Chủ Nhật, ngày 28 tháng 8 năm 2016

Pesticide use unjustly blights tea industry image


 The global tea markets prefer mass-produced teas that are standardized in quality and taste, said speakers from the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT) at a recent business forum in Hanoi.
At the conference, chaired by the Plant Protection Department under MARD, speakers told those in attendance that the domestic market to the contrary has had a traditional preference for low-production handmade teas.
Today, most exported teas cultivated in Vietnam are grown as a commodity in specially designated areas and shipped to foreign markets where they are further processed and packaged for resale.
This movement towards standardization has led to an increase of administrative or so called ‘non-tariff barriers to trade’ in markets such as the EU and Japan, as these economies ignore the reasonable thresholds for pesticide use as established by the World Health Organization (WHO). 
pesticide use unjustly blights tea industry image hinh 0

The WHO has established perfectly rational CODEX Alimentarius thresholds for residue levels, yet the EU, Japan and other markets have routinely been imposing residue standards that are three to five hundred fold these levels.
The EU and Japan have virtually frozen out imports of tea from Vietnam, while the US is performing many more food safety inspections than in the past. Iran, another major export market, is now also requiring additional documents attesting to the cleanliness of the tea on shipment.
Vietnam is just the latest tea supplier to suffer a loss of reputation.  Previously, it was India. As a result, the upward trajectory of exports has been thwarted and the sales revenue in several key tea categories is off the mark.
For the seven months leading up to August of 2016, the volume of tea exports jumped 4.9% to 69,000 metric tons but the overall value dipped 2.1% to US$110 million, according to official statistics.
For 2015, exports dropped 5.5% in volume to 125,000 metric tons from 2014, which in overall general terms means that for the past two-years the volume of sales has been holding fairly steady but revenue has fallen significantly.
The average price of Vietnamese tea for the seven months January-July 2016 dropped 6.6% to US$1,160 per metric ton, against the average price for the same seven-month period in 2015.
Meanwhile the sales price of exports per metric ton has traded for about 60-70% less than that of competitors from Kenya, Sri Lanka, China and India – the largest four players in the global tea markets for the first seven-months of 2016.
While surveys support the fact that some abuse of pesticides exist in the tea industry, there is also little doubt that much of the alleged abuse is overstated and there are not in reality the serious quality issues as has been reported, said MARD speakers.
Much of the problem lies with competitors in importing markets throwing up administrative ‘non-tariff barriers to trade’ as a red herring to disguise their real intent to protect themselves from foreign competition.
The goal of those throwing up these barriers is either to stop Vietnamese teas from entering the market or, in the alternative, to trash the industry’s image and drive the price of its tea downwards so as to make exports to the market unprofitable.
Certainly, more can be done by the industry to market higher quality green and fermented teas, said speakers from MARD, - but they noted the pesticide problem cuts across the entire global food supply.
Vietnamese tea is neither more at risk nor more protected from it.
VOV

Trust vital to fight counterfeit goods


Local businesses have not been active in preventing and fighting against counterfeit goods due to a lack of trust in management agencies effectively resolving the issue.
 
Market watch officers test quality of alcohol. In the first half of the year, market management agencies nationwide resolved 2,539 violations relating to fake goods and intellectual property rights, collecting fines of VND59.7 billion, 64 per cent higher than the whole of last year. -- VNA/VNS PHoto Bach Hue

Le The Bao, chairman of the Viet Nam Association for Anti-counterfeiting and Trademark Protection (VATAP) told a workshop held in Ha Noi on August 26 that management agencies had sometimes not thoroughly resolved counterfeit good discoveries and violations of intellectual property rights.
"It can be seen that fake goods and violations of intellectual property rights have become a global issue, affecting benefits to businesses and customers' health," Bao said.
Sharing these ideas, Nguyen Thi Phi Nga, a lawyer from Hogan Lovells International LLP Company said information transparency in resolving the violations has been a key issue in improving effective co-operation between authorities and firms in fighting counterfeit goods.
Nga said the fight against fake goods could be effective if businesses were ready to provide information in a timely manner and received information from management agencies on processes to resolve violations and punishments. "In reality, firms received little information on the process, especially about the fine mechanism. This has reduced their trust in the fight against counterfeit goods," she added.
In the first half of the year, market watch agencies nationwide resolved 2,539 violations relating to fake goods and intellectual property rights, collecting fines of VND59.7 billion, 64 per cent higher than the whole of last year. However, the number is modest in comparison with reality.
A representative from Ha Noi's market watch department said the legal document system has seen overlapping or even conflicting regulations that makes loopholes that allow for the existence of fake goods and intellectual property violations.
Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Do Thang Hai said the fight against counterfeit goods could not be successful if there is no active participation by business and society. Hả affirmed that market management agencies would always support firms to protect their rights and benefits, and to create a healthy and fair business environment.
"The Government should implement drastic measures to resolve the issue. Especially, management agencies should clarify loopholes allowing violations and review the legal system to better fight against counterfeit goods," he added.
VNS

Treasury to mobilise more capital from Government bonds


 
 As of August 24, the treasury has mobilised more than 231 trillion VND (10.34 billion USD) or more than 92 percent of the year plan (Photo: vietstock.vn)

Hanoi - The state treasury of Vietnam offloaded more than 92 percent of the bonds planned for the year as of August 24, according to the Hanoi Stock Exchange. 


As of August 24, the treasury has mobilised more than 231 trillion VND (10.34 billion USD). In particular, the exchange said the treasury sold all five-year bonds worth 3 trillion at a coupon rate of 5.79 percent per annum, 0.13 percent lower than that of the previous session on August 17. Following higher demand, it also sold same term bonds of 900 billion VND with the same coupon rate. 

Similarly, seven-year bonds worth 3 trillion VND were sold at a coupon rate of 6.35 percent per annum, 0.14 percent lower than the last session. The treasury also sold bonds worth another 900 billion VND at the same rate due to demand. 

Thus, compared to the revised plan of 250 trillion VND in bonds for 2016, to which was added another 30 trillion VND after good sales in the first half, G-bond sale has reached more than 92 percent. 

Bao Viet Securities Company (BVSC) said the state treasury would soon complete mobilisation plans of government bonds this year and mobilise more capital from G-bonds in the last few months of the year.

The firm said that with less pressure to meet targets, the interest rates of the bonds may fall, making them more attractive to investors. 

According to the treasury, the sale of bonds for five-year and 15-year terms exceeded the target. On the other hand, the treasury could not sell any of its 20-year bonds worth 1 trillion VND when offered in the August 24 auction. 

Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue welcomed insurance firm AIA’s chairman Mark Edward Tucker on August 25 and said the country had set a bond sale target of 35 percent of the GDP by 2020, especially bonds with long terms of 15 to 20 years. 

He said the AIA Group could invest more strongly in the long-term G-bonds market, while the AIA head reaffirmed their commitment to long-term investment such as G-bonds, infrastructure and the healthcare system.-VNA

Renewing policies to attract more FDI


 By the end of last month, Vietnam had attracted nearly US$13 billion from foreign direct investment (FDI), a year-on-year increase of 47%.

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This proves Vietnam has become an attractive destination for foreign investors. But the country still needs more new policies to draw in investment projects using advanced technologies and ensuring environmental safety. 
Statistics by the Ministry of Planning and Investment show that Vietnam lured in almost US$13 billion of foreign direct investment (FDI) over the past seven months of 2016, with a sharp rise in both the number of registered projects and the amount of committed capital.
FDI companies contribute about 20% of the total state budget and 20% of the national GDP.
According to Vietnam’s Association of Foreign Invested Enterprises, FDI has proven itself is a driving force for national economic growth this year, which has seen the biggest ever increase in disbursement.
Specifically, implemented FDI grew 12% last year, the highest rate over the past fifteen years. 
Nguyen Van Toan, Deputy President of Vietnam’s Association of Foreign Invested Enterprises, said, “This year’s FDI data illustrates a positive outcome for the integration process. More disbursement means foreign investors feel secure about the host country’s investment environment, and it demonstrates that Vietnam has been good at attracting foreign investment.”
Despite these achievements, the increase in FDI presents many obstacles and has negative consequences for the environment and business performance.
Associate Professor To Trung Thanh of the National Economics University said that when foreign companies make low tech investments in Vietnam, it will have a serious impact on the environment and cannot help Vietnam to raise its technological capacity.
“Statistics from Data of the Ministry of Planning and Investment reveal that over the past 25 years, 80% of the technologies used by FDI companies in Vietnam are average technologies and only 6% of FDI companies have used advanced technologies," Thanh said. 
"If we still depend on FDI to grow, we must accept the fact that most FDI businesses investing in Vietnam are here to make the most of its natural resources and low labor costs. Their technologies are low and bring in little added value,” he noted.
Do Nhat Hoang, head of the Foreign Investment Department of the Ministry of Planning and Investment, underscored the need to make a comprehensive evaluation of FDI to outline appropriate policies to improve its effectiveness.

