Thứ Năm, 23 tháng 3, 2017

Chinese travelers flock to Vietnam instead of South Korea

Thousands of Chinese travelers entered Vietnam through the Mong Cai international border gate two days after China's ban on travel to South Korea. 

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According to Luong Quang So, head of the Mong Cai economic zone management board, on the days just before and after Tet (late January and early February), only 8,000-10,000 foreign travelers, including 2,500-3,500 Chinese, entered Vietnam through the Mong Cai border gate each day.
However, the figure increased sharply to 15,000 a day, including 5,000 from China in the last week, an increase of 50 percent over the same period last year.
Duong Van Co, chair of Mong Cai City, said that the increasing number of travelers has put pressure on customs clearance, but this has not had any impact on public order and tourism management.
The accommodations and tourism sites in Mong Cai are still capable of catering to travelers because most of the travelers go on domestic routes.
Thousands of Chinese travelers entered Vietnam through the Mong Cai international border gate two days after China's ban on travel to South Korea. 
According to Co, as the number of tourists increases, the fees and charges collected from tourists at the border gate will increase. In 2016, the local authorities collected VND230 billion from this source.
On March 8, South Korean agencies said the Chinese administration met with representatives of tourism agencies and travel firms in Beijing and told the firms to stop providing tours to South Korea, commencing from March 15.
Seoul believes that the move is an unofficial sanction amid South Korea’s THAAD missile system deployment.
Beijing said it was disappointed about the South Korea’s decision, while it revealed to make comments about the retaliation plan.
Analysts said if Chinese travelers are prohibited from going to South Korea, they would flock to Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam instead.
Tran Chi Cuong, deputy director of the Da Nang City Tourism Department, said the department is keeping a close watch over the number of Chinese travelers.
“The facilities in the city will still be able to serve Chinese travelers even if the number of tourists increases,” Cuong said.
The sea city of Da Nang, with one of the most beautiful beaches on the planet, last year received 400,000 Chinese travelers. There are 25 air routes from China to Da Nang with 81 flights provided a week.
Nha Trang City of Khanh Hoa province is also popular with Chinese travelers. It received 1.1 million foreign travelers in 2016, including 525,000 Chinese travelers.
However, Nha Trang has been warned not to rely on the Chinese market. Tran Viet Trung, director of Khanh Hoa Tourism Department, admitted that the rapid development of the Chinese market has caused embarrassing problems in management.

Thanh Mai, VNN
Vietnam's lung cancer patients to get free EGFR mutation testing

The central city’s Oncology Hospital, in co-operation with the British–Swedish biopharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca, has launched its first-ever Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutation testing programme for non-small cell lung cancer patients in Viet Nam.

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Medical staff begin EGFR mutation testing for non-small cell lung cancer patients at Da Nang’s Oncology hospital. The Hospital, in co-operation with AstraZeneca, has launched the first ever Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) testing in Viet Nam. — VNS Photo Cong Thanh
Hospital director Nguyen Ut said the testing, which has seen as the first in Asia Pacific region, will help non-small-cell lung cancer patients in the central region increase survival from one to two years with non-progressive of the disease.
“The testing system also helps lung cancer patients save time and money from traveling from the region to HCM city for three-week tests,” Ut said, adding that the EGFR mutation testing will give results within 24 hours instead of several weeks.
He said the 550-bed hospital has seen overload of over 700 patients, of which 30 per cent were local residents and 70 per cent were from 40 provinces and cities.
As scheduled, the hospital and AstraZeneca will give free of charge testing for all patients in the first year.
According to deputy director of the hospital, Nguyen Hoang Long, an EGFR mutation test would cost around VND5 million (US$221) each including health insurance, while a tablet for non-small cell lung cancer costs VND1 million ($44.2) with 50 per cent paid by health insurance.
Long said EGFR mutation testing also allows doctors to diagnose accurately, while patients will ease their pains from taking pills rather than costly chemotherapy.
Nicolas Jones, chief representative of AstraZeneca Singapore’s office in Viet Nam, said EGFR mutation testing plays as the most important role in supporting non-small cell lung cancer patients.
He hopes that the co-operation with Da Nang’s Oncology will provide an easier access to European standard EGFR mutation testing among patients in Da Nang and neighbouring provinces.
He said the launch of EGFR mutation testing will help prolong survival among lung cancer patients and improve health care service in Viet Nam, which is AstraZeneca’s commitment.
Nicolas added that AstraZeneca will provide testing procedure consultation and testing as well as EGFR testing mutation technical training for physicians and medical staffs of the hospital.  
According to the ministry of health, lung cancer has a high fatality rate among cancer patients. 19,559 patients--20.6 per cent of cancer patients--died in Viet Nam in 2012.
It’s expected that the country would see more than 29,000 new cases of lung cancer in 2020.
The hospital has provided free of charge treatment and meals for the poor cancer patients in central Viet Nam and free accommodation for their relatives during treatment at the hospital since 2013. 
Trump and Zuckerberg invited to APEC 2017 in Vietnam

