is believed to be a big barrier to Vietnam’s catfish entry into the market. Meanwhile, the US continues imposing anti-dumping duties on Vietnamese seafood companies in different periods.
Vinh Hoan Seafood does not bear anti-dumping duty, but it can anticipate big difficulties to be raised by the new law.
Therefore, the company has been trying to boost exports to both the EU and US markets, while actively conquering the Chinese market. However, 60 percent of the company’s output is still sold to the US.
Local newspapers reported that some Asian countries have been boosting their exports of tilapia and catfish into the US and Europe, which would affect Vietnam’s catfish exports.
Besides the four biggest catfish farming countries in Mekong River valley, including Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, some other SE Asian countries such as the Philippines and Indonesia have also expanded farming.
Thanh Mai, VNN
BUSINESS IN BRIEF 4/3
Bac Ninh gives nod to $100 million project
The northern province of Bac Ninh Province on Thursday gave the go-ahead to a US$100 million project by South Korean firm Hanwha Techwin Security Company.
The provincial People’s Committee granted an investment certificate to the firm, which specialises in manufacturing electronic circuits, semiconductors, chips, computers and cameras. The unit will be built on a six-hectare plot in Que Vo Industrial Park.
Bui Hoang Mai, head of Bac Ninh’s Management Board of Industrial Parks, said that in the 2015-20 period, the province was prioritising the electric, electronic and mechanical manufacturing sectors. He expressed hope that the new project would generate more jobs for locals and contribute to the region’s socio-economic development.
Nguyen Tu Quynh, the committee’s chairman, reiterated that the province would create optimal conditions for investors.
Yang Jinseol, a representative of the company, promised that the factory would be built quickly and would start operations as scheduled.
In the first two months of this year, Bac Ninh has attracted $2.7 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI). On February 24, it granted an investment licence to Samsung Display Viet Nam Co. Ltd.’s $2.5 billion expansion project.
As of this February, industrial parks in Bac Ninh have attracted 1,086 projects with a registered capital of $15.87 billion, of which 659 are FDI projects worth $14.13 billion. These projects created jobs for around 230,000 workers and contributed VND7 trillion ($306.7 million) to the State budget in 2016.
Vietcombank branch in Bac Giang to support startups
A branch of the Bank for Foreign Trade of Viet Nam (Vietcombank) in the northern province of Bac Giang has committed to set aside a credit package to support startups.
The package, worth VND1 trillion (US$44.4 million), is offered under a cooperation agreement signed between Vietcombank Bac Giang and the provincial Department of Planning and Investment on Wednesday.
Under the agreement, the department will link the bank with customers planning new investment projects and seeking loans.
Short-term loans will be provided with interest rate of 7 per cent per year, while medium and long-term loans will have interest rates starting from 8 per cent per year.
The bank has promised to help clients by disbursing capital in a convenient way.
It will also actively participate in economic forums, investment conferences and dialogues with enterprises organised by the department and give firms advice on how to access loans and use banking services efficiently.
After signing with the department, Vietcombank Bac Giang also inked cooperation deals with several startups that were recently established this year and some companies launching new projects in the locality.
Nguyen Van Linh, chairman of the provincial People’s Committee, said he hoped the two sides would fulfill their commitments well so that the cooperation agreement provided considerable support to enterprises.
Number of Vietnamese millionaires to increase
A wealth report by leading UK independent real estate consultancy Knight Frank showed that Vietnam is among the countries with the fastest rise in the number of USD millionaires.
Last year, Vietnam had 200 millionaires with assets of over USD30m. This number increased by 32 people compared to 2015 and 50 people on 2014.
According to Knight Frank, this trend is increasing, reaching 170% compared to previous year's 140%. This rate is considered the fastest in the world, higher than India's 150% and China's 140%.
Similar to Forbes, Knight Frank also only recognises one USD billionaire Pham Nhat Vuong, chairman of Vingroup.
In term of the Vietnam stock exchange, the richest billionaire title belongs to Trinh Van Quyet, chairman of the FLC Group. Quyet's total assets on the Vietnam stock exchange on November 14 were valued at over USD1.4bn.
According to experts, there are "hidden" billionaires whose assets haven't been listed yet such as the CEO of Vietjet Air Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao.
Knight Frank predicts that Vietnam would make an increasingly large contribution to the growth of USD millionaires in the Asia. It also said that in the next decade, Vietnam will have three USD billionaires and the number of USD millionaires will increase from 14,200 to 38,600 people.
The number of billionaires in the world has reached over 2,000 last year. Most of the super-rich people are in North America and Europe, followed by Asia. The number of super-rich people in Asia may surpass Europe in the future.
Ambitious hi-tech project comes to Danang
Danang Hi-tech Park Management Authority has issued the investment certificate for QCM Technologies to construct its Centre for Embedded and Automation Systems applied in fisheries and agriculture industries.
The project is aimed at conducting research and development as well as piloting projects to transfer new automation technologies into the industries of agriculture, forestry, and fish processing.
In addition, the facility will aim to create high technologies to replace those imported from overseas.
The project will be set on a land area of 5,321 square metres and conducted in two phases. Specifically, the first phase, which is scheduled to start operating in September 2017, has a designed capacity of 50 products per annum. The capacity will be doubled by the second phase.
The total investment capital for the project is approximately VND50 billion ($2.19 million).
Tax agency criticized for poor inspection work
The inspection work of the General Department of Taxation in 2012-2014 contained several shortcomings and mistakes that affected the interests of businesses.
This is a conclusion of the Government Inspectorate of Vietnam published on Monday. In this conclusion, the agency reveals a series of shortcomings and weaknesses of the General Department of Taxation and its agencies in their planning, inspection and post-inspection jobs.
Specifically, the annual plans for tax inspections into enterprises drawn up by tax authorities are inappropriate and constantly adjusted. The General Department of Taxation does not appraise such plans thoroughly.
The adjustment and cancellation of inspection plans and decisions by the General Department of Taxation and local tax departments are also groundless. A number of enterprises have been named in an inspection plan for many years, but the tax agencies still have not done their job, putting such enterprises under tenterhooks.
The inspection plans of the tax authorities have always been unmet, reaching a very low level in certain years (for example, only 29% in 2012).
In addition, the General Department of Taxation has not regularly monitored, examined and supervised adherence to inspection conclusions, collection of unpaid taxes and post-inspection sanctions. Also, late payments are not well managed.
Those are the reasons why the post-inspection results are low.
The Government Inspectorate also said the lengthy process of inspection has affected operations of corporate taxpayers.
Notably, some inspection conclusions of the General Department of Taxation are inappropriately based on the guidelines on investment incentives, which is detrimental to the interests of enterprises. The tax authorities have changed the gross profit-to-cost ratio, the ratio of pretax profit to total expenses during the special inspections on transfer pricing without any foundation.
The Ministry of Finance and the General Department of Taxation have issued some guiding documents in the field of taxation that are unspecific and not in accordance with regulations.
For example, Dispatch 7227/BTC-TCDN dated June 7, 2010 and Dispatch 15827 released in 2012 are inconsistent with Circular 228/2009/TT-BTC. The guidelines on not collecting value added tax on loan interest from non-credit organizations and individuals in 2009-2011 go against the Law on Value Added Tax, (though the finance ministry has reported to the Prime Minister and received the nod).
Meanwhile, the General Department of Taxation has issued Dispatch 3342/TCT-CC instructing the collection of foreign contract tax which does not agree with Circular 134/2008/TT-BTC and Circular 60/2012/TT-BTC, affecting the interests of the business.
Tra fish price peaks on stronger export to China
The price of tra fish, or pangasius, has soared to VND29,000 (US$1.27) a kilo, a record high in years, due to the high demand of the Chinese market.
In early 2016, the tra fish price plunged to only VND18,000 a kilo, the lowest price since 2010. However, the price has increased gradually in the following months.
Although Vietnam has had difficulty boosting tra fish exports to Europe, the domestic market has not been much affected because exports of this product to China are increasing.
According to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), the tra fish export turnover reached US$1.71 billion in 2016, up nearly 10% against 2015, as China overtook the EU as the second largest buyer of Vietnamese tra fish.
Last year, the revenue of tra fish exported to China reached nearly US$305 million, up nearly 89% against 2015. China may overtake the U.S. to become Vietnam’s largest tra fish export market in 2017.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said farmers should focus on protecting the next fish farming season because the unstable water quality has been causing diseases lately.
Cold supply chain logistics: potentials and challenges
The cold supply chain logistics service holds strong potential as customers are more concerned about the quality of products, experts said at a seminar on the fresh and cold supply chain in HCMC on Tuesday.
An important link in the fresh and cold supply chain is the cold transport service. Basically, goods, especially pharmaceutical products, must be kept at certain temperatures to help maintain their quality during the transport process.
Vincent Goalard, a representative of International Pharma Services, stressed the importance of maintaining goods quality in the transport process.
He took the transport of vaccines for instance, explaining that vaccines contain weakened viruses that are no longer harmful to the human body. If temperatures are lower than the permitted level, viruses may be killed, rendering vaccines ineffective. Conversely, viruses may develop, and then become a threat to the body if temperatures are high.
Therefore, he said, vaccines should be kept at temperatures between 5 and 8 degrees Celsius during the shipping time.
The strong development of convenience stores, for instance, also leads to higher demands for the cold supply service, as those stores require products to be refrigerated in transport, such as yogurt, fresh milk, juice and ice cream. This has lent a helping hand to the expansion of the cold chain logistics service, opening up plenty of opportunities.
However, Luong Quang Thi, general director of ABA CoolTrans, said his company has had difficulty persuading customers into using the service since many of them see price rather than quality as the most important factor.
Quality assurance also needs a full cold supply chain, from temporary cooling treatment right at the after-harvest stage and the cold storage to the transport and the in-store display. However, the link among stages of the chain is not strong enough. This is seen as both challenges and opportunities for enterprises, Thi added.
Trung Thuy seeks new site for recreational area in HCMC
Trung Thuy Group is looking for a new site for a recreational area previously planned to go up on the Tau Hu-Ben Nghe Canal due to problems arising from the implementation of the project.
Trung Thuy planned to develop the VND150-billion recreational area based on the combination of eight tourist ferries on the canal section between Khanh Hoi Bridge and Mong Bridge. The ferries measuring 25 meters long each will be arranged like boats being anchored along the banks of a river, mirroring Saigon in the past and HCMC on March 2.
On board the ferries would be corners for coffee, display of images of famous persons in the country’s history, gastronomic streets and daily activities of communities. The group expected Goc Sai Gon (Corner of Saigon) area to be opened on National Day on September 2 this year and serve around 1,500 visitors at a time.
The group’s chairwoman Duong Thanh Thuy said the group previously planned to develop Corner of Saigon on a canal section near a sluice, but water levels sometimes ebb to near the bottom so it is not easy to balance ferries.
“We have reported the issue to relevant agencies. We will relocate the project to a section of the Saigon River, otherwise we will have to seek technical solutions to the issue,” Thuy told the Daily on March 1.
Trung Thuy wants to drive piles in the middle of the canal to keep the tourist ferries from tilting as one of the technical solutions. However, Thuy said it is hard for the group to get approval for the solution as it will affect boat travel on the canal.
Another problem is that the water of the canal turns black and smelly during certain hours of the day, so Trung Thuy will have to spend money dredging the canal if the group wants to attract tourists to the recreational area.
Trung Thuy is expected to work with relevant agencies over solutions to the problems, meaning the project would not be put into service on September 2 as planned.
Trung Thuy unveiled the project at a seminar on river tourism development in HCMC in November last year. HCMC hopes river tourism will help diversify tourism products and attract more tourists to the city, especially repeat visitors.
Illegal business no longer criminalized
That illegal business is no longer considered a crime is voted one of the best rules in the ranking of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI).
The 2015 Penal Code has eliminated the crime of doing business illegally in Article 159. With this, acts of doing business without registration, not complying with provisions in one’s business registration certificate or without a special permit in cases required by the law are no longer treated as a criminal offense.
VCCI deemed this move as essential. Recently, Vietnam’s law on business has made many provisions to support freedom of business.
