Thứ Tư, 31 tháng 5, 2017

Social News 31/5

HCM City boosts cooperation with RoK’s province

The Republic of Korea (RoK)’s Gyeongsangbuk province opened its representative office in Vietnam’s southern metropolis of Ho Chi Minh City on May 30 to promote the bilateral comprehensive relations.

Deputy governor of the RoK province Kim Jang-joo said the establishment of the office in HCM City will make active contributions to increasing economic and cultural exchanges between Vietnam and the RoK in general and between the two localities in particular.

HCM City and Gyeongsangbuk have carried out a number of cooperation activities in politics, economy, culture, and education in recent years.

In 2016, the two sides signed an agreement on co-organising the HCM City-Gyeongju world cultural festival 2017, featuring a range of traditional and modern Korean cultural activities.

Gyeongsangbuk authorities affirmed to work with HCM City to successfully hold the event, which is expected to become a new economic festival where all are partners.

Vice Chairman of the HCM City People’s Committee Huynh Cach Mang said the launch of the Gyeongsangbuk’s representative office in the city is an important highlight in celebration of the 25th anniversary of Vietnam-RoK diplomatic ties.

This will help reinforce the bilateral strategic cooperative partnership as well as the sound relations between HCM City and other Korean localities, he added.

The office is hoped to serve as a bridge for expanding the cultural and economic collaboration between the two localities, he said.

The HCM City-Gyeongju world cultural festival 2017 is scheduled to take place in HCM City in November, featuring the prosperity of the Asian community via cultural exchanges.

As the largest national-level cultural programme of the RoK held abroad in 2017, the festival will include traditional Korean culture and art performances as well as exhibitions of high-quality products of the RoK and participating countries.

Orbis flying hospital launches ophthalmic training in Binh Dinh

The Orbis Flying Eye Hospital on May 30 began a training course for medical staff of the General Hospital and Eye Hospital of central Binh Dinh province.

Running until June 9, the training course is part of a cooperation programme between Orbis International and Binh Dinh, with a view to turning the province into an eye disease treatment centre of the south central and Central Highlands regions, whose the blindness rates stand at 5.5 and 3.1 percent, respectively.

According to Orbis Global Medical Director Jonathan Lord, the ophthalmic course focuses on hand-on practices from basic to advanced levels regarding the prevention and treatment of eye diseases.

The training course is tailored for local ophthalmologists, nurses, anaesthesiologists, biomedical engineers and technicians through lectures, case discussions, observation, workshops and symposiums.

Orbis will also train the Binh Dinh General Hospital’s medical staff screening retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) – a disease in premature babies that can lead to permanent blindness and is on the rise in middle-income countries like Vietnam.

The Orbis Flying Eye Hospital is the world's only airborne ophthalmic surgical and training facility, which Orbis uses to support developing countries in preventing blindness and protecting people’s eyesight.

In Vietnam, Orbis has implemented long-term projects since 2000. It helped form paediatric eye care centres in Hanoi, Hue, Da Nang, Can Tho and Binh Dinh.

Judicial reform committee reviews operation

The Central Steering Committee on Judicial Reform convened the third meeting in Hanoi on May 30 to discuss a draft report on the organisation and operation model of the committee so far and in the future.

Addressing the event, President Tran Dai Quang, head of the committee, stressed that judicial reform is a significant work in the Party and State’s policy on building a socialist rule-of-law state in Vietnam.

He pointed to a number of lessons withdrawn from the implementation process, including the need for the proper recognition of the goal, viewpoint, orientation and task in the work as well as close coordination.

Judicial reform should be conducted in parallel with the renovation of the political system, legislative and administrative reform, he said, emphasising the significance of a suitable roadmap, specific plans matching the country’s socio-economic development, the unity in direction and strong judicial human resources.

Since 2002, the committee has showed good performance in advising the Politburo on measures to realise major policies and orientations of the Party in judicial reform as well as Resolution 49-NQ/TW on judicial reform strategy to 2020, noted the President.

At the same time, the committee also directed the amendments, supplements and completion of legal framework on the organisation of judicial agencies, while contributing to developing personnel for the sector.

President Tran Dai Quang said that in the future, the committee will continue focusing on giving consultations to the Politburo on leading, directing and monitoring the implementation of the Party’s policies on judicial reform and judicial reform strategy to 2020.

He clarified that the committee will inspect the judicial reform process of all cities, provinces as well as agencies of the judicial system at provincial level from the third quarter of 2017 to November 30, 2017.

A working group for the inspection will gather representatives from the Supreme People’s Court, the Party Central Committee’s Commission for Internal Affairs, the Office of the Central Steering Committee for Judicial Reform, he added.

Vietnam steps up Lao National Assembly building project

A ground-breaking ceremony for a building of the Lao parliament, a gift from Vietnam to Laos, will be held on July 18, 2017, which is also the day the two countries signed the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation in 1977.

The information was unveiled by an inter-sectoral delegation of the Vietnamese Government which is in Laos to prepare for the construction of the building while they met Chairwoman of the Lao National Assembly Pany Yathotou.

Vietnam’s Deputy Minister of Construction Le Quang Hung said the project, a gift from the Party, Government and people of Vietnam, is very important and attracts great attention from the Vietnamese Party and Government. The Government assigned the Ministry of Construction as the investor and Army Corps 11 of the Defence Ministry as the constructor.

He said the headquarters is set to be put into trial operation in the first quarter of 2020 and officially handed over to Laos in the fourth quarter of the year.

He pledged the Vietnamese side will coordinate with Laos to soon finalise the design and construct the house as scheduled so that the building will deserve a symbol of the two countries’ special solidarity and friendship as expected by their leaders and peoples.

Chairwoman Yathotou said the delegation’s visit to discuss and survey the construction site illustrates the Vietnamese Party, State and Government’s great attention to the project.

She stressed that the building is not only meaningful in terms of politics but also a symbol of the special Laos-Vietnam relationship for future generations.

She asked both sides to work closely to be unanimous in every issue to ensure the project’s schedule and quality.

In an official visit to Laos by Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong in November 2016, the Party, State and people of Vietnam decided to present their Lao counterpart with a parliament building worth 100 million USD in That Luang Square of Vientiane capital.

Harmonious tourism, environment protection urged in Son Tra Peninsula

The development of tourism in Son Tra Peninsula of central Da Nang city must be in harmony with environmental and biodiversity protection and sustainable development, according to many participants in a seminar in Hanoi on May 30.

The seminar, which sought sustainable tourism development in the Son Tra national tourism site, drew representatives of many ministries, sectors and the Vietnam Tourism Association (VITA), and specialists in environment, construction and tourism.

Deputy Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism Huynh Vinh Ai said in the strategy for and master plan on Vietnam’s tourism development until 2020, Son Tra Peninsula is named one of the 47 potential places to be developed into national tourism sites.

A master plan for developing the Son Tra national tourism site was publicised in early 2017 by the ministry and Da Nang city.

However, the Da Nang Tourism Association and some relevant organisations and agencies asked the Prime Minister to review this plan in fear that it might influence biodiversity preservation and security-defence. They also called for maintaining the status quo of Son Tra without any new accommodation facilities allowed to be built, he noted.

The issue is complex and controversial and requires thorough consideration, particularly when it comes to the handling of the projects that were already approved on the site, Ai added.

VITA Vice Chairman Vu The Binh said strict regulations, especially those on the environment, must be issued to ensure the sustainable development of tourism. He asked all the licensed projects to be reviewed so as to make appropriate adjustments.

“We should not be too persistent in keeping the status quo of Son Tra but make harmonious development and construction so that (Son Tra) deserves the status of a national tourism site,” he noted.

He added close supervision is needed for stages of a project, to ensure it won’t affect the environment. Any investors who violate environmental protection rules must be stringently handled and their projects must be stopped.

Deputy Minister Ai said Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam recently ordered a three-month suspension of the implementation of the master plan for developing the Son Tra national tourism site so that Da Nang can settle related requests.

Another seminar on the issue will be held in Da Nang to collect opinions of experts and officials.

The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism and the Da Nang People’s Committee will review the adjustment of the number of accommodation rooms in Son Tra. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment will work on data about local forests and biodiversity preservation, Ai noted.

Top military officer receives Myanmar army delegation

Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Vietnam People’s Army Lt. Gen. Pham Hong Huong welcomed a delegation of the Directorate of Signals of Myanmar army in Hanoi on May 30.

Lt. Gen. Pham Hong Huong underlined the importance of communication to the armed forces’ operation and affirmed that Vietnam intends to promote international cooperation in the field.

The Deputy Chief of the General Staff appreciated the collaboration between the armies of Vietnam and Myanmar in the past time on the basis of the agreement on defence cooperation signed in 2011. The two sides have exchanged delegations, supported each other at multi-lateral forums and helped each other in language training.

Head of the Myanmar delegation, Director of the Directorate of Signals Maj. Gen. Thaw Lwin expressed his hope that the armies of the two countries will strengthen their partnership, particularly in the field of military communication.

Fatherland Front urges environment protection

The Vietnam Fatherland Front (VFF) will join hands with State environmental agencies to organise activities to promote environment protection, the front’s leader said at a meeting held Hanoi on May 30 in response to the World Environment Day (June 5).

Speaking at the event, Vice President of the Vietnam Fatherland Front Central Committee Le Ba Trinh stated that the World Environment Day 2017, themed “Connecting People to Nature”, encourages people to get outdoors and into nature to appreciate its beauty and its importance and take forward the call to protect the Earth.

Grassroots VFF chapters will engage in activities to popularise law and regulations on the environment in order to enhance public supervising and consulting capacity in the field.  Advanced models on protecting natural resources and the environment will be introduced to the public to encourage the community to get involved in the work.

A national month of action for environment protection will be launched by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Vietnam Women’s Union and Ba Ria-Vung Tau People’s Committee in Ba Ria-Vung Tau city on June 4.

Vietnam Airlines not affected in British Airways incident


The national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines said that its flights and check-in system in the UK were not affected by a massive global IT failure of British Airways.

Accordingly, all flights from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to London, the UK have been operated normally.

The incident caused delays and cancellations of many flights from the two largest UK airports of Heathrow and Gatwick from May 27-29.