Vietnam has sent invitations to US President Donald Trump and CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg to attend the APEC 2017 which will be held in Hue, according to Chairman of Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry Vu Tien Loc.

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Trump and Zuckerberg invited to APEC 2017

"We hope Zuckerberg will attend APEC 2017 to discuss start-up co-operation. However, we’re sure that one female Facebook CEO will attend the APEC 2017 Women and the Economy Forum," Loc said.  
Loc said while Vietnam's start-up community was among the world's top 20, but its capacity was in the bottom 20. 
The APEC Start-up Forum would be the largest international start-up forum held in Vietnam and expected to be a place where experiences about start-ups in Vietnam and the world will be shared.
It is estimated that about 1,000 CEOs and politicians from around the world will attend APEC 2017. 
Vietnam also sent an invitation to the US President Donald Trump.
"We have sent the invitation and hope that he will attend because Trump is the first US president that is also a businessman. 
His thoughts and involvement shared with the APEC community may have an immense effect," he said.
Loc went on to say that Vietnam is one of the most favourite destinations for investors in APEC community and many countries are showing interests in it. Vietnam is receiving huge support from the world and APEC this year receives the most interests in recent memory, he said.

Thứ Tư, 22 tháng 3, 2017

Understanding Vietnamese wealthy

According to the 2016 Wealth Report, Vietnam had 168 super-rich people (with assets of $30 million and above) in 2015 and the number is going to increase to 403 by 2025. Seven out of the ten richest people on the Vietnamese stock market trade in real estates.
There have been some commentaries from all newspapers. However, these commentaries should look into the history of Vietnam’s development and these people’s process of getting rich in order to give an objective account.
Where the wealth comes from
When the country switched from central planning to a market economy, a part of the population became rich by selling drugs, prohibited goods, speculation, corruption, or using their relationship with government officials to enrich themselves and relatives. These people the government should detect and punish according to the law.
However, some people took advantage of the time period to invest in sectors with high profit margins in order to accumulate initial capital and then use it to expand to other sectors and form conglomerates.
The owners of many conglomerates in the private sector got rich from land because they took advantage of the time when the price of land was very low and the government was willing to transfer land to the private sector, both domestic and foreign, pretty easily. When the country became a little more developed through urbanisation and industrialisation, the price of land rose, making some people very rich.
It is not right to attribute this to legal opacity and possible relationship with government officials.
In the years after the 6th National Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam, most of the country was poor. Local governments issued many policies to encourage investment in the private sector, including renting out land to investors for free or at very low fees.
Some say these few people got rich from land, which is public property. This is not really true, because these people also relied on their own business intuition, in order to go from the initial capital to become owners of big companies.
Vietnam currently has 600,000 companies in the private sector, of which a few thousand are of a larger size, and only a small percentage of these got rich from land.
Many rich Vietnamese people were students who went to study in the USSR (now Russia) and Eastern European countries or workers who went to work abroad and took advantage of the transition to a market economy in those countries to amass wealth. Among these is Pham Nhat Vuong, Vingroup’s chairman. He earned millions of dollars from producing and selling instant noodles and other fast food in Ukraine and many Eastern European countries.
Many Vietnamese who live in the US, Canada, the UK, France and Australia sent billions of dollars to their relatives in Vietnam and the relatives used this money to invest, or they themselves set up companies in Vietnam. Many people who worked for foreign companies returned to Vietnam and used their working experience and earnings to set up their own companies and have been successful.
Thus, it can be seen that the rich of Vietnam amassed wealth not only through land but many other ways, too. However, 168 in a population of 93 million is too few. The Wealth Report expected this number at 403 by 2025. An increase would be a good thing.
The right attitude would be to acknowledge the ones that amassed wealth legally and work with law enforcement agencies to detect and punish those that did so illegally, and try to narrow the income gap between people.