In particular, Article 33 of the 2013 Constitution says, “everyone shall have the right to freedom of business in occupations not prohibited by law.” Thus, it is inappropriate and unnecessary to keep “illegal business” as a crime, which would be contrary to the spirit of business freedom that the State is aiming for.
With illegal business no longer seen as a crime, business freedom will be expanded. Business people are only prosecuted for crimes with the acts described in the law.
Practices like doing business without registration or not conforming to one’s business registration certificate are just administrative violations with no negative impact on society. Therefore, they should only be treated as an administrative violation.
In fact, the crime of illegal business was debated at a session of the 12th National Assembly on June 16, 2015. Some lawmakers suggested retaining the rule while others, including the then Minister of Planning and Investment Bui Quang Vinh, called for its abolition.
He said: “Economic activity must be dealt with by economic means, to recover the profits and the money illegally seized. This is our main goal, revoking what they want to achieve. The penalty may be even much heavier than what they have done to prevent future recurrence.”
Vinh’s words encouraged a majority of National Assembly deputies to pass the 2015 Penal Code without the crime of doing business illicitly, as well as the crime of deliberately going against the rule causing serious consequences.
Manufacturing output growth hits 21-month high
Growth of the Vietnamese manufacturing sector gathered momentum during February, with output and new orders increasing at faster rates and firms building their stocks of purchases at a record pace, said a Nikkei report released on March 1.
The headline Nikkei Vietnam Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rose to 54.2 in February from 51.9 in January, signaling a solid monthly improvement in business conditions, and one that was the strongest since May 2015. The health of the sector has now improved in each of the past 15 months.
Commenting on the Vietnamese manufacturing PMI survey data, Andrew Harker at IHS Markit, which compiles the survey, said there were a number of positive aspects to the latest Vietnam manufacturing PMI report, which saw the health of the sector improve to the greatest extent since May 2015.
The rate of new order growth picked up, supporting a faster increase in production. Alongside this, confidence in the year-ahead outlook led to a record accumulation of stocks of purchases, while sharp rises in new orders and purchasing activity imparted capacity pressures on manufacturers and their suppliers alike.
“This should hopefully result in more hiring in coming months as firms adjust their operating capacity in line with higher workloads. Strength in the manufacturing sector should provide a boost to the wider economy, with IHS Markit forecasting a rise in gross domestic product (GDP) of 6.4% during 2017,” the expert said in the report.
Manufacturing production rose for the fourth month running amid reports of higher new orders. Moreover, the rate of growth in production quickened to a 21-month high. Output increased across the consumer, intermediate and investment goods sectors.
Besides, total new orders rose at a sharp and accelerated pace during February, with the rate of growth the strongest since May 2015. New export orders also increased at a faster pace during the month as firms reported improving demand from international clients.
Rising new business led to a second successive monthly increase in backlogs of work. However, the rate of accumulation was modest and slower than in January.
According to Nikkei, new order growth also contributed to another rise in employment in February. The latest increase was solid and faster than the series average. Staffing levels have now increased in each of the past 11 months.
Business confidence improved markedly and was at a one-year high. Optimism was built on planned company developments alongside expectations of further improvements in client demand. This optimism was reflected in manufacturers’ attitudes towards stock holdings in February.
Stocks of purchases rose at the fastest pace in the six-year survey history amid a sharp and accelerated increase in purchasing activity. Some respondents indicated that the prospect of further new order growth in coming months encouraged them to increase input buying.
Trung Luong-My Thuan expy project to be adjusted
Some components in the first stage of Trung Luong-My Thuan expressway will be adjusted to be in sync with the approved total investment and the overall scale of the HCMC-Can Tho expressway.
The Ministry of Transport and a consulting firm discussed the scale adjustment of the Trung Luong-My Thuan expressway project on Monday, said the ministry.
A report of the project’s consultant Transport Engineering Design Inc. showed some components would be adjusted, including the width of some road and bridge sections to be expanded to 17 meters from the previous 13.75 meters, the number of bridges, and flyovers’ span diagrams; and intersection designs.
The consultant said the adjustment aims to be in harmony with the overall scale of the HCMC-Can Tho expressway project and the transport ministry’s new regulations.
Foreign funding for the expressway’s expansion has now become infeasible. Therefore, the adjustment is also aimed to ensure that the construction cost would not exceed the approved level.
Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Nhat asked the investor to coordinate with local authorities to recheck the planned sites to facilitate site clearance. The investor must submit documents to the transport ministry no later than March 10.
The first phase of Trung Luong-My Thuan Expressway in Tien Giang Province will have a total length of 51 kilometers, plus 4.5 kilometers of approach road. The whole section requires a hefty VND15 trillion if it is carried out in accordance with the original plan.
The section will start from Than Cuu Nghia T-Junction at the end of HCMC-Trung Luong Expressway in Chau Thanh District, and end at the crossroads with National Highway 30.
The expressway in the first phase will be built under the build-operate-transfer format and have two lanes plus emergency lanes. It will be then expanded to six lanes using official development assistance loans in the second phase.
According to the initial plan, the expressway is scheduled for completion at the end of next year. However, for some reasons, work on the project has yet to begin despite two groundbreaking ceremonies.
The ministry said the project will be implemented this year.
The Trung Luong-My Thuan section is part of the HCMC-Can Tho Expressway, which is expected to substantially reduce the traveling time between HCMC and the Mekong Delta. This expressway has three sections, namely HCMC-Trung Luong, Trung Luong-My Thuan and My Thuan-Can Tho.
The 40-kilometer HCMC-Trung Luong section was opened to traffic in February 2010. The two remaining sections will be constructed later.
Vietnam’s auto industry facing crucial moment
Auto producers and assemblers in Vietnam have raised their concerns and suggestions for the future of the auto industry at a conference held by the Ministry of Industry and Trade on Tuesday in Hanoi.
Automakers are now fretting over the gloomy days ahead when the auto import tariff in ASEAN is slashed from the current 30% to zero next year, and by then, locally-assembled vehicles will be on the losing side as imported automobiles will be more competitive.
Tran Ba Duong, general director of Truong Hai Auto Corporation, said taking down the obstacles to Vietnam’s auto industry necessitates a great deal of work, including conducting research to point out the advantages and weaknesses of domestic auto enterprises.
According to Duong, State management agencies need practical assessments to foresee the future of the domestic auto industry and adopt appropriate policies in a timely way.
Toru Kinoshita, general director of Toyota Vietnam, said Toyota has always strived to increase local content in its products. However, the company has reduced the number of its auto models from five to four to ensure efficiency and productivity.
Kayano Kiwamu, deputy general director of Honda Vietnam, said their hopes of developing domestic production have been dashed by a small consumption market, poor infrastructure and vague supporting policies, among others.
Kiwamu suggested the Government issue policies for stable development and help auto enterprises reduce price differentials between domestic and foreign products by adjusting the excise tax.
At the conference, Do Thang Hai, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade, underlined the indispensable role of supporting industries in developing the auto sector.
Hai said the Ministry of Industry and Trade will go alongside auto enterprises to bring down hindrances and find out solutions to the development of the auto industry. “The ministry will transfer the enterprises’ suggestions to the Government for consideration,” he said.
Since 2014, domestic auto output has seen average growth of 30% per year, meeting the rising demand of local consumers.
In accordance with the commitment of the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA), import tariff applied to completely-built-up (CBU) autos will be 0% from January 1, 2018, putting great pressure on domestic auto producers and assemblers. They will have to choose between rearranging their regional production system, maintaining domestic production, or withdrawing their production from Vietnam to become pure traders.
With the population of more than 90 million and the fast expansion of the middle class and gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, Vietnam is considered a potential auto market, having reached average growth of more than 40% in the last two years.
The total auto market of Vietnam in 2016 reached around 460,000 units while the total capacity is currently 500,000 units per year. There are currently 12 auto brands with domestic assembly and production, including Toyota, Kia, Mazda, Honda, Chevrolet, Ford, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Suzuki and Mercedes-Benz, satisfying 70% of domestic demand.
Quang Nam to hold investment promotion conference
An investment promotion conference will be held on March 25 in Quang Nam in central Vietnam, with the participation of 500 delegates representing ministries, central agencies, large cooperations, and potentials investors, said Le Tri Thanh, vice chairman of Quang Nam.
The event will be graced by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, who has asked Quang Nam to be more proactive in boosting economic development, Thanh said.
“The Prime Minister has urged Quang Nam to play a more important role in the central region. This is why we organize the investment promotion conference with the participation of the Prime Minister and many other guests,” said Thanh.
The province has seen its economy picking up strongly.
Some years ago, Quang Nam is a poverty stricken province with only 200 enterprises and contributed a mere VND20 billion to the State budget. In 2016, the province had 5,000 firms and its budget collection increased to VND20.2 trillion, becoming one of Vietnam’s ten provinces with budget collections of over VND20 trillion .
Quang Nam recorded economic growth of 14.73% in 2016, the highest in ten years.
According to the province’s data, authorities there last year issued investment licenses to 30 local projects worth over VND3.41 trillion, and 17 foreign direct investment ones worth US$122.8 million.
Thanks to the preferential investment policies, many investors have established their long-term business presence in Quang Nam like Truong Hai Thaco, Suntory PepsiCo Vietnam Beverage, and Inax Vietnam.
PM warns of major challenges
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc again warned of the huge challenges Vietnam is facing and offered some suggestions to government members during a regular meeting in Hanoi on March 1.
“The World Bank’s country director in Vietnam said the major challenges for Vietnam are labor productivity, poverty in part of the population, environment and climate change. Is this true? If it is, what should we discuss and how to overcome such challenges?” the Government leader said.
As industry and service are recording modest growth and agriculture can hardly grow high, there must be drastic measures to ensure the target growth of 6.7%, the Prime Minister stressed.
“The central agencies should give specific comments, as to what each area should do, what investment (authorities) should do, what finance (sector) should do, what credit should do, whether or not demand stimulus is necessary, and to what extent it should be. We’re already aware of the challenges to growth, so it is a must to solve them immediately, rather than waiting until the middle or the end of the year when things get very difficult,” he said.
He urged ministers to drastically give directions and guarantee the growth target of each sector to meet the goal of the entire economy.
Prime Minister Phuc raised the question: “Why are many enterprises and experts complaining the indirect costs of production are being pushed up, from land and seaport charges to informal costs of procedures when the Government has pledged to create favorable conditions to help businesses save time and cost? In tough times, a reasonable roadmap for price, charge and fee hikes should be carried out.”
The Prime Minister called for specific suggestions on the measures to practice discipline as “poor discipline along with directions inconsistent with the market economy affects the development of the country.”
He questioned the responsibility of the heads of ministries and local governments in dealing with issues such as natural forest closures, food safety and environmental protection. He wondered how such policies are executed, whether they should be stated only once or further repeated in a more specific and drastic manner at all levels and in all sectors.
Regarding the proposal for delaying the implementation of Decision 49 on the roadmap for the application of automobile and motorcycle emissions standards, the Prime Minister expressed his disapproval, saying environmental protection should not be ignored for the sake of certain industries. “This is a matter of discipline,” he stressed.
The Prime Minister asked the ministries, State agencies and localities to strictly implement Resolution 01 of the Government so that the first quarter of this year would be better than the same period last year. Thus, there would be no need to rush to accomplish the tasks and objectives as the year’s end draws near.
He requested the government members to analyze the situation of the country and the world in the context of Vietnam’s stronger integration. Despite good progress, Vietnam is still slower than other countries in the region and a lot needs to be done to improve the efficiency and capacity of the economy, better the business climate, and boost competitiveness.
“I’ve just received information from Japan’s economic magazine Nikkei that Vietnam’s PMI rose to 54.2 in February, the highest in 21 months, while the average PMI in ASEAN was 50.3,” said Phuc.
However, in general, the index of industrial production in the first two months picked up 2.4%, much lower than 6.8% in the same period last year, which is a major problem affecting the growth index. Total retail sales of goods and services in the first two months increased 8.7%, versus 9.7% in the same period last year, signaling a slow recovery in aggregate demand.
Hanoi Customs launches online public services
Hanoi Customs officially launched online public services for locals and businesses at the portal: http://pus.customs.gov.vn.
The portal will process 46 administrative procedures, including verifying tax submission, certifying copied customs documents and tax return, among others, at level 3 and level 4. Level 3 allows applicants to fill and submit the forms online while level 4 allows them to not only submit required forms but also make payments and receive results online.