He said, “Management decentralization is a good guideline. But we should take into consideration how to manage post-decentralization and issue regulations on management decentralization with the aim of making more reforms."
"Moreover, recent government resolutions have clarified the management of foreign investment and how to make FDI useful for Vietnam, especially as regards to environmental protection, social responsibility, and dealing with violations of the law by foreign investors,” he added.
To fully tap the FDI for national economic development and improve Vietnam’s status in the world, economists said policies aimed at attracting FDI from now until 2020 should focus on specific areas and prioritize production activities with more added value and high-tech investment projects.
VOV5
Hanoi Opera House, a temple of art

Nestled in the heart of Vietnam’s capital city, the Hanoi Opera House is an ideal venue for top-notch performances.

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As from this autumn forth, the Opera House will be hosting more classical shows to meet the public’s entertainment needs. 
Dubbed a miniature of the Opera Garnier in Paris, the Hanoi Opera House was built in 1911. It was assessed by Japanese architects as one of the most beautiful buildings in Southeast Asia. The Hanoi Opera House is now the most opulent building in Hanoi, and houses major events, meetings, and high-class performances by domestic and world troupes.
Although it is touted as a temple of Vietnamese art, the Hanoi Opera House used to be a venue for miscellaneous, non-artistic shows, get-togethers, and celebrations for organizations and businesses. 
Top-notch artistic performances, including traditional shows as cheo (classical opera), tuong (classical drama), and cai luong (reformed theatre) rarely took place there. The Opera House was turned into an “event house” rather than a rendez-vous point for art professionals and lovers, which did not benefit its artistic and architectural prestige. 
Historian Duong Trung Quoc suggests that it’s time to restore the Opera House’s original functions.
“It’s important to preserve both the tangible and intangible values of the Opera House. Events or shows that do not suit this venue should not be held there”, said Mr Quoc
The Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism has ordered the Department of Performing Arts and the Hanoi Opera House to work on high-quality programs to be staged at the Opera House until the end of this year. 
On the 71st anniversary of August Revolution and National Independence, on 2 September, grand programs will be held by the Symphony Orchestra, the Vietnam Drama Theatre, and the Cheo Theatre. Many shows, that have won gold or silver medals at national professional festivals, will debut at the fancy Hanoi Opera House. 
From this autumn, the Ministry of Culture, Spots, and Tourism intends to have highly-artistic performances of Cheo, drama, and classical music staged regularly at this venue.  The general public will have greater access to top-notch art forms. 
Kieu Ngan, Deputy Director of the Vietnam Drama Theatre, said “In other countries, opera houses are frequented by domestic and foreign visitors, who come to enjoy highly artistic shows. By doing so, they will understand more about the culture and art of the host country. The Hanoi Opera House should be such a destination.”
VOV5
Social News 28/8

Murderer gets 20 years in jail

The People’s Court of the central Bình Thuận Province yesterday sentenced Nguyễn Thọ to 20 years in prison for a murder and robbery that he committed 18 years ago.

Thọ must also pay VNĐ 124 million (US$5,590) and a gold ring as compensation to the victim’s family.

Thọ’s case drew nationwide attention as it was related to the wrongful conviction of Huỳnh Văn Nén, who spent more than 17 years in jail before being declared innocent and freed from prison last December.

At the trial yesterday, Thọ, 40, pleaded guilty to the murder and robbery.

He admitted that on the evening of April 23, 1998, he and his accomplice Hồ Thanh Việt broke into the house of Lê Thị Bông, who lived in the same neighbourhood.  After being discovered by Bông, Thọ and Việt used a wire to strangle Bông to death and took her gold ring.

After the murder, Thọ and Việt fled the locality. Việt later died of illness in 2001, while Thọ changed his named and traveled from place to place in several southern provinces and Cambodia.

Thọ said at the trial he did not know that Nén had been sent to jail for the crime.

On October 10, 2015, Thọ gave himself up to the police and confessed his crime, which was considered as an extenuating circumstance at the trial.

Nén was arrested in May 1998 for the murder and robbery charge. In 2000, Bình Thuận Province People’s Court sentenced him to life imprisonment for murdering Bông and also condemned him to six years in jail for killing another woman in 1993, which was also proved to be an incorrect conviction later.

After Thọ’s confession, Nén was cleared of the crime and freed from prison. He received a public apology from the provincial People’s Court, the provincial Procuracy Office and the Police Department.

He and the Bình Thuận Province People’s Court have been negotiating to decide on a compensation claim of VNĐ 18 billion ($806,900) that Nén wants for his 17 years in jail.

Vietnam to train 930 artists abroad

Vietnam could churn out hundreds of outstanding artists next decade as two plans to spot and train talent abroad were recently approved by the government.

The plans, to train “talented artists” by 2025 and “personnel in cultural and artistic fields” by 2030, will begin to be implemented by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism next year.

Under the first plan, painters, actors, writers, musicians, dancers, and circus performers will be trained.

Students from cultural and artistic schools around the country will be picked and 355 will be sent abroad for short-term courses, competitions, festivals, etc.
The second plan aims to train artists in areas that are weak or unavailable in Vietnam: like film direction, cinematography and antique restoration.
Students and artists with good school records, titles and awards will be chosen.
In all, 930 artists will be trained in countries including Russia, China, France, Germany, Australia, Canada, Japan, and the Republic of Korea.
They will have to return to work in Vietnam.
The ministry did not reveal the estimated cost.

Irrigation needs private sector
 
 

Agricultural irrigation systems in Việt Nam need to switch their operations from administrative subsidy mechanisms to market mechanisms in order to meet the goals of responding to climate change and the restructuring of the agricultural sector.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Hoàng Văn Thắng made the statement at a conference in Hà Nội yesterday to discuss the challenges arising from climate change and the requirements of agricultural restructuring.

Thắng said that the core of switching the operation of irrigation systems to a market mechanism was to mobilise the participation of citizens and businesses and turn water into an essential good that is associated with social security and food security

“The irrigation system across the country has not been invested in properly,” Thắng said, adding that many projects had been seriously degraded.

“To meet development requirements in the current context, the sector needs to improve its management and accelerate the application of scientific advances in construction,” he said

Thắng urged the sector to meet the requirements for adaptation and mitigation of climate change while implementing synchronised solutions for institution building, human resources and infrastructure to promote the participation of the private sector and the application of science and technology in forecasting and analysing activities.

“The goal is to mobilise resources, and the involvement of the economic and social sectors to create preconditions for sustainable development,” the agriculture official said.

“This mechanism will help the poor and areas affected by natural disasters will have the opportunity to access water resources and disaster response,” he added, noting that many irrigation works in reality were only designed to cater to small and individual agricultural production, which failed to meet the requirements of serving a diversified and modernised agricultural sector.

Deputy Director of the Water Resources Directorate, Nguyễn Văn Tỉnh, said that there was a need to improve the operational efficiency of irrigation systems as well as to promote the participation of the private sector to mobilise different resources into irrigation services.

"The implementation of the price mechanism will change many people’s perception of irrigation, help users understand the nature of the goods and raise the practice of water saving,” he said.

Việt Nam now has thousands of irrigation works with more than 6,600 reservoirs, 10,000 electric pumping stations, 5,500 large irrigation drains, 234,000km of canals and nearly 26km of dikes. The irrigation system serves 7.5 million hectares of rice, 1.7 million hectares of crops, and supplies 1.6 billion cu.m of water for daily life and industry.

JICA urges Đồng Nai to hasten site clearance

The Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA) has urged the southern province of Đồng Nai to hasten site clearance for two JICA-funded water projects to ensure timely completion.

The projects include a water drainage and wastewater treatment project in Biên Hòa city and the second phase of the Nhơn Trạch water plant.

Speaking to the Đồng Nai Province’s People’s Committee on Thursday, a JICA representative said the province should take drastic measures to implement the second phase.

The tardiness of site clearance for the first phase of the water plant has slowed down JICA’s capital disbursement.

JICA said it could consider providing capital only after the province completes site clearance and compensation payment for the affected households.

For the water drainage and wastewater treatment project in Biên Hoà city, JICA asked the provincial authorities to work closely with the Ministry of Planning and Investment. The ministry will send an official notice to JICA before the capital can be disbursed.