The real role of the real estate market
In the past 30 years of Vietnam transitioning from a central planning to a market economy, the country has made numerous achievements. However, Vietnam is still slow compared to other countries. South Korea started as low as Vietnam when it started industrialisation in the mid-60s, but took only 20 years to become an industrialised country with leading global technology companies, such as Samsung and LG, but after thirty years Vietnam only succeeded in getting out of the group of low-income countries. Vietnam also has very few high-tech companies and its private sector in general has low competitiveness. Labour productivity is low. The government is trying to fix these weaknesses in the recently announced restructuring of the economy to follow a new growth model.
Some say that real estate can help short-term growth but is not a sector that the economy can rely on for the long term. One cannot ignore the importance of real estate in economic growth because this sector is an important contributor by being a significant investment channel, a sector that is directly linked to urbanisation, housing demand, the technical infrastructure, hotels, offices, resorts, tourism, the construction material production industry, and furniture production, not to mention the millions of jobs it creates.
Since the 80s Hanoi only built between 50,000 and 150,000 square metres of apartment buildings each year, the old kind, like the ones in Kim Lien and Giang Vo. They are not only small but also monotonous in design. The tallest hotel was the 11-floor Thang Long Hotel. In the recent years, Hanoi builds 1.5-1.6 million square metres annually, with modern architecture. This changes the face of the city. In 1990, the country produced and used 2 million tonnes of cement. In 2016, these figures were pushing 75 million tonnes produced and 65 million tonnes used.
Between 2008 and 2012, the real estate market was at a standstill. Many companies in construction and real estate sales went bankrupt. Many people became unemployed. Bad debts rose. Construction material and furniture production companies also met a lot of difficulties. Eventually, the government had to deploy rescue measures, including the VND30 trillion ($1.32 billion) loan package for homebuyers. This shows that the real estate sector is really important.
In Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City there are two urban areas built by foreign-invested companies, namely Ciputra and Phu My Hung. 20 years ago Vietnam was yet to have a big private company in real estate, so the government let Taiwanese and the Indonesian firms build these two modern urban areas in the two biggest cities and gave them many incentives in terms of tax and land rental fees. The developers put in a few hundred million US dollars in each of these two urban areas, but then earned a good few times as much. At that point, the government could not do differently because Vietnamese companies were not yet capable of carrying out such projects. These projects met the demand for housing and through them Vietnamese companies learned the tricks of the trade.
Now there are tens of thousands of real estate developers in Vietnam, including strong companies, such as Vingroup, Sun Group, Dai Quang Minh, and Novaland, among others. They have built modern urban areas with complete facilities and claimed the real estate market as the playground for mostly domestic firms. Only in some cases where it was necessary did the government give projects to foreign investors with high technology and capacity, or let the projects be carried out by cooperation between domestic and foreign companies to increase its quality.
However, it should be noted that big real estate companies need to invest in technology, design, architecture, and process too. Some companies have imported modern equipment and formed a workforce with high qualifications that are capable of designing and creating modern buildings. These firms then went on to set records in terms of construction time, while ensuring the quality of the building.
Positive signs
In recent years, many conglomerates in the private sector expanded operations in many sectors, such as supermarkets, high-tech agriculture, healthcare, and education. Thanks to their financial capacity and their experience in business, they produced good results and earned consumers’ trust. Some five-star hotels in Hanoi, such as Hilton and Daewoo, used to be joint ventures with foreign companies but have been bought by Vietnamese private companies.
A Vietnamese that has made a fortune by selling milk is Thai Huong, chairman of TH Milk. People who have visited her farm, which is a few hundred hectares in area, where she grows grass, rears cows, and produces milk, were amazed. In order to carry out the dream of supplying milk to Vietnamese people, she went to Israel to learn about the most modern technology, hired a company to advise her on growing grass, and bought cows from New Zealand and Australia. In less than 10 years, TH Milk has become one of the two dominant Vietnamese milk companies. It is now in the process of building a project on rearing cows and producing milk on a gigantic scale in Russia.