As of the beginning of 2017, Hanoi Customs piloted a model of providing administrative procedures on the e- government system, of which 11 procedures were offered at agency level and 24 other services were provided at sub-agency level.
Import-export activities of enterprises are not affected by the launching of online public services, said Hanoi Customs.
The move not only boosts administrative reform but also reduces pressure for customs agencies while increasing transparency and simplification. In addition, it helps residents and businesses save time, money and papers while handling documents.
The customs agency plans to provide all public services online at level 3 as minimum and most of key services at level 4 by the end of 2017.
Logistics project hoped to spur border trade
Border trade is standing numerous opportunities to develop as Vietnam and neighboring countries have completed the demarcation of their land border.
In addition, the Ministry of Industry and Trade has recently approved a project to develop warehouses at border gates of Vietnam - Laos and Vietnam – Cambodia through 2025, with a vision towards 2035, which is expected to be a driving force for cross-border trade in the coming time.
According to the central steering committee for border trade, Vietnam shares about 4,600 km of land border with China, Laos and Cambodia. Along the entire border line there are 23 international border gates, 27 main border gates and 65 auxiliary ones, not to mention unofficial crossings.
Cross-border trade revenue makes up a large proportion of the total trade between Vietnam and its neighbours.
For instance, border trade accounts for 30 percent of the total trade between Vietnam and China every year.
Deputy Director General of the Mountainous and Frontier Trade Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade Le Bien Cuong said there are 285 markets along the border line or at border gates and inside border gate economic zones.
Many underdeveloped localities have transformed into dynamic trade centres thanks to border gate economic zones.
Cuong, however, pointed out shortcomings in the management of border trade, including the inflexible trade policies and poor infrastructure.
Furthermore, the logistics systems at the Vietnam – Laos and Vietnam – Cambodia border gates are at small scale, hence, businesses have to sign contracts with different partners, causing waste and difficulties in establishing long-term relations in the supply chain.
The border gate warehouse project, hence, is expected to help spur trade activities across the Vietnam – Laos and Vietnam – Cambodia border.
Along the borders of Vietnam – Laos and Vietnam – Cambodia, there are 19 border gate economic zones, 18 international border gates, 20 main border gates, and 43 auxiliary border gates.
Khanh Hoa seeks investment from Japan
Officials of the central province of Khanh Hoa held a meeting on March 1 with the Japanese delegation attending the first APEC Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM1) now underway in the province in order to discuss economic cooperation.
In the meeting, Chairman of Khanh Hoa People’s Committee Le Duc Vinh said six projects of Japanese investors in the province are operating stably, while three other large-scale Japanese projects are in the initial period, including the 4.5 billion USD Nam Van Phong oil finery complex and the Van Phong Thermal Power Plant with an investment of two billion USD.
Chairman Le Duc Vinh highlighted Khanh Hoa’s potential, advantages and demand, stressing that the province gives priority to investment in shipbuilding, seafood exploitation and processing, hi-tech agriculture, and tourism.
The Japanese delegates appreciated the cooperation and friendship relationship between Vietnam and Japan.
They took note of Khanh Hoa’s suggestions and promised to relay Khanh Hoa’s list of priority fields and projects to Japanese investors.
New auto parts factory opens in Ha Nam
NMS Viet Nam Co Ltd on Wednesday inaugurated a factory in Dong Van II Industrial Zone in the northern province of Ha Nam’s Duy Tien District.
Covering over 7,000sqm, the factory was built at a cost of US$5 million by the Japanese investor, and will specialise in producing telecommunications equipment and devices for the automobile industry.
The factory will create jobs for 1,000 locals.
Speaking at the inaugural ceremony, Nguyen Xuan Dong, chairman of the provincial People’s Committee, said the factory would play an important role in the development of the Vietnamese auto sector.
NMS Viet Nam Company must fulfil its investment commitment and comply with State regulations as well as the province’s production and business policies, Dong said. The company is also required to take care of its workers’ accommodations to ensure that they remain in the job on a long-term basis.
The chairman also asked the industrial zone’s management board, agencies and localities to cooperate in implementing the 10 commitments that the province has made to improve its investment climate and tackle hurdles faced by businesses so that they can operate more efficiently.
Vinalines tipped to become leading maritime firm
The Government has assigned a large number of port, shipping and logistics services construction projects to Vietnam National Shipping Lines (Vinalines) in an effort to make it the leading enterprise in the maritime sector.
Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung on Monday issued a decision approving the investment, development and business and production plans of Vinalines during the 2016-2020 period, allowing the enterprise to step up investments in numerous projects in various areas.
Regarding seaports, Vinalines will be responsible for developing some ports at Lach Huyen International Port complex in the northern coastal city of Haiphong.
The project invested by Haiphong Port Company Limited to build a Haiphong International Gateway Seaport will be carried out in 2017-2020. In addition, Lien Chieu Port in the central coast city of Danang will be developed by Danang Port Joint Stock Company in the 2017-2024 period.
In terms of shipping, the Government has asked Vinalines to develop a specialized ship fleet and decommission old vessels.
Regarding logistics services, Vinalines is required to boost investments in inland container depots (ICD), logistics centers, and goods distribution center in Lach Huyen (Haiphong), Hanoi, Danang, Can Tho, HCMC, Bac Ninh, Hau Giang, Gia Lai, Binh Duong, and Dong Nai provinces.
Vinalines has to map out a detailed investment plan and implement these projects under the prevailing rules.
In related news, Vinalines has just proposed building a logistics center in Hanoi City to cater to freight transport demands to and from main seaports in the area via the inland waterway system.
A leader of Vinalines said the logistics center together with the inland waterway network will satisfy the rising demand of domestic container transportation in the northern region, help ease overload of overland transport, and reduce freight cost and environmental pollution.
This will be a large-scale center for customs clearance, providing modern logistics services for waterway import and export, Vietnamplus reports.
Besides, the logistics center will be a hub to gather cargo from industrial zones in Hanoi, Bac Ninh, Bac Giang, Vinh Phuc, Phu Tho, Hung Yen, and Ha Nam by water. Cargo will then be transferred from the inland container depot (IDC) in the center to seaports for export. The logistics center will also serve import demands.
Combined with other transport and logistics services of Vinalines as well as other transport enterprises, the center will create a whole packaged logistics service chain for customers in the northern area.
The logistics center including an inland container depot and a logistics area was proposed to be built in Phu Dong port on the right bank of the Duong river in Gia Lam District, Hanoi City.
According to the plan of Vinalines, this center will have a riverfront length of 1,200m and will be expanded on an area of 40-50 hectares in 2030.
Vinalines suggested the Ministry of Transport work with Hanoi City government to hand over land at Phu Dong port for development.
Foreign investors keen on retail sector
A large number of foreign investors are expressing their keen interest in Vietnam’s retail market, according to a report of The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) issued on Monday.
EIU forecast that foreign companies will continue expanding their business activities in Vietnam in the coming years, the Vietnam News Agency reports.
For example, Hennes & Mauritz (H&M), Sweden-based multinational clothing retailer, announced it would open the first retail store on 2,000 square meters in the capital city of Hanoi sometime this year.
The retail sector has seen a large number of foreign investors coming to explore opportunities in the retail sector.
For example, the first store of Spain’s fashion brand Zara in Vietnam was inaugurated last year. Meanwhile, U.S.-based Gap clothing retailer and Spain’s Mango clothing design and manufacturing company are already present here in the local market.
Japanese supermarket chain operator Aeon Company Limited has recently decided to become a strategic shareholder of the Fivimart and Citimart, two supermarket chains whose numerous outlets are currently active in HCMC and Hanoi.
Furthermore, Takashimaya, one of Japan's leading department store operators, has inaugurated its first shopping center in downtown HCMC while South Korea's Lotte Group has mapped out a plan to launch around 60 new supermarkets in the country between now and 2020.
It came as no surprise that foreign enterprises have paid increasing attention to the country’s retail sector as it posted growth of a strong 13% per year during the 2012-2016 period.
Local consumer spending is forecast to rise sharply in the next five years as Vietnam has a population of around 94 million people, one-third of them aged under 35.
According to EIU, per capita spending will rise from US$1,450 last year to US$1,840 in 2021.
Another foreign video streaming provider connects in Vietnam
Malaysia-based video streaming startup iflix has officially launched in Vietnam with the aim of tapping into the country’s sizable population, the company has said at a press conference.
Vietnam is currently ranked by Internet World Stats at 18th globally in terms of the number of internet users, making it a lucrative proposition in the eyes of foreign streaming platforms.
The streaming video provider sees Vietnam as a huge market with enormous potential mainly because the country has a growing population and fee-based online streaming services like iflix are still virtually new in this market, business newspaper the Saigon Times cited David L.Goldstein, iflix manager in Asia, as saying.
Vietnamese consumers have long enjoyed access to free online videos, however, with the arrival of the US video streaming giant Netflix a year ago, and now Malaysia's iflix, this is changing.
iflix makes its money from charging subscribers a monthly fee of VND59,000 (US$2.59) after a 30-day free trial. This is about three times less than subscription fees currently offered by Netflix, and could start a price war between the two.
Customers in Vietnam can watch iflix on a variety of devices, including desktop computers, tablets, televisions and smart phones.
The streaming platform also allows its subscribers to select subtitles in English or in Vietnamese, said Country Manager Hoang Tung at the press conference.
iflix is now available in eight Asian markets, and its catalog includes both Hollywood hits and local content in Malaysian, Chinese and other regional languages. It has secured more than 1 million subscribers since its launch in 2015.
New decree tackles transfer pricing in Vietnam
The Vietnamese Government released Decree No.20/2017 on February 24, providing tax administration for enterprises with controlled transactions and which will come into effect on May 1.
There are many changes related to tax administration for enterprises in the Decree but the highlight is new rule on transfer pricing (TP).
Articles 5 to 8 refer to the TP framework contained in existing regulations and introduces additional concepts and principles from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Guidelines, the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) Framework, and other sources.
The Decree provides new transfer pricing compliance requirements, including three-tiered TP documentation, new TP declaration forms, guidance on the deductibility of related party expenses, and interest deductibility, all of which are substantial changes to existing rules.
“Decree No.20 represents the most important development of the transfer pricing regime in Vietnam for the last ten years,” said Ms. Nguyen Huong Giang, Tax Partner at PwC Vietnam.
“It demonstrates Vietnam’s commitment to align with the global tax framework on transparency and anti-avoidance.”
She added that it is clear that the Ministry of Finance is making concerted efforts to make the legislation clearer and align it with international standards.
The four key changes in the TP administration are as follows:
Related party definition
The ownership threshold is increased to 25 per cent from the current 20 per cent.
In addition, two entities are no longer treated as related parties by virtue of having transactions between them accounting for more than 50 per cent of sales or purchases.
The new decree also provides some relief to small businesses that may enjoy exemptions from TP documentation under certain scenarios.
Decree No.20 introduces a three-tiered TP documentation approach to collect more tax-related information on the business operations of multinational companies (MNCs).
The new decree follows the approach set out in the BEPS Action Plan 13 (Guidance on TP documentation and Country-by-Country Reporting).
Specifically, a taxpayer is required to prepare and maintain a master file, a local file, and a Country-by-Country Report.
The taxpayer is required to maintain Country-by-Country Reporting if the ultimate parent company is also obliged to prepare and submit such documents in its respective tax jurisdiction, or if the taxpayer is a Vietnamese parent company with worldwide consolidated revenue in a fiscal year exceeding VND18 trillion ($790.706 million).
If a taxpayer cannot provide the Country-by-Country Report, it shall provide a written explanation for the reason, the legal basis, and references to specific provisions in the law of the counterparty jurisdiction that prohibits the taxpayer from providing a copy of the Country-by-Country Report.
Decree No.20 also introduces a new TP declaration form that requires disclosure of more detailed information, including segmentation of profit and loss by related party and third party transactions.
Any gap between the margins earned on related and third party transactions may increase the taxpayer’s risk profile and trigger queries from tax authorities.
Deductibility of expenses
According to Decree No.20, the tax deductibility of interest on loans is capped at 20 per cent of EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization).