Meanwhile, on May 29, a severe storm landed in Moscow, Russia. There was no flight of Vietnam Airlines from/to Moscow on that day, the carrier said.

Japan’s Democratic Party talks labour with Vietnam confederation

Representatives of Japan’s Democratic Party and the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour (VGCL) discussed labour issues during a working session on May 30, Lao dong (Labour) daily reported.

VGCL Vice President Mai Duc Chinh informed the Japanese guests about the business situation and industrial relations at Japanese enterprises in Vietnam, along with working conditions, income and aspirations of Vietnamese workers at the companies.

He also briefed them about Vietnam’s interns and students in Japan, the VGCL’s viewpoint on the increase of regional-based minimum wage, and the job-seeking efforts of interns after they returned from Japan.

Representatives of the Democratic Party, led by Deputy Secretary-General Yukio Edano – a member of Japan’s House of Representatives, shared information about their country’s labour laws, including on foreign interns in Japan.

The Democratic Party is the second biggest party in Japan, after the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan. Its delegation’s working visit to Vietnam from May 28-31 is part of an agreement between the Democratic Party and the Communist Party of Vietnam.

Int’l community hails Vietnam’s contributions to UN

International friends at a ceremony to mark Vietnam’s 40 years of joining the United Nations have acknowledged the country’s active contributions to the organization and its responsibility for the international community.

Talking with Vietnam News Agency on the sidelines of the anniversary, almost guests agreed that Vietnam’s contributions have constituted the country a reliable and responsible friend and partner of the international community.

Participants heard that Vietnam, as a member of the UN, always strives to well perform its responsibility, as well as proactively take practical initiatives. It has been recognised as one of the countries leading in realising millennium development goals (MDGs) set by the UN.

According to President of the friendship association of international organisations in New York, Kenneth G. Welborn, Vietnam made active contributions to the UN in many fields, especially its initiatives to promote peace in the world, and efforts to implement sustainable development goals.

Meanwhile, Ambassador Jerry Matjila, Permanent Representative of the Republic of South Africa to the UN said Vietnam is a model for other UN member nations to learn from its experience, especially in social development, education, food security, anti-racial discrimination.

Vietnam’s national liberation efforts and democracy building inspired the Republic of South Africa, he noted.

At the event, participants from Southeast Asian nations highlighted Vietnam’s contributions to the UN in the position as an ASEAN member nation. Regional diplomats said Vietnam regularly represents the bloc at UN forums on issues relating to peace, stability and cooperation in the Southeast Asian region.

President of the Federation for Peace and Sustainable Development, Sally Kader, said as a member of the UN and a country rising from the war, Vietnam made amazing achievements.

Vietnam has been truly an example to all countries worldwide, helping them realise the importance of promoting cooperation for development regardless of what happened in the past, she stressed.

Vietnam, US enhance comprehensive partnership

The activities during the Pacific Partnership 2017 (PP17) were examples of the development of a comprehensive partnership between Vietnam and the US, according to US Ambassador to Vietnam Ted Osius.

The 10-day programme wrapped up in the south central coastal province of Khanh Hoa on May 30.

Osius said PP17 members worked with Khanh Hoa agencies to improve the ability of local medical staff, enhance capacity for humanitarian assistance and climate change adaptation and expand cooperation in the region.

This year marks the fourth consecutive year Vietnam has hosted the event.

Vietnam and the US established diplomatic ties in July 1995, and later set up a comprehensive partnership in July 2013.

Over the years, the US has become one of the leading trade partners of Vietnam.Bilateral trade has grown by about 20 percent each year. Despite a trade deficit with Vietnam, the US has enjoyed rapid export growth rate of 77 percent annually, four times higher than the growth of Vietnam’s shipments to the US.

With 815 projects with total registered capital of 10.07 billion USD, the US ranks eighth among 112 countries and territories investing in the Southeast Asian nation.

In March 2017, the two countries restarted meetings of the Council on Bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement.

Both sides have also intensified cooperation in other fields such as security, defence, science, technology, information technology, bio-technology, oceanography and space technology.

Vietnam international visitor figures down for May

Following month-to-month reports in 2017 in which the travel trade showed steady, increases in the number of international visitors for January-April, the numbers took a dramatic dive in May.

According to data provided by the General Statistics Office, the number of international arrivals dropped significantly by 9% tallying in at 972,000 for May, the first month this year the numbers fell below one million.

There were 1.2 million more inbound travellers this year through May versus the same period in 2016 for a cumulative total of 5.2 million, according to the GSO, substantially all of which is attributable to a surge in the number of Chinese visitors.

Hanoi police seize 7,500 meth pills during drug bust

Hanoi police were showing off the fruits of their labour on May 30, in the form of a big drug seizure.

Police officials said officers raided a residence last week and seized about 7,500 methamphetamine tablets, worth more than $15,000.

Officers also seized an undisclosed amount of cash and other drug paraphernalia.

The Hanoi police said the department is making progress in the ongoing battle against serious drugs into the capital city.

Pham Van Hung, a resident of Binh Phuoc now faces charges of possession illegal narcotic substances with intent to traffic and possession of property obtained by crime, said police officials.

Chinese passengers accuse Vietnam's customs officers of soliciting bribes: report

Police at Cam Ranh International Airport in central Vietnam are following up on allegations made by three Chinese passengers who claimed that customs officers at the airport had tried to extort money from them.

The passengers said the incident took place while they were finishing procedures to board a flight back to China from Khanh Hoa Province on the May 29 night, the official paper of the province reported May 30.

However, camera footage captured at the airport tells another story, a senior police officer was quoted as saying in the report.

In the video, the Chinese family was with customs officers for just 12 seconds before they suddenly turned around and walked away, later accusing the officers of corruption, he said.

The reported cited the police as saying that the group refused to cooperate with customs officials, and the incident caused them to miss their direct flight to China.

Airport authorities arranged for them to take the next flight to China on early Tuesday morning, but they insisted on staying in Vietnam saying that they will only talk with the Chinese Consulate-General in the country, according to the report.

Cam Ranh Airport police said they would make arrangements for the group to talk with the consulate via phone, and that they have already reported the incident to higher authorities.

The airport has been a hub of Chinese passengers in recent years, from where they would travel to the popular resort town of Nha Trang.

At present, there are between seven and 10 flights between China and Khanh Hoa Province per day. Each flight can carry between 150 and 180 passengers.

Last year, a security guard at the airport was fined US$450 for punching a Chinese passenger in the back after this man shouted in anger for waiting too long for his flight, which was delayed due to air traffic issues.

More than 284,000 Chinese visitors arrived in Khanh Hoa in the first three months this year, an increase of 260 percent against the same period last year, official data of Khanh Hoa showed.

Hanoi plans four-month cleanup operation to revive legendary lake

The emerald waters that enchant locals and visitors are slowly fading as Hoan Kiem Lake suffocates.

The state-owned Hanoi Sewerage and Drainage Limited Company is assessing the environmental impacts of a project to clean up Hoan Kiem Lake in the heart of the capital. If approved, the 120-day operation to save the iconic lake would start in late July or early August.

Hoan Kiem Lake, also known as Returned Sword Lake, is severely polluted and has lost its ability to clean itself, said Vo Tien Hung, the company's director.

The quality of the lake's water is declining with a high algae density and a high pH level. The concentration of suspended sediment is above the permitted levels in all five locations where it is monitored, while the concentration of organic pollutants is twice the normal standard. In some places the water has even lost its iconic green color.

Another source of the pollution is the thick layer of mud at the bottom of the lake, according to Hung. In some places, the mud is over 1-meter thick, lowering the water level to only 0.5-0.8 meters. The project would therefore include dredging in addition to water treatment.

“While dredging, we need to preserve the lake's green algae so we have asked scientists to collect the algae so we can put it back later,” said Hung.

Hoan Kiem Lake is one of Vietnam's national heritage sites and a top tourist destination with great historical value, so the cleanup project will need approval from the culture ministry before it can go ahead.

A recent study by the Institute for Environmental Science and Development found that all of Hanoi’s urban lakes and waterways are heavily polluted.

Last October, 200 tons of fish washed up dead due to pollution in West Lake, the city's largest body of water.

37 Nghe An fishermen rescued from sea


Thirty-seven fishermen have been rescued from sea by the central Nghệ An Province’s navy police force and other fishermen in the past few days.

On Monday, Quỳnh Thuận District’s border guards, in co-ordination with the navy police, brought 19 fishermen from fishing vessel NA95688TS to shore after they were rescued from sea.

The latest incident took place around 6pm on Sunday, when the fishing vessel owned by Bùi Ngọc Kiên, a resident of Nghệ An Province’s Quỳnh Lưu District, broke down suddenly in sea and started drifting away.

The fishermen on board sent out an emergency signal following which the navy police received an order from the Command to go on a rescue operation. The navy police ship caught up with the drifting vessel a few hours later, around 00.30am on Monday.

Earlier, on the afternoon of May 21, a local fishing vessel, captained by Nguyễn Bá Thảo, a resident of Quỳnh Lưu District, with 17 other seamen, broke down and went adrift in sea.

On receiving their distress signal, two fishing vessels owned by local fishermen that were close by caught up with the drifting vessel.

After two days the broken down vessel was brought to safety at Lạch Quèn Port.

HCM City wants to raise rail section above ground

The HCM City People’s Committee has sought clearance from the Ministry of Transport to invest in new transport works to smoothen traffic on its roads.

It plans to raise above ground the section of rail from Sài Gòn Railway Station to Bình Triệu Station in Bình Thạnh District and build a new rail route from Thủ Thiêm New Urban Area in District 2 to Long Thành International Airport in neighbouring Đồng Nai Province.

The section between Bình Triệu and Sài Gòn Railway Station, around 9.5km long, intersects many roads, creating traffic jams whenever a train passes since level crossing gates have to be shut.

These are also scenes of frequent accidents.

The city also wants to move the inland container depot system from inside the city to along the Đồng Nai River.

Free cooking school opens in Hà Nội

A free cooking school has opened at Artemis building, No 3 Lê Trọng Tấn Street, Thanh Xuân District in Hà Nội.

“The Ajinomoto Cooking Studio has been opened to encourage people’s passion for cooking, through which one can enhance the nutritional intake and health of one’s family and stay happy,” said Hiroharu Motohashi, general director of the centre.