Thai Huong said that TH Milk aimed to have 137,000 cows by the end of 2017, and that its plants have can meet 50 per cent of the domestic demand for milk through their total capacity of 500 million litres a year. The Asian Book of Records recognised the TH farm in Nghia Dan, Nghe An as the biggest concentrated high-tech dairy farm in Asia.
In 2014 the company started working with government agencies to supply milk to children in kindergartens and primary schools in order to improve the height and health of the Vietnamese populace.
Sapa is one of the most well-known tourism destinations in Vietnam. Since 2016 the town has a cable car developed by Sun Group that carries tourists from Muong Hoa to the Fansipan summit, the highest point of Indochina. The system cost VND4.4 trillion ($193 million). Construction started in November 2013 and the system entered operation in February 2016. Guinness World Records awarded two Guinness certifications for the Fansipan cable system, for the biggest height gap (1,410 metres) between its departure and arrival stations and the world’s longest three-wire cable car (6,292.5 metres).
This project shows that Vietnamese companies are now capable  to finance and have the skill to build projects that are complicated both in terms of geography and technology. The project has contributed to attracting domestic and international tourists to Sapa and Lao Cai, create jobs for the people there, and increase local revenues.
Vingroup is a Vietnamese conglomerate that in the past two years has developed hundreds of supermarkets across the country, and invested in high-tech agriculture in many localities. Vingroup has built a supply chain linking producers and distributors using attractive incentives, and it aims to “connect Vietnamese companies in each type of product in order to compete with foreign-invested companies.”
Vingroup has a commission fee of 0 per cent for some agricultural produce that are sold through its supermarkets, while Big C has increased this fee to an unbearable percentage for some Vietnamese companies after it was taken over by Thai investors.
Vingroup has signed a contract with 250 suppliers and agricultural cooperatives to apply new and clean technologies, instruct farmers on how to farm, create a low-cost and fast supply chain for the benefit of producers, companies joining in the chain, consumers, and Vingroup alike.
Vingroup’s forming a supply chain, working with producers and distributors, is a model that many Vietnamese companies in many sectors can learn from. They can create their own supply chains in order to seize new opportunities from the domestic and global market.
Many Vietnamese companies also pay attention to corporate responsibility. They create jobs and set aside a part of their millions of dollars of revenue to do charity, help alleviate poverty, support poor households, and give scholarships to poor students.
Some localities in Vietnam are blessed with geographical ease of access, so they have better infrastructure than others. They attract many foreign-invested projects and see fast socioeconomic growth and are now on the path to modernising themselves, while mountainous localities and those near the borders have numerous difficulties in achieving economic growth. This creates a gap between localities. In recent years many big companies in the private sectors have invested in highways, urban areas, supermarkets, resorts, and industrial parks, as well as planted forests, and contributed to narrowing this gap. These companies helped the government in meeting growth targets at these localities.
At the investment, trade, and tourism promotion conference of Tuyen Quang Povince held at the end of February, some domestic companies registered VND18 trillion ($790 million) in big projects in the coming years. Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said he appreciated the companies’ efforts and believed that Tuyen Quang is going to grow faster thanks to the projects.
These prospective projects include building a 30kilometre expressway linking Tuyen Quang city with Hanoi-Lao Cai Expressway, reducing the time needed to travel from Hanoi to Tuyen Quang by 40 per cent. Together with other telecommunication, electricity, and water infrastructure projects, this will help the locality better attract foreign investors. The Prime Minister said that the companies should carry out the registered projects and ensure that all three parties, namely themselves, the province, and the community can benefit.
Vietnam’s process of socioeconomic growth is different from other countries’. Therefore, studies should take into account the different historical context of events in order to be able to offer correct explanations.
By Professor, Dr Nguyen Mai, VIR
HCM City plans weekend market downtown