While this provision is included in the TP Decree, it applies to both related party and third party loans.
There is no carry forward or carry back provisions.
For inter-company services, various criteria for tax deductibility are set out.
Notably, a taxpayer needs to demonstrate that the services provide economic benefit and provide evidence (supporting documents) on the reasonableness of the service charge calculation method.
A tax deduction will not be allowed for expenses where the direct benefit or additional value to the taxpayer cannot be determined, such as duplicated services and shareholder costs.
Further, the mark-up portion of third party expenses that are recharged to a Vietnam taxpayer are not deductible.
The decree provides detailed guidance on comparability analysis, including the use of data sources, selection of TP methods, minimum number of comparable companies, and other adjustment factors (such as location-specific advantages).
Comparable data needs to correspond with the same financial year as the tested party/transactions.
However, data from the preceding year can be used if current information is not available in the database at the time when the benchmarking analysis is conducted.
“Although the compliance obligations of Decree No.20 will be effective on May 1, 2017, taxpayers should take immediate action to assess the impact not only on local tax compliance but also on the business, considering the new decree has potential implications beyond transfer pricing,” Ms. Giang said.
VN Economic Times
Coal power plants could endanger marine protection areas
Environmentalists have urged authorities to ‘learn lessons from the Formosa incident and reconsider proposed coal thermal power projects in Vinh Tan’.
According to Nguyen Chu Hoi from the Hanoi National University, Vietnam has 16 marine protection areas (MPAs), including Hon Cau, which, if well developed, will bring ‘spillover effects’, helping the biological balance in localities.
Strongly opposing the idea of narrowing Hon Cau to make room for thermal power plants, Hoi cited a speech by Vietnamese Deputy Chair of National Assembly Tong Thi Phong in Washington which emphasizes that the ocean plays a critical role in human life and that Vietnam is a maritime nation.
Hoi said that those who want to narrow Hon Cau must prove that waters cannot be protected, and Hon Cau is not the core position of the MPA.
Sharing the same view, Vo Si Tuan from the Oceanography Institute, an arm of the Vietnam Academy of Science & Technology, cited a UNEP report saying that every square kilometer of coral reef can bring $600,000 in benefits from tourism alone each year.
Meanwhile, it will be costly to recover damaged coral reefs. Maldives, for example, had to spend $10 million for every kilometer of coastline to replace damaged coral reefs.
However, despite the warnings, investors still attempt to develop a series of coal power plants near Hon Cau. At present, there is one plant operational – Vinh Tan 1. However, there would be four plants in the area by 2030 as planned by the national strategy on power development.
Hon Cau is believed to be among the MPAs with most diversified ecosystem in Vietnam with hundreds of coral reefs, 119 mollusks and 32 types of echinoderms species.
But it is being endangered by the activities of dredging passage at Vinh Tan 1 Port and sinking dredged waste, by suspended substances, sludge and sand, and by hydropower plants' cooling systems.
Tuan from the Oceanography Institute said his institute has finished the relocation of 10,000 clusters of coral reefs from coastal areas to other marine areas for dredging in preparation for the construction of Vinh Tan power plant in Tuy Phong district in Binh Thuan province.
It took six months to implement the relocation. The clusters of coral reefs have been carried to an area 5 kilometers away where they continue to expand.
However, an expert on marine life conservation said the coral relocation may bhave negative consequences to the marine environment, as it may affect the reproductive capacity of many fish species in the area.
Kim Chi,VietNamNet Bridge
Vinacomin’s two grave missteps
Vietnam National Coal and Mineral Industries Group (Vinacomin) has invested millions of dollar into two alumina plants in Vietnam. However, these plants seem to be failing expectations.
Pouring money into two bottomless pits
The two alumina projects by Vinacomin, Tan Rai and Nhan Co bauxite-alumina complexes, recorded an output of 600,000 tonnes according to a recent report by Vinacomin on its compliance with the decision of the owner (the government), which it filed according to Decree No.49/2014/ND-CP on inspecting state-owned enterprises.
This output is a lot lower than the expected output, which the company had earlier specified to justify pouring more and more money into the facilities.
The first alumina plant, called Tan Rai, is located in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong and has the total investment value of $460 million.
After four adjustments, the most recent being in October 2013, the total investment in the project reached VND15.4 trillion ($674 million). This project alone was expected to reach the annual designed capacity of 650,000 tonnes in 2013 already.
The project was put into operation in 2013. In 2016, Vinacomin was still constructing the third red sludge reservoir and other auxiliary facilities. Vinacomin said it had disbursed VND12.145 billion ($531.74 million) by the end of 2016,.
The second alumina plant was Nhan Co in the neighbouring province Dak Nong, approved in 2007 with the investment value of VND3.285 trillion ($143.89 million) and capacity of 300,000 tonnes a year. The complex was expected to be finished in 2010.
This project was adjusted three times. According to the latest adjustment in February 2014, the project construction deadline was pushed off to 2014 with the total investment of VND16.821 trillion ($736.79 million) and capacity of 650,000 tonnes a year, which is equal to Tan Rai alumina plant’s intended capacity.
The project has been finished and its test run started in November 2016. It started production in December 2016. By the end of 2016, the total capital disbursed was VND11.613 trillion ($508.67 million). The plant will be put into commercial operation in the first quarter of 2017.
Falling into a trap
Dr Nguyen Thanh Son, former director of the Red River Delta's Coal Project Management, told local media that Vinacomin was tricked by the contractor’s cheap prices.
Particularly, in appendix No.1/TKV-CHALIECO of the contract between Vinacomin and Chalieco (the Chinese contractor of both alumina plants), signed on July 14, 2008, Chalieco committed to the capacity of 630,000 tonnes per year only, less than the 650,000 tonnes Vinacomin had released.
The contractor also committed that the plant would use 2,737 tonnes of raw material for each tonne of finished product. However, currently technology in the world enables the same result from less than two tonnes of raw material. In addition, the actual operation hours are also less than the committed ones.
The contractor promised the best price to win the bid. However, Dr Son estimated that for Tan Rai, the actual cost would be $343 million higher than the price the contractor gave.
He said that Vinacomin should have added this amount to the Chinese contractor’s offered price, then compared it with other bidders to see the real value of each contract.
All these losses do not include the dangers to the environment that come from the old technology from China. Although many leaders repeatedly declared that these two projects do not harm the environment, the daily lives of citizens nearby have been significantly affected. T
hey have to bear the stench of red sludge and deal with the immense dust created by the plants. According to residents, aluminium dust is everywhere, in the gardens, rooftops, even inside the houses. Many people, especially the elderly and children, have been suffering from several respiratory diseases and some had to immigrate to other regions. The discharged waste seeps into the ground, killing all the plants and causing itches upon touch.
Although the Nhan Co plant is not officially launched, in 2016, when pumping alkali through the pipes, some employees found the chemical gun broken, which resulted in 9.58 cubic metres of alkali leak into the ground. A part of these poisons reached the Dak Dao stream, causing the mass fish deaths.
Previously, when Vinacomin proposed projects on bauxite (the raw material for aluminium production) mining in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong, an important location in terms of national defence and the environment, and the two alumina plants, many scientists and experts have warned about the dangers of pollution.
From the experience of preceding countries, it can be seen that red sludge from bauxite mining is very dangerous to the environment and the daily lives of nearby citizens. Nevertheless, at the time, Vinacomin insisted that they comply with all the regulations and procedures and that everything is under control.
Although Vinacomin said that Tan Rai plant will make profit from 2017, and Nhan Co plant has a high potential for profit due to the improved technology as well as the reduction of production and administration costs, there are still doubts on these projects’ efficiency, and whether the generated profits are large enough for the trade-off between money and environment.
The potential environmental damages that have been warned against:
- Producing alumina needs a lot of water, which is not suited to the regular droughts in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong.
- Erosion and ecological imbalance due to deforestation
- Increasing red sludge discharge
- Water pollution due to toxic waste seeping into the ground
Nearly 90% of sidewalk-blocking beer bars in Hanoi backed by police: chairman
Customers of a beer bar sit on the sidewalk of Bat Dan Street in Hanoi on March 4, 2017.
Previous attempts to clear local promenades ended up in vain as local businesses kept repeating their illegal occupancy of the public areas, Chung said at a conference on Saturday morning.
The ‘sidewalk reclamation’ campaign was initiated by the city’s Party Committee late 2014, but previous efforts did not prove effective as local police units have not imposed strict enforcement on those facilities that violated the law, according to the chairman.
“I have conducted a probe and discovered that more than 150 out of 180 beer bars in Hanoi are abetted by local policemen,” he asserted.
If the problem persists, the ‘sidewalk clearing’ effort will eventually fail, Chung underlined.
He ordered local authorities to be responsible and serious in dealing with the encroachment of pavements.
“I will name and shame those corrupted officers and officials in each ward and district if they are not serious in their job this time,” he continued.
The law enforcement officers in charge must be assertive in their duty, the chairman said, adding that those who keep failing to enforce the law should be dismissed or transferred to another position.
Chung also requested leaders of local authorities to set examples for citizens, and encourage their family members to comply with the regulation and respect sidewalk space.
The city’s leader considered the lack of attention from competent authorities another reason for the ineffective attempts.
. Photo: Tuoi Tre
According to the Hanoi chairman, local authorities must deal with the issue in a persistent manner.
“Three specific steps must also be followed,” Chung stated.
The first phase, he elaborated, involved propaganda and reminders for citizens not to let their business activities compromised the promenades.
In the second stage, regular inspections should be carried out and warnings shall be issued for potential violations, he continued, adding that local businesses will be given a few days to re-organize their operations.
After the designated period, officers will begin the final step with suitable punishments imposed on offenders.
Chung tasked the municipal Department of Police with dispatching enforcement units to reclaim the footpaths at each neighborhood.
Regarding the penalty, those businesses that violate the rule three times shall have their business license revoked and be banned from operating.
The illegal occupancy of sidewalks must be stopped as it has negative effects on traffic safety, the urban aesthetics, and environmental hygiene, chairman Chung asserted.
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Vietnam's caffeine thirst puts it in world's top growing coffee markets
Vietnam has one of the world's fastest growing retail coffee markets, trailing only behind Indonesia, Turkey and India, a global market intelligence agency said in its latest report.
The compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of Vietnam, measuring the average value growth in the 2012-2016 period, stood at 14.9%, while Indonesia's market jumped 19.6%, followed by 17.5% in Turkey and 15.1% in India, Mintel said in the report.
Asian markets, where growth is being driven by a surge in innovative coffee products, make up the majority of the world’s fastest growing coffee markets, while European markets plus Australia are among the slowest, the report said. It did not give any market values.
BUSINESS IN BRIEF 6/3
Reference exchange rate kept unchanged
The State Bank of Vietnam kept the reference VND/USD exchange rate unchanged from the end of last week at 22,246 VND/USD on March 6.
With the current +/- 3 percent VND/USD trading band, the ceiling exchange rate is 22,913 VND per USD and the floor rate is 21,579 VND per USD.
In the opening hours, some commercial banks also kept their rates unchanged too.
Vietcombank listed the buying rate at 22,795 VND/USD and the selling rate at 22,865 VND/USD.
BIDV set the buying rate at 22,765 VND/USD and the selling rate at 22,865 VND/USD.
However, Techcombank adjusted its buying rates to 22,800 VND, down 5 VND from the end of last week, and maintained its selling rate at 22,870 VND, per USD.
Vinalines sets financial priorities
The Vietnam National Shipping Lines (Vinalines) will maintain its controlling stake in major ports and divest from others as it targets increased efficiency and profitability of core services over the next five years.
Under its five-year (2016-2020) investment and development plan approved by Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc, it will maintain its controlling stake in the nation’s three major ports in Hải Phòng, Đà Nẵng and HCM City.
The corporation currently holds a majority stake of between 75 per cent and 95 per cent in the three ports.
It will divest and give up its controlling stake in several smaller ports.
Under the five-year plan, the corporation will concentrate its investments in the Lạch Huyện and Đình Vũ ports in Hải Phòng City; the Hải Phòng International Port; the Liên Chiểu Port in Đà Nẵng; and the Nghệ Tĩnh Port in Ha Tĩnh Province.
