Thứ Hai, 30 tháng 6, 2014

Political News Headlines 1/7

President bids farewell to outgoing UK diplomat
President Truong Tan Sang hosted a reception in Hanoi on June 30 for UK ambassador Antony Stokes who came to say goodbye at the end of his tenure in Vietnam.
Ambassador Antony Stokes spoke highly of the vigorous development of Vietnam-UK relations in various fields.
In particular, on the basis of their strategic partnership, both nations have achieved good results of cooperation in the field of trade, economics, science and technology and crime prevention.
The British Council pays special attention to education cooperation with the Southeast Asian nation by providing scholarships for Vietnamese students and supporting childcare projects, Antony Stokes told his host.
He expressed desire to further boost education cooperation with Vietnam towards the establishment of the Vietnam-UK University in the central city of Danang.
The British diplomat said he hopes that the Vietnam-UK strategic partnership will grow and flourish in the time to come for mutual benefit.
President Sang hailed the ambassador’s efforts to foster the two countries’ relationship and extended his thank to the British government for providing ODA and funding Vietnam’s poverty reduction projects.
Vietnam always places great importance on the strategic partnership with the UK, Sang said, hoping that more breakthroughs in comprehensive cooperation will be recorded in the future.
Top legislator welcomes WFUCA President
National Assembly (NA) Chairman Nguyen Sinh Hung has appreciated the role, position and enormous contribution of the World Federation of UNESCO Clubs, Centres and Associations (WFUCA) as well as the Vietnam Union of UNESCO Associations’ initiatives.
NA Chairman Nguyen Sinh Hung received the President of the World Federation of UNESCO Clubs, Centres and Associations (WFUCA) George Christophides and representatives from the Vietnam Federation of UNESCO Associations (VUFA) in Hanoi on June 30.
At the meeting, VUFA Chairman reported to NA Chairman Nguyen Sinh Hung on his organization’s operational accomplishments over the past 20 years.
From an organization with dozens of official members, the VFUA has had nearly 10,000 members so far including over 100,000 official members nationwide.
The organization has made practical contributions to the nation’s goals of education, science, culture, and socio-economic development. The VUFA is also rated as one of the leading organizations of the non-governmental UNESCO movement in the Asia Pacific region and the world.
WFUCA President George Christophides praised VFUA activities, saying that his organization will boost exchange and cooperation between Vietnam and other countries in all fields, especially in education, culture and science.
NA Chairman greatly valued WFUCA’s noble mission and tremendous contributions to nurturing the friendship between peoples, protecting global peace, enhancing national cooperation and developing areas of culture, education, science, information and communication.
Hung also acknowledged the contributions and achievements of the non-governmental UNESCO movement in the world that President George Christophides is a representative.
He commended the VUFA for its initiatives in building new codes of conduct and relations and asked it to further promote the image of Vietnam and its people to international friends.
The same day, Deputy Prime Minister cum Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh also met with George Christophides, who is also Vietnam’s Honourary Consul to the Republic of Cyprus.
Minh highlighted the WFUCA’s assistance, noting that the Foreign Ministry will give further support to the VFUA to help it enhance its role.
 FM Minh asked the WFUCA to assist the VFUA, especially in promoting Vietnam’s images, preserving cultural heritage, and expanding life-long study centres in the country.
He also affirmed Vietnam's willingness to boost ties with European countries, including Cyprus, and applauded Christophides’s contributions to strengthening bilateral partnership.
Both side should push up delegation exchange to promote mutual understanding and all-around cooperation, Minh added.
HCM City signs pact with Rhone-Alpes Region
A comprehensive cooperation agreement was signed between HCM City and France's Rhone-Alpes Region during a visit to the region headed by Le Hoang Quan, chairman of HCM City People's Committee, last week.
The Agreement on Cooperation between HCM City and Rhone-Alpes Region in the 2014-2017 period highlights four priorities between HCM City and the Rhone-Alpes Region, including the development of a sustainable economic partnership, development cooperation, cooperation on training, cultural exchanges and training of young staff.
Addressing the signing ceremony, Quan said the renewed agreement on bilateral cooperation indicates the two sides' efforts to enhance cooperation and match the potential of both Rhone-Alpes Region and HCM City.
In December 2012, HCM City and the Rhone-Alpes region signed a number of agreements to enhance cooperation during talks between the deputy chairman of the HCM City People's Committee Nguyen Huu Tin, and Bernard Soulage, vice chairman of the Rhone-Alpes Regional Council.
They included a cooperation agreement between HCM City, the Rhone-Alpes Region and the Lyon Urban Community on urban-related areas and an agreement between HCM City and Lyon on installing a lighting system for the main post office in Saigon.
