Social News 23/1

US Embassy announces student exchange openings The US Department of State has announced that it is now accepting applications for its Global Undergraduate Exchange Program (UGRAD) for emerging student leaders from Vietnam. The programme offers study at a U.S. college or university for eight Vietnamese students in which the participants will engage in one semester of undergraduate, non-degree study at an accredited two- or four-year institution. Participants will engage in local community service projects and take part in cultural enrichment activities. The host institutions will also provide participants with academic skill development classes. In addition, participants who do not meet the host institution language requirements will be eligible for two to four weeks of intensive English language instruction in the United States prior to the start of the academic portion of their programme. The programme is managed and funded by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs … [Read more...]

Social News 19/10

Local news sites remain blocked Users remain blocked from the websites of Vietnamese newspapers with platforms hosted by the Vietnam Communications Corporation (VCCorp) since October 13. The newspapers include Thoi bao Kinh te Viet Nam (Vietnam Economic Times) at , Nguoi Lao Dong (Labourers) at and Gia Dinh Xa Hoi (Family and Society). Other company websites have the same issues. Nguyen The Tan, deputy general director of VCCorp, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that the breakdown of its Data Center system has resulted in the websites' inaccessibility. He said the company was prioritising the repair of the newspaper websites to enable them to re-open. Asked about the reasons for the breakdown, Tan said the company needed to check further and verify, although it specified errors in the Data Center system. He added that it was possible the sites were hacked. Vietnam, Australia promote cooperation in science and technology A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between the … [Read more...]

Social Highlights for November 12

Lai Chau breaks up many drug trafficking ringsPolice forces in the northwestern province of Lai Chau have uncovered a number of drug trafficking rings and seized thousands of synthetic drugs.Since August 2013, local police have recovered more than 17,400 pills from four separate smuggling rings.Lai Chau Provincial Police Department Deputy Director Colonel Le Van Bay said most perpetrators are local, Son La, or Lao Cai residents collaborating with Lao smugglers transporting drugs from the infamous Golden Triangle.In early August, police in Lai Chau's Than Uyen district caught red handed 29-year-old Son La resident Mua A Ky carrying 6,600 synthetic pills from Laos to Lao Cai province.Ky confessed buying drugs from a Lao man named Mua A Su to sell to the Chinese national Ly A Po at the Lao Cai border gate.On September 17, police arrested 45-year-old Giang A Hang attempting to smuggle 5,968 pills hidden in his motorbike.More than 4,000 pills were seized when local police raided the Nam Nhu … [Read more...]

BUSINESS IN BRIEF 16/7

Ho Chi Minh City strives for 9.5 pct GDP growthHo Chi Minh City has set the targets of a 9.5 percent growth rate in gross domestic product (GDP) and annual GDP per capita at 4,000 USD for 2013.The southern economic hub will also strive to increase export turnover by 13.5 percent, mobilise 248.5 trillion VND in social development investment, and keep the yearly consumer price index (CPI) at below the nation's figure.The targets are set in a resolution adopted by the municipal People's Council's 7th session early this month.During the year, the city will make every effort to create jobs for 265,000 people, reduce unemployment rate by 4.8 percent and poor households to 2.32 percent, as well as supply clean water for 89 percent of urban households.At the session, Chairman of the municipal People's Committee Le Hoang Quan said the city administration will continue its efforts to improve the investment and business environment to boost production and trade, strengthen urban planning and … [Read more...]

BUSINESS IN BRIEF 15/7

Settling VND40-70 trillion in bad debts to be difficult for VAMC: EconomistGovernor of the State Bank of Vietnam Nguyen Van Binh expected that Vietnam Assets Management Company (VAMC) would settle between VND40 trillion (USD142.8 million) and VND70 trillion (USD333.3 million) bad debt this year, but this may be a difficult task. This comment was made by senior Economist Le Xuan Nghia, Head of Business Development Institute.The company started operations on July 9, however, its two most important regulations, Internal Operation Regulation and Special Bond Issue Regulation, have not yet been signed, he explainedAccording to Mr. Nghia, VAMC only deals with one third of bad debts; meanwhile, private banks will have to be responsible another third and the Ministry of Finance will restructure the rest.The firm only buys bad debts valued at more than VND1 billion for individual customers and VND3 billion for corporate customers.After selling bad debts to VAMC, banks will receive special bonds … [Read more...]

