By Bich Quyen – Translated by Kim Khanh
How poll taxes are an obstacle to voting rights
Demand for workers in HCM City and other manufacturing hubs in the south has been high and rising after the Tet (Lunar New Year) holidays driven by a business recovery as COVID-19 recedes.
|A company in the southern province of Binh Duong advertises job openings. Photo laodong.vn|
Companies in the city’s industrial parks and export processing zones need around 12,000 workers, including 2,540 with a university degree, according to the HCM City Export Processing and Industrial Zones Authority (HEPZA).
Another 4,700 jobs are available for applicants with college and vocational education, and the rest are for manual workers, Hung Hua Quoc Hung, head of HEPZA, said.
The textile and footwear sectors have the largest demand, he added.
The HCM City Centre for Forecasting Manpower Needs and Labour Market Information said the city overall is expected to need 30,000 workers after the Tet holiday.
Do Thanh Van, deputy director of the centre, said trade, services, textile and footwear, food processing, logistics, IT, plastics, and chemicals are among the industries with the highest recruitment demand.
PouYuen Việt Nam Co. Ltd in Tan Binh District, one of the companies with the largest demand, needs more than 2,000 workers for various positions such as IT technicians, office and purchase staff, secretaries, quality management staff, and manual workers.
Le Minh Tan, director of the city Department of Labour, Invalid and Social Affairs, said all businesses have resumed operations after Tet with around 96 per cent of workers returning to work.
In Binh Duong Province, a manufacturing hub, more than 95 per cent of workers have returned, according to its Federation of Labour.
The federation also said 916 enterprises require 95,983 workers after Tet.
Dong Nai Province, another manufacturing hub, too needs thousands of workers to meet the expected increase in production this year.
Cao Duy Thai, head of the wage office at the province Department of Labour, Invalid, and Social Affairs, said the worker turnover rate during Tet this year is unusually low since more and more enterprises are offering benefits to retain workers, making it a tough to hire new staff.
Positive hiring outlook
According to ManpowerGroup Vietnam’s 2021 Employment Outlook survey, employers in various industries are expecting hiring to recover and grow in the first half of 2021 despite the continuing pandemic.
The survey polled 442 human resources and talent acquisition executives in 16 industries.
While 36.4 per cent said their businesses were slightly impacted by the pandemic, nearly 50 per cent said they still operate normally.
Some 56 per cent anticipated a payroll expansion while 37 per cent said they would maintain the headcount.
Only 6.6 per cent plan to lay off workers.
Two-thirds expect hiring to increase within the next three months, and 22 per cent foresee an expansion in the next six months.
The biggest recruitment plans in the period are in manufacturing, construction, wholesale, retail and trading, and transport and logistics.
The construction sector saw a revival thanks to economic growth, and accounts for a fifth of all companies planning to hire, the same as manufacturing.
Nguyen Thu Trang, country head of permanent recruitment, executive search and consulting services at ManpowerGroup Vietnam, said: “Thanks to the effective control measurements and the strong anti-epidemic compliance of the Vietnamese, the economy is showing signs of positive recovery. In addition, foreign investment continues to flow into Vietnam, creating more business and job opportunities. VNS
LONDON — In October 2020, Miami-based art collector Pablo Rodriguez-Fraile spent almost $67,000 on a 10-second video artwork that he could have watched for free online. Last week, he sold it for $6.6 million.
The video by digital artist Beeple, whose real name is Mike Winkelmann, was authenticated by blockchain, which serves as a digital signature to certify who owns it and that it is the original work.
It’s a new type of digital asset – known as a non-fungible token (NFT) – that has exploded in popularity during the pandemic as enthusiasts and investors scramble to spend enormous sums of money on items that only exist online.
Blockchain technology allows the items to be publicly authenticated as one-of-a-kind, unlike traditional online objects which can be endlessly reproduced.
“You can go in the Louvre and take a picture of the Mona Lisa and you can have it there, but it doesn’t have any value because it doesn’t have the provenance or the history of the work,” said Rodriguez-Fraile, who said he first bought Beeple’s piece because of his knowledge of the U.S.-based artist’s work.