The dishes cooked at the centre have been newly designed, and are divided into four groups: dishes for people who love cooking; dishes for mothers with small babies (under five years); dishes for couples (newly weds and nearly weds); and dishes for families with children from 6 to 11 years.

All cooking ingredients will be supplied by the centre, and each class will have a maximum of 12 to 14 students.

The centre is calling for registrations for various courses to be held in June and July. For details, call 04 3 640 6688.

National dance sport event to kick off

The 2017 National Junior Dance Sport Championships and Open Dance Sport Cup will take place on June 3-4 at the Trịnh Hoài Đức Gymnasium in Hà Nội.

The tournament will feature 540 dancers from 52 teams nationwide.

International-level dancers such as Nguyễn Tuấn Đạt and Phan Nguyễn Quỳnh Hương (standard), Hoàng Đức Tuấn and Đặng Thu Hương (Latin) will take part in the  event.

The event is held by the Việt Nam Sports Federation and the National Sports Administration.

Vinschool to host World Scholar's Cup 2017

More than 3,000 top-performing students from over 60 countries in Asia and Europe will participate in the global round of the World Scholar's Cup 2017 in Hà Nội next month.

The competition, which will last from June 26, 2017 to July 1, 2017, will be organised at the Việt Nam National Convention Centre.

The World Scholar's Cup has been held annually since 2006 and is considered “a celebration of the joy of learning,” created for students worldwide, aiming to enrich students with knowledge in the fields of politics, society, science, technology, history, literature, music and arts, as well as motivate them to discover new strengths and practise their English-speaking skills.

The contest has four parts: The Bowl (choosing the right answers); The Challenge (multiple-choice); Collaborative Writing (essay writing) and Debate. Participants have to go through three rounds at the regional level and mini-global rounds that take place around the world throughout the year. The global round is usually held at the end of June, and the Tournament of Champion is held at Yale University in the United States in November.

Themed 'An Unlikely World', this year, the global round of the contest will be hosted by Việt Nam-based Vinschool for the first time in Hà Nội by Vinschool, which is now one of the region's top-performing schools with 17 championships and 30 teams taking part in the global round. Two mini-global rounds will be held in Athens in Greece and Cape Town in South Africa.

Nguyễn Minh Diệp and Nguyễn Vũ Huyền Trang (right-to-left), the -two Vinschool students who won individual gold medal in the Tournament of Champion held in Yale University in 2016. They are taking pictures with Daniel Berdichevsky, the founder and initiator of the competition.

"Vinschool became the exclusive partner in Việt Nam of the World Scholar's Cup, as we have the common goal of equipping students with a comprehensive knowledge base, focussing on developing their English proficiency and stimulating their learning passion. Vinschool is also the only school in Hà Nội to meet the facility requirements for the contest," said Daniel Berdichevsky, founder and initiator of the contest.

In 2016, two students from Vinschool won the gold medal, a personal achievement in the Tournament of Champion.

Australian Federal Police holds workshops with Vietnamese counterparts

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) has worked with Australia's Attorney General's Department (AGD) and Vietnamese law enforcement officials over the past week, convening a series of workshops in Vietnam on extradition, informal cooperation, and “MLAT”, the Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters between both countries.
Representatives from AGD and Vietnam's Public Security Ministry and Supreme People’s Procuracy attended “International Cooperation Workshops” in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, and Hai Phong, where proceeds of crime cases, among other matters, were reviewed.
In Hanoi, AFP Coordinator, Criminal Assets Litigation Melbourne, Mr. Andrew Hanger, shared his law enforcement experience with the Supreme People’s Procuracy.
Overall, the workshops were received well by participants, who reinforced their knowledge on the important formal and informal processes between Australia and Vietnam in relation to criminal matters.
AGD Assistant Secretary Mr. Stephen Bouwhuis said the workshops build on recent cooperation between Australia and Vietnam and focused on international crime cooperation to combat money laundering and recover proceeds of crime.
“We had the opportunity to learn from one another and to further strengthen links between our agencies, thereby increasing our ability to effectively cooperate to combat transnational crime,” he said.
Next on the AFP’s agenda is the 43rd Asia Region Law Enforcement Management Program (ARLEMP) meeting from June 5-23 in Ho Chi Minh City. It will focus on human trafficking and people smuggling, bringing together Vietnamese police officers from relevant agencies. Two police officers from Laos and Cambodia have also been invited to attend. The major focus will be on developing leadership skills, sharing experiences and developing peer-to-peer networks to assist the fight against human trafficking and people smuggling in the region.

Free film screening for children launched

The Goethe Institute in Ho Chi Minh City and Kim Dong Publishing House will jointly organize a film screening of the Frog Prince based on the famous Brothers Grimm fairy tales in June 1.
 The screening is part of cultural program being held to celebrate International Children Day (June 1). It will take place at 9am at Kim Dong Book Center (248 Cong Quynh Street, District 1, HCMC).

The organizers offer free entrance tickets.

Book festival for children in suburb districts opens


The 2017 “Books for Children in Suburban Areas” festival opened at the Cultural Center in the suburban district of Hoc Mon in Ho Chi Minh City on May 30.

 This year’s event will be organized in Hoc Mon District from May 30-June 4; and in Cu Chi District on June 7-11.

Launched in 2005, the book festival for children in suburb districts has become a annual large-scale book fair, offering more than 30,000 copies in various fields, such as comics, literature, text and reference books and others.

Readers will enjoy 10-50 percent discounts on books and stationery.

The book show’s organizer, HCM City Books Distribution Co (Fahasa) will have also activities supporting disadvantaged students at 19 bookstores in cities and provinces nationwide.

Project boosts local engagement for Ha Long Bay’s sustainable development

A project promoting local engagement for sustainable development of Ha Long Bay has borne fruit after three years of implementation, heard a meeting in northern Quang Ninh province on May 30.

The event reviewing the Ha Long – Cat Ba Alliance: Local Engagement for Sustainable Development project was held by the Quang Ninh provincial People’s Committee and the Centre for Marinelife Conservation and Community Development (MCD).

MCD Director Nguyen Thu Hue said Ha Long – Cat Ba Alliance is a public-private cooperation initiative funded by the US. The project aims to build a partnership between the Government, businesses and local authorities to promote the conservation and protection of Ha Long Bay and nearby Cat Ba archipelago of Hai Phong city, thus ensuring sustainable development.

Beginning in 2014, the project has supported the aquaculture association in Ha Long Bay with heritage preservation activities while building sustainable aquaculture. It has also stepped up communications to encourage inter-sectoral cooperation and relevant parties’ participation, and enhanced their capacity in project implementation and supervision, she added.

Vice Chairman of the Quang Ninh provincial People’s Committee Dang Huy Hau, head of the project coordinating board, said the conservation and sustainable development of Ha Long Bay is a continuous, long-term process that requires multilateral cooperation.

This type of cooperation will ensure better decision making since it gathers multiple viewpoints, builds trust through respecting each member’s contribution, ensures benefits for all sides and forms partnerships to create unanimity among them.

It will create a foundation for improved management of natural heritage sites like Ha Long Bay, he added.

Ha Long Bay was recognised as a world natural heritage site by UNESCO in 1994 (for landscape values) and 2000 (for geological and geomorphological values). Quang Ninh is preparing to submit a dossier to UNESCO to seek a third recognition of Ha Long Bay, associated with Cat Ba, as a world natural heritage site in terms of archeological values.

HCMC proposes social houses for teachers in distant areas

People’s Committee in Ho Chi Minh City’s Binh Chanh District proposed to provide social houses for teachers in distant communes to attract more teachers to work in these areas.

In a meeting with the municipal People’s Committee yesterday on the education policies, People’s Committee voiced the proposal.
Because the district is in the city’s gate with many industrial parks to attract immigrants from corners of the country; the number of students increase 8,500 a year; consequently, there is not enough schools for all of them.
The district is building eight facilities for the new academic year including five preschools to meet increased demand of workers in Le Minh Xuan Industrial Park and locals.
For the school year 2016-2017, the district recruited additional 414  teachers yet it just meets half of demand. There is a lack of teachers of music, drawing, English in distant communes Le Minh Xuan, Pham Van Hai. To solve the matter, local authorities proposed to give social houses to teachers in disadvantaged communes.
Festival for children with disabilities held in HCM City
The 21st festival for children with disabilities was held on May 31 at the Culture and Labour Palace of Ho Chi Minh City to celebrate the International Children’s Day.
Over 580 children from 16 schools for children with disabilities in Ho Chi Minh City and Mekong delta Can Tho city as well as the provinces of Dong Nai, An Giang and Ba Ria-Vung Tau participated in the event.
The festival created a playground for children with disabilities to attend various activities from sports, art performances to games challenges, helping enhance their life-skills and community integration.
An art performance took place under the programme to raise fund for disadvantaged children.
On June 1 evening, a programme, which introduces a project supporting surgery for children with cleft palate, will be held at the same venue. 

It's now illegal for Vietnamese parents to post children’s photos online

From this year’s Children’s Day on, Vietnamese parents are advised to think twice before posting photos or school records of their children online.

Tuoi Tre

Vietnam’s new Law on children takes effect on June 1, stipulating that children have irrefutable rights over their privacy, and that anyone who publicizes their information without their consent is breaking the law.
The protection of the privacy of children consists of their personal information, medical records, photos, personal identification and school records.
It will now be a breach of the law by parents or guardians to reveal such information without the consent of children aged seven or above.
“Parents may breach the law by posting photos and the intimate information of their own children on Facebook or other online platforms,” lawyer Nguyen Duc Lam, director of a legal center in Phu Nhuan District, Ho Chi Minh City, confirmed.
With the law introduced by local media prior to taking effect, Vietnamese parents are concerned that they will no longer be able to share cute photos of their children on social media.
However, Dang Hoa Nam, head of Vietnam’s child protection department, confirmed that this was a misconception.
“The law only covers information that is deemed confidential to children aged seven and above,” Nam told the Phap Luat (Law) Ho Chi Minh City newspaper.
“This means photos of children having fun during a family trip can still be shared online.”
However, it does remain unclear how the law will be enforced. A similar rule in France suggests that grown-up children may sue their parents for publishing photos of them when they were younger.
6.7 percent GDP growth rate challenge for Vietnam: economists

To obtain a 6.7 percent GDP growth rate in 2017, Vietnam needs to change its economic structure, experts say. 

 vietnam economy, business news, vn news, vietnamnet bridge, english news, Vietnam news, news Vietnam, vietnamnet news, vn news, Vietnam net news, Vietnam latest news, Vietnam breaking news, GDP, CPI, GSO, pork price

As the GDP growth rate was low, at 5.1 percent, in the first quarter of the year, Vietnam will have to speed up in the remaining months of the year.