Speaking at the meeting, the chairman of the province’s People’s Committee, Đinh Quốc Thái, said that four more pipeline routes would be built in Long Thành and Nhơn Trạch districts as part of the second phase of the water plant.

The province is clearing the sites and will finish work on schedule, while site clearance for the water drainage project will be completed by the end of next year.

The province also plans to build an embankment from its own budget for the Biên Hoa-based project in early 2018.

The second phase of the Nhơn Trạch water plant project has a total investment capital of nearly VNĐ3.6 trillion ($161.4 million) and is expected to be completed in 2021.

The first phase of the factory, already operating, now supplies 100,000 cubic metres daily.

The water drainage and wastewater treatment project has a total cost of VNĐ8.5 trillion ($381 million).

Nghia wins top prize in photo contest

Photographer Huỳnh Công Nghĩa of Ninh Thuận Province has won first prize at the 24th Southeast Region Photo Contest.

The announcement ceremony was held in Phan Rang City in Ninh Thuận Province earlier this week.

Competing with 269 photographers from eight provinces, Nghĩa won for his colour photograph, Khoảnh Khắc Tuổi Thơ (Moment of Childhood), which depicted a girl playing with a baby goat on a field in Ninh Thuận, a coastal province in the south.

Nghĩa, a member of the Ninh Thuận Photography Club, said that his “images come from genuine emotions and capture real human beauty. In my works, viewers can see my region’s developments," he added.

The second prize was shared by Trương Thị Hạnh of Lâm Đồng and Trần Đình Thương of Bình Thuận.

Their works feature landscapes and sport activities in their homeland.

“The winners captured the beauty of the region and local people in daily life and work,” said Vũ Quốc Khánh, chairman of the Việt Nam Photographers’ Association and a member of the jury.  

The competition received 1,922 colour- and black-and-white photos.  

The event was organised by the Việt Nam Photographers’ Association and Ninh Thuận Province’s Literature and Arts Association to feature the economic, political, cultural and social activities of the region.

Festival to boost tourism in north-western region

Tuyên Quang Province will host a cultural programme named “Travelling through heritage areas of Việt Bắc” and the 2016 Tuyên Quang City Festival from September 8-11.

The Việt Bắc region, which spreads over the north-western provinces of Hà Giang, Tuyên Quang, Cao Bằng, Bắc Kạn, Thái Nguyên and Lạng Sơn has great tourism potential with well-known destinations like Ba Bể Lake (Bắc Kạn), Đồng Văn Karst Plateau (Hà Giang), Bản Giốc Waterfall (Cao Bằng), and Na Hang hydropower reservoir (Tuyên Quang).

This region is also the seat of the revolutionary government during the anti-French war and houses many ethnic groups with diversified cultures making it a destination for anyone interested in culture and history.

The programme promoting the tourism potential of the Việt Bắc region was started in 2009. It has worked effectively as new tours connecting destinations in the region have been built and the number of tourists have increased, according to Nguyễn Hải Anh, vice chairman of the Tuyên Quang People’s Committee.

“Through developing tourism, we promote and preserve local culture, remind people of the glorious history of the former base during the anti-French war and call people to protect the environment,” he said.

 “Last year, similar events attracted 100,000 tourists. This year, with a larger scale and more activities, we expect to draw in even more guests,” he said.

The programme will start on September 8 with a photo exhibition held at the Tuyên Quang Provincial Museum featuring the nature, culture and people of the northern mountainous region.

The opening ceremony will officially take place on September 9 at Nguyễn Tất Thành Square, Tuyên Quang City.

It will be a night of folklore culture and art performed by artists and a mass of actors from the six provinces in the region and troupes from Russia, Belarus, Thailand, South Korea, China and Laos.

Tourists will have the chance to enjoy Then singing, an ancient music form of the Tày ethnic group which is looking for UNESCO recognition as part of the world intangible cultural heritage.

As part of tourism promotion activities on the occasion, a food fair featuring traditional dishes and agricultural products of ethnic groups in the region will be held.

Another highlight will be the Tuyên Quang City Festival Night with a parade of big lanterns created by local people, based on characters in folklore tales, historic characters and animals associated with Vietnamese culture such as mice and buffalo.

Adults created big lantern models covering a lorry. Then chilren are taken aboard to join a parade around Nguyễn Tất Thành Square and Tân Quang Lake. This year the parade will see nearly 100 lantern models.

“This is a unique festival only found in Tuyên Quang City and is initiated by the local people themselves,” said vice chairman Anh. “The children have a feeling that they’re a part of the lantern during the parade.”

Besides cultural and art activities, a tournament of traditional sports that local people often play on the occasion of festivities and New Year will be held. They are tug-of-war, ném còn (throwing a ball through a ring for good luck), đẩy gậy (pushing sticks) and shooting with a crossbow.

Dak Nong: firm fined for violation of environment regulations

Green Farm Asia Co., Ltd in Cu Knia commune, Cu Jut district in the Central Highlands province of Dak Nong, was fined 427.5 million VND (19,237 USD) for violating regulations on environmental protection.

The company was found to have yet to build environment treatment facilities, and discharge untreated waste water into the environment.

The provincial People’s Committee asked the company to immediately install environment treatment facilities in accordance with the report on environment impacts and focus on improving the environment in the area.

Nha Trang releases tourist code of conduct

In order to combat disinformation about its tourist attractions, the People’s Committee of Nha Trang City has released a code of conduct for tourists.

Nha Trang, the capital of the south-central province of Khanh Hoa, is a coastal city famous for its beaches and historical sites.

The city’s steady stream of local and international tourists has transformed it into one of Vietnam’s most popular tourist destinations, presenting the administration with a mix of new rewards and steep challenges.

On August 23, Nguyen Sy Khanh, vice-chairman of the People’s Committee of Nha Trang, stated that the code of conduct aims to transform the city into a “civilized tourist city.”

One of the key points in the code of conduct urges visitors to avoid “giving false information,” a clause attempting to quell rampant disinformation from Chinese tour guides who allegedly distort the history of Nha Trang and its historical sites.

“We are installing information bulletins in multiple languages at tourist attractions in order to give visitors a more comprehensive understanding of each site.

"Additionally, we plan to have tour guides at tourist attractions to explain the history and culture of those attractions without distortion,” Dinh Van Cuong, director of the Office of Information and Culture of Nha Trang, said.

The code of conduct also extends to social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, though Khanh admitted that enforcement of the set of principles on social media will be a challenge for authorities.

“We’re mainly just encouraging and promoting good behavior, but we will punish those who violate the code of conduct in accordance with the severity of their violation. These are not empty words,” Khanh said.

Before Nha Trang released its code of conduct, several other cities, including Danang, had published similar documents.

“It’s difficult to enforce sanctions for violations of the code of conduct, as many violations included are not infringements of state law.

"However, we still caution tourists so that we can create a more civilized tourist environment, limit violations, and raise tourist awareness.

"Violations in public will be fined, depending on each case,” said Tran Chi Cuong, vice-director of the Danang Department of Tourism, the agency tasked with creating Danang’s code of conduct.

“The code of conduct needs to be suitable to each local area and possible to implement," said Le Huu Minh, vice-director of Thua Thien-Hue Department of Tourism.

"There should not only be prohibitions, but also solutions to ensure that tourists follow the code of conduct without feeling uncomfortable.

"For example, if you require visitors to wear formal clothing at sacred places, then you should have that kind of clothing available for free at the tourist attraction."

Mindset change will be good for heritage conservation

Authorities at agencies managing heritage sites should change their mindset in order to better conserve relics recognised as heritage sites, experts have said.

Researcher Trần Đức Anh Sơn said at a seminar held in Huế yesterday that inconsistent management and a lack of expertise among managers has hindered the conservation of relics around the country.

“Unhealthy competition between localities with relics has caused delays in the recognition of national heritage items by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism,” he said.

Experts said every locality wants recognised items, which means a good tourism profile for the locality as well as funds for the conservation of the recognised buildings.

Sơn highlighted the case of the Huế complex of royal monuments in 1993. Many among the 81 items built by the Nguyễn Dynasty (1802-1945) recognised by UNESCO as world cultural heritage items had not been on the ministry’s list.

The cause of this was that Huế had already had so many items recognised, compared to other localities, he said.

Other speakers at the seminar also noted techniques and rules used for restoring the buildings.

Many buildings in Huế have been changed in style and colour due to the conservation work. Huế has a different carving style compared to the northern provinces, thus carved wooden structures in the former imperial city gained an abnormal facelift after being worked on by northern artisans.

Designers today use the metric system for measuring but every building in Huế was based on a measuring unit regulated by the dynasty, which has led to imprecise structures and connections between spare parts after restoration.