In the southern region, the corporation is to focus efforts on beginning operations at the Sài Gòn-Hiệp Phước Port and developing general ports in Hậu Giang, Cần Thơ and Cam Ranh provinces.
Meanwhile, it will restructure its bank debts and prepare to list its shares on the national bourse.
It will strive to improve the efficiency and profitability of its sea transport, ports and maritime services, sustain and increase the State’s capital, and withdraw from ineffective businesses.
The exploitation and development of deepwater ports and transit ports will be improved to make it competitive in the region.
Vinalines plans to complete its equitisation process early next year.
The corporation’s revamp plans after years of losses and soaring debts. In 2015, its debt was estimated at VNĐ11 trillion, or $504 million, owed to 24 lenders, nearly half of them foreign firms. The majority of its domestic market share on import-export carriage has been taken over by foreign shipping businesses.
For 2017, Vinalines targets a revenue of around VNĐ15.3 trillion (US$668.4 million), lower than last year, when it topped VNĐ16 trillion.
EU businesses count on VN-EU FTA
European investors show optimism on Viet Nam’s market and hope to expand investment in Viet Nam, according to a recent survey by European Chamber of Commerce in Viet Nam (EuroCham).
The optimism is mainly driven by the upcoming signing of the Viet Nam-EU free trade agreement expected to come into effect in 2018, said EuroCham President Michael Bahren at a meeting with Deputy PM, FM Minh on Friday.
EuroCham, through its leading European firms, pledge to support and accelerate the agreement ratification process by member countries, he said.
The EuroCham President expressed thanks to the Government of Viet Nam for maintaining dialogues with foreign business communities.
He also figured out EuroCham’s future plans, including support for small and medium-sized enterprises to seek investment opportunities in Viet Nam.
Mr. Michael Bahren also committed to encouraging European businesses to forge stronger partnership with Viet Nam.
Deputy PM, FM Minh spoke highly of the agency’s role and operation in Viet Nam over the past time, especially in bridging the Vietnamese Government and the European business community.
The host noted the agency and the EU delegation in Viet Nam have made positive contributions to economic relations between Viet Nam and the European countries.
Deputy PM, FM Minh also hailed EuroCham’s efforts in publishing White Book on Viet Nam’s business and investment environment during the past years.
He affirmed the Government’s determination to build a constructive Government in service of people and businesses, asking EuroCham and the EU delegation to advocate the Vietnamese Government to turn Viet Nam into an attractive investment destinations for European businesses.
New commercial centre put into operation in Ho Chi Minh City
A new food market and shopping complex was opened to the public in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 1 by the Saigon Co-op Investment Development JSC and the Cuu Long Investment Commercial Company Limited on March 4.
Located at Section B of the September 23 Park in District 1, the Sense Market commercial centre is a new business model, combining traditional and modern markets to meet the shopping and recreational needs of domestic customers and international tourists.
The complex consists of an 11,000 m2 basement, of which its 6,000 m2 parking lot can house 150 automobiles and 600 motorcycles, contributing to solving traffic jams and parking needs in the downtown areas.
The remaining 5,000 m2 area is devoted to the reconstruction of an Asian street food cultural space with nearly 100 ancient Asian street food stalls from Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, India, and Japan.
Along with that is the Taka Plaza shopping mall with more than 400 booths, offering diverse goods sold at reasonable prices. In addition, Sense Market also has Co-op Food convenience stores, telecommunications service booths, and foreign exchange kiosks.
With the aim of celebrating Vietnamese cultural traditions, cuisine and landscapes, the design unit has added national characteristics of traditional culture, as well as landscapes, to combine with modern models of foreign markets.
Visitors to Sense Market can easily identify staircases which have been designed to replicate terraced rice fields typical of the north-western region and a natural lighting system from the ground floor to the basement in the style of the well-known Son Doong Cave in Quang Binh.
Sense Market also regularly organises free classes of Tai Chi, aerobics and self-defence in the morning for local residents. Tourism promotion events will be held periodically in coordination with the Ho Chi Minh City Tourism Association.
Along with cuisine, culture and tourism promotional activities, Sense Market will also host regular special booths for students, facilitating the city’s youth start-ups.
Exports maintain decent growth due to higher prices: report
Vietnam maintained decent export growth in the first two months of 2017 thanks to higher export prices, according to the National Financial Supervisory Commission (NFSC).
Total export revenues in January and February rose 15.4% year on year, compared with just 2.9% a year earlier, mainly due to average export prices rising on average by 14%, boosted by oil, coal, steel and rubber.
The first two months saw industrial production slowdown due to sharp falls in oil output while aggregate demand slightly improved along with consumer demand rising at a slower pace than last year.
Foreign direct investment (FDI) also slowed in the last two months, indicating that the US withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership affected the inflow of FDI into Vietnam to a certain degree.
Nevertheless, with exports continuing to grow, the NFSC states that the Vietnamese economy is still in the recovery period.
According to the commission, inflation is projected to accelerate in 2017 if periodical price increases, especially public service fees, are not tightly controlled.
During the 2012-2015 period, about 55.4% of total non-performing loans worth VND500 trillion (US$22 billion) were handled by credit institutions themselves while the remaining were sold to the Vietnam Asset Management Company (VAMC).
However, only a small proportion of bad debt sold to the VAMC has been resolved, that is why the average medium and long-term lending rates fell only mildly last year despite positive inflation figures.
The VAMC has set a target to resolve VND33 trillion (US$1.45 billion) worth of bad debt in 2017.
According to the NFSC, the handling of bad debt is heading in a positive direction with more specific and clearer steps under a proposed law stipulating special mechanisms for the VAMC and credit institutions.
Budget revenue hits VND185.8 trillion in first two months
Vietnam’s budget revenue was estimated to reach VND185.8 trillion (US$8.17 billion) in the first two months of 2017, equivalent to 15.3% of the year’s plan and up 15.8% compared to the same period of last year, according to the Finance Ministry.
Specifically, domestic collection was VND157.1 trillion (US$6.9 billion), equal to 15.9% of the estimate and up 12.9% year on year, with revenue from the foreign invested sector meeting 16.9% of the year’s estimate and revenue from the non-State economic sector equivalent to 18.2% of the annual plan.
Thirty five of 63 cities and provinces satisfied progress as forecasted in the year’s estimate in terms of domestic collection (over 17%) in two months, with 27 localities meeting 18% of the plan and 47 localities recording higher revenues than that of the same period in 2016.
Revenue from crude oil hit VND6.6 trillion (US$290.4 million), equal to 17.4% of the year’s estimate and up 8.9% year on year, while revenue from import-export activities reached VND41 trillion (US$1.8 billion), 14.4% of the plan and up 22.1% against 2016.
Total budget expenditures in the January-February period were estimated at VND175.8 trillion (US$7.73 billion), equivalent to 12.6% of the year’s plan and up 8.4% year on year.
In February alone, Vietnam’s budget revenue recorded VND79.4 trillion (US$3.5 billion), including VND60.28 trillion (US$2.65 billion) in domestic collection, VND3.9 trillion (US$171.6 million) in revenue from crude oil and VND20.5 trillion (US$902 million) in revenue from import-export activities.
Crocodile breeders undergo heavy loss due to price fall
Crocodile breeders in the southern province of Dong Nai have undergone a loss of at leastVND600,000-700,000 a crocodile because of consumption shrink, excessive supply and price drop.
The price fell to VND50,000 a kilogram, down VND130,000 over the peak level of 2016, in Vinh Cuu, Thong Nhat and Trang Bom districts yesterday.
According to traders, the plunge has been caused by demand reduction from China, the consumption market of 90 percent of crocodiles from Vietnam. Meanwhile export to other nations has been not easy.
Moreover, many households in the province changed into breeding crocodiles when the price was stable and profitable three years ago, resulting in excess of supply over demand now.
By the end of 2014, the province had 229 farms supplying 127,000 crocodiles. The numbers have rocketed to 400 farms and 200,000 crocodiles so far.
Seminar seeks to boost Vietnam-Russia economic links
The Vietnamese Businesses’ Association (VBA) in Russia on March 5 hosted a seminar in Moscow to discuss ways to promote economic and trade ties between Vietnam and Russia and with the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).
During the event, participants reviewed the association’s activities in 2016 and proposed future plans.
Vietnamese enterprises were urged to maintain their operations in Russia, with Russia’s economy showing signs of recovery.
The free trade agreement signed between Vietnam and the EAEU creates opportunities for Vietnamese enterprises in Russia, they said.
According to Commercial Counsellor of the Vietnamese Embassy in Russia Duong Hoang Minh, the EAEU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement has boosted economic links between Vietnam and Russia.
Vietnam’s export turnover to Russia increased by 20 percent in 2016, Minh said.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the VBA in Russia Le Truong Son stressed that Vietnamese firms in Russia have made efforts to reinforce their position and market share.
The association has served as a bridge to strengthen links between Vietnam and Russia, he said, adding that the association is operating large-scale programmes to enhance economic and trade ties between Vietnam and the EAEU.-
Handicraft export value hits 1.6 billion USD yearly
The export value of Vietnam’s handicraft products has averaged 1.6 billion USD per year since 2000.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the country has 5,411 handicraft villages, of which 1,864 are traditional handicraft villages.
Annually, the number of business households in rural areas increases by 8.8-9.8 percent, producing a production growth rate of about 15 percent.
Craft villages create jobs for about 11 million labourers in rural areas.
Vietnam earns 392 mln USD from rubber export in two months
Vietnam shipped abroad an estimated 193,000 tonnes of rubber for 392 million USD in the first two months of this year.
The figures represent increase of 25.4 percent in volume and 2.4 times in value against the same period last year.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, domestic rubber market recorded signals of recovery as rubber prices remarkably increased in February this year in line with the world trend.
The average export price in January was almost 1,922 USD per tonne, a year-on-year increase of 70.6 percent.
Enterprises attributed the situation to the recovery of oil prices in the world market, and the negative impacts of the weather, which made rubber output drop.
Domestic rubber firms have adjusted up the purchase price of rubber latex in line with the tendency in the Tokyo Commodity Exchange of Japan.
Actively responding to new challenges for exports
The world trade’s growth was forecasted to increase in 2017, which is expected to create favourable conditions for Vietnam’s exports activities. However, global economic instabilities which have prevailed since the first months of this year have posed numerous difficulties and challenges for the completion of the export growth target of 6%-7% this year.
Forecasts from many research institutions showed that Vietnam’s export turnover can maintain the growth rate, but it will be hard to reach a high increase due to signs of decline of the trend of trade liberalisation in the world.
Trade protectionism is in danger of returning as many countries are adopting more and more trade defence measures. Many technical barriers and rules of origin have been set out in order to restrict the exploitation of advantages of tariff reductions. This trend has also posed new challenges for Vietnamese enterprises while exporting their goods to countries and regions that have signed free trade agreements (FTA) with Vietnam.
Meanwhile, the export growth of domestic enterprises is always lower than the entire country’s growth. For example, in 2016, the export turnover of the domestic enterprises sector increased 4.8% compared to the previous year, lower than the 8.6% increase of the general export turnover of the country.
In addition, the sector’s contribution to the country’s export performance is declining. The share of domestic enterprises in the total export turnover fell from 29.1% in 2015 to 28.4% in 2016.
It is highly essential to seriously review and assess the decline in export growth of the domestic enterprises sector in recent years, particularly in the context that exports to foreign countries are facing more difficulties due to the return of the trend of trade protectionism.
The new situation resulted in many enterprises quickly adjusting production and trade plans as well as product and market restructuring, especially in relation to competitiveness. If the enterprises’ competitiveness is raised, they can actively respond to the new situation as well as overcome new challenges.
Long An Province targets at export revenue of $4.8 bil
The Mekong delta province of Long An has set a target of export revenue up to US$4.8 billion in 2017.
The provincial Department of Industry and Trade said that it has made concerted efforts to boost export in 2017 with revenue goal up to $4.8 billion, an increase of 16 percent compared to last year.
As plan, Long An will increase export of major items such as rice, garment, leather and agricultural produces.
Additionally, the province forecast to achieve industrial production of VND163,700 billion ($7,168,191) and retailed commodity and service revenue of VND75,350 billion.