To reach the 6.7 percent GDP growth rate as the government wants, the growth must be over 7 percent in the last three quarters. Many economists say the mission is impossible.

The sharpest decline in industrial growth in past six years

Vu Thanh Tu Anh, research director of Fulbright Economics Teaching Program (FETP) pointed out that Vietnam’s GDP growth is too dependent on foreign-invested enterprises (FIEs).
FIEs makes up two-thirds of Vietnam’s total export turnover and 40 percent of Vietnam’s total industrial production value.
FIEs makes up two-thirds of Vietnam’s total export turnover and 40 percent of Vietnam’s total industrial production value.

The economic growth in the first quarter slowed down to 5.1 percent from 5.5 percent in the same period of last year.

This is attributed to the low growth rate of 4.2 percent in the industry & construction sector (the figure was 6.7 percent in the last year’s same period).

Industrial production grew by only 3.9 percent in the first quarter of 2017, the sharpest decline in the last six years, attributed to a sharp decrease of 10 percent in the mining sector.

There was also a 10.7 percent decline in phone and phone component exports (it increased by 14.2 percent in the same period oast year).

Samsung Vietnam saw export turnover fall because of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 scandal. As its exports bring 20 percent of total export turnover, its problems affected Vietnam’s exports.

Also because of Samsung Vietnam’s exports decrease, Vietnam’s trade deficit decreased by 4.4 percent in the first quarter of the year, higher than the fall of 1.49 percent in the first quarter of 2016.

Great challenge

The global economy is warming up. IMF believes that the world economy will grow by 3.7 percent this year. As for Vietnam, IMF has predicted a growth rate of 6.5 percent, lower than the target of 6.7 percent set by the Vietnamese government.

Anh believes that the 6.7 percent growth rate is an impossible mission. If Vietnam still insists on the high growth rate, it would have to pump more money into the economy and sell more oil. A bigger money supply would lead to high inflation.

HSBC, in its latest report, said all economic indicators of Vietnam remain positive while the country continues to maintain a steady inflow of foreign direct investment.
M. Ha, VNN

 VN ups fight against domestic violence

Students learn through pictures how to prevent and avoid domestic violence. The national action month against domestic violence was launched yesterday in Vĩnh Phúc Province. -VNA/VNS Photo Trần Lê Lâm

VĨNH PHÚC - Domestic violence in Việt Nam has damaged the spirit, economy, productivity, honour, dignity and lives of many individuals, Vice President Đặng Thị Ngọc Thịnh said.
In her remarks assessing the social evil’s lasting consequences, the vice president launched National Action Month on Domestic Violence Prevention, held by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism in Vĩnh Phúc Province yesterday.
The vice president added that domestic violence makes family happiness unsustainable.
Over the years, the Party and State of Việt Nam have always paid deep attention to the protection of human rights as well as the safety of individuals in the family and society, she said.
In order to prevent domestic violence, the vice president requested the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and concerned agencies at all levels to promote moral education in the family.
“It is necessary to invest more resources in activities that combat domestic violence. We must research and implement new, practical and effective activities,” said the vice president.
Communication agencies also need to promote their role and actively report on domestic violence prevention to raise people’s awareness.
From 2012 to 2016, more than 127,250 cases of domestic violence occurred in the country. Nearly 80 per cent of annual divorce cases are caused by domestic violence.
Children who grow up in these troubled families are the ones to bear the brunt of violence, according to studies. Their learning is severely impaired, and they tend to resort to violence to ‘solve’ conflicts with schoolmates and friends, read reports from localities.
Public security data also show that domestic violence contributes to the increase of crimes.
The country currently has nearly 7,000 centres to provide support for domestic violence victims and thousands of clubs working to prevent and curb the violence.
During the action month, a series of activities will be organised to improve public awareness in the fight against domestic violence and raise the responsibility of departments, agencies and public mechanisms that protect women and children. Lastly, the government will commend outstanding individuals and organisations throughout the cause. - VNS 

Thứ Ba, 30 tháng 5, 2017

Seven die after renal dialysis in northern Vietnam

Eighteen patients undergoing renal dialysis at a hospital in northern Vietnam suffered a mass anaphylactic shock on Monday, resulting in the death of seven of them.
The renal replacement therapy unit at Hoa Binh General Hospital in Hoa Binh Province, northern Vietnam. Tuoi Tre
The patients were all diagnosed with chronic kidney diseases and were receiving regular renal dialysis at Hoa Binh General Hospital in Hoa Binh Province.
Dialysis is the process of artificially removing waste and excess water from blood in people who have lost their kidney function.
According to the hospital’s leaders, the patients began their therapy at around 7:00 am on Monday in the hospital’s renal replacement therapy unit.
Two hours in, they began to show signs of anaphylaxis and were immediately cut off from the dialysis machine for emergency resuscitation.
Unfortunately, the procedure was unsuccessful and the first patient died at around 9:30 am. By late Monday night, seven patients had also drawn their last breath.

 Vụ tai biến chạy thận: Còn 1 bệnh nhân nguy kịch 
A press conference chaired by the People's Committee of Hoa Binh Province to update patients’ conditions, May 30, 2017. Photo: Tuoi Tre

According to Dr. Truong Quy Duong, director of Hoa Binh Province General Hospital, all drugs and chemicals used during the dialysis have been sealed off for investigation.
The hospital’s renal replacement therapy unit has been suspended from operation until the investigation is complete.
According to Dr. Nguyen Huu Dung, head of Bach Mai Hospital’s renal replacement therapy unit in Hanoi, ten of the 11 surviving patients have been transferred to it for further treatment.
As of Tuesday morning, their condition had stabilized.
The eleventh patient, due to the severity of his condition, remains in intensive care at Hoa Binh General Hospital, Dung said.
Hanoi’s Department of Health has also taken over the care of more than 100 patients who require regular dialysis at Hoa Binh General Hospital.
Affected patients will receive their therapy at hospitals across Hanoi until the renal replacement therapy unit at Hoa Binh General Hospital can be reopened, Dung said.
“Deaths from anaphylaxis during dialysis have been recorded in medical literature,” Dung said. "But this is the most serious case ever recorded in Vietnam.”
A special unit from the Ministry of Public Security has been mobilized to investigate the incident, according to Lieutenant General Tran Van Ve, acting chief of the ministry’s General Department of Crime Prevention.
“We can’t make a comment at the moment as we are still waiting for test results from our colleagues in the health department,” Ve said. “We will be working with the relevant authorities to reach a conclusion as soon as possible.”

Vụ tai biến chạy thận: Còn 1 bệnh nhân nguy kịch 
Vụ tai biến chạy thận: Còn 1 bệnh nhân nguy kịch 
Pham Van Su, deputy chief of Hoa Binh Police, updates the press on the investigation into patients' deaths at Hoa Binh General Hospital, May 30, 2017. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Formosa steel plant in Vietnam restarts after toxic spill

Formosa Plastics Group's steel plant in Vietnam restarted on Monday after its operations were halted for causing one of the country's worst environmental disasters, local media reported.

Formosa steel factory is seen in Vietnam's central Ha Tinh province March 31, 2017.Reuters

In April last year, the $11 billion Formosa Ha Tinh Steel plant accidentally spilled toxic waste that polluted more than 200 km (125 miles) of coastline, devastating sea life and local economies dependent on fishing and tourism. Taiwanese-owned Formosa paid $500 million in compensation.
Formosa has met requirements to test-run its first blast furnace, local media quoted Deputy Environment Minister Nguyen Linh Ngoc as saying.
Authorities will closely monitor the furnace and the initial result of the run will be available in 24 hours, while waste samples will be taken every five minutes, local media quoted senior environmental official Hoang Duong Tung as saying.
Formosa has addressed 52 out of 53 violations identified, Tung said, adding the company was expected to put in place a dry coking system by 2019 to replace the current wet coking system, which is cheaper but dirtier.
Formosa in March said it would boost investment by about $350 million in the project to improve environmental safety measures with the hope of starting commercial production by the fourth quarter of this year.

HAGL Agrico plans to reduce debts with share swap

 HAGL Agrico plans to reduce debts with share swap, Booming tourism creates property market opportunities, Short-term deposit rates forecast to reduce in 2017, HCM City draws more 1.37 billion USD in foreign investment
Hoang Anh Gia Lai Agriculture International JSC (HNG) will issue 55 million shares worth VND660 billion (US$29 million), the firm announced on Thursday.
 The sale aims to swap the debt owed to its parent company Hoang Anh Gia Lai JSC (HAG).
The shares will be sold at a price of VND12,000 per share, higher than the current market price of VND11,300 per share on Thursday.
The convertible debt accounted for only a small part of the total debt of VND9.6 trillion that HNG owed to HAG as of December 31, 2016.
Following the issuance, the chartered capital of HAGL Agrico will increase to VND8.2 trillion. HAG’s rate of ownership in HNG will increase from 67.8 per cent to approximately 70 per cent, equivalent to 575.5 million shares.
In the first quarter of 2017, HNG recorded net sales of VND470 billion, equaling to just 37 per cent of the same period last year. This fall was due to the decrease in the sale of cattles, which dropped from VND892.4 billion to VND196.2 billion, plus HNG no longer recorded the revenue from the sales of sugar and corn products.
Post-tax profit of HNG in Q1 of 2017 reached VND2.7 billion, down 92 per cent year-on-year. However, this profit helped HNG end the previous three consecutive quarterly losses.

Booming tourism creates property market opportunities

Vietnam’s flourishing tourism has stimulated the property market. From 2010-2016, the number of foreign visitors to Vietnam doubled to 10 million people. Domestic tourists also increased, from 28 million to 62 million people.