Sơn also spoke about the different mindset between conservationists and local government officials on conservation. “When they meet, it would be good for the relics. Vice versa, those building will get unexpected changes,” he said.

The seminar was held by the Ministry of Communications and Information on local tourism promotion for the relics, but it included speeches on conservation and the balance between conservation and tourism growth.

Bac Ninh pagoda welcomes world’s largest jade Buddha

The world’s largest jade Buddha statue is being exhibited in Dau pagoda in the northern province of Bac Ninh.

A ceremony was held in the pagoda on August 25 to welcome the statue, which will be displayed there until September 9.

During the exhibition, various ceremonies for revolutionary martyrs, global peace and lectures on Buddhism, and art performances will be held by the Bac Ninh chapter of the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha.

The “Jade Buddha for Peace” statue was carved from gemstone-quality jade called Polar Pride, discovered in Canada in 2000. Ian Green, an Australian Buddhist, invited artisans from Nepal, India and Thailand to carve the statue in Thailand. The carving was completed in 2008.

The statue is modeled on the Siddhartha Gautama Buddha statue inside the Mahabodhi Stupa in India’s Bodh Gaya. It stands 2.54m tall and weighs over 4.5 tonnes.
The statue has toured more than 20 countries and 100 cities worldwide.

It was brought to Vietnam for the first time in 2009 and was displayed in various pagodas in the central city of Da Nang, Ba Ria Vung Tau, HCM City and Dong Thap in the south and the northern province of Bac Ninh.

It was then moved to Australia before it toured the United States in 2010, Europe in 2011 and Asia in 2012.

The statue is scheduled to be permanently installed in Australia after leaving Vietnam.

Quang Ninh prioritises science-technology development

The northern coastal province of Quang Ninh will continue spending between 4-5 percent of the locality’s budget on science and technology development, with priority given to those in service sector.

The province has maintained the rate over the last four years, with the peak reported in 2015 with 5.55 percent of regular expenditure spent on science and technology.

In 2012, the provincial Party Committee issued a Resolution on sci-technology development from 2011-2020.

In the four years since the resolution, Quang Ninh poured 520 billion VND in 206 projects.

To date, about 70 percent of the projects have been implemented, mainly in agriculture.

Quang Ninh has established science-technology development funds sourced from the local budget and individuals and enterprises in the locality, aiming to facilitate science-technology research projects.

Thanks to investments in the field, many enterprises in Quang Ninh improved the competitiveness of their products.

With a focus on sci-technology and infrastructure development, Quang Ninh aims to become a service - industry oriented locality by 2020.-

Obstetricians, pediatricians encouraged to go to remote areas

The Health Ministry will have mechanisms encouraging obstetricians and pediatricians to commit to long-term practice in mountainous and underprivileged areas as part of its 2016-2020 national action plan on health care for mothers and children.

The move comes as the mortality rate of infants among ethnic groups in the far-flung areas remains high while due attention has yet been paid to caring for pregnant and post-natal women, newborns and children in these areas.

A 2006-2007 survey showed that maternity-related deaths in mountainous localities accounted for 81.5 percent that of the entire nation. The figure was 81.2 percent in 2013 and 2014.

The mortality rate among children under one and five years old in mountainous areas is also the highest in the country, with little progress made in recent years.

Statistics released at a workshop in Hanoi on August 25 showed that in Vietnam, the maternal mortality rate decreased from 233 per 100,000 live births in 1990 to 69 per 100,000 in 2010. Meanwhile, the mortality rate of under-one-year-old children fell from 44.4 percent in 1990 to 14.9 percent in 2014.

However, it is estimated that there are 580-600 maternal deaths and over 10,000 infant deaths in the nation each year.

Therefore, in the time ahead, the health ministry will help women nationwide get easier access to quality reproductive health services, while improving the quality of emergency aid and treatment for women and children.

Tuyen Quang mid-autumn festival opens on September 9

Le hoi Thanh Tuyen” (Tuyen Quang City Festival) 2016, which is also known as Tuyen Quang Mid-Autumn Festival, will be held from September 9-11 with a mass parade of beautiful and giant lanterns made by locals.

Sixty most beautiful lanterns, which simulate characters in fairy tails, colloquial stories and famous beauty spots of the country, have been elected for the parade in Nguyen Tat Thanh square in Tuyen Quang city, the northern mountainous province of same name.

Two of the lanterns are expected to be recognised as Vietnam’s records, said Nguyen Hai Anh, Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee and head of the organising board during a press conference in Hanoi on August 26.

This year, the annual event will be organise in parallel with a tourism development programme themed “Through Northern Mountainous Heritage Areas,” which has been jointly launched by six regional provinces: Bac Kan, Cao Bang, Ha Giang, Lang Son, Thai Nguyen and Tuyen Quang since 2009.

An art performance featuring the cultural identity of ethnic minorities in northern mountainous region involving 400 artists will be held following an opening ceremony on September 9.

Other festive activities in the framework of the programme include cuisine and Hanoi beer festivals, and a photography festival and a beauty contest.

This year, the programme is expected to draw 50,000 visitors to Tuyen Quang. The city has encouraged locals to host visitors as part of efforts to meet their accommodation demand.

Anh also revealed that through six years of the programme, the six localities attracted 32 million visitors. In Tuyen Quang, the number of tourist rose significantly to 1.32 million from only 500,000 in 2010. The province’s tourism revenue also has increased 12-18 percent annually.

Tuyen Quang, a place of revolutionary history, owns various beauty spots and historical sites, including Tan Trao, Kim Binh, Kim Quan, and Lang Ngoi-Da Ban.

Actor calls for community contribution for children right

Deputy head of the Vietnam Association for Protection of Child's Rights (VACR) actor Quyen Linh called for social joining hand in protecting children rights at a press brief on August 25 in Diamond Place Restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City.

VACR held the meeting to introduce the program “Chia Se yeu Thuong” (Sharing Love) which will be broadcast live on HTV9 on September 4.

The TV program “ Sharing Love” aims to supply information of children right to people and raise people’s awareness and responsibility of families, schools and society in taking care of, protecting and educating children especially disadvantaged kids.

Actor Linh told he had ever witnessed that a kid was beaten by his father cruelly. Then, the actor asked the man why he beats the poor kid, the man said because he is the kid’s father, he has right to do that. Such cases still happen in Vietnam.

The actor concluded that everybody should protect children, sharing more that he partakes in the program for two reasons; one of reasons is to call for adults to change their behaviors to children.

On this occasion, the VACR is organized a musical performance for 300 disadvantaged kids from residential blocks, social center, open houses and those who are suffering fatal diseases. The program offers also them gifts with the expectation that they can feel the love from the community.

Additionally, the program also presented 50 scholarships to needy children who dropped out of school due to their difficult family condition and gave additional five  special scholarships to 5 disadvantaged students having good achievements in study.

Deputy Head of VACR  Mrs. To Thi Kim Hoa said that HCMC has approximately 26,000 disadvantaged kids who have not fully enjoy their rights. Many of them are orphans, homeless, sexually abused and some of the must drop schooling because their divorced parents are irresponsible.

Last time, through hot line, the municipal Association received 116 cases and handled 112 cases. It also liaised with relevant agencies and social organizations to present gifts to 1,650 kids as well as provide scholarships to 110 students totally worth over VND1.2 billion (US$53,809)

VACR was set up as per the municipal People’s Committee on August 4, 2014 comprising of 6 sub-departments in districts 7, Cu Chi, Law Association, Charity Association, Thien Than Nho Kindergarten Association and Education Center, aiming to unite individuals and organizations in HCMC protecting children as per Vietnam’s law and international convention.

First fisherman builds two steel ships worth VND 30bln

Mr.Nguyen Van Hanh at Dinh An town, Tra Cu district in Tra Vinh province is the first fisherman in the province invested VND 30billion by the bank to build two steel fishing ships with an 800CV diesel engine for making deep sea fishing catch.

He received a low interest rate loan of 7 percent per year. Of these, he will pay 1 percent per year, the rest will be paid by state budget.

According to department of agriculture & rural development in Tra Vinh, the bank's support will help the provincial's fishermen and enterprises to invest in building more deep-sea fishing ships improving the quality of fishing.