The government of HCMC will open a weekend market downtown in the second quarter to create a new shopping and entertainment venue for city dwellers and tourists.

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File photo of a hydrofoil heading to a now-defunct pier at the Bach Dang Park. The government of HCMC will open a weekend market at the Bach Dang Park along the Saigon River in the second quarter of this year

Expected to open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, the market will cover 3,000 square meters at the Bach Dang Park along the Saigon River in District 1 and feature 120 stands for art performance, food and folk games, a city government official told a meeting on March 20.
To be eligible for attending the market, vendors must ensure that goods are of clear origin and that they sell only genuine products and guarantee food safety. 
All the stands will be cleared to before 8 a.m. on Mondays.
Tran The Thuan, chairman of District 1, described the weekend market as an extension of the Nguyen Hue pedestrian square which is always crowded with people at weekends.
Since the Bach Dang Park and the Nguyen Hue pedestrian square are separated by the busy Ton Duc Thang Street, District 1 authorities are working with the voluntary youth force to map out plans to help visitors cross the street, and regulate traffic in the area.
Tran Quang Lam, deputy director of the HCMC Department of Transport, said the area is prone to traffic congestion, especially at rush hour, and the situation would worsen when the nearby Thu Thiem 2 bridge is opened to traffic. 
Therefore, Lam noted, a lot of manpower would be needed to help people walk between Nguyen Hue Boulevard and the weekend market.
City vice chairman Tran Vinh Tuyen said the weekend market was a pilot project as the city is planning to build an underground venue connecting the Nguyen Hue pedestrian square and the Bach Dang Park. 
The city will look into its impact on traffic, he said.
In a related development, District 1 will carry out a pilot plan to allow food vendors to operate on some streets in the city center.
The district said on March 20 that Nguyen Van Chiem Street would be the first to house stands of 20 households which would be operational from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. 
The second location is Bach Tung Diep Park with a sidewalk being 30 meters long and 8.5 meters wide, where 15 households can sell stuff from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. 
The third site is Chu Manh Trinh Street whose 120-meter-long sidewalk will be occupied by 35 households.
Those vendors will pay no charges for using sidewalk space but be required to ensure food safety, classify waste and have professional selling skills.
The district will consider other streets with wide sidewalks to arrange more stands for street vendors.
Mekong Delta sinks into the sea

 The Mekong Delta is sinking 2.5cm every year because of ground water extraction and unreasonable planning and constructions on the surface.

The problem was discussed at a conference about sinking threat and solution for the Mekong Delta on March 21 in Can Tho City. 

According to the results from Rise and Fall Project held by Can Tho University and Utrecht University in Netherlands, many rural lands have a subsidence rate of 10-20mm a year, this rate is 25mm in urban and industrial areas. According to Piet Hoekstra, head of the project, the subsidence rate at some locations were 2-4cm a year, mostly in the coastal and low-lying area. Some locations have sunk 25cm in the past 25 years.

Nguyen Hieu Trung from Can Tho University said the subsidence rate in the Mekong Delta has sharply increased in recent years. There are four main causes for the subsidence including natural subsidence, tectonic process, pressure from surface constructions and groundwater extraction. Groundwater extraction, which has drastically increased over the past decades due to growing demands, is considered the main cause.