Some localities, like Nha Trang, Da Nang, and Phu Quoc, recorded high tourism growth last year. Nha Trang city welcomed 1.2 million foreign tourists (up of 23%) and Da Nang 1.7 million foreign tourists (up 33%).

Infrastructure is an important factor in tourism development. Vietnam now has 9 international airports. It had only 5 in 2010. The airports have continued to upgrade and open new terminals. Tourist visa regulations have been simplified and visa fees reduced. Phu Quoc, the only destination in Vietnam where the policy of visa exemptions for foreign tourists is applied, has seen the number of tourists increase 25%.

Positive market signals have encouraged investors to invest in tourism property projects. According to Savills Hotel Consultation, midscale and luxury hotels and resorts in Nha Trang and Cam Ranh are projected to increase 29% a year for the next 3 years. Da Nang tourism properties are predicted to rise 30%; Phu Quoc properties 27%. Domestic travel companies say Da Nang and the central region have advantages for golf tourism.

Ngo Hoai Chung, Deputy Director General of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, said: “Vietnam’s tourism development strategy to 2020 and vision to 2030 identifies golf tourism as a high-priority specialized tourism product. We aim to make golf tourism a principal product of Da Nang and the central region, help localities attract investment, and connect travel agencies and golf course owners.”

Natural conditions, government policies, and market demand give the tourism property market in Vietnam a great potential to prosper.

Short-term deposit rates forecast to reduce in 2017

The market research company Market Intello forecast that the average interest rate this year would reduce by 0.5 percentage points compared with 2016.

In the “Vietnam Macroeconomic Report - May 2017” released recently, Market Intello expected the short-term deposit rates to drop to 4.5 percent for the three-month term and 6.3 percent for the 12-month term due to inflation management measures of the State Bank of Vietnam and the Government.

The research company also anticipated that exchange rates would increase by between 1 percent and 1.5 percent as the US Federal Reserve’s plans to raise rates twice in June and September may put pressure on the exchange rate.

In addition, the trade deficit may make the demand for US dollars rise much more than in 2016, it said, adding however, that the Vietnamese dong will not be depressed because of the ability to control inflation below 4 percent and abundant foreign reserves of the State Bank of Vietnam.

Under the report, Market Intello also maintains its forecast for Vietnam’s economic growth at 6.1 percent in 2017.

“Agriculture is expected to recover slightly but the decline in the mining industry will impact the economic growth considerably,” it said.

Market Intello cut the CPI forecast to around 3.8 percent, explaining that raising electricity prices could push up inflation in the third quarter, but weak domestic demand will hold inflation under the inflation target.

According to Market Intello, boosting investment from the domestic economic sector should be the biggest challenge in improving Vietnam’s economy for the rest of the year.

“The Government has taken actions to accelerate capital disbursement from the State budget and improve the business environment for the private sector. However, until April 2017, the rate of capital disbursement from the budget was slower than the target rate,” it said.-

HCM City draws more 1.37 billion USD in foreign investment

Ho Chi Minh City attracted 1.37 billion USD in foreign direct investment (FDI) in the first five months of 2017, a year-on-year increase of 45.8 percent.

According to the municipal Department of Planning and Investment, the southern metropolis granted investment licences to 283 new projects worth 341.98 million USD and allowed 81 existing ones to increase capital of 287.05 million USD.

The city also permitted 775 foreign investors to register to contribute capital to and buy shares in businesses, with a total capital of 742.2 million USD.

The processing and manufacturing industry was the most attractive with nearly 123 million USD (making up 35.9 percent), followed by wholesale and retail, and automobile and motorcycle repair with over 92 million USD  (27.1 percent), information and communications with 55 million USD (16.2 percent), and real estate activities with 40.25 million USD (11.8 percent).

In January-May, the total newly registered and supplemented capital from domestic enterprises was over 453.5 trillion VND (19.67 billion USD), 2.4 times higher than the same period last year.

HCM City plans to develop 60,000 businesses in 2017. The municipal authorities have so far encouraged 413 business households to turn themselves into enterprises.

Emirates boosts exports from Vietnam to UAE

Emirates SkyCargo, the freight division of Emirates, has played a key role in strengthening trade links in perishables between Vietnam and the UAE.

Over the last year, the carrier has facilitated a near fivefold increase in the exports of fruits, including rambutan and lychee, from Vietnam to Dubai.

As a result of the collaboration efforts between Emirates SkyCargo and Vietnam’s Trade Promotion Agency (Vietrade), the volume of perishable exports from Vietnam to Dubai has increased considerably, touching a record of close to 110 tonnes in January 2017.

“Vietnam has huge comparative advantages in agriculture. That is why we requested Emirates SkyCargo to facilitate exports of perishable products by air freight to capitalise on the country’s vast potential,” Pham Binh Dam, Ambassador of Vietnam to the UAE, said.

“Emirates SkyCargo started operations in Vietnam in 2008 and has since then played an important role in the growing trade between Vietnam and the UAE. By working closely with Vietrade and by building upon our expertise in shipping perishables, we developed air freight solutions that have helped increase the export of premium fruits and vegetables from Vietnam to Dubai,” Ravishankar Mirle, Emirates vice president, Cargo Commercial, Far East and Australasia, said.

Bac Giang to export half of lychee output

The northern province of Bac Giang, a lychee farming hub of Vietnam, plans to export about 50,000 tonnes of “thieu” lychee, or 50 percent of its total output, in 2017, local officials said at a meeting on May 27.

The event, aimed to promote lychee sales, was attended by Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Le Quoc Doanh, representatives of the northern border provinces of Lang Son and Lao Cai, officials of Chinese localities importing lychees, and domestic and foreign lychee traders.

Vice Chairman of the Bac Giang People’s Committee Duong Van Thai said this year, the province continues to focus its lychee export to traditional markets, especially China. It will increase the export volume to the US, the EU, Japan, the Republic of Korea and Australia while expanding shipments to the Middle East, Thailand and Canada.

In the domestic market, the fruit will be sold mainly in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and nearby provinces.

However, he noted, abnormal weather conditions like prolonged heat waves and late cold spells affected the growth of lychee trees, making the rate of fruits fall by about 40 percent from 2016 to some 100,000 tonnes.

The output of lychees under VietGAP and GlobalGAP standards in the province is about 40,000 tonnes and 1,600 tonnes, respectively. Notably, there have been 218ha of lychee trees granted codes by the US, Thai added.

At the meeting, officials of Lang Son and Lao Cai provinces, which border China, pledged the best possible conditions for Bac Giang’s lychee export to China. They promised the customs clearance time will be within 20 minutes.

Fang Dong, deputy head of Hekou county in China’s Yunnan province, spoke highly of the quality and appearance of Bac Giang’s lychees, which have become popular among Chinese consumers.

Bac Giang officials also vowed to give favourable conditions and ensure security for traders to purchase and process the local lychees.-

Binh Duong: FDI in five months exceeds yearly target

Southern Binh Duong province has lured nearly 1.5 billion USD in FDI in the first five months of 2017, 6.5 percent higher than the province’s target of 1.4 billion USD for the entire year, according to the provincial People’s Committee.

The province hereby came second, after Ho Chi Minh City, in FDI attraction. It is now home to more than 2,890 FDI enterprises with a total investment of 27.1 billion USD.

Binh Duong has been working to draw more FDI between 2016 and 2020 in an attempt to make breakthroughs in the fields of industry, services, and hi-tech agriculture, said Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Tran Thanh Liem.

Liem noted that the province is inviting foreign investment in high-quality services, industrial support services, and high-value and environmentally-friendly industries.

In addition, the locality also plans to attract over 7 billion USD in FDI and about 110,000 billion VND from domestic investors, he added.

To fulfill the goals, the provincial People’s Committee will continue improving policies for investment attraction and better undertake measures to support enterprises and help them resolve difficulties.

It will put more effort into raising quality of human resources, enhancing public administrative reforms and improving effectiveness of state management.

The province’s industrial production index in May rose by 7 percent from the previous month and by 15.21 percent from the same period last year.

The index for the first five months of the year grew 8.21 percent year on year with manufacturing and processing up 8.18 percent and electricity production and distribution up 13.48 percent.

Local CPI during the period gained 3.62 percent year on year.

Power sector seeks way to go green over power shortage

Vietnam’s electricity supply might meet only half of total demand in the future, predicted Tran Trong Quyet, vice chairman of the Southern Power Association.

Hydropower, renewable and gas-fueled thermal power are expected to provide 48.3 percent of power demand by 2020 and 39.9 percent by 2030, while power demand is expected to increase 9 – 10 percent each year during 2016 -2030.

Furthermore, the Government halted two nuclear power projects in the central province of Ninh Thuan, therefore, coal power is needed for power security but has drawbacks in economic efficiency and environmental pollution.

Quyet said renewable power would be better for the environment but requires huge initial investment.

Coal power needs a lot of land, causes environmental issues and is expensive, but still plays an important role in ensuring national power security, he added.

To limit the impact of coal power, Quyet warned that technology to deal with coal slag must be used carefully, besides measures to ensure coal supply.

The Electricity of Vietnam (EVN) has used significant sums on treating exhaust fumes from old coal thermal power plants, including Pha Lai, which received more than 1.34 trillion VND (58.96 million USD), Hai Phong 1.57 trillion VND (69.08 million USD) and Quang Ninh 1.74 trillion VND (76.56 million VND).

Nguyen Van Thu, Chairman of the Vietnam Association of Mechanical Industry, stressed the necessity of coal-based energy.

He recommended the Government issue policies and regulations to ensure sustainable development of this power, instead of enterprises selecting their own technologies and contractors.

Mentioning 14 coal thermal power projects earmarked for the Mekong Delta region, he said the construction must be done following strict technology requirements.

The sun is also a prominent source of energy, with the south paying more attention to solar power. The EVN Southern Power Corporation is investing in a solar battery project on Con Dao island.

Ministry predicts wood exports at 7.5 billion USD this year

The export of wood and wood products is forecast to bring home 7.5 billion USD in 2017 and keep increasing in the following years, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).

The ministry said the overseas shipments of wood and wood products have continually grown since the beginning of this year, reaching 2.4 billion USD between January and April – a year-on-year rise of 12.7 percent.