Israel sponsors water management workshop in Hanoi
Prominent Israeli scientists and water practitioners chaired a workshop on August 28 in Hanoi discussing water evaluation and planning, sponsored by the Embassy of Israel in Vietnam.
israel sponsors water management workshop in hanoi hinh 0 The main purpose of the workshop was to build capacity and proficiency in water evaluation and planning by attendees, particularly in the use of the microcomputer, a useful tool for integrated water resources management that goes a step beyond conventional supply-oriented water simulation models. 
The primary lecturer was Asher Shmuel Azenkot from the Israel Ministry of Agriculture, whose research focuses on developing decision support tools for evaluating various operational strategies in managed water resources systems.
He has participated extensively in the development and application of databases and tools used for water resources analysis in a variety of domestic and international settings in all parts of the globe.
On the occasion a speaker from Alphabooks introduced the book ‘Let There Be Water’ by Seth Mitchell Siegel, first published in late 2015, which outlines Israel’s Solution for a Water-Starved World.
One dead, ten injured as passenger bus climbs up bridge
A passenger bus with 20 people onboard has crashed into the fence of a bridge in the central province of Quang Binh, leaving one dead and ten others injured.
The vehicle on August 24 was seen with its rear wheels stuck in the bridge, while the upper part of its body heads down to the stream beneath as police came.
Police said the accident occurred at around 2:30 am the same day, with the passenger bus, operated by Tu Lan Co., suspected of losing control at a sharp bend.
The vehicle was carrying 15 passengers and five members of the operating firm on a north-to-south route when it crashed into the bridge, standing about ten meters above the waters, according to officers.
Panicked passengers shouted for help, and were quickly rescued and taken to hospital by locals.
The deceased passenger was identified as 30-year-old Tran Thuyen, hailing from the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak.
The injured are being treated at different hospitals in Quang Binh.
Bac Ninh to recall more than VND13 billion from corruption

The northern province of Bac Ninh is strengthening its efforts in the fight against corruption, with an initial aim to collect losses from corruption worth VND13 billion for the State budget.

The data was presented at a conference to deploy the Bac Ninh anti-corruption plan for 2016 between the Central Steering Committee for Anti-Corruption with the local authorities on August 23. The central working mission was led by head of the Party Central Committee's Commission for Internal Affairs Phan Dinh Trac.

As reported by the Bac Ninh authorities, the locality has inspected and settled 176 economic corruption cases, with nine cases currently being investigated.

Total assets from corruption recovery through investigation, prosecution and trial are set at more than VND13 billion, of which authorities have recalled over VND5.5 billion.

Speaking at the conference, head of the Party Central Committee's Commission for Internal Affairs Phan Dinh Trac urged Bac Ninh to coordinate closely with the Anti-Corruption Central Steering Committee to carry out inspection and surveillance over units in the province to clearly define results, experience, and limitations during investing and handling corruption.

The same day, other working teams from the Steering Committee also began their inspection of anti-corruption work in Hau Giang and Phu Yen provinces.

The team to the southern province of Hau Giang is led by Chief Judge of the Supreme People’s Court Nguyen Hoa Binh, while the team to the south central province of Phu Yen is led by Prosecutor General of the Supreme People’s Procuracy Le Minh Tri.

The teams are among the seven working groups established in late May by Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, who is also head of the Central Steering Committee for Anti-Corruption, to inspect the investigation and judgment of serious corruption and economic cases of public concern.

FLC Golf Champs set to tee off on Sept 30
More than 800 top professional and amateur golfers from around the globe have registered to compete at the FLC Golf Championship 2016 (Sept 30-Oct 2) in Quy Nhon.
This year’s competitors will be swinging for total cash and prizes worth more than US$2.7 million, FLC Group, the sponsor of the event, unveiled at a recent press conference.
FLC Group has sponsored four golf tournaments at its FLC Quy Nhon Resort to date, attended by 140, 200, 300 and 800 golfers for the years 2012-2015, inclusive, respectively.
In addition, at the conference FLC announced next year’s tournament will be held at FLC Ha Long.
VNA/VNS/VOV/SGT/SGGP/TT/TN/Dantri/VNE