ART & ENTERTAINMENT IN BRIEF 11/7

Artisan inspires paper flower revivalThan Van Huy has trained 30 young girls in his village to make paper lotus flowers in an attempt to revive the traditional craft in Hue's Thanh Tien Village.Huy has used traditional techniques to make paper lotus flowers for seven years."The products are now standing firm in the market and I feel a need to train the younger generation in the village," said Huy, adding that he had a strong desire to revive the industry.Ten of the girls have produced paper flowers for Huy under processing contracts, and have got family members involved as well.In 2006, Huy and his brother, Than Dinh Hoai, revived the traditional technique and started to create paper lotus flowers.The siblings have created various kinds of lotuses, including lotus buds, blooming lotuses and lotus lanterns to attract customers.They have found strong demand from markets in Ha Noi, Hue and HCM City, and expect to expand their business throughout the village.Villagers hope the paper lotus … [Read more...]

BUSINESS IN BRIEF 3/7

Localities step up rice hoardingThe Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang is stepping up the hoarding of rice to fulfil its target of creating a stockpile of 85,000 tonnes this year.Seven local businesses have been directed by the Vietnam Food Association to purchase rice following the market mechanism to ensure farmers get profit and to stabilise the local rice market.To complete the task, the province has supported local businesses to erect storage systems, which will be able to stock up to 104,000 tonnes of unprocessed rice.Local firms have also actively participated in a number of trade fairs abroad and won contracts to export 20,000 tonnes of rice for 7.5 million USD.According to the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, in the summer-autumn crop, Kien Giang will harvest an estimated total of 1.6 million tonnes of rice from a cultivation area of nearly 300,000 hectares.The province is striving to export up to 1.2 million tonnes of rice this year.Meanwhile, … [Read more...]

BUSINESS IN BRIEF 1/4

Sugar firms allowed exporting surplus inventoryThe Ministry of Industry and Trade has allowed domestic companies to export sugar with large volumes in an attempt to reduce the record high inventories of 450,000 tonnes.Since the beginning of the 2012-13 sugar crop, the Sugar and Sugar Cane Association has predicted that there would be a sugar surplus.Sugar is one of the country's price-stablised commodities, so its exports are only allowed when there is a surplus, according to Ha Huu Phai, head of the Association's Hanoi branch.The country needs about 1.2-1.3 million tonnes of sugar a year.The association estimates that the sugar output in the 2012-2013 crop will reach 1.4 million tonnes.In addition, stocked sugar from last year as well as imported and smuggled sugar are available.About 300,000-400,000 tonnes of sugar are smuggled into Vietnam from the southwest border a year, according to the association.The country now has 40 sugar mills producing the 2012-13 sugar crop.The sugar … [Read more...]

BUSINESS IN BRIEF 17/7

Air conditioner sales rise 22pct in Jan-May: GfK VN Air conditioner (air cons) sales in Vietnam registered a 22 percent rise in the first five months of 2012 with nearly 76,000 more air con units snapped up by local consumers, said a recent report from GfK Vietnam. "It appears that consumers in Vietnam are now ready to loosen their purse strings once again following the lackluster performance of air conditioner sales last year due largely to restrained spending as a result of high inflation," said the report. Inverter technology continues to gain traction among local consumers. Vietnam's air con market registered a vast improvement of 28 percent in value jump and to date is worth over $170 million. Since the beginning of this year, some 422,000 air cons have been sold; with sales garnered in the month of May alone contributing to a third of the total sales for the five month period. "The country enters into summer in early May and with the afternoon heat in some of the cities rising as … [Read more...]

BUSINESS IN BRIEF 16/5

Garment firms trying on locals for size Local sources are to meet local textile garment firms' material needs. Dinh Vu polyester fibre plant in northern Haiphong city's Dinh Vu Industrial Park, developed by Petrochemical and Textile Fibre Joint Stock Company (PVTEX), is one local firm to cash in as it made its first batches of polyester synthetic fibre, the first of its kind made in Vietnam, in late 2011. Though still in the test run period, from December 2011 PVTEX has sold over 20,000 tonnes of fibres and yarns through competitive pricing. Though the Dinh Vu plant was not officially up and running, some businesses under Vinatex began to use the plant products, according to Vinatex's deputy general director Le Tien Truong. As scheduled, in 2012 the Dinh Vu plant will turn out 150,000-175,000 tonnes of fibres meeting 40 per cent of the garment textile sector demand. In 2011, local supply sources could fill just 30 per cent of local demand for fibre, tantamount to 120,000 tonnes against … [Read more...]