Last May, the European Union (EU) and Vietnam finished the six-year negotiation on a voluntary partnership agreement (VPA) on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade.

While the EU has a demand for 85-90 billion USD worth of imported wood products each year, Vietnam’s annual export of these items to this market is just about 700-800 million USD.

The VPA is expected to help expand Vietnam’s wood export markets to 28 EU countries.

The MARD said if Vietnam taps into these markets well, its wood shipments to the EU can hit billions of USD each year. Meanwhile, there are signs that other countries also have stronger demand for Vietnam’s wood products, which will give another boost to the export of this industry.

Vietnam Airlines increases over 4,700 flights during summer

The national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines will increase the number of domestic flights to serve passengers’ travel demand during the peak time of summer 2017.

Accordingly, from now to August 20, the airline will launch an additional 4,700 one-route flights from Hanoi to Da Nang, Chu Lai, Pleiku, Nha Trang, Ho Chi Minh City and Phu Quoc and from HCM City to Da Nang, Nha Trang and Phu Quoc.

During the peak time from June 28 to August 6, Vietnam Airlines will increase 47 flights per day compared to normal days, with over 400 flights per day in total.

The carrier also offers promotional tickets for domestic flights until August 31.

In summer 2017, Vietnam Airlines is estimated to provide over 4.6 million seats on domestic routes, up 14 percent year-on-year and 13.5 percent against normal days.

Milk competition gets fierce in Vietnam

Milk brands in Vietnam are pouring millions of dollars into promotional campaigns and the development of new products to secure their foothold in the increasingly competitive market.

The domestic milk market is seeing an explosion in the range of products offered by manufacturers in their attempt to appeal to customers who are paying more and more attention to the content of their milk.

Since 2015 when Vietnam scrapped a piece of legislation setting a limit to how much a business can spend on promotions and advertising, milk brands have been unsparing in their expenditures for the activities.

According to market research companies, the advertising and promotion budget of an undisclosed top dairy producer in Vietnam in 2016 was close to VND9 trillion (US$396.48 million), of which over VND2 trillion ($88.11 million) was spent on advertising and market research, and the rest on sales promotions, exhibits and product launch.

Milk brands have also elevated investment in their distribution system and sales channels.

Vinamilk, Vietnam’s leading dairy producer, currently operates a network of over 220,000 retail outlets nationwide, while their products are sold at 100 percent of supermarkets and convenient stores in the country.

Meanwhile, rising competitor TH True Milk is taking risks by spending huge sums of money on renting locations across Vietnam to open their outlets.

“It would take a large number of sales [for TH True Milk] to make up for the costs of running these stores,” an expert from the Ministry of Industry and Trade asserted. “Perhaps TH’s goal is not as much to increase their sales as it is to promote their brand’s image.”

While Vietnam’s milk market in the past was dominantly a two-horse race between Vinamilk and Dutch dairy cooperative FrieslandCampina, in recent years the picture has remarkably changed to include emerging big players such as TH True Milk or Nutifood, among several other imported foreign brands.

Heightened competition has prompted dairy producers to come up with new initiatives that target consumers’ demand for safe, environment-friendly products.

According to Phan Minh Tien, Vinamilk’s marketing executive, the company introduced to the market nearly 30 new products in 2016.

It was the first to launch organic dairy products that meet European standards in Vietnam.

TH True Milk is also catching up in the organic race by unveiling its first organic cow farm in north-central Nghe An Province earlier this year.

Smaller dairy brands trying to enter the infantile organic market are importing ready-made products from foreign producers.

U.S.-headquartered Abbott Laboratories last year reported VND10 trillion ($440.53 million) in revenue from the Vietnamese market alone, an increase of over VND2 trillion ($88.11 million) from the previous year.

FrieslandCampina, which owns Dutch Lady and Frisco, featured a photo of a Vietnamese woman checking its products on her smartphone in its 2016 annual report, signifying the growing importance of the Vietnamese market in the company’s global business.

The competition has proven too fierce for some producers.

Last year, French food-product corporation Danone announced the termination of its formula milk business in Vietnam under the brand of Dumex, which previously only made up around 3.2 percent of the local market.

Despite recent drops in wholesale prices for milk in Vietnam by 5-20 percent, retail prices are still lagging at a relatively high level due to the added costs of transportation, advertising and promotion.

Take FrieslandCampina’s Dutch Baby line for example. Local consumers are still paying VND250,000-350,000 ($11-15) for a can of the powdered milk despite wholesale prices having dropped to VND180,000 ($8) a can.

Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade has announced its plan to tighten control over prices of milk and other supplementary products for children under six years of age, while requiring dairy companies to publicly list prices that are applied throughout their entire distribution network.

A ministry official advised local consumers to remain cautious toward foreign milk products ‘imported’ into Vietnam in the luggage of air passengers, as they could be fake or expired milk that had been repackaged to look authentic.

N.M.H., a seasoned buyer of such ‘luggage’ goods, said there was no guarantee of these products’ quality, given the fact that last year Japanese dairy company Meiji warned customers of fake Meiji products being sold on the black market in Vietnam.

An expert in the business has warned that foreign milk may not be suitable for consumption by Vietnamese people, as the formula offered in each country may differ depending on nutrition demands of the local population.

According to Vinamilk’s marketing executive Phan Minh Tien, the firm’s milk market has been in steady growth over the past two years, with ample potentialities yet to be leverage.

An average Vietnamese consumes around 14.5 kilograms of milk a year, compared to Thailand’s 32.4 kilograms and South Korea’s 39.7 kilograms, Tien pointed out.

With such tremendous space for development, local milk producers have been making remarkable investments on increasing their production and improving milk quality through foreign cow breed imports.

In the past three years, Vinamilk has invested close to VND1.9 trillion ($83.7 million) in upgrading and expanding its farms.

The dairy producer has so far imported nearly 8,600 milk cows from the U.S. and Australia via deals worth a total of over VND595 billion ($26.21 million).

It is looking to import a further 1,500 cows from the U.S. this July.

WB provides finance for Da Nang's infrastructure

The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved $72.52 million in additional financing on May 27 from the IDA Scale-Up Facility to support investments in infrastructure in the central city of Da Nang.
The additional financing will come from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s financial resource for low-income countries.

“The pace of infrastructure investment in cities, including those for transport and sanitation services, must match the pace of economic growth,” said Mr. Ousmane Dione, WB Country Director for Vietnam. “Strengthening integrated investments in infrastructure in growing metropolitan centers like Da Nang is crucial for sustaining the engine of inclusive growth for Vietnam.”

The fourth largest city in Vietnam, Da Nang is widely viewed as well-planned and well-governed, with a strong commitment to becoming a “green city” by 2025.

The additional financing aims to support the scaling up of the Da Nang Sustainable City Development Project, by helping develop a separate sewer/house connection system - and hence minimize pollution risks - for the coastal tourism area of My An-My Khe.

Transport services are also targeted for improvement, through the establishment of an integrated fare system and intelligent transport system (ITS) for the city’s public transport network, including its Bus Rapid Transit system.

Another component of the additional financing will focus on upgrading the road from Hoa Nhon to the Hoa Son area of Da Nang, so that local traffic will be diverted from the Da Nang - Quang Ngai Expressway and the Da Nang Bypass.

Japanese FDI rebounds

Japan is gradually moving towards regaining its leading position in foreign direct investment (FDI) in Vietnam after a period of lagging behind other countries.
According to the Foreign Investment Agency (FIA), Japan invested $1.94 billion into Vietnam during the first five months of this year, accounting for 16 per cent of all FDI in the country and ranking it second.
South Korea continued to lead the way, with total investment of $4.41 billion, accounting 36.4 per cent.
Singapore was third, with investment of $1.23 billion, accounting for 10.21 per cent.
By 2014, Japan had lost its leading place after several years at the top, with $2.05 billion in investment, down sharply from $5.87 billion in 2013. In 2015, its total investment declined yet again, to $1.84 billion.
Japan was squeezed out of the Top 3 largest investors in Vietnam during the first quarter, by China.
However, with a rise in investment capital to over $1 billion, Japan then surpassed China in April, pushing it into fourth place.
As at May 20, total FDI in both newly-registered projects, additional capital to existing projects, and contributed capital to purchase shares had reached $12.13 billion this year, up 10.4 per cent year-on-year. Disbursement was $6.15 billion, up 6 per cent year-on-year.
Investors poured capital into 18 sectors, including $8.09 billion into manufacturing and processing, accounting for 66.7 per cent of newly-registered capital in the first five months, followed by mining, with $1.28 billion. Wholesale and retail was third, with $798 million.
FDI inflows have gone to 58 cities and provinces, in which northern Bac Ninh province attracted the most, with $2.76 billion. Southern Binh Duong province ranked second, with $1.64 billion, followed by Ho Chi Minh City with $1.39 billion.
According to a recent survey by the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) in Hanoi, more than 60 per cent of Japanese enterprises in Vietnam plan to expand their business and continue to view the country as an important investment destination.
The main reason for the business expansion plans is that enterprises want to increase revenue. For non-manufacturing businesses, the main driving force is high growth potential.
Some 62.8 per cent of the more than 600 businesses participating in the survey said they are profitable, up 58.8 per cent from 2015 and higher than in Thailand and Indonesia but lower than in the Philippines and China.

Preferential policies on industrial clusters

The Government has issued a series of preferential policies on industrial cluster development in Decree 68/2017/ND-CP (Decree 68).

Under Decree 68, investment and business projects in industrial clusters will be exempted from land lease fees in seven years and enjoy other incentives in accordance with the legal regulations.

Technical infrastructure business projects will be entitled to land lease exemption in 11 years; borrow State credits under 70% of total investment; and benefit from other incentives.

Incentives for trade village industrial clusters

Decree 68 regulates that business and investment projects in trade village industrial clusters will enjoy 11-year-land lease exemption and get State credits under 70% of total investment capital.

Technical infrastructure business projects will be exempted from 15-year-land lease fees and 70% of credit loans.

These projects will get local budget to relocate enterprises, cooperatives, and household production sites to trade village industrial clusters and get investment in technical construction.

However, the decree also stresses that preferential trade village industrial clusters must be listed in the planning and operate in line with the regulations on industrial cluster management.