Thứ Bảy, ngày 27 tháng 8 năm 2016

BUSINESS IN BRIEF 28/8

India invites Vietnam firms to attend jewelry show
India is calling for Vietnamese firms to attend the 10th Signature IIJS, a leading jewelry show which features the best jewelry collections by the top Indian makers.
The participation of Vietnamese enterprises in the show in Mumbai in February 2017 is expected to help boost cooperation in jewelry production and design with Indian counterparts, heard a business meeting between gem and jewelry firms of India and Vietnam in the city on Tuesday.
The meeting was organized by the Consulate General of India in HCMC in collaboration with the Investment Technology Promotion Department under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, India’s Gem and Jewelry Export Promotion Council, and the Saigon Jewelry Association.
India’s gem and jewelry industry posted export revenue of over US$40 billion last year and the country currently accounts for 95% of the world’s diamond exports.
Indian consul general in HCMC Smita Pant said at the meeting that India wants to strengthen business cooperation with Vietnam and the Signature IIJS is an opportunity for enterprises in the sector to learn more about the latest designs as well as discuss cooperation in technology, innovation and fashion.
Nguyen Van Dung, chairman of the Saigon Jewelry Association, said people of the two countries share certain cultural similarities such as preference for jewelry. The association is capable of producing items that meet demand of Indians, so it looks to contribute to boosting jewelry trade with India.
However, there are several challenges for cooperation between jewelry businesses between the two countries.
Cao Thi Ngoc Dung, general director of Phu Nhuan Jewelry Company (PNJ), said Indian gold imported into Vietnam is subject to a high duty rate of up to 40% while a high tariff is also levied on Vietnamese gold exported to India.
Dung suggested Indian firms should show their products in Vietnam as domestic firms cannot have access to materials from India.
“PNJ imports diamonds from Hong Kong and we know they come from India. If Indian companies present products in the Vietnamese market and ink deals with PNJ, they can do the same with other jewelry firms in Vietnam,” Dung said.
She called for India to cooperate with Vietnam in training jewelry designers as Vietnam currently has no school for the profession.
VinaCapital acts to attract Korean investors to Vietnam
VinaCapital Group said it has partnered with Shinhan BNP Paribas Asset Management (Shinhan) to provide investment products to the latter’s clients in South Korea and enable them to do business in Vietnam.
The two companies signed a memorandum of understanding in Seoul on Monday to outline how they would cooperate in developing funds for Korean investors interested in Vietnamese assets and introduce Shinhan’s products in the Vietnamese market in the future. 
VinaCapital’s first partnership with Shinhan is an investment management mandate for one of Shinhan’s funds registered in Korea.
In addition, the two parties will work together to launch the VIP Equity Fund, which will invest in publicly traded Vietnamese companies as well as those in Indonesia and the Philippines. The fund is expected to come out in September.
In the coming time, VinaCapital and Shinhan will also cooperate in developing a Vietnamese multi-asset fund which invests in equities, fixed income, real estate and other assets in Vietnam.
Shinhan BNP Paribas Asset Management is a joint venture between BNP Paribas and Shinhan Financial Group. It is one of the leading investment firms in South Korea with total assets of US$34 billion.
VinaCapital is a leading investment and asset management firm in Vietnam, with US$1.4 billion worth of assets under its management.
The firm has three closed-end funds that trade on the London Stock Exchange. They are VinaCapital Vietnam Opportunity Fund Limited (VOF) which trades on the London Stock Exchange (LSE), VinaLand Limited (VNL), and Vietnam Infrastructure Limited (VNI) which trade on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM)
Agro-forestry-fishery exports earn nearly 21 billion USD
Vietnam earned 20.6 billion USD from selling abroad farm, forestry farmed fish products in the first eight months of 2016, up 5.6 percent from a year ago, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).
The figure included 2.76 billion USD attained in August alone.
Agri-products contributed 9.9 billion USD to the eight-month turnover, a 5.7 percent increase against the same period last year.
It included 1.51 billion USD from the sale of 3.37 million tonnes of rice, down 13.1 percent in value and 16.6 percent in volume year-on-year.
China remained the biggest rice importer of Vietnam, accounting for 36 percent of the total market, with 1.04 million tonnes worth 476 million USD in the first seven months of this year, showing a drop of 21.6 percent in volume and 11.9 percent in value.
Coffee exports fetched 2.25 billion USD from 1.27 million tonnes, up 39.9 percent in volume and 20.7 percent in value. Germany and the US were the two biggest coffee importers of Vietnam in the first seven months this year, accounting for 15 percent and 13 percent, respectively.
Exports of wood and wood products reached 4.3 billion USD, a year-on-year fall of 0.6 percent. The US, Japan and China were the three biggest markets, together holding nearly 53 percent of the total export value.
The export value of fishery products in the first eight months of this year amounted to 4.3 billion USD, a rise of 4.1 percent from the 2015 same period.
The United States, Japan, China and the Republic of Korea were leading importers of Vietnamese farmed fish. China, the US and Thailand saw a remarkable surge of 53.9 percent, 11.9 percent and 9.9 percent, respectively in their import of Vietnamese seafood.
2016 handicraft fair-exhibition opens in Hanoi
The 2016 handicraft fair - exhibition opened at the Thang Long Royal Citadel in Hanoi on August 26, aiming at promoting Vietnamese craft to domestic and foreign markets. 
Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Hoang Quoc Vuong said the event is to preserve and develop craft villages as well as honour skilled craftsmen who have great contributions to developing the trade and preserving the country’s unique handicraft products.
The event is hoped to help craftsmen, trade villages, enterprises introduce their products, boost exchanges and cooperation in order to seek partners both at home and abroad and expand market for the Vietnamese handicraft products.
Covering on an area of 2,000 sq.m, the event features nearly 200 booths, presenting development achievements and handicraft products from localities nationwide. 
The event runs until August 29.
VINASA to compete at APICTA
Vietnam Software and IT Service Association (VINASA) will compete at the Asia-Pacific Information Communication Technology Awards (APICTA) – one of most noble information and communication technology (ICT) awards in Asia-Pacific region.
VINASA has already chosen outstanding products and services for the contest.
VINASA leaders have attended an APICTA’s meeting in Taiwan to prepare for the awards. APICTA 2016 is scheduled to take place in Taiwan on December 2-5 and is expected to draw more than 600 delegates from 17 APICTA members, VINASA said.
Nguyen Thi Thu Giang, VINASA General Director, said the event provides an opportunity for Vietnam ICT products and services to compete at regional contests and for domestic ICT companies to cooperate and share experience with partners from 17 Asia-Pacific economies.
VINASA will choose outstanding ICT products and services which won Sao Khue 2016 awards and those proposed by businesses.
Customs sector cuts customs clearance time
The General Department of Vietnam Customs has targeted reducing customs clearance time for exports and imports to 10 days and 12 days, respectively this year.
By 2020, the sector aims to cut customs clearance time for exports and imports to below 36 hours and 41 hours.
The rate of imports subject to specialised inspections will be cut to 15 percent later this year.
Each year, the cost of administrative procedures will be cut by at least 10 percent.
According to the department, the National Single Window system will be made available for all ministries and sectors between 2016 and 2020.
All procedures will be conducted online and connected with the ASEAN Single Window to facilitate the trade of Vietnamese goods.
Additionally, the Vietnam Automated Cargo and Port Consolidated System/Vietnam Customs Information System will also be connected with the ASEAN information technology system.
The sector has partnered with Japan, the Republic of Korea, the US and the Eurasian Economic Union of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan to exchange information.
Rice exports to EU: making the most of zero tariff
Vietnam's rice exports will enjoy a zero percent tariff to the European Union from 2018.
The free trade agreement between Vietnam and the EU (EVFTA), which comes into effect in 2018, will allow the country to export 100,000 tons of rice each year to the EU, quadruple the current figure.
Many countries around the world have applied measures to restrict rice imports and even refused to open their rice markets during FTA negotiations, but the EU has spared some space for Vietnamese rice.
The EU has approved an import quota of 100,000 tons of rice per year for Vietnam with a zero percent tax rate once the agreement takes effect. Broken rice will be exempt from import duties for seven years with no limit on quantity.
According to analysts, the commitment will help Vietnamese enterprises save up to €17 million (US$20 million) per year.
Having joined the global rice market 20 years ago, Vietnam is now the world’s third largest rice exporter after India and Thailand. However, Vietnam's market share has fallen in the face of fierce competition from rice export rivals over the last few years.
While other countries focus their attention on rice quality, Vietnam still aims for quantity.
This is why Vietnam's rice exports to the EU remain modest, said Dang Hoang Hai, head of the European Market Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
Data from the Vietnam Food Association showed that the country exported 18,000 tons of rice to the EU last year, down 10% from 2014 and 25% from 2013.
In 2013, Vietnam accounted for 3% of the EU rice market, while Thailand made up about 18%, Cambodia 22% and India 24%.
“Once the EVFTA comes into force, Vietnam’s rice industry can expect higher import figures,” Hai said.
He added that the EU market has strict requirements for rice import, ranging from quality standards to environmental rules. Europeans also prefer high-quality products like the ones grown in Cambodia, rather than Vietnamese rice.
“Vietnamese farmers don’t favor rice that takes a long time to grow and produces lower yields. They’ve been loyal to output targets, so they can’t produce good rice. Even if the rice is good, it’s impossible to compare it with Cambodian rice,” said agricultural expert Vo Tong Xuan.
The expert said that Cambodia only entered the global rice market five years ago, but its rice has won the world’s best rice award at the annual Rice Trader Conference for three consecutive years.
Last year, a product produced by Vietnam’s Loc Troi Company was also listed in the top three rice products in the world, pushing the price up to US$700 per ton from US$370-380.
Dang Hoang Hai, head of the European Market Department, claimed that to compete with Cambodia as well as other rice suppliers in the EU market, Vietnam should shift its production routines from low-quality rice to high quality, but that won't be easy.
Chinese furniture firms move to Vietnam to avoid US tariffs
Local firms are worried that the tax spotlight could be turned on them.
Official statistics show a third of foreign-invested companies in Vietnam’s furniture industry are from China. 
Since 2015, the US has imposed import tariffs on Chinese furniture including beds, nightstands and other wooden wares in an attempt to protect its domestic manufacturers from Chinese “dumping”, or the export of goods at an unfairly low price.