BUSINESS IN BRIEF 8/5

Brazil slaps anti-dumping lawsuit on Vietnamese steel The Brazilian Ministry of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade (MDIFT) has officially begun an anti-dumping investigation into rolled steel imported from Vietnam and some other countries. The Vietnam Competition Authority under the Ministry of Industry and Trade said Aperam Inox America do Sul, S.A. filed the lawsuit and the MDIFT will conduct investigations from January to December 2012. It will use Taiwan as a comparison for the dumping amplitude up to 22.5 percent. Businesses have been allowed 70 days, including extension time, to answer all questions related to the investigation as of April 13, 2012. Japanese economists share experiences with Vietnam Japanese economists shared experiences with Vietnamese partners at a seminar on 'Economic Bubbles: Lessons Learnt from Japan', held in Hanoi on May 5. A "bubble economy" is one in which a lot of trade takes place with discrepancies between the trading price and the intrinsic … [Read more...]

20pct of seafood firms likely to face stagnancy, bankruptcy in 2012

About one-fifth of local seafood enterprises will probably face stagnancy, and possibly even bankruptcy, this year, said a senior official of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Processors (VASEP) in a recent meeting. Photo: Tuoi Tre "It is very unusual that several seafood enterprises have filed for bankruptcy since early this year, and the situation is expected to worsen," said Nguyen Huu Dung, vice chairman of VASEP at the meeting titled, "Applicable solutions in resource management and planning for the fisheries industry", held in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho. "The situation has been caused by subjective reasons including the lack of effective policies to support companies and the shrinking of both foreign and local markets," he added. The prices of raw catfish in the provinces of the Mekong Delta, such as Dong Thap, An Giang, and Can Tho, continue to fall, with prices ranging from … [Read more...]

BUSINESS IN BRIEF 7/12

Jeweller gets exclusive licence Gold bars issued by Saigon Jewelry Company Ltd (SJC)will be selected as the national gold brand upon satisfying some final requirements, State Bank of Viet Nam Governor Nguyen Van Binh told the National Assembly last week. The designation will allow SJC to stamp gold bars with the imprimatur of the State Bank, Binh said, giving SJC an exclusive licence to produce gold bars on behalf of the State. Binh's announcement, however, has raised concerns that the central bank is essentially granting SJC a highly lucrative monopoly over the nation's gold market - a move which will drive many other gold producers entirely out of the market. Binh told lawmakers, however, that SJC gold bars already accounted for 90 per cent of the domestic market and their quality had been widely recognised both domestically and internationally. Therefore, the designation of SJC gold bars as the national brand was appropriate and could bring many benefits to the national economy, he … [Read more...]

SOCIETY IN BRIEF 6/12

France assists gastric cancer treatment France's Medical University, Hue Central Hospital and the French Embassy in Vietnam held a course on oesophageal and gastric cancer treatment in Thua Thien-Hue province on December 5. The course aimed to update knowledge and improve cancer treatment skills for doctors in central and provincial hospitals in both the central and Central Highland areas. Director of Hue Central Hospital Bui Duc Phu said the course, taught by French professors and Hue Central Hospital's leading professors, includes five levels and a certificate will be awarded for each level. Doctors who complete all five levels will receive a specialized diploma. After completing the course, doctors under 40 years of age will be considered for the training programme in French hospitals. Two dead projects frustrate communities Two projects in Quang Ngai Province that were licensed in 2007 have yet to be developed, affecting more than 300 people in a commune and frustrating the … [Read more...]

Power company demands 300% price hike

The Hiep Phuoc Power Co., Ltd in Ho Chi Minh City is demanding a three-fold increase of the current power price by April 1 or else it will stop the supply of power.  Electricians check a power grid in Ho Chi Minh City (Photo: SGGP) Located in Nha Be District, the power company has officially informed enterprises in the Hiep Phuoc Industrial Zone that it will increase the power price to US17 cent per kWh from the current price of US5 cent per kWh from April 1. If any enterprise does not agree to the rate, the company will simply stop the supply of power from that day onwards. Hiep Phuoc said it had faced a shortage of oil for producing electricity. To ensure sufficient power to enterprises in the industrial zone, the company reduced the volume of power sold to the Electricity of Vietnam (EVN) by half from March 19.  The company said it can only maintain power production until April 26 and its operation will depend on the enterprises' acceptance of the increased rate and EVN's timely … [Read more...]