The province closely coordinates with other agencies in Ho Chi Minh City to help consuming agricultural produces.
At present, the province is implementing measures to improve provincial competitiveness index this year, global competitiveness index and strengthen supporting enterprises by providing information of domestic and international market.
La Residence Hue Appoints Two New Managers
La Residence Hotel & Spa, one of Vietnam’s most highly acclaimed hospitality properties, has hired two new managers to head up operations and manage sales.
Adrien Marie has joined the hotel as operations manager, and Huynh Xuan Hanh comes aboard as director of sales. Each reports directly to General Manager Phan Trong Minh. Marie will be based on site in Hue, and Hanh will work out of Ho Chi Minh City.
The additions come at an auspicious time for the Sofitel MGallery property, which in November won placement on a list of Southern Asia’s top hotels in Condé Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards for the second year in a row.
Marie relocates to Hue from Beijing where he worked in sales and business development at the Sofitel Wanda. Prior to those appointments, he worked at hotels in his native France and in the United States. He was educated in Paris, Chicago and Berkeley.
Hanh has worked at a number of leading hospitality concerns across Vietnam, including Vinpearl, Sofitel Saigon Plaza and Renaissance Riverside Hotel Saigon. She also worked a stint as a relationship manager at HSBC Bank. Hanh studied physics and accounting in college.
$100 million Hanwha Techwin project licensed
Hanwha Techwin Security, a subsidiary of South Korea’s Hanwha Group, has been granted an investment license for a $100 million project in northern Bac Ninh province.
The project covers an area of 6 ha at the Que Vo Industrial Zone and specializes in manufacturing electronic circuits, semiconductors, chips, computers, and cameras.
Bac Ninh’s investment strategy in 2015-2020 focuses on investors in the electrical, electronic and mechanical manufacturing sectors, according to Mr. Bui Hoang Mai, Head of the Management Board of Bac Ninh’s Industrial Parks.
The first phase of the Hanwha project will begin in the first quarter of this year and be completed in 2019, costing $30 million. Once the factory comes into operation it will generate 1,500-2,000 jobs and have an annual capacity of 2 million products.
Chairman of the Bac Ninh People’s Committee, Nguyen Tu Quynh, asked the Kinh Bac Urban Development Corporation, the investor of the Que Vo Industrial Zone, to meet its commitments to enterprises. Investors can report any difficulties to the provincial government to quickly identify solutions.
Hanwha Techwin specializes in providing innovative auto driving and robotic platform solutions, as well as security solutions. It also operates in the energy, industry, and defense sectors. It has 27 facilities with 4,407 employees around the world and in 2015 earned $600 million in revenue.
As at February, industrial parks in Bac Ninh had attracted 1,086 projects with registered capital of $15.87 billion, of which 659 are FDI projects worth $14.13 billion. These projects created jobs for around 230,000 workers and contributed VND7 trillion ($306.7 million) to the State budget last year.
South Korea has more than 400 projects in Bac Ninh, accounting for 50 per cent of all FDI projects, with large companies including Samsung, instant food group Orion, Daewoo, Flexcom, INTOPS, and Nano Tech.
In the first two months of this year, South Korean investors invested in 58 new projects and 26 existing projects added capital, totaling $447.9 million.
Bilateral trade between Vietnam and South Korea is expected to reach $70 billion by 2020 under the Vietnam-South Korea Free Trade Agreement (VKFTA).
South Korea is now the leading investor in Vietnam, with investment capital of about $50 billion.
From this year, 18 items will see tariff reductions under the VKFTA, with a resultant increase in trade expected.
How much is a piece of HCM City's golden land worth?
Ho Chi Minh City's most costly land prices can be found in District 1 around the People’s Committee building and near Ben Thanh Market. A square meter there fetches at least US$30,000, according to the latest report by evaluation company Gachvang.
Take a look at the five most expensive areas in Vietnam's southern metropolis.
1. Nguyen Hue Street
Average price: US$60,000 per square meter
how much is a piece of hcm city's golden land worth? hinh 0
Nguyen Hue Street tops the list as it has done since a million-dollar makeover in 2014 that earned the famous pedestrian street the title "King of Land Prices".
Real estate hunters are unable to take their eyes off this golden piece of land right in the city center. Nowhere else in this bustling city of motorbikes can one step out of a luxurious hotel to walk freely and drop by a fancy cafe or restaurant.
Monthly lease rates vary from US$50-US$100 per square meter, depending on the area as well as location.
2. Dong Khoi Street
Average price: US$36,000 per square meter
how much is a piece of hcm city's golden land worth? hinh 1
Khoi Street made headlines back in 2007 when a square meter of land there cost VND1 billion, or US$44,000. This busy street blends the iconic colonial buildings -- the Opera House and Vietnam's first hotel,
InterContinental Saigon -- with modern skyscrapers and shopping malls, a testimony to the city's rapidly rising middle class. Not far from Dong Khoi stands the former presidential palace, today known as the Reunification Palace.
3. Le Loi Street
Average price: US$34,000 per square meter
how much is a piece of hcm city's golden land worth? hinh 2
Adjoining Ben Thanh Market, Le Loi Street is famous for its vibrant shophouses selling anything under the sun, from souvenirs to food and fashion. Houses with two sides facing the street can fetch millions of dollars.
Like Dong Khoi Street, along Le Loi, there are big shopping malls such as Saigon Center, Takashimaya Department Store and Saigon Tax Trade Center, which is now under renovation.
A temporary downside is construction work for the city's up and coming metro, which will be completed in 2020.
4. Lam Son Square
Average price: US$33,000 per square meter
how much is a piece of hcm city's golden land worth? hinh 3
Lam Son Square is home to the iconic Opera House and two 5-star hotels with impressive architecture, the Park Hyatt Saigon and the Caravelle Saigon.
A lease for shophouses and showrooms which are closely packed along the street cost a staggering US$50-US$60 per square meter, just behind Nguyen Hue and Dong Khoi streets.
5. Le Anh Xuan Street
Average price: US$29,600 per square meter
how much is a piece of hcm city's golden land worth? hinh 4
There are no city monuments on Le Anh Xuan Street. It's earned the fifth spot on the list for the numerous mini hotels that are just a short walking distance from Ben Thanh Market.
A property on this street costs from US$2 million to US$22 million.
Vietnam's super-rich population is growing faster than anywhere else
Vietnam’s ultra-rich population is growing faster than any economy in the world, and is on track to continue leading the growth in the next decade, based on a new international research.
The Wealth Report by the UK’s independent real estate consultancy Knight Frank found there are 200 ultra high net worth individuals (UHNWI) in Vietnam, who are defined as people with investable assets of at least US$30 million, excluding personal assets and property such as a primary residence, collectibles and consumer durables.
UHNWIs are the richest people in the world who control a disproportionate amount of global wealth.
In Vietnam, this super rich group has grown by 320% between 2000 and 2006, the fastest in the world compared to India’s 290% and China’s 281%, the report said.
The number is expected to continue rising to 540, or by 170%, in 2026, the highest growth rate in the world. Millionaires in Vietnam are expected to jump to 38,600 from 14,300 over the same period.
Andrew Amoils, Head of Research at the global wealth intelligence and market research firm New World Wealth, highlighted Vietnam as the market whose “stellar” growth rate is set to reinforce “dramatic growth” of the super-rich population in Asia.
“We expect Vietnam’s millionaire numbers to be boosted by strong growth in the local healthcare, manufacturing and financial services sectors,” Amoils was quoted in the report as saying.
It also cited World Bank remarks as describing Vietnamese economy with “remarkable” transformation over the last 25 years, with economic and political reforms translating into higher incomes. The bank has projected Vietnam’s average GDP growth of around 6% annually until 2020.
Knight Frank report reflects considerable variation between UHNWIs growth rates in different regions and countries, due to local factors that underpin wealth creation and the mobility of ultra-wealthy people.
The number of ultra-wealthy people is predicted to climb by an average of 12% over the next decade in Europe, compared with a forecast 91% growth in Asia.
The number of ultra-wealthy people worldwide, which has grown 42% over the past decade, is expected to grow another 43% to 275,740 in 2020.
Vietnamese prefer low-cost products and services with decent quality
Low-cost taxi and air transport services have changed the way Vietnamese travel and live.
Le Thanh Nguyen in HCMC last week bought 100 medical masks at once, because she only had to pay VND15,000 only for every box of 50 masks. But she later regretted her decision as she discovered that the mask was made of dirty cotton.
The case has stirred a debate about sale strategy in Vietnam. Some analysts commented that as Vietnamese tend to buy cheaper products, the distributors of low-cost products and services can have better business.
In Vietnam, with low income per capita (workers’ wage is equal to 1/3 of Malaysian and 1/6 of Singaporean, according to JobStreet), it is understandable why consumers prefer cheaper products.
Tran Bang Viet, a consultant on business strategy, said this was motivation for manufacturers to improve their products. Without it, they will have no reasons to try to cut production costs to lower product prices.
In Vietnam, the appearance of Vietjet and Jetstar, low-cost air carriers, Uber and Grab, low-cost taxis, has created a revolution in the transport industry.
Uber and Grab taxis are popular, while Vietjet has outstripped Vietnam Airlines, the traditional airline, in number of domestic passengers served.
The low-pricing strategy has been applied not only in transport, but in many other business fields as well. The advertisement about the new apartment model priced at VND100 million only in Binh Duong caught the attention of the public.
The apartment is small with a simple design. However, analysts believe the apartment model will be ‘hot’ because it fits low-income earners.
Consumers understand that they get what they pay for, but one day, when they have higher income, they may make other choices.
A recent survey by Nielsen showed that 79 percent of Vietnamese look to buy products containing elements good to their heath and 74 percent said they have learned about nutrition products carefully before buying them.
Experts, to some extent, believe that the competition in price can help businesses obtain high growth rates, but growth will not be sustainable and will not help them obtain loyal clients.
Meanwhile, low-pricing strategy will make businesses’ profits decrease. Uber and Grab, after trying to lure customers with low service fees, now want to adjust the fee to more reasonable levels.
Mai Thanh, VNN
Social News 6/3
Mekong delta enhances reactive prevention of bird flu
A vet sprays disinfectant in the affected farms
Head of the Department of Husbandry and Animal Health in the Mekong delta province of Dong Thap yesterday said that the bird flu is developing complicatedly thus the animal health sector in coordination with local administrations and breeders should enhance reactive approaches.
For instance, since the beginning of the year, the vet force has administered 2 million vaccine shots against bird flu virus on poultry in the province. At present, local governments continue checking water fowl in the province for further injection of vaccine. Administrators have tightened controlling over transportation of poultry in districts Tan Hong, Hong Ngu and Hong Ngu Town - border crossings with Cambodia.
Meantime, the Department of Husbandry and Animal Health in Tien Giang Province said that a bird flu A/H5N1outbreak was detected on a flock of chicken; consequently, 860 poultry of breeder Nguyen Van Toan in District Cai Be were culled.
Tien Giang Province has a large clock of poultry with 12.2 million; accordingly, the local administrators take heed to the disease prevention. The vet sector focused on injecting vaccine against A/H5N1 for the first phase with the immunization rate of 79.6 percent on duck and 90.19 percent on chick.
Additionally, the province keeps an eye on the pandemic to early detect outbreaks to curb the spreading. Moreover, disinfection is carried out from now to March 23 with cleaning farms.
In An Giang Province, head of the Husbandry and Animal Health department Tran Tien Hiep said that the People’s Committee ordered districts and vet forces to adopt measures against the disease as well as ban transportation and sales of smuggled poultry through border gates. A reward of VND500,000 will be given to those who inform dead or ill poultry and unvaccinated water fowl.
Soc Trang Province also focused on prevention of bird flu which occurred in some localities in the province. The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development said that all ill poultry was killed and vets carried out disinfection task in the affected areas as well as tightened transportation, slaughtering of chicken in the province. Furthermore, authority boosted vaccination in small farms in rural districts.
44 students grab first prizes of Hanoi Open Mathematical Competition 2017
Department of Education and Training of Hanoi yesterday yesterday gave prizes to 580 best students who participated in the 14th Hanoi Open Math Competition 2017 (HOMC 2017).
As final result, 44 students won the first prizes and the delegation fron Hanoi was ranked the first position with 28 first prizes and 58 second prizes.