“The reality here is that this is very, very valuable because of who is behind it.”
Examples of NFTs range from digital artworks and sports cards to pieces of land in virtual environments or exclusive use of a cryptocurrency wallet name, akin to the scramble for domain names in the early days of the internet.“Non-fungible” refers to items that cannot be exchanged on a like-for-like basis, as each one is unique – in contrast to “fungible” assets like dollars, stocks or bars of gold.
The computer-generated video sold by Rodriguez-Fraile shows what appears to be a giant Donald Trump collapsed on the ground, his body covered in slogans, in an otherwise idyllic setting.
OpenSea, a marketplace for NFTs, said it has seen monthly sales volume grow to $86.3 million so far in February, as of Friday, from $8 million in January, citing blockchain data. Monthly sales were at $1.5 million a year ago.
“If you spend 10 hours a day on the computer, or eight hours a day in the digital realm, then art in the digital realm makes tonnes of sense – because it is the world,” said OpenSea’s co-founder Alex Atallah.
Investors caution, however, that while big money is flowing into NFTs, the market could represent a price bubble.
Like many new niche investment areas, there is the risk of major losses if the hype dies down, while there could be prime opportunities for fraudsters in a market where many participants operate under pseudonyms.
Nonetheless, auction house Christie’s has just launched its first-ever sale of digital art – a collage of 5,000 pictures, also by Beeple – which exists solely as an NFT.
|Pablo Rodriguez-Fraile, Miami-based art collector, looks on at Lake Como, Italy, in this undated handout obtained by Reuters on February 28, 2021. Photo: Pablo Rodriguez-Fraile/Handout via REUTERS|
Christie’s ’embraces terrifying’
Bids for the work have hit $3 million, with the sale due to close on March 11.
“We are in a very unknown territory. In the first 10 minutes of bidding we had more than a hundred bids from 21 bidders and we were at a million dollars,” said Noah Davis, specialist in post-war and contemporary art at Christie’s.
His division has never seen an online-only sale top $1 million before, he added.
In a decision that could help push cryptocurrencies further into the mainstream, the auction house that was founded in 1766 will accept payment in the digital coin Ether as well as traditional money.
“I think that this moment was inevitable and whenever institutions of any kind try to resist inevitability, it does not work out very well,” Davis said of accepting crypto payment. “And so the best thing you can do is embrace the terrifying.”
$280k for Lebron James slam dunk
NFTs could be benefiting from the hype around cryptocurrencies and blockchain, as well as virtual reality’s potential to create online worlds. The growing interest also coincides with a surge in online retail trading during lockdowns.
The start of the rush for NFTs has been linked with the launch of the U.S. National Basketball Association’s Top Shot website, which allows users to buy and trade NFTs in the form of video highlights of games.
Five months after its launch, the platform says it has over 100,000 buyers and nearly $250 million in sales. The majority of sales take place in the site’s peer-to-peer marketplace, with the NBA getting a royalty on every sale.
The volume is rapidly rising: February has seen sales totalling $198 million as of Friday, heading for a fivefold increase from January’s $44 million, Top Shot said.
Each collectible has “a unique serial number with guaranteed scarcity and protected ownership guaranteed by blockchain”, the site says. “When you own #23/49 of a legendary LeBron James dunk, you’re the only person in the world who does.”
The biggest transaction to date was on Feb. 22, when a user paid $208,000 for a video of a LeBron James slam dunk.
One major NFT enthusiast, who goes by the pseudonym “Pranksy” told Reuters he had invested $600 in an early NFT project in 2017 and has now built that up to a portfolio “worth seven figures” in NFTs and cryptocurrencies. He asked to be anonymous to protect his family’s privacy.
Pranksy said he has now spent more than $1 million on Top Shot and made about $4.7 million by reselling purchases. Reuters was unable to independently verify the figures, although NBA Top Shot confirmed he is among the site’s biggest buyers.