Few companies approve high-price power from Hiep Phuoc

Pham Hong Tien, manager of Operation Office of Hiep Phuoc Power Co., told the Daily on Tuesday that only 32 enterprises in the processing zone and the industrial park have agreed to pay between 15-17 U.S. cents a kilowatt-hour since early April. Hiep Phuoc Power Co. has threatened to idle the power plant as it cannot sell power at just five U.S. cents a kWh due to higher input costs, saying it has incurred cumulative losses of up to US$120 million over the past few years. The company has been using diesel oil to operate the power plant since the suspension of gas supply by PetroVietnam Gas Corporation (PV Gas) in May last year. Tien said the company would likely stop the operation of the power plant unless half of the total number of 250 enterprises in these production zones agreed to the higher price inclusive of the fuel surcharge. Currently, Hiep Phuoc Co. in Nha Be District supplies power to the three main groups of clients including some 250 enterprises in Tan Thuan EPZ in … [Read more...]

Paper industry expands capacity

The nation's paper industry rapidly expanded capacity during 2010, adding eight major new production facilities with a total capacity of 430,000 tonnes per year. Photo: tietkiemnangluong Tan Mai Joint Stock Co, meanwhile, built four new paper mills in the central and southern provinces of Quang Ngai, Lam Dong, Kon Tum and Dong Nai with a total cost of 6 trillion VND (285 million USD). A 3.35 trillion VND (159 million USD) packaging plant was opened by the Vina Kraft Paper Co in the southern province of Binh Duong, while the Sai Gon Paper Co invested around 2 trillion VND (95.2 million USD) in its My Xuan 2 plant in the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau. Bai Bang Paper, meanwhile, opened a 520 billion VND (24.7 million USD) mill during 2010 to produce newsprint, while Diana Joint Stock Co invested roughly 20 million USD in launching a tissue paper plant on a 10ha site in the northern province of Bac Ninh. Sizeable investment in the past year is a good sign for the … [Read more...]

HCMC firm proposes 200% hike in power price

VietNamNet Bridge - Ho Chi Minh City's Hiep Phuoc Power Co., Ltd has proposed doubling the current power price to offset losses as a 15% hike starting next month is too low. Yesterday the City People's Committee and relevant agencies had a meeting with the firm about the shocking proposal. The 100% foreign-owned company, located in the city's Nha Be District, reiterated at the meeting that "Hiep Phuoc Power Plant, owned by the company, will likely close on April 1 if its power price is not raised at such a rate." Loss of US$120 million Hiep Phuoc said the plant's production cost has recently increased by $15 cent per kWh, which resulted from a rise in world oil prices and a cut in gas supply to the company for the past several months by the Vietnam Oil and Gas Corporation. The Corporation explained to Hiep Phuoc that the aggregate supply of gas was just 20 million cubic meters per day, while the aggregate demand soared to a 23.1 million cubic meters per day. Hiep Phuoc … [Read more...]

Facts & Figures

$350 million will be invested by South Korea's Woongjin Group to build an international school, a trade centre and apartments and offices for rent at the Thoi Hoa Industrial Zone in Binh Duong province. The project is expected to provide high-quality services to local businesses and individuals. $350 million is to come from the Ho Chi Minh City-based Hoa Lam Development Investment Joint Stock Company and Singapore's Shangri-La HealthCare Investment Co to develop a hi-tech park in Ho Chi Minh City. Construction will begin on the 37 ha project in the middle of this year and its three phases completed in 2015. The project includes a hospital, healthcare facilities, a medical diagnostic centre, an antenatal ward, a cancer ward and a medical training centre.$185 million will be invested by the Dong Nai-based Tan Mai Paper Joint Stock Company to build a paper and pulp plant in the central province of Quang Ngai, which will produce 200,000 tons of paper and 130,000 tons of pulp each year. … [Read more...]

Saigon Paper Starts US$50Mln Paper Mill in the South

The Sai Gon Paper Joint Stock Company or Saigon Paper is carrying out construction of My Xuan II Paper Mill with total investment of US$50 million in southern Ba Ria Vung Tau province, according to the Vietnam Pulp & Paper Association (VPPA). The mill, which has designed capacity of 225,000 tons a year, together with Dong An Paper Factory in northern Hung Yen province, will bring the company's total paper mill number to four. Both the My Xuan II and Dong An are schedule to come into operation in early 2009. Presently, Sai Gon Paper is running two paper mills, one is My Xuan Paper Factory with total capacity of 93,000 tons of tissue a year and Sai Gon Central Factory with capacity reaching 420,000 tons a year. Sai Gon Paper is now the fourth biggest paper manufacturer in Vietnam with annual production capacity of 100,000 tons. The three biggest include the Vietnam Paper General Company, Tan Mai Paper JSC and Chanh Duong Paper Co. Ltd, producing 160,000 tons, 110,000 tons and 100,000 … [Read more...]