This year’s math contest attracted 843 students from the high schools and secondary schools of 30 cities and provinces across the country.
Over past 14 years, the annual math contest had received active participation of crowded nationwide students.
In next years, the organizers hoped that more and more international students will take part in the contest.
3 Thai nationals arrested in Japan for killing Vietnamese student
Police in Japan’s Chiba Prefecture have arrested three Thai nationals for stabbing to death a Vietnamese man in Choshi City in February, the Tokyo Reporter news site reported on March 4, quoting Japanese TV station Asahi.
The three suspects are accused of killing Nguyen Dinh Lien, 21, on a street in the Shimizu area early on December 25 last year.
Groups of Vietnamese and Thai nationals had been involved in dispute at a local restaurant prior to the incident. One of the Thai suspects allegedly stabbed Lien in the back as the Vietnamese man arrived at the scene to help his friends, according to local police.
The investigation is ongoing.
Lien came from Vietnam's central province of Ha Tinh. He had been a student in Japan since 2014, Vietnamese media reported.
Finnish-fund project enhances storm-forecasting capacity of radar station
Staff at the National Centre for Hydrometeorological Forecasting gather data of a storm
The National Centre for Hydrometeorological Forecasting (NCHMF) has launched a Finnish-funded project to improve the accuracy of rainfall measurements and lightning storm forecasts at Pha Din radar station in the northern province of Dien Bien’s Tuan Giao district.
According to NCHMF Vice Director Tran Hong Thai, the project is part of efforts to modernise and automate the hydrometeorology sector.
It aims to help complete a national project to modernise the forecasting technology and monitoring system to improve natural disaster management in Vietnam.
It is also among a series of projects to modernise Vietnam’s hydrometeorology sector funded with non-refundable aid from the Finnish Government that was approved by then Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung on July 31, 2014.
Panu Partanen from Finnish company Vaisala, the equipment provider of the project, said that the project is expected to be completed in two years.
One of the objectives of the project is to upgrade weather radar systems in Vietnam, he said, adding that the firm will help install equipment at five radar station, with Pha Din the first.
It will also upgrade three other stations to ensure they are synchronised with the five new ones, helping Vietnam build a comprehensive nationwide radar system.
The project will also develop a detection system for lightning storms which can be integrated into radar stations.
The system include 18 posts along the country and is scheduled for completion in one year. Within the project’s framework, Vaisala will also hold training courses for the radar stations’ operators.-
Language Festival inspires students
The first international language festival for students from Hanoi's Ngo Si Lien secondary school was held on March 4, with the aim to creating a venue for Ngo Si Lien students to interact, share language learning methods and enjoy diverse cultures from around the world.
Among school's students and teachers, the event saw the participation of educational officials from Hanoi, Director of the Vietnam-Japan Centre for Cultural Exchange Ando Toshiki, and representatives from language centres in Hanoi along with foreign teachers.
Held for the first time in the school’s 95-year history, the International Language Festival, namely "Ngo Si Lien – Inspiration 2017" offered an opportunity for the students to experience a multicultural festive atmosphere and enjoy music from around the world, while demonstrating their knowledge and skills in foreign languages to jointly explore the countries of the languages they are studying.
The festival featured various cultural and linguistics performances such as Japanese traditional Yosakoi dance and the familiar melody ‘Ponpokorin Odoru’, or emotional tunes from Australia ‘One Last Time’ and ‘Fireworks’, as well as the bustling playful melodies of the most popular German children’s song ‘So ein schoner Tag’.
In addition, the festival also took place with a rich variety of activities such as a quiz about countries around the world, fashion shows characterising the culture of many countries, mua sap (dance of the bamboos – a typical dance of the north-western provinces), a flashmob and various presentations.
Peter de Fretes from the Netherlands, who was a member of the jury at the event, said that the efforts and creativity of students at the programme were much appreciated, adding that all their repertoires were very impressive. Their efforts, hard work and presentations were very commendable, he affirmed.
While addressing the Ngo Si Lien - Inspiration 2017 Festival, Pham Thu Ha, Rector of Ngo Si Lien School said that the event was a great festival for students studying English , German, Japanese and French at the school, through which they would experience and learn more about the languages and culture of these countries, helping them to better understand the importance and benefits of understanding and proficient use of languages for global citizenship.
In addition, the festival also aimed to help students develop language skills, enhance interaction and language practice, and express themselves with confidence and dynamism, said Rector Ha, thereby encouraging Hanoian students to be innovative, dynamic, confident and creative, while practically strengthening solidarity and cultural exchanges between countries.
Crowds gather at Hoan Kiem Lake for musical treat from London Symphony Orchestra
People crowded around Ly Thai To Statue near Hoan Kiem Lake on March 4 to enjoy a musical treat from the London Symphony Orchestra, which performed for the first time ever in Vietnam.
The live concert, beginning with Vietnam’s national anthem and lasting for a total of 105 minutes, was highly praised by all members of the audience.
The performance was also broadcast on three 400-inch LED screens on Dinh Tien Hoang Street and Dong Kinh Nghia Thuc Square to bring the performance to those who could not access the performing venue.
The programme, directed by the young conductor Niklas Benjamin Hoffmann, included Dmitri Dmitrievich Shostakovich’s Festive Overture, Benjamin Britten’s Four Sea Interludes and Rachmaninov’s Symphony No. 2.
In addition to the above-mentioned musical pieces, artists of the London Symphony Orchestra performed an extract from the ballet ‘The Nutcracker’ and a piece from the soundtrack of Star Wars.
At the end of the programme, Hanoi Chairman Nguyen Duc Chung presented flowers to and thanked the London Symphony Orchestra for bringing a wonderful musical event to residents of the capital city.
The concert was the London orchestra’s final performance during its tour of Asia.
Range Rover rolls over after crash on Saigon Bridge, killing one
The driver of a Range Rover was severely injured while the girl traveling with him died when their luxury SUV crashed into a trailer truck on the Saigon Bridge at dawn on March 5.
The rear-ending crash occurred in the middle of the bridge, when the SUV was speeding from Binh Thanh District toward District 2, according to eyewitnesses.
Neither of the drivers was identified by police.
The Range Rover repeatedly rolled on its sides following the crash before hitting the bridge’s side.
The SUV body was torn apart, its front wheel fell off while other broken parts were scattered across the bridge.
The Range Rover driver was rushed to hospital in critical conditions, whereas the girl traveling with him died on the spot.
The woman was thrown out of the car when it slid about ten meters away from the point of crash.
Traffic on the bridge was only cleared on the early morning of the same day.
Cao Bằng seized smuggled chicken from China
Customs officers of the northern mountainous province of Cao Bằng yesterday seized nearly 1,000 breeding chickens and ducks that were being illegally smuggled into the country from China.
Vương Quốc Hùng, a resident of the province’s Hòa An District, who was transporting the poultry, failed to present legal documents proving the origin of the chickens and ducks.
He said he bought the poultry from China and was planning to sell them at markets in the province. The customs officers seized all the poultry and will deliver it to authorised agencies to destroy, as regulated.
Cao Bằng Province is taking various measures against bird flu following alarming reports from China about increasing numbers of human A/H7N9 cases.
New shopping, cuisine model launched in HCMC
Saigon Co.op Investment Development Company on Saturday launched Sense Market, a new modern shopping and cuisine model, at September 23 Park, District 1, HCMC.
Sense Market covers an area of 11,000 s.q meters comprising 6,000 s.q meters for parking with the capacity of 150 automobiles and 600 motorbikes.
The remaining 5,000 s.q meters include an Asian street cuisine area with nearly 100 booths selling Vietnamese, Lao, Cambodian, Indian and Japanese food; Taka Plaza shopping mall with over 400 stalls selling diversified commodities; Co.op Food convenient store; telecom service and foreign exchange counters.
During the opening time from March 4-8, there will have many free entertainment activities for local citizens and visitors such as popular games, cooking and flower arrangement competitions, music and fashion programs, book festival and tourist promotion activities.
Dong Nai Province sets up work group to help banana farmers
People’s Committee in the southern province of Dong Nai yesterday set up a steering board to help farmers sell bananas.
At a meeting with related agencies and departments Deputy Chairman Vo Van Chanh assigned the head of the Department of Industry and Trade and leaders of the department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Farmer Association, Young Communist Union, Labor Union and district people’s committees to join the board.
Mr. Chanh said that farmers increased areas for growing the fruit without guideline and its consequence that banana price fell to unprofitable which proved that governments and relevant agencies omitted their responsibility.
Accordingly, he ordered administrators to check areas for growing banana in the districts and the quantity of the ripe fruit and then help them to consume the fruit.
The steering board must report the People’s Committee about the consumption.
For weeks, the Youth Association in the province and student groups in Ho Chi Minh City helped farmers to sell nearly 400 tons of bananas through the campaign “ Chuoi nghia tinh” ( Loving bananas) as well as call for help from the community. Subsequently, just 17,000 tons of bananas is left in the province.
Vietnam joins world's happiest economies
Bloomberg's Misery Index of inflation and unemployment has found that many Asian economies are in a relatively good place.
Vietnam has joined other Asian neighbors in a group of the world's happiest economies thanks to its low inflation and unemployment, according to Bloomberg’s Misery Index revealed on March 3.
The country made its debut in the list this year at number 12 globally. The expanding index, which did not feature Vietnam and several other markets last year, aims to reveal the happiest and most miserable economies in the world.
A year full of political shocks has taken its toll on a number of economies worldwide, especially in Europe, but Asia has generally performed very well in this index. Add Iceland and Denmark in the middle of the regional list below and you'll have the world's top 12.
Vietnam indeed ended 2016 on a high note. The country managed to control inflation and added more jobs, setting the stage for stable economic growth this year.
Once again, Thailand was named the ultimate happiest economy, or the least miserable, depending on how you want to look at it.
Vietnam searches for 3 Indonesians missing in boat incident
They were reportedly trying to anchor a barge severed from their tugboat when rough waters swept the barge away.
Vietnam has sent out alerts for the search and rescue of three Indonesians who have gone missing off the southern coast after trying to anchor a runaway barge.
Vietnam’s maritime information system on Friday issued a statement asking vessels around the Mekong Delta city Can Tho to look out for the crew members on the barge, which broke free from their tugboat.
The tugboat with nine Indonesians was towing the barge from Cambodia to Thailand, the system said. It arrived in Can Tho on Tuesday and while resuming its journey on Thursday night, the chain link was broken.
The captain ordered three members of the crew to jump onto the barge and anchor it.
But rough waters reportedly swept the barge away.
Germany-funded projects pave Vietnam’s pathway to sustainable future
Vietnam and Germany welcome their 20th year of cooperation in science and technology as ongoing Germany-funded sustainability projects continue to shape local localities.
“Vietnam is a land of optimism,” Andreas Siegel, Germany’s Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City, asserted during his opening remarks at the German Science Day held in the southern Vietnamese metropolis on March 2.
The event, attended by government officials, diplomats and scholars from both countries, celebrated the 20th anniversary of bilateral cooperation between the two countries in science and technology.
For the past twenty years, Germany and Vietnam have continued to strengthen bilateral ties through research and cooperation in each field, placing a particular emphasis on the sustainable development of Vietnam’s current socio-economic and environmental landscapes.
Vietnam’s fast-growing economy has placed tremendous pressure on the country’s fossil fuel-dependent electricity production over the past few decades.
According to reports by state-owned power company EVN, Vietnam’s annual electricity production increased more than tenfold between 1990 and 2014, from 8.6 terawatt-hours (TWh) to 145.5TWh.
The annual increase in power production during this period was between 12 and 15%, almost twice as high as the country’s corresponding GDP growth.
As of 2014, Vietnam’s dominant sources for power production had been hydropower (40.04%), natural gas (21.89%) and coal (28.94%), while wind power accounted for a mere 0.15% of the country’s 34-gigawatt electricity generation capacity.
But Vietnam is looking to substantially expand the share of renewable energy in its national production of electricity, with the help of Germany-funded projects.
The country’s current goal is to have the ability to produce 800MW of electricity from wind power by 2020, and 6,000MW by 2030.
Its targets for solar energy are set even higher, at 850MW by 2020 and 12,000MW by 2030.