“I see them as investments really, much like any other collectibles and NFTs that currently exist,” he said in an interview conducted via Twitter. “I’d never watched a game of basketball before Top Shot launched.”
|Images created for the launch of NBA Top Shot, an online platform which allows users to buy and trade videos of basketball highlights. Photo: Dapper Labs/via REUTERS|
‘Emergence of the metaverse’
Nate Hart, a Nashville-based NFT investor who, like Pranksy, has been involved in the market since it first developed in 2017, has seen some popular digital art NFTs such as Autoglyphs and CryptoPunk surge in value.
Hart said he bought a LeBron James Cosmic NFT on NBA Top Shot for $40,000 in January, then sold it for $125,000 in February.
“We’re in awe, it just doesn’t feel real. We were in the right place, right time, got lucky, but we also took that risk,” he said.
“The space has been growing a lot. I do think that this is a little bit of a bubble. It is a bubble,” he said. “It’s hard to predict what the top will be.”
Andrew Steinwold, who launched a $6 million dollar NFT investment fund in January, warned that the majority of NFTs could become worthless in future.
But, like many backers, he is confident that some items will retain their value and that NFTs represent the future of digital ownership, paving the way for a world in which people live, socialise and make money in virtual environments.
“We’re spending a lot of our time digitally, always online, always plugged in. It makes sense to now add property rights to the mix and suddenly we have the emergence of the metaverse,” he said.
“I think it’s going to reach into the trillions of dollars one day.”
The Hanoitimes – The National Assembly is the highest organ of state power meeting twice a year.
Vietnam’s National Assembly will comprise 500 lawmakers for the next term with the highest number coming from Ho Chi Minh City.
|Lawmakers at a National Assembly’s meeting. Photo: Nhat Bac/VGP|
Under Resolution 1185/NQ-UBTVQH14 by the National Assembly (NA)’s Standing Committee dated January 11, 2021, the number of lawmakers for the NA’s 15th tenure includes 41.4% from central bodies and 58.6% from 63 cities and provinces nationwide.
Compared to the previous tenure, the number of deputies from central bodies is higher while that in the localities is fewer.
Each locality has at least six deputies to represent the local administration at the highest legislative body. The election is scheduled for May 23, 2021.
Ho Chi Minh City takes the lead in the number of lawmakers with 30, Hanoi ranks the second with 29, followed by Thanh Hoa with 14 and Nghe An 13.
Half of the candidates in each locality are nominated by the local government and the remaining by the central agencies.
As planned, after the first consultation meeting in February, central bodies and localities nominate candidates based on the given quota. The NA’s Standing Committee will decide the lawmaker structure for the 15th tenure.
The Constitution of Vietnam recognizes the National Assembly as “the highest organ of state power.”
The body is elected to a five-year term and meets twice a year. It votes for State President, Prime Minister, Chief Justice of the Supreme People’s Court, Head of the Supreme People’s Procuracy, and the cabinet’s members.
The Hanoitimes – The two countries keen on trade and energy cooperation.
Vietnam and the United Kingdom will tighten co-operation to implement the UK-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (UKVFTA) effectively, promoting the import and export of goods and increasing bilateral trade value between the two countries.
|A tra (catfish) processing line. Tra products are entitled to a zero % tax rate when exported to the UK.|
The co-operation plan was a key content discussed by Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Dang Hoang An and British Ambassador to Vietnam Gareth Ward at a meeting held recently in Hanoi.
At the meeting, the two leaders agreed that the UKVKTA, which took place on December 31, 2020 and being temporarily applied from January 1, 2021, will be a new driving force to take off the good relations on trade and investment in Vietnam and the UK.
Despite extremely negative impacts from the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, the trade exchange between the two sides still reached US$5.6 billion, in which Vietnam gained export value of $4.95 billion and import value of $687 million from and to the UK.
The UK continues to be the third largest export market of Vietnam in the European region.
From the first days of January 2021, the Vietnam’s shipment of 60 tons of fragrant rice exported to the UK has enjoyed tariff preferences under the agreement, opening up new opportunities for the two countries’ business community.
The two sides agreed to give priority to the organization of the 12th Joint Economics and Trade Committee in the UK (JETCO 12) meeting this year when the Covid-19 pandemic is under control. Before the meeting, the two sides will hold online meetings, seminars and dialogues to discuss solutions to removing problems in every specific fields.