BCI awards given to Vietnamese

Asia’s leading construction solution provider BCI at a ceremony held on Friday in HCM City gave awards to the top 10 Vietnamese architectural firms and property developers.

The portfolios of the architecture firms contain US$4.9 billion worth of property construction projects which are expected to start this year.

The BCI Asia Top 10 Architects for 2017 were given to Alinco Ltd, Baumschlager Eberle Asean Co Ltd, DAC - Vietnam Architectural Design and Consultancy Company, Dark Horse Architecture Co Ltd, GK Archi Co Ltd, HTT Group – Hồ Thiệu Trị Architect & Associates, NQH Architects Co Ltd, Plan Add Vietnam Co Ltd, PTW Vietnam Co Ltd  and TTA-Partners Construction Architecture JSC (TTAP).
The BCI Asia Top 10 Developers Awards for 2017 were presented to Đất Xanh Real Estate Service and Construction JSC, FLC Group, Hưng Thịnh Real Estate Business Investment Corporation, Novaland Investment Group Corporation, Phát Đạt Real Estate Development Corporation, Phú Mỹ Hưng Development Corporation, Sun Group, Tân Hoàng Minh Group, Việt Hưng Urban Development & Investment Company (VIHAJICO), and Vingroup.

The awards aim to encourage socially responsible architecture and serve as a platform for domestic and international networking by elite architecture firms, property developers, manufacturers and service providers.

Around 150 architects, designers, senior executives and leading professionals in the building and property development industry were presented with the FuturArc Green Leadership Award and FuturArc Prize 2017.Currently in its tenth year, FuturArc Prize, Asia’s foremost Green building design competition, has been established as a renowned platform where innovative ideas pour in from professionals and students globally. Six winning designs have been selected this year for residential or commercial developments in an Asian city.

There are two winners and two merits from Việt Nam.

Bùi Quang Vũ and his team has won the first place for their Professional entry titled Urban Plug-In Module, which details the stitching together of landscape, building and hydrology at the scale of building elements, architecture, neighbourhood and city.

The second place in the Student category goes to Trần Duy Tân’s team for The Forgotten Network, with the concept of industrial-scale urban farming that utilises unused water towers.

Bùi Dương Khang Kiều and his team received a merit award in the Student category for their entry You Feed Me To Feed Your Future, which offers a restored lake environment with a symbiotic relationship between humans, commercial buildings and space.

Nguyễn Quốc Tuấn’s team also received merit in the Student category. Their project, Cost to Make More, recognises the need for clean water supply, especially around industrial areas in Bangladesh. Their design seeks to create a model that is able to alleviate the contaminated water situation, as well as improve the lives of workers and the sustainable development of the city.

An independent panel of international jurors sat through a thorough review process and selected a total of six winning teams (three from the Professional category; three from the Student category) and 10 merit recipients (in teams).

Ceremonies for the 13th BCI Asia Top Award were also held in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.

BCI awards given to Vietnamese
Asia’s leading construction solution provider BCI at a ceremony held on Friday in HCM City gave awards to the top 10 Vietnamese architectural firms and property developers.

The portfolios of the architecture firms contain US$4.9 billion worth of property construction projects which are expected to start this year.

The BCI Asia Top 10 Architects for 2017 were given to Alinco Ltd, Baumschlager Eberle Asean Co Ltd, DAC - Vietnam Architectural Design and Consultancy Company, Dark Horse Architecture Co Ltd, GK Archi Co Ltd, HTT Group – Hồ Thiệu Trị Architect & Associates, NQH Architects Co Ltd, Plan Add Vietnam Co Ltd, PTW Vietnam Co Ltd and TTA-Partners Construction Architecture JSC (TTAP).

The BCI Asia Top 10 Developers Awards for 2017 were presented to Dat Xanh Real Estate Service and Construction JSC, FLC Group, Hung Thinh Real Estate Business Investment Corporation, Novaland Investment Group Corporation, Phat Dat Real Estate Development Corporation, Phu My Hung Development Corporation, Sun Group, Tan Hoang Minh Group, Viet Hung Urban Development & Investment Company (VIHAJICO), Vingroup.

The awards aim to encourage socially responsible architecture and serve as a platform for domestic and international networking by elite architecture firms, property developers, manufacturers and service providers.

Around 150 architects, designers, senior executives and leading professionals in the building and property development industry were presented with the FuturArc Green Leadership Award and FuturArc Prize 2017.Currently in its tenth year, FuturArc Prize, Asia’s foremost Green building design competition, has been established as a renowned platform where innovative ideas pour in from professionals and students globally. Six winning designs have been selected this year for residential or commercial developments in an Asian city.

There are two winners and two merits from Viet Nam.

Bui Quang Vu and his team has won the first place for their Professional entry titled Urban Plug-In Module, which details the stitching together of landscape, building and hydrology at the scale of building elements, architecture, neighbourhood and city.

The second place in the Student category goes to Tran Duy Tan’s team for The Forgotten Network, with the concept of industrial-scale urban farming that utilises unused water towers.

Bui Duong Khang Kieu and his team received a merit award in the Student category for their entry You Feed Me To Feed Your Future, which offers a restored lake environment with a symbiotic relationship between humans, commercial buildings and space.

Nguyen Quoc Tuan’s team also received merit in the Student category. Their project, Cost to Make More, recognises the need for clean water supply, especially around industrial areas in Bangladesh. Their design seeks to create a model that is able to alleviate the contaminated water situation, as well as improve the lives of workers and the sustainable development of the city.

An independent panel of international jurors sat through a thorough review process and selected a total of six winning teams (three from the Professional category; three from the Student category) and 10 merit recipients (in teams).

Ceremonies for the 13th BCI Asia Top Award were also held in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.

Lai Chau to invest US$4.8m in growing macadamia
The northern mountainous province of Lai Chau will spend VND110 billion (US$4.8 million) from its budget on growing macadamia, which is expected to help boost the local economy.

The information was released at a seminar on the potential of growing macadamia in the province on Sunday.

Beneficiaries of the fund, to be invested from now till 2030, will include businesses, co-operatives, households and individuals who have 50 hectares or more of concentrated macadamia plantations.

Authorities said they are working to create favourable conditions, including exemptions and land rent reductions, to encourage businesses to invest in growing macadamia.

The province expects to be growing 10,000ha of macadamia by 2030.

Currently, Lai Chau has around 244ha of macadamia farms, concentrated in Tam Duong, Phong Tho and Sin Ho Va, and Nam Nhun districts. Of this, 100ha have an average capacity of 800kg of fresh macadamia nuts per hectare per year.

Nguyen Lan Hung, vice-chairman of Viet Nam Macadamia Association (VMA), said the province’s land and climate are suitable for growing macadamia, which has the potential to become an important cash crop for a poor province like Lai Chau. Farmers and businesses must pay close attention to the quality of the seedlings and the growing technology.

At the conference, VMA and Lien Viet Post Joint Stock Commercial Bank committed to providing macadamia growers with funds, technology and output during the macadamia development period.

Rubber export prices rise sharply
The average export price of rubber in the first four months of 2017 was US$2,016 per tonne, a year-on-year increase of 68.8 per cent.

The rise in rates has raised the product’s export value, despite its decreasing output in the same period.

The General Department of Viet Nam Customs reported that since the beginning of this year to the end of April, rubber exports touched 301,500 tonnes in volume, a drop of 2.1 per cent against the same period last year. However, its turnover hit $607.9 million, a year-on-year increase of 65.4 per cent.

On May 22, the price of SVR CV and SVR L rubber stood at VND50,752 (US$2.23) and VND49,620 per kilo, up 1.2 per cent and 1.8 per cent, respectively, compared to early May.

The rise in rubber export rates is linked to its rising price in the world market, the falling rubber stockpile at Tokyo Commodity Exchange’s (TOCOM) bonded warehouse, as well as the decline in Viet Nam’s rubber output for export.

Viet Nam is among the three largest rubber exporters in the world, after Thailand and Indonesia.

In April 2017, Viet Nam exported the most mixtures of natural and synthetic rubber at 26,213 tonnes, worth $47.5 million, accounting for 50.5 per cent of the rubber sector’s volume. Its SVR 3L rubber output was 8,643 tonnes, down 5.7 per cent in volume over the previous month, while its SVR 10 rubber export was 5,191 tonnes, down 11.4 per cent in volume over the previous month.

China is the leading importer of Vietnamese rubber, accounting for 63.2 per cent with 190,000 tonnes, worth $383.7 million, a 12.08 per cent rise in volume and nearly 90 per cent in value over the same period last year.

Bac Giang to export half of lychee output
Northern Bac Giang Province, a lychee farming hub of Viet Nam, plans to export some 50,000 tonnes of “thieu” lychee, or 50 percent of its total output, in 2017.

This was stated by local officials at a meeting on Saturday.

The event, aimed to promote lychee sales, was attended by Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Le Quoc Doanh, representatives of the northern border provinces of Lang Son and Lao Cai, officials of Chinese localities importing lychees, and domestic and foreign lychee traders.

Vice chairman of Bac Giang People’s Committee Duong Van Thai said this year, the province continues to focus on lychee export to traditional markets, especially China. It will increase export volume to the United States, the European Union, Japan, the Republic of Korea and Australia while expanding shipments to the Middle East, Thailand and Canada.

In the domestic market, the fruit will be sold mainly in Ha Noi, Ho Chi Minh City and nearby provinces.

However, he noted, abnormal weather conditions such as prolonged heat waves and late cold spells had affected the growth of lychee trees, making the rate of fruits fall by about 40 percent from 2016 to some 100,000 tonnes.

The output of lychees under VietGAP and GlobalGAP standards in the province is currently some 40,000 tonnes and 1,600 tonnes, respectively. Notably, 218ha of lychee trees have been granted codes by the United States, Thai added.

At the meeting, officials of Lang Son and Lao Cai provinces, which border China, pledged the best possible conditions for Bac Giang’s lychee export to China. They promised customs clearance time would be within 20 minutes.

Fang Dong, deputy head of Hekou County in China’s Yunnan Province, spoke highly of the quality and appearance of Bac Giang’s lychees, which have become popular among Chinese consumers.

Bac Giang officials also vowed to provide favourable conditions and ensure security for traders to purchase and process local lychees.