Statistics from the National Centre for Water Resources Planning and Investigation show that a total of five million cubic metres of underground water is being extracted each day and the number is still rising. The water level has dropped to only 10m in Hai Hau District, Nam Dinh Province and 18m in HCM City.

Farmers use underground water during dry season

Tran Van Thanh, deputy head of Soc Trang Province Department of Natural Resources and Environment, said most water plants in the province were extracting underground water. Only one plant uses surface water but it is being turned into saline water.

The province has implemented various measures, stored rainwater and reduced the dependence on underground water but they still have many difficulties. "Farmers use underground water to maintain their shrimp and fishing farms. During dry season, they drill wells to water rice crops," Thanh said.

According to Piet Hoekstra, the exploitation rate is much higher than the renewing rate. This water source may have been formed 20,000 years ago and is being threatened by both human and saltwater intrusion.

Ky Quang Vinh, director of the Climate Change Coordination Office, said the renewing process for underground water was time-consuming. Japan issued a ban on underground water, oil and gas exploitation around 1985 but only by 2000 that the water level started rising.

"We have to act now or else we'll be decades behind," Vinh said.

Can Tho City authorities have banned extracting underground water but it will be useless if other locations still allow this activity. Vinh said the Mekong Delta must fight against drought and saltwater intrusion at the same time.

Vinh suggested dredging the existing channels and canals to enlarge their capacity to store more rainwater and helping renew underground water.

VN called to tackle overfishing as crisis looms

The Government should tighten its grip on overfishing as the seafood capacity in the Vietnamese sea is nearing exhaustion, a top military official said on Tuesday.

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Workers take tuna from a maintenance cellar for sale. A top military official has called for a tighter grip on overfishing from the Government. – Photo: VNA/VNS 

Senior Lieutenant-General Pham Ngoc Minh, Vice Chief of General Staff of the Viet Nam People’s Army and Vice Chairman of the National Committee for Search and Rescue, raised his concerns over the alarming situation as he commented on the draft of the amended Law on Fisheries during a meeting of the National Assembly Standing Committee (NASC).
“We used to catch a lot of fish whenever we went out to sea in the old days. But now all the sea – Bach Long Vy, Truong Sa or Phu Quoc - was empty of fish,” Minh said.
Vietnamese fishers use all kind of means, from explosives to electricity or toxic substances, to catch great quantities of fish as fast as possible. “That’s why now our fishermen have to fish in overseas waters, and get caught,” he said.
Since the start of the year, 16 Vietnamese fishing ships detained by neighbouring countries like Australia, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia and Cambodia for illegal fishing, Minh said.
The Senior Lieutenant-General, with some 30 years spent at sea, asked that the amended Law on Fisheries clearly lay out the State’s responsibilities in planning and regulating specific areas allowed for fishing. He also asked authorities to issue fishing quotas to manage the overfishing.
National Assembly National Defence and Security Committee Chairman, Senior Lieutenant-General Vo Trong Viet, also expressed concern about overfishing, blaming it on lack of exploitation bans to preserve resources. “In other countries, even in China, fishing is banned during breeding season. Any violations are strictly punished,” Viet said.
“In Viet Nam, meanwhile, the ban is rather unclear, allowing fishermen to sail to sea for fishing even during the (breeding) season. That’s what led to the fish exhaustion,"
Firefighting co-operation
Also yesterday, the NASC agreed to issue a Governmental decree to improve the performance of the firefighting forces following growing fire risks due to rapid urbanisation.
According to the NASC, there were 444,311 incidents including fires, explosions, traffic and labour accidents between 2001 and 2015. At least 177,587 people were killed and 343,340 were injured.
The highest-level legal document regulating the rescue work of the firefighter force is a decision issued by former Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung in 2012. However, it falls short of clearly stating specific responsibilities of organisations and individuals in rescue work, leading to confusion and lack of co-operation between different forces, according to the NASC.
Tuesday also marked the close of the NASC’s 8th session. The next one is set for April.