On Thursday, Quan opened the "HCM City Days in Lyon City and Rhone-Alpes Region" festival, while the HCM City delegation introduced a music show called "Songs from the City Named after President Ho Chi Minh" at the Palais de Mutalite in Lyon.
Nam Dinh city celebrates 60 years of liberation
The northern province of Nam Dinh held a ceremony on June 30 to mark 60 years since its capital city of Nam Dinh was liberated (July 1).
At the event, local people recalled the milestones of their resistance war against the French forces. After occupying Nam Dinh, French colonialists built the city into a major industrial zone, with the largest garment and textile manufacturing sector in northern Vietnam as well as the entire Indochina under French rule.
On July 1, 1954, Nam Dinh was the first northern city to enjoy freedom before the Geneva Agreement was signed, putting an end to colonialism in Vietnam and other Indochinese nations.
Addressing the ceremony, Secretary of the provincial Party Committee, Pham Hong Ha stressed that Nam Dinh city always holds an important strategic position in the development of the southern Red River Delta region and Nam Dinh province in particular.
From 2008 to 2013, the city recorded annual economic growth of over 14%.
Last year, the city’s average income per capita reached VND39.4 million (US$1,900). Meanwhile, its poor household rate decreased to 3.1%.
EVENTS SCHEDULED FOR JULY 1-10 (daily updated)

Photo Exhibition “The Unravelers: Adventures with Mathematics”
Exhibition: 01 – 31 Jul 2014
24 Tràng Tiền, Hà Nội
Reflecting the poetic side of mathematics, the exhibition is an initiative of Jean-François Dars, Annick Lesne and Anne Papillault which is drawn from a collection of photographs & articles by great scientists during their stay at IHES (Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques). The scientists look back on their discipline, scientific thoughts and their own life. Among them, in particular, is Professor Ngo Bao Chau.
Free entrance.
Mozart Cycle 2014 at L’Espace
09 and 10 Jul 2014, 8pm
24 Tràng Tiền, Hà Nội
You are invited to the classical concert titled Mozart Cycle 2014 at L’Espace this July.
The concert is a collaboration between The Vietnam National Symphony Orchestra (VNSO) and L’Espace with the participation of conductor Kim Xuan Hieu and horn soloist Ta Tien Dat.
Overture “Idomeneo” KV.366
Horn concerto No.3 in E Flat Major KV.447
Symphony No.38 in D Major “Praha” KV.504
Ticket price: 120000 VND
Special price for members of L’Espace and students: 60000 VND
Tickets are available at L’Espace from 09 Jun.
Floor Killer – The 4th National Recreational Dance Championship
05 and 06 Jul 2014, 11 am – 8.30 pm
Savico Megamall
7 Nguyen Van Linh, Long Bien, Hanoi
The 4th national recreational dance championship FlOOR KILLER is the annual tournament featuring the 6 most developing Hip Hop genres in the world: Breaking, Hip Hop, Locking, Popping, Waacking and House. This contest aims at professional and amateur dancers from Vietnam and from abroad. Teams and individuals will compete in form of knock-out competitions.
This year, the youth will be over enthusiastic with the strange, attractive and unique performances of the dancer from Vietnam and especially with the appearance of the champions from Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and Germany. Brilliant dancers in 5 Hip Hop genres from the USA, Korea, Japan, Thailand and Vietnam are invited to the referee team at the World level.
Uwe Donaubauer is a German Hip Hop champion and graduated from the FRK Dance Academy Austria as a Hip Hop, Breakdance and Locking instructor. From 2007 –  
2013 he has participated in numerous competitions in Europe and Asia and won many awards. Since 2013 he has also been acting BOTY Germany winner.
Louis Becker is one of the best-known B-Boys in Germany. He studied from 2004 to 2009 at Die Etage – the school of performing Art, Artist, Acrobat and has a decree of the Tanzzwiet Dance School Berlin Hip-Hop. From 2005 – 2013 he also participated at numerous battles in Europe and Asia and reached the first place with B-town Allstars at “Battle of the Year Germany”.
Free entry.
Mr. Nguyen Viet Thanh, Big Toe
Screening of “Augustine”
Fri 04 Jul 2014, 8 pm
24 Tràng Tiền, Hà Nội
You are invited to the screening of “Augustine” ( France, 2012, 101 mins) directed by Alice Winocour.
For more information about synopsis, please see L’Espace website (in French) or refer to the Vietnamese version of this post.
Language: French with Vietnamese subtitle.