Regulations drafted for non-banking financial companies

Non-banking financial companies (NBFC) may be allowed to set up a maximum of three branches in a fiscal year.
It was drafted in a circular released last week by the State Bank of Việt Nam (SBV) asking for comment.
The draft circular states that NBFCs with operation duration of less than 12 months (from the date of inauguration to the time of proposal) are allowed to set up two branches at maximum while the number for NBFCs with operation duration of more than 12 months is three in a fiscal year. One branch cannot be managed by more than three transaction offices.
NBFC includes general financial companies, factoring companies, consumer lending companies and financial leasing companies.
To qualify for the opening of domestic branches and transaction offices, NBFC must comply strictly with regulations on debt classification and risk provisioning according to the SBV’s regulations.
Besides this, they are required to meet regulations on the ratio of bad debt to total outstanding loans of under 3 per cent or as decided by the SBV governor in each period.
To set up a branch abroad, in addition to meeting conditions as the opening of a domestic branch, NBFC must have a minimum operation duration of three years and total assets of over VNĐ20 trillion (US$877.19 million) according to audited consolidated financial statements. They must also make profits for three consecutive years before the year of making the proposal.
Under the draft, the SBV governor has the authority to approve or disapprove the establishment of NBFC; termination of operation or dissolution of domestic branches, transaction offices and representative offices; as well as the establishment of branches and representative offices abroad.
The governor of the SBV may authorise directors or chief inspectors of the bank’s branches in provinces and cities to approve or disapprove of the establishment of NBFC; termination of operation or dissolution of branches and transaction offices at their locations; and the change of the name and location of the branches’ headquarters or transaction offices.

Lower food prices pull CPI down in May

Consumer price index (CPI) in May dropped by 0.53 percent from the previous month mostly due to a sharp fall in food prices, the General Statistics Office (GSO) said on May 29.

This month’s CPI rose 0.37 percent from last December and 3.19 percent from the same period of 2016. The five-month figure hiked 4.47 percent from a year earlier.

Seven of the 11 groups of main commodities and services saw slight price increases, namely culture, entertainment and tourism (up 0.13 percent); household appliances and goods (0.1 percent); beverage and cigarette (0.08 percent); garment, footwear and hat (0.05 percent); and medicine and health care services (0.04 percent); education (0.02 percent); and other goods and services (0.15 percent).

Price declines were recorded in the four remaining groups. Food and catering services prices sank 1.43 percent, followed by transport services (down 0.34 percent), postal and telecommunication services (0.05 percent), and housing and construction materials (0.02 percent).

Do Thi Ngoc, Deputy Director of the GSO’s Price Statistics Department, said in the group of food and catering services, grain food prices decreased 0.06 percent in May because northern provinces have been harvesting the winter-spring rice while rice export became stagnant.

Prices of foodstuff, which makes up the biggest proportion in the food and catering services group, declined 2.27 percent, mainly in fresh meat. Notably, pork prices plummeted 9.94 percent from April due to a surge in supply, unchanged demand, and Chinese traders’ weak purchase.

She added petrol prices were cut on May 5 and 20, leading to a 0.71-percent fall in fuel prices compared to the previous month.

Meanwhile, there are factors hampering a further drop in CPI, including the hot weather, which fanned electricity consumption that in turn boosted power prices up by 0.98 percent. The hot weather also spurred the demand for cooling equipment and summer apparel and footwear.

Housing maintenance materials grew 0.93 percent as construction sand prices soared after sand mining was restricted nationwide, she noted.

In May, domestic gold prices fluctuated in line with global gold prices, dropping 0.1 percent from April to around 36 million VND (1,853 USD) per tael. The price of US dollar also declined slightly to 22,600 – 22,700 VND per USD.

The GSO said the core inflation, which is the CPI excluding grain food, fresh foodstuff, energy and the State-managed goods of health care and educational services, in May increased 0.08 percent month on month and 1.33 percent year on year. The five-month core inflation rose by 1.56 percent from a year earlier, lower than the planned inflation of 1.6 – 1.8 percent, indicating a stable monetary policy.

CPI in June is likely to be the same or fall slightly from May since pork and poultry prices will still follow the downward trend.

Meanwhile, stronger tourism demand in summer will augment eating and hospitality services prices. Price increases are also predicted for electricity, water and petrol, according to the GSO.  

VINPA asks for petroleum protection

The Vietnam Petroleum Association (VINPA) has proposed to establish commercial barriers to protect local firms once import duties on fuel products are gradually reduced to zero percent.

VINPA Chairman Phan The Rue said gradual tax reduction to zero percent had put pressure on domestic petroleum producers and distributors.

Rue told the media that the country should have a long-term development strategy for the petrol market, at least to the year 2020. In particular, important policies of whether the local market should be opened to foreign companies or not should be formulated.

Currently, several petroleum firms have been selling shares to FDI businesses, he said, adding that the Government should have economic solutions or technical barriers in place to stipulate what FDI firms are permitted to do for the sector to ensure energy security.

The technical barriers could include non-tariff measures, requirements on standards or a distribution system.

The chairman also shared experience from the retail sector, citied by the newspaper. He stated that the lack of strict barriers had led to FDI businesses dominating the market.

The Government, therefore, should have solutions to resolve difficulties faced by Binh Son Refinery and Nghi Son Refinery to improve the competitiveness of the local petroleum sector. Nghi Son Refinery, which is meant to become operational in 2018, in particular, could sufficiently meet Vietnam’s petrol demand.

However, the issue was whether the production cost of local refineries could compete with foreign firms, the chairman told the newspaper.

According to trade accords Vietnam has joined, import duty on fuel will be zero by 2024. Rue proposed the adjustment of special consumption tax to avoid a serious State budget deficit. Specifically, environmental protection tax should be adjusted this year, followed by special consumption tax next year and VAT in the 2020-22 period.

Currently, income from fuel import tax accounts for seven percent of the State budget, he said, adding that agencies should carefully prepare a roadmap for raising other taxes to ensure the harmony of State budget income.

The association said fees and taxes make up more than 50 percent of the fuel price. Therefore, cutting fuel import tax to zero percent necessitates increasing other taxes to make up for the lost income.

“Once the import duty is cut to zero, we should increase other taxes to make up for the loss. It is necessary to ensure that the total tax sum accounts for half the retail fuel price. As the import tariff moves down to zero, other taxes must be raised to offset the shortfall. Paying higher taxes is how every citizen shows his/her responsibility to the country,” he said.

In fact, the Ministry of Finance has several times indicated its intention to raise environment tax for fuels from the current 4,000 VND per litre to 8,000 VND. A92 gasoline, the country’s most widely used fuel, currently sells for 17,063 per litre VND, including the 3,000 VND per litre environment tax. If the new tax rate is approved, the price would rise to more than 22,000 VND per litre, analysts calculated.

The association is strongly supporting the proposal on so-called environment tax hike policy. However, the public is not.

Bui Danh Lien, chairman of the Hanoi Transport Association, said a shortfall in the State budget required solutions other than hiking environment tax, which is not used for the benefit of the environment. He believed there were many solutions to the budget shortfall with the most important one being to cut public spending.

Sharing his ideas, Truong Dinh Tuyen, former minister of industry and trade, said increasing taxes was not the right solution.

Tuyen said increasing taxes might help reduce losses to the State revenue in the short-term but was not a sustainable solution.

“We should try instead to cut taxes and assist local businesses in reducing input cost, which will help boost their performance,” he said, adding that what’s more important is to create a competitive fuel market that provides the best retail prices for consumers.

Vietnam consistent in enhancing trade ties with US

The official US visit of PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc from May 29-31 demonstrates Vietnam’s consistent policy on enhancing trade relations with the US, which has been Vietnam’s top trade partners for the past 10 consecutive years.

According to the America Market Department under the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Vietnam-US trade has maintained a high annual growth of about 20 percent since their Bilateral Trade Agreement (BTA) took effect in 2001. Last year, the two-way trade hit 47 billion USD, 33.5 times higher than the 2001 figure of 1.4 billion USD.

In the first four months of 2017, Vietnam exported 12.4 billion USD worth of commodities to the US, mostly textile-garment, footwear, computers, seafood, farm products, timber and timber products, electronics and components.

The figure represented 20 percent of the country’s total exports and an increase of 8.7 percent from the same period last year.

Vietnam is now the US’ 16th largest trade partner with Vietnam enjoying high trade surplus.

Vietnam has put its name on the US’s international trade partner map, said Tran Duy Dong, director general of the America Market Department, adding that in spite of difficulties posed by the US’s anti-dumping or anti-subsidy duties, Vietnamese exporters have learned from experience to grow stronger, continuing entering the market.

Despite the US’s withdrawal from the TPP, the bilateral Vietnam-US trade and investment relationship will continue to grow, US Consul General in HCM City Mary Tarnowka confirmed.

She expected the ties to grow stronger as Vietnam’s recent efforts on international economic integration reaffirmed its intention to continue its economic reforms and further open its economy.

Tarnowka noted that those reforms will promote the establishment of a fair and transparent management system, allowing of the prediction of a new wave of trade and investment in the future.

Experts believed that Vietnam is yet to become a major market for the US but increasing incomes of its citizens will stimulate consumption of luxurious brands, including those from the US.

When US President Donald Trump launches a series of plans in Asia, the Vietnam-US ties will be a lever for the two countries’ mutual trade and economic benefits. The upcoming meeting between the two nations’ leaders will be a good opportunity to promote their shared strategic interests and create more jobs for their people.

Authorities from both sides are closely working to improve their trade cooperation mechanisms for better facilitation of the bilateral trade.

Tami Overby, Senior Vice President for Asia at the US Chamber of Commerce said the chamber is making effort to find ways for further boosting the Vietnam-US trade, including the possibility of a free trade agreement. She added that US companies need to be more creative in dealing with obstacles when entering the Vietnamese market.

To support local companies in gaining access to the US market, Minister of Trade and Industry Tran Tuan Anh said besides programmes to build national competitiveness through branding and removals of duties and other technical barriers, the ministry has devised master plans to improve competitive edges for export products with the emphasis placed on those in manufacturing and processing industry.

At the same time, enterprises must also take an active role in enhancing production capacity, developing market overseas, and becoming part of the global supply chain.