As a result, many Chinese furniture companies have moved their manufacturing facilities to neighboring Vietnam to get around US anti-dumping duties.
In addition, labor costs are about 20% less in Vietnam than in China, according to the Ho Chi Minh City-based business advisory firm Infocus Consultants, which makes the Southeast Asian country an attractive manufacturing hub for foreign furniture companies, especially China.
US furniture imports from China total roughly US$12 billion annually, according to data from the US Customs Service. Vietnam is second to China with more than US$2 billion in exports to the US as the country evolves into one of the world’s largest wooden furniture producers.
The fact that a large number of Chinese companies are exporting to the US from Vietnam has led to growing concerns that Vietnamese manufacturers will soon come under the radar of American anti-dumping investigators, said Nguyen Ton Quyen, chairman of the Professional Association of Timber and Wood Products (Vifores).
He also added Chinese companies are planning to take advantage of tariff incentives Vietnam is expected to enjoy from new-generation free trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the pact with the European Union (EVFTA).
For instance, the TPP will either cut or eliminate tariffs for various Vietnamese exports to other member countries.
Chinese companies have recently stepped up their efforts by acquiring majority stakes in local producers, said Huynh Van Hanh, deputy chairman of the Handicraft and Wood Industry Association in Ho Chi Minh City.
“A sudden surge in export volume, no matter what the export industry is, could lead to Vietnamese companies being accused of dumping,” Hanh said.
“Moreover, as Vietnam has not been fully recognized as a market-based economy, domestic companies could face double tariffs with anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties,” Hanh continued.
Vietnam exported US$3.8 billion worth of wood products during the first seven months of this year, slightly up from the same period last year.
The country's furniture exports have experienced average annual growth of 7-8% in recent years, said the Vifores chairman.
However, the industry may miss its export target of US$7.6 billion in 2016, he added.
US$1.1mln disappears from VP Bank account; fraud suspected
The director of an agriculture firm in Ho Chi Minh City has accused a local bank of allowing employees to abet scammers in draining more than US$1 million from her account without consent.
With the dispute between Tran Thi Thanh Xuan, director of Quang Huan Co., and Vietnam Prosperity Bank, or VPBank, having remained unsolved for over a year, the city’s administration tasked the municipal economic police on August 24 with working to resolve the case as soon as possible.
In March 2015, Xuan opened a VPBank account to serve the company’s agricultural trading business.
During that harvest season, the company received VND26 billion (US$1.16 million) in payments from various partners, all transferred to Xuan’s VPBank account, the director said in her complaint.
When Xuan went to withdraw the money in July the same year, she was shocked to see the account balance had fallen to a few hundred dong.
The account statement showed that a number of check issuing transactions had been made from her account.
According to the complaint, the checks had been drawn by Do Dinh Bao and Pham Van Trinh and made payable to Doan Thi Thuy Hang and her husband Nguyen Huy Nhut.
Trinh is the accountant of Quang Huan Co. and Hang was a VPBank employee.
Xuan’s suspicion quickly drew the conclusion that the VPBank employee and her company’s accountant had colluded to forge relevant documents and signatures to issue checks and withdraw money from the director's account.
The director noted that she had never received any notifications of those transactions, even though she had registered for mobile banking services with VPBank.
As Xuan lodged a complaint to VPBank to denounce the alleged fraud, the lender simply responded that Hang had left the bank, and the case was transferred to police for investigation.
On August 24, VPBank said in a press release that it had “strictly followed all relevant procedures” while approving transactions on the account of Quang Huan Co.
The lender added that relevant parties should wait until the police have reached a final conclusion.
VPBank said it had worked with the employees Xuan said held a role in the incident, but all of them denied allegations that they helped the company’s accountant steal the money.
The bank added all of the documents related to the check issuing carry the same signature and seal as registered by Quang Huan Co. when it opened the account.
“For every transaction that changes the company’s account balance, VPBank sent a text message to the registered mobile phone number of Quang Huan, which has been verified as the very phone number of Tran Thi Thanh Xuan, the account owner and company’s legal representative,” the statement reads.
VPBank concluded that the case shows “signs of criminal activity,” adding the ongoing police investigation will shed light on whether or not the relevant documents and signatures were forged.
On August 24, Xuan told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that VPBank’s statements to media are false.
Xuan said it is impossible that the accountant Trinh could sign any transaction on her behalf.
“If I had authorized him to do so, he must have used his own signature, rather than faking mine,” she explained.
The company director insisted that VPBank employees had colluded with other people to steal the money, and the lender’s refusal to resolve the case just because “the employee involved no longer works there” is irresponsible.
Xuan said the bank must be held accountable as its employees had finalized all transactions that were not initiated by the real account holder.
“Did the bank ask to see the ID card of the person doing the transactions, as required?” she wondered.
“Why were all the transactions approved at the request of a man, while the account holder is me – a woman?”
Ho Chi Minh City economic police officers are still looking into the case.
SHB parts company with SHS
Saigon - Hanoi Bank (SHB) is no longer a shareholder of the Saigon - Hanoi Securities JSC (SHS), after selling its 4.8 per cent stake.
“The SHB Chairman has sold 4.8 million SHS shares,” the Hanoi Stock Exchange (HNX) announced on August 25. The shares were sold in a negotiated transaction for VND6,600 ($0.3) per share, or VND31.6 billion ($1.41 million) in total.
Mr. Do Quang Hien was Chairman of SHS and SHB while Mr. Le Dang Khoa, Deputy Director of SHB, was also member of the SHS’s Board of Management, according to SHS’s first half report. Mr. Hien is also Chairman of T&T group.
SHS’s management post-divestment remains confidential. “SHB has completed its full divestment from SHS under a plan determined by our Board of Management,” a representative of SHB told VET.
This is second time SHB registered to sell its stake in SHS, with a June sale being unsuccessful. In late July it again registered to sell the 4.8 per cent.
SHB was the original and major shareholder in two securities companies: the SHB Securities Joint Stock Company (SHBS) and SHS. The bank currently holds over 98 per cent of SHBS.
SHS’s share price has fallen 4.69 per cent in the last week, as at August 25, 8.9 per cent in the last month, and 74.8 per cent lower since it was listed in the second quarter of 2009.
SHS is also preparing to issue 4,000 unconvertible corporate bonds with a par value of VND100,000 ($4.48), a maturity of two years, and a maximum value of VND400 billion ($17.93 million) to mobilize capital for depository activities and for collateral to borrow from SHB.
In the first half of 2016 SHS reported assets of VND3.71 trillion ($166.35 million), an increase of 30 per cent against December 31, 2015. Total equity stood at VND1.06 trillion ($47.53 million), 3 per cent higher against December 31, 2015. After-tax profit in the first half reached VND38.22 billion ($1.49 million), up 32 per cent.
VNA launches low-cost tickets
The National flag carrier- Vietnam Airlines yesterday announced that it will offer a preferential promotion program for its domestic flights with one-way cheap ticket at a price of VND 299, 000. 
The program starts running from August 29 to December 30 for passengers departing from August 29, 2016.
The cheap ticket price excludes tax and other additional fee. The detailed information is posted at www.vietnamairlines.com.
Rural northerners spend least on FMCG
Consumers in rural northern areas spend less money on fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) than on other products, according to a report of market research firm Kantar Worldpanel.
The report, which was released on Wednesday, showed northerners generally spend big on packed FMCG items and prefer locally-branded items and goods in large packaging. Meanwhile, southerners pay a lot for dairy products and beverages, and favor convenient and new products.
Despite more retail stores being up and running, consumers in the south still keep the habit of buying FMCG at traditional wet markets, especially those in rural areas.
Meanwhile, southerners in urban areas adapt more easily to shopping at supermarkets and hypermarkets while more minimarkets and convenience stores in the south have gone up in the north and elsewhere in the country.
The traditional sales channel is still the most favorite in Vietnam as interactions between the buyer and the seller still play an important role in the former’s buying decisions, especially in rural areas.
In most parts of the country, word-of-mouth advertising still leaves the biggest impact on consumers while TV advertising still reigns over the market. With more people using the Internet in both urban and rural areas in the south, online advertising is also growing.
The south is currently home to one-third of the country’s population and accounts for half of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP).
The north sees the biggest difference between income of people in urban and rural areas.
FMCG or consumer packaged goods (CPG) are sold quickly and at relatively low prices, including non-durable goods such as soft drinks, toiletries, over-the-counter drugs, processed food and many other consumables.
New tax calculation method pushes gasoline up
The base prices of RON92 gasoline and E5 bio-fuel, constituted by import prices, taxes and fees, are higher after competent agencies have adopted a new method of calculating special consumption tax and setting operating costs.    
Speaking to the Daily yesterday, a fuel trading firm said that for the August 19 price adjustment, RON92 and E5 prices as calculated in accordance with the new method edged up by VND100-350 per liter compared to the old method.
According to the Government’s Decree 100/2016/ND-CP, effective from July 1, the special consumption tax was adjusted based on the selling price, leading the price of RON92 gasoline to go up by VND100 a liter.
This special consumption tax comprises CIF (cost, insurance and freight) price, import tariff, cost and profit estimates, contribution to the fuel price stabilization fund, value added tax and environmental protection fee.    
According the Government’s Decree 106/2015/ND-CP, effective before July, the 10% special consumption tax on gasoline was imposed on the CIF price.
Under the joint Circular 90/2016/TTLT- BTC-BCT of the ministries of industry-trade and finance, the import prices of E5 and E10 bio-fuel are equivalent to 95% of the RON92 gasoline price plus 5% of the ethanol price.
Earlier, the import price of E5 was equal to that of RON92. Fuel wholesalers said ethanol is now sold at a higher price than that of RON92.
From August 15, competent agencies have permitted fuel wholesalers to set the sale cost for E5 and E10 at VND1,250 a liter, well above VND200 a liter now to help firms offset production costs. 
Given the abovementioned factors, the base price of E5 has leapt by VND350 a liter. In the August 19 price adjustment, E5 was VND150 per liter lower than RON92. The gap was VND500 a liter in the past.
Jan-Jul Korean exports to Vietnam surge