Mr. Gareth Ward said the UK wanted to coordinate with the Ministry of Industry and Trade to organize online dialogues in the field of energy development, including a dialogue on renewable energy that will focus on solutions to strengthen the investors’ confidence and another on energy transition in Vietnam in the framework of the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), which will be held in the UK on November 1-12 this year.
Deputy Minister An highly appreciated the UK’s commitment to host the COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland. He emphasized that the renewable energy development plan is an important content in the Vietnam Politburo’s Resolution No.55-NQ/TW dated February 11, 2020 on the orientation of the National Energy Development Strategy of Vietnam to 2030, with a vision to 2045.
“The Vietnam’s goal is to ensure an adequate energy supply for socio-economic development, in parallel with the task of gradually increasing the proportion of clean energy use,” Mr. An said.
In 2020, a number of Vietnam’s commodities exported to the UK have a good growth, including seafood, vegetables, rubber products, and iron and steel products. Meanwhile, the country’s import products from the UK, comprising animal feed and raw materials, materials of textile, garment and footwear, mobile phones and components, and chemical products, were seen increased sharply.
The Hanoitimes – Hanoi hopes trade link will support its export-driven economy while London is trying to secure trade deals ahead of the transition period after Brexit.
Vietnam and the UK have agreed refresh and strengthen their strategic partnership and set the framework for forging ahead in the next decade.
|Vietnam and the UK look to forge ahead the partnership in the next decade. Photo: MOFA|
The two sides adopted a joint declaration at a meeting between Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh and UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on September 30 during the British diplomat’s visit to Hanoi, the first by a European politician to Vietnam since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The declaration, which marks a milestone of 10 years of the Vietnam-UK Strategic Partnership, outlines the UK and Vietnam’s commitment to further strengthening the bilateral partnership.
It includes (1) deepening bilateral trade and investment, and pursuing more open trade through global and regional economic integration; (2) co-operating to support sustainable economic growth, and to combat the urgent challenges presented by climate change; (3) working together on shared security challenges through peace-keeping operations, military healthcare and training and maritime security; (4) enhancing ties in education, vocational training, higher education, particularly in the field of science and technology; (5) enhancing bilateral cooperation in defense and security and to combat serious and organized crime; (6) promoting people-to-people links, equal rights, including promoting gender equality and tackling modern slavery; and (7) committing to a closer coordination through multilateral fora, including the United Nations and within the framework of ASEAN.
Trade deal dominates the visit
To prepare for partnership in the next 10 years, the two sides highlighted the importance of a bilateral trade agreement that dominates the talks between UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and his counterpart Pham Binh Minh, and between the UK Foreign Secretary and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on September 30.
Mr. Phuc said “Vietnam considers the UK a major trading partner in Europe and in the world”. He noted that a free trade deal with Britain, once it takes effect, would “help both countries boost economic recovery in post Covid-19 period.”
In reality, both sides are looking to strengthen trade ties. The EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) took effect in August, but Brexit leaves the UK out of that agreement.
“We have secured Vietnam’s public support for the UK joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership,” Mr. Raab wrote on Twitter. “This is a significant step in taking the UK-Vietnam economic relationship to the next level, and demonstrating the U.K.’s commitment and value to the region.”
The UK attempts to secure trade deals ahead of the ending of a transition period in December for Brexit from the European Union, its closest trading partner, while Vietnam hopes the trade link will help its post-pandemic economic recovery.
In 2019, the two-way trade hit US$6.6 billion while British investment in Vietnam reached US$3.7 billion.
Mr. Raab stressed the importance of Vietnam in the Asia-Pacific and Southeast Asia.
Vietnam, the only country in Southeast Asia to post economic growth this year as forecast by ADB, has signed more than a dozen free trade agreements, including one with the European Union and an 11-country CPTPP deal that slashes tariffs across much of the Asia-Pacific.
During the Vietnam visit, Mr. Raab said his country is committed to working with the region on issues like maritime security — a likely reference to the disputed South China Sea. He also held a conference call with ASEAN foreign ministers while in Hanoi.