In total, Vietnam is aiming to produce up to 21% of its electricity from renewable sources, including biomass, wind, and solar, by the year 2030.
The German government-funded project ‘Support to the Up-Scaling of Wind Power in Vietnam’ aims to address these goals by offering technical assistance between 2014 and 2018.
The EUR6.9 million (US$7.3 million) project, jointly implemented by Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), is intended to improve legal and regulatory frameworks, develop technical, financial and practical capacity, and facilitate partnerships between the two countries.
As part of the project, a call was made in June 2016 for research proposals on wind power in Vietnam which yielded nine submissions from Vietnamese universities and research institutions.
The three best submissions were each granted EUR100,000 (US$105,700) in research funding over the next two years, from 2017 to 2018.
Germany has been a close partner of Vietnam in research projects across other facets of science and technology aimed at paving the way toward a more sustainable future.
As many as 16 Germany-funded project sites are currently established throughout Vietnam, featuring research in fields such as resources, urban development, bioeconomy, health, and climate protection.
'Rapid Planning,' an action-oriented research project looking to develop sustainable infrastructure, environmental protection, and resource management for highly dynamic metropolises, is currently operating in the vibrant central city of Da Nang.
Study scholarships and research grants totaling EUR10.89 million (US$11.51 million) will also become available for research fellows from Vietnam, among other developing Asian countries, under a framework program on sustainable water management (NaWaM) initiated by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).
In total, the BMBF has invested over EUR20 million (US$21.08 million) in bilateral cooperative activities in science and technology over the last 20 years.
Vietnam is among five key countries where Germany looks to intensify cooperation in the near future, according to Frithjof A. Maennel, deputy director general of the BMBF’s International Cooperation in Education and Research, who made the statement at Wednesday’s event.
With this year’s expected inauguration of the German House in Ho Chi Minh City, a center where all German cooperative agencies will be represented, Vietnam-Germany bilateral cooperation in science and technology is slated to yield fruitful results for decades to come.
Young Vietnamese filmmakers selected for Cannes Atelier line-up
Two Vietnamese projects have been invited to the 2017 Cannes Festival to join a program aimed at helping young filmmakers secure financing and meet producers and distributors.
Pham Ngoc Lan from Hanoi will come to the festival with his feature debut “Cu Li never cries,” which tells the story of a middle-aged Vietnamese woman who travels to Europe to bring the ashes of her husband home.
“Cu Li” is produced by Phan Dang Di, the first Vietnamese filmmaker successfully chosen for the L’Atelier Cinéfondation support at Cannes.
The other project, “Taste,” is a short film by Le Bao, a director born in the 1990s and a winner at the Singapore International Film Festival last year.
According to the official synopsis, the film’s protagonist, a Nigerian soccer player, tries to make ends meet in Vietnam’s southern Ho Chi Minh City in hopes that one day he will reunite with his wife and children. He has to do several jobs, including servicing wealthy middle-aged women.
“This is an extraordinary achievement of the Vietnamese film industry,” Le Hong Lam, a local well-known film critic and journalist said in a Facebook post Saturday.
Lam hailed a new generation of Vietnamese filmmakers, "who never went to a film school but learn with just passion, from experienced colleagues, in the school of life.”
The L’Atelier Cinéfondation, part of the Cannes Film Festival, was launched in 2005 to support emerging filmmakers, who are offered expert advice and the chance to meet potential co-production partners and funding sources during the festival.
The film festival has also selected 13 other projects for this initiative. The selected films and directors for the 2017 festival will meet professionals interested in their projects during individual sessions during May 17-28.
70-yr-old Vietnamese-American runner trumps ‘Triple 7’ marathon quest
A 70-year-old Vietnamese-born American woman living in Kansas City has set the record for being the oldest human to complete the ‘triple 7’ marathon challenge – running seven marathons on seven continents in seven consecutive days.
Born in 1947, Chau grew up without a father, a teacher who fought alongside Vietnamese revolutionists during the first French War in Vietnam before being killed by French colonizers.
At the age of 13, Chau was admitted to a local hospital with serious injuries after being hit by shrapnel from a bombing raid during the American War in Vietnam. The pieces remain in her body.
Twelve years later, Chau moved to the U.S. with her first husband at the age of 25. She was later met her current husband, Michael Smith, in 1983 at a Christmas party.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Chau suffered from serious work related stress brought on by the need to support her relatives who had just immigrated to the U.S.
“I had never played sports before, but my husband encouraged me to wake up early and run each morning to aid my stress relief,” Chau said of her decision to take up the sport. “I was over 40 years old at the time.”
Like a fish in water, Chau soon found joy in running and became a sports enthusiast, waking up at 5 a.m. every day to run and hitting the gym every afternoon following work.
Her reason for running marathons rather than short distance races came down to money.
“As a woman, I’m used to being in charge of making ends meet for my family, so I figured participating in marathon contests would be more economical in terms of dollar spent per mile than short-distance races,” Chau explained.
And with that simple logic, Chau began training for marathons under the instruction of her husband, an experienced runner himself.
“I started at five kilometers and gradually increased the distance to ten kilometers,” Chau said. “I finished my first marathon when I was 49.”
Chau said she had nearly passed out during her first 5K race in Kansas City.
"They [had] to put the oxygen mask on me," Chau told NBC News.
"But I felt OK about half an hour later ... I said, 'Hey Michael, I want to do a 10K.' And he said, 'Chau, you almost died today! What are you talking about?' And three months later, I showed him. I did a half marathon and never looked back."
The shrapnel inside Chau’s body has also proved an obstacle for the 70-year-old woman, with each step feeling as if a knife is being stabbed into her leg.
"I always try to concentrate on the good things. So even when I'm really in pain, I'm able to think about something positive," she said in the interview with NBC News.
"So you don't think about, 'Oh my god, it hurts so bad.' You just think about, maybe, the waterfalls, the streams, and the lake."
Over her 20 years of running, Chau estimates that she has participated in nearly 70 marathons across the globe.
She was about 400 meters from the finish line at the 2013 Boston Marathon when a terrorist detonated a bomb at the event.
Among her group of eight runners who participated in the ‘Triple 7’ marathon quest operated by Marathon Adventures, Chau was the oldest.
The quest involved running marathons in Perth (Australia), Singapore, Cairo (Egypt), Amsterdam (Netherlands), Garden City (U.S.), Punta Arenas (Chile) and King George Island (Antarctica) in the seven days from January 25 to 31, 2017.
“I don’t think I’ll stop running until my legs completely forbid me from doing so,” Chau said.
“I have been taking up cycling with my husband to reduce the pressure on my joints. I really can’t imagine how my life would be without running.”
Military Hospital 175 to become healthcare complex
Military Hospital 175 on Tuesday opened a new 600-bed hospital inside its campus on Nguyen Kiem Street in HCMC’s Go Vap District as part of a 1500-bed healthcare complex project costing VND2.5 trillion funded by the Ministry of Defense, said Major General Nguyen Hong Son, director of Military Hospital 175.
The new building consists of three wards, comprising an inpatient ward for cardiology, paediatrics, obstetrics, neurology, nephrology, gastroenterology, and urology; an operation and recovery ward for anesthesiology and epidemiology and infection control; and a sub-clinical ward for hematology, biochemistry, microbiology, anapathology, functional diagnostic and X-ray.
Temporarily, it will be also a healthcare and residential treatment center during the construction of a 500-bed Traumatology and Orthopaedics Hospital, said Son.
Military Hospital 175 is expected to become a 1,500-bed hospital complex in the next five years, using synchronous equipment in modern diagnosis and treatment to help ease overload at other major hospitals in HCMC.
Special treats on Int’l Women’s Day
Saigontourist’s hotels are putting on a variety of food programs on International Women’s Day.
De Nhat Hotel, 18 Hoang Viet Street, Tan Binh District, HCMC, tel: 08 3846 2944:
Hoa Su 1 Hall of the hotel will be turned into a modern yet classic world of flowers and acoustic music performed by Art Band. There will be diverse choices of food at a buffet dinner on the special day. Especially, all diners will receive a complimentary glass of Chilean wine while women will receive roses and special gifts. The buffet is available from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on March 8. Prices for adults and children are at VND380,000 per adult and VND245,000 per child. Those who buy ten tickets will get one free.
Van Thanh Tourist Area, 48/10 Dien Bien Phu Street, Binh Thanh District, HCMC, tel: 08 3512 3025:
Van Thanh will offer a-la-carte menu on International Women’s Day. Those who have dining bills worth VND5 million and above will receive two free buffet vouchers.
The tourist area also hosts a buffet program featuring good food of three regions of Vietnam, from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. There are gifts for women on the day and a traditional music band will perform during the event. Guests can also join in some folk games. Guests who buy 16 tickets in advance will receive one free. Tickets are priced at VND290,000 per adult and VND170,000 per kid.
Saigon-Dong Ha Hotel, 1 Bui Thi Xuan Street, Dong Ha City, Quang Tri Province. Tel: 053 357788:
Saigon-Dong Ha Hotel runs a promotion program on the occasion of International Women’s Day. The program lasts from March 4 to 8 with a menu priced from VND120,000 per person. Guests booking a party for 40 to 70 people will receive a free backdrop while a party for 50 diners (VND150,000 each) will receive free backdrop and free use of the sound system. The outdoor swimming pool will be also available for teambuilding activities.
The hotel has 98 guest rooms, including 92 deluxe rooms, five suites and one Presidential suite with luxury and cozy designs. These rooms overlook the romantic Hieu River or the main street of the city.
Furthermore, tourists can enjoy rich culinary programs. Parties and events held at the hotel’s restaurants will be prepared by its staff. Particularly, Shang Palace with luxury space features Chinese dishes. Rose Veranda is an ideal venue to enjoy the panoramic view of swimming pool and garden while experiencing beverages or teas with more than 80 flavors. If Blue Restaurant offers scrumptious cocktails and live music, the Lotus Restaurant with airy space is suitable for outdoor events. Sunrise with romantic setting brings guests comfortable moments with their loved ones. VIP Lounge on the rooftop boats high-end private dining rooms with cozy space suitable for reunion parties.
Saigon-Ban Me Hotel, 3 Phan Chau Trinh, Buon Ma Thuot City, Daklak Province. Tel: 0500 3685 666:
The hotel’s La Victoria Restaurant on the 16th floor, which accommodate 300 guests, offers a set menu with six dishes for two people worth VND590,000.
Saigon-Ban Me Hotel located in the heart of Buon Ma Thuot City in Daklak Province has been operational since 2013. The hotel has 17 stories and 131 rooms overlooking the city’s downtown.
The hotel is considered a great venue for seminars. It will host foreign diplomatic corps taking part in the sixth Buon Ma Thuot Coffee Festival and the Central Highland Gong Culture Festival 2017 with the theme “Quintessence Convergence-Identity Promotion-Connection for Development” scheduled for March 8-13.
Saigon-Phu Yen Hotel, 541 Tran Hung Dao St., Tuy Hoa City, Phu Yen Province. Tel: 057 3889889:
The hotel hosts a hotpot and BBQ buffet program entitled “To the Woman I Love.” The program takes place from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on March 8. Tickets are VND350,000 an adult and VND200,000 a child. Guests will enjoy free wine and Saigon beer. Those who buy 10 tickets before March 6 will get one free.
The four-star hotel is on the main street of Tuy Hoa City and near the beach. From the hotel’s rooms, guests can admire a panoramic view of the city. The hotel often offers special promotions.
Foul smell haunts Hanoi’s West Lake after removal of tourist marina
Litter scattered on the surface of West Lake in Hanoi
The building’s demolition commenced on February 23 as authorities looked to terminate all businesses connected to the lake in an effort to arrest the worsening pollution situation.
The marina was one of six businesses found to have permanent structures built onto West Lake without approval from local authorities, and had ceased operating prior to the forced demolition.
After the building was removed, large amounts of domestic refuse, construction materials and other debris were uncovered in the swampy water that stretched tens of meters along the banks of the lake.
An unbearably foul smell could also be detected from meters away, while litter was scattered on the lake’s surface.
Some business owners whose restaurants had been removed along with the marina were stockpiling what remained of their assets on the pavement of a nearby street and selling them at a low price.
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