Ticket price: 40 000 VND
Special price for members of L’Espace and students: 20 000 VND
Tickets are available at L’Espace.
2013 Welsh Music Prize Winner Georgia Ruth to Perform in Vietnam
Tue 01 Jul 2014, 8 pm
HCMC Conservatory of Music
112 Nguyen Du Street, Ward 1, HCMC
The Welsh harpist, singer-songwriter and her band will play in Ho Chi Minh City on 1 July. Georgia Ruth’s exquisite songs which are “full of longing and melody” and her angelic serene voice will chill out the boiling hot midsummer weather in Vietnam.
Week of Pines, George Ruth’s debut album was out barely a year ago in May 2013 and immediately received enthusiastic praise from critics, hailing the album for its “mixture of soft pop and reimagined traditionals.” It was commended by The Independent as “a dazzling debut, rich with sweet pain and joy” and Georgia Ruth is named “one of the British folk discoveries of the year” by The Guardian.
Inspired by Georgia Ruth’s recent return to Wales, following stints living in Brighton and London, Week of Pines is unique in the way it represents the homecoming spirit through a “varied and intriguing collection of songs.”
This was beautifully described on the website of the Arts Council of Wales, “from the motorik drive of the title track, to the darker Eno-like string arrangements, the stark joyfulness of a Welsh sea shanty accompanied by wheezing reed organ, or the more wistful folk ballads: this is a varied and intriguing collection of songs.
“Having grown up with dad’s Merchant Navy sea stories (he once met Jacques Cousteau onboard the Calypso), a sea shanty was somewhat inevitable” This one, ‘Codi Angor’, was popular amongst the Welsh sailors in the Liverpool docks and if the album is a homecoming of sorts, this conveys the opposite: the excitement of leaving, of sailing out to sea.
‘Dovecote’ – with its clanging bells and mists – maintains the theme, but on a more abstract level: this is the leaving of old love. ‘Winter’, with its slow-march rhythm and redemptive lyrics, brings the album to a fitting close.”
“Week of Pines is a record about joyfulness, and coming home. And reclaiming things presumed gone. And grace, after making mistakes, that element of forgiveness and calm has been integral to this record.”
Ticket prices: 300.000 VND, 200.000 VND, 80.000 VND for students
Please call 098 987 4517 or 0903 041 959 for ticket booking and delivery.
Exhibition “Letting Go”
Opening: Thu 03 Jul 2014, 6.30 pm
Exhibition: 03 – 09 Jul 2014
Vietnam Fine Arts Museum
66 Nguyen Thai Hoc St.
There are many ways to liberate one’s spiritual life. This is as important as the metabolism process. But the methods are very different; some people can focus his or her energy in doing something else in a hobby or a certain interest. The majority will try to release their energy for entertainment or some useless time killing activities.
Painting is one way of liberating human beings but can still remain energy. Artist Le Huu Hieu has the starting point as an architect. He chose one way to release his energy but he can still get his mentality focused in the joy of creating artworks.
His first solo exhibition contains 18 oil-on-canvas paintings in medium size; there are also different experimentations with acrylic, using gold and silver on canvas. It shows us the beauty in the patience for the passion of arts. With the language of surrealist art mixing with expressionist, the artist doesn’t just paint his own mental state but also expresses the consciousness of a certain class. This class is considered to be “The Youth of their times”. There is fear and amazement in front of the pressure of time and work. All the fallen angels with wild dreams combine with the temporality and wicked humor in the social stories where they are in.
A very interesting is that the exhibition was passionately supported by a reputed website on the events, art and culture in Hanoi which is Hanoi Grapevine. With the individual support of a local business (Mr Nguyen Duc Tuyen, chairman of Cau Giay joint-stock company), this has marked a good sign for the units, individuals, and organizations sponsoring the debut of young artists in Vietnam. Especially in the context where cultural foundations, individual patrons in recent years have decreased in the not so optimistic economic situations and the less exciting cultural and art life…
On the occasion of “Letting go” exhibition by a brand new young artist with the art world, we are cordially presents the attendance of many reputable professional artists as well representatives from governmental fine art organizations such as: artist Thanh Chuong (Vietnam Fine Arts Association), artist Luong Xuan Doan, artist Le Thiet Cuong, artist Vi Kien Thanh (Bureau Chief of the Fine Arts Department). We would like to also call for the attention of organizations, individual units to be more actively engaged in the art contribution and sponsor for young artists. To commensurate with the policy implementation “Culture and Art as the motivation and purpose” for the prosperous development of the country!
About the artist:
Le Hieu
Le Huu Hieu
Born in September 2nd 1982
Hometown: Xuan Yen – Nghi Xuan – Ha Tinh
Education: Civil Engineering University majored in Architecture (2006)
Present: independent architect   
Talk of Gary Thomas : Experimental Filmmaking and Animation in the UK
Wed 02 Jul 2014, 4 pm
Big Hall, Goethe Institut
Goethe-Institut Hanoi
56-58 Nguyễn Thái Học
Ba Đình, Hà Nội
You’re invited to a talk with British Council film advisor Gary Thomas on experimental filmmaking and animation in the UK. Among the talk’s topics, Gary will introduce Animate Projects, a commissioning agency producing content for online/digital, cinema, broadcast and galleries, that he founded and developed; use Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s ‘A Letter to Uncle Boonmee’ and other examples of how artists work in collaboration, and internationally; and talk about the history/context of experimental filmmaking in the UK.
Gary Thomas was previously the Head of Moving Image for Arts Council England, leading on policy and strategy development for arts distribution, broadcasting and visual arts. He subsequently founded Animate Projects to run the Channel 4/ACE Animate TV scheme, which he developed to become a commissioning agency producing content for online/digital, cinema, broadcast and galleries. His productions/commissions include Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s short A Letter to Uncle Boonmee which won the Oberhausen Grand Prix and formed part of the development of the Cannes Palme d’Or winning feature project Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives.
Free entrance.
Screening of “Astérix et Obélix: Au Service de sa Majesté”
24 Tràng Tiền, Hà Nội
You are invited to the film screening “Asterix and Obelix: God Save Britannia” (France, Spain, Italy, Hungary, 2012, 110 mins) directed by Laurent Tirard. This is “The funniest film in the history of Gaul!”
For more information about synopsis, please see L’Espace website (in French) or refer to the Vietnamese version of this post. Language: French with Vietnamese subtitle.
Ticket price: 40 000 VND
Special price for members of L’Espace and students: 20 000 VND
Tickets are available at L’Espace.
Social News Headlines 1/7

HCM City mulls VND1.86 trillion for flood control
The HCMC Steering Center of the Urban Flood Control Program (SCFC) has asked the HCMC People’s Council to pass a dozen of major projects for implementation this year and next at a total cost of VND1.86 trillion (some US$87.3 million) to control flooding in the city.
SCFC made the request at a meeting with the HCMC People’s Council on June 26. The projects will help address flooding in districts 1, 2, Tan Binh and Thu Duc.
The spending will go to upgrading the drainage systems on Mai Thi Luu Street in District 1; Bau Cat, Truong Cong Dinh and Ba Van streets in Tan Binh District; Go Dua Street in Thu Duc District; Thao Dien, Quoc Huong and Xuan Thuy streets in District 2; and building a rainwater regulation lake of 4,000 square meters in Tan Binh District.
SCFC said to effectively control flooding in a 108-square-kilometer river basin area in downtown HCMC, the city has spent big on 14 projects to improve drainage in this area and 47 out of 58 flood-prone sites have been solved.  
HCMC spent nearly VND1.58 trillion (nearly US$75 million) coping with flooding in 2011-2013. However, the city’s chairman Le Hoang Quan told a seminar last March that flooding in this city had not been resolved as effectively as expected.
As a consequence, many streets in districts 6, Tan Binh and elsewhere are still submerged when heavy rains occur. Therefore, the center plans to build over 30 large lakes in suburban areas and hundreds of smaller lakes in inner-city areas as well as dredge canals to mitigate flooding.
U.S. university joins hands with city’s national university
A delegation from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) led by Chancellor Gene Block will visit Vietnam and work with the Vietnam National University in HCMC from June 28 to July 1 to forge scientific ties between the two institutions.
Both schools will ink an agreement on June 30 in biomedical science and educational science. Moreover, the two sides will suggest to the governments of Vietnam and the U.S. measures to further improve the bilateral cooperation.
Professor Gene Block will host the talk “Developing a Global University: UCLA Experience” for the staffs of the Vietnam National University in HCMC.
Since 2008, scientists from the U.S. university have joined hands with partners from the Vietnam National University in HCMC to set up and develop materials relating to molecular structure and nanostructure for use in the fields of energy and environment. Based on the cooperation, the Center for Molecular and Nanoarchitectures (MANAR) was established in December 2011 in the campus of the Vietnam National University in HCMC.
After that, the two sides have jointly carried out new programs on biomedical science and educational science.
Luxembourg funds healthcare centres in northern provinces
The Health Department of northern mountainous Cao Bang province and the Luxembourg Agency for Development Cooperation on June 25 inaugurated a new health centre in the Dam Thuy