The Korea International Trade Association (KITA) has said exports of South Korea to Vietnam in the first seven months of this year amounted to US$18.02 billion, soaring 10.1% year-on-year, the Vietnam News Agency reported.
With the robust growth, Vietnam became Korea’s third largest importer in the period after China with US$68.52 billion and the U.S. with US$39.63 billion.
Shipments to Vietnam accounted for 6.4% of Korea’s total exports in the January-July period, well above 2% in the same period in 2009.
Market watchers said the sharp increase might have resulted from the bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) between Vietnam and Korea which took effect late last year. The FTA has given a fresh boost to two-way trade between the two countries after the South Korea-ASEAN FTA came into force in 2007.
Vietnam’s demand for Korean products is forecast to continue growing in the coming time.
According to Moon Byeong-ki, researcher of the Institute for International Trade under KITA, Vietnam remains a destination for many global manufacturers. However, firms operating in this ASEAN country still have difficulty securing local supply of materials and parts.
Therefore, he forecast Vietnam would increase imports of parts and industrial materials in the coming time.
Japan steps up tech transfer to HCMC
The government and enterprises of Japan are promoting the transfer of more technology to Vietnam in general and HCMC in particular.
Technology transfer was one of the topics at a meeting on Wednesday between HCMC vice chairman Le Thanh Liem and Kyohei Takahashi and Kuniharu Nakamura, co-chairmen of the Vietnam-Japan Economic Committee under the Japanese Business Federation (Keidanren), and representatives of Japanese firms here in the city.
Nakamura said Japanese firms have participated in a number of infrastructure projects in Vietnam and HCMC and achieved good results. Japanese companies are playing a key part in the development of HCMC’s Metro Line No. 1 from Ben Thanh Market in District 1 to Suoi Tien Park in District 9.
The first metro line of the city is scheduled to be put into service in 2019.
Nakamura said the government and businesses of Japan are promoting the transfer of technology to Vietnam for high-tech power grids, airport terminals, roads and bridges. Nakamura expected that HCMC would create favorable conditions for Japanese firms to do business and invest in the city.
Liem said the city’s transport infrastructure had become overloaded, so the city has been pushing for more investment in this area to reduce traffic jams, including the Metro Line No. 1.
The city, he noted, has attracted much Japanese investment capital to supporting industries, high-tech and agricultural projects.
Japan is HCMC’s sixth biggest investor with more than 900 projects worth about US$2.7 billion. About 60% of Japanese investment capital has gone to processing and manufacturing projects, one of the priority sectors of the city.
CJ explores opportunities in Binh Dinh
South Korea’s CJ Group, which has got involved in a number of businesses in Vietnam, is looking for opportunities to invest in the sectors of cinema, animal feed production and seafood.
A representative of the Binh Dinh Investment Promotion Center said Chang Bok Sang, president of CJ Group in Vietnam, met the province’s leaders last week to seek their nod for an animal feed factory at Nhon Hoa Industrial Park in An Nhon Township. The US$15-million facility with a monthly capacity of 15,000 tons is planned to go up on an area of four hectares.
The source told the Daily that the investor is expected to start work on the animal feed plant next month and put into operation the facility at the end of next year.
In the agricultural sector, CJ wants to develop a pig farm in Binh Dinh. Besides, it looks to set up a tuna processing plant in the central province, which is an advantage of the province.
This project is appropriate for Binh Dinh’s zoning plan for the sector as the province has zoned 60 hectares in Cat Khanh Commune in Phu Cat District for an industrial park specializing in seafood processing.
The Korean firm suggested expanding a cinema in the central province. CJ is cooperating with partners to produce films in a number of localities in Vietnam.
The enterprise will study policy and tax incentives and find suitable locations to carry out its projects. 
Earlier, CJ Vietnam said it would invest an extra US$500 million in Vietnam this year after having poured around US$400 million into this market in the past 20 years. The fresh investment will go to new projects or merger and acquisition (M&A) deals in culture, food and agro-aqua-forestry industries.
HCMC looks to higher budget collections
The HCMC government expects total budget revenues to reach almost VND283.43 trillion (US$12.7 billion) this year, 11.11% higher than in 2015 and 1.87% above the estimate.
The figure does not include tax revenue from crude oil, the city government said in a recent report on budget revenues and expenditures sent to the Ministry of Finance.
Notably, tax revenue from domestic sources is projected to expand by nearly 14% and that from imports and exports by roughly 7% compared to last year. 
Total spending in HCMC is estimated at VND63.8 trillion this year.
With high economic growth projection this year, HCMC looks to collect VND297.49 trillion from taxes and fees next year, up 4.09% against this year and 5.4% from the estimate.
Next year, the cite plans to spend around VND72.55 trillion on development investment, routine expenditures, budget reserves and loan interest payments, among others.
The HCMC government said the budget collection and spending projections are achievable given a steady recovery of the local economy. It noted an additional amount has been spent on infrastructure projects and urgent issues relating to the environment and other areas in the city, which is now home to about 11.5 million people.
HCMC will need VND43.45 trillion a year for investment projects in 2016-2020 but can arrange 66% of the total for 2017. Therefore, the city requested the Ministry of Finance to ask the Government to seek National Assembly approval to retain 23% of total budget collections in the 2017-2020 period.
The proportion is equivalent to the ratio in 2011-2015 but below 29% in 2001-2006 and 26% in 2007-2010.
Euro Auto provides 20 BMW series 7s, 5s
The official authorised importer of BMW in Việt Nam, Euro Auto, has supplied 20 BMW series 7s and 5s to Five Stars Limousine SG company, a luxury car rental services provider.
Accordingly, the luxury vehicles will be put to use by the company in HCM City to meet the demand from VIP guests.
Speaking at the handover ceremony, Trần Ngọc Anh, chairman of Five Star Limousine SG, said the 20 vehicles would officially join the company's fleet, reaffirming the company's commitment to bringing their customers the best services.
Treasury to mobilise more capital from G-bonds
The state treasury of Viet Nam offloaded more than 92 per cent of the bonds planned for the year as of August 24, according to the Ha Noi Stock Exchange.
As of August 24, the treasury has mobilised more than VND231 trillion (US$10.34 billion). In particular, the exchange said the treasury sold all five-year bonds worth VND3 trillion at a coupon rate of 5.79 per cent per annum, 0.13 per cent lower than that of the previous session on August 17. Following higher demand, it also sold same term bonds of VND900 billion with the same coupon rate.
Similarly, seven-year bonds worth VND3 trillion were sold at a coupon rate of 6.35 per cent per annum, 0.14 per cent lower than the last session. The treasury also sold bonds worth another VND900 billion at the same rate due to demand.
Thus, compared to the revised plan of VND250 trillion in bonds for 2016, which was added another VND30 trillion after the first half, G-bond sale has reached more than 92 per cent.
Bao Viet Securities Company (BVSC) said the state treasury would soon complete mobilisation plans of government bonds this year and mobilise more capital from G-bonds in the last few months of the year.
The firm said thus with less pressure to meet targets, the interest rates of the bonds may fall, thus, making them more attractive to investors.
According to the treasury, the sale of bonds of five-year and 15-year terms exceeded the target. Of bonds with longer term, on the other hand,  the treasury could not sell any of the 20-year bonds worth VND1 trillion offered in the August 24 auction.
Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue welcomed insurance firm AIA's Chairman Mark Edward Tucker on August 25 and said the country had set a bond sale target of 35 per cent of the GDP by 2020, especially bonds with long terms of 15 to 20 years.
He said the AIA Group could invest more strongly in the long-term G-bonds market, while the AIA head reaffirmed their commitment to long-term investment such as G-bonds, infrastructure and the healthcare system.
Hoa Sen returns to dream of Ca Na steel project
The Ninh Thuan People’s Committee has approved Hoa Sen Group, one of Vietnam’s leading steel producers and traders, to carry out surveys and study plans to construct the infrastructure of Ca Na industrial park (IP) and the related steel manufacturing and seaport complex in Thuan Nam district.
The group has yet to disclose official information about the capacity of the steel manufacturing project. Previously, the board of directors expected the steel plant to have an annual output of six million tonnes.
Hoa Sen Group will hold an extraordinary shareholders’ meeting on September 6 to seek shareholders’ approval to take over the project.
Constructing the steel complex will help Hoa Sen to overtake Hoa Phat Group as the largest Vietnamese steel producer, following only Taiwanese Hung Nghiep Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Co., Ltd., which has an annual capacity of 7.5 million of tonnes in the first phase.
On August 2, the group established five enterprises with the total investment capital of VND250 billion ($11.23 million) to support the implementation of the steel project.
Accordingly, Hoa Sen registered 26 business sectors for these five enterprises, including manufacturing iron, steel, cement, and wood products, and exploiting wood, ore, chemicals, among others.
In response to concerns about the heightened risks of environmental pollution in case the steel complex comes into operation, Truong Thi Lieu, deputy director of the Ninh Thuan Industrial Zones Management Authority (NITHIZA), said that if the project is licensed to implement, the investor will have to conduct an environmental impact assessment report and the NITHIZA will co-operation with the provincial authorities to monitor the investor’s implementation of environmental protection regulations. However, it is still the case of “wait and see” whether the investor would comply with environmental protection regulations.
Back in September 2008, the Ca Na IP-based steel complex with the annual production capacity of 14 million tonnes was licensed by a joint venture of state-owned Vietnam Shipbuilding Industry Group (Vinashin) and Lion Group from Malaysia. 
The joint venture registered $9.8 billion in the total investment capital for this complex, which became the largest foreign-invested project licensed that year. The construction started two months after its investment certificate was issued. The investors promised to complete the first phase by the end of 2011. 
However, financial troubles of both partners forced Lion Group to withdraw from the project. In 2011, the NITHIZA announced to revoke the investment certificate of Ca Na steel complex.
A year ago, chairman of Hoa Sen Group Le Phuoc Vu met with the Ninh Thuan People’s Committee and expressed interest in reviving Ca Na steel complex.
Established in August 2001, Hoa Sen Group is one of the leaders in terms of steel sheet production and trading business in Vietnam and Southeast Asia. The group’s products are currently making up 40 and 20 per cent of the domestic steel sheet and steel markets, respectively, and its products are present in over 60 countries and territories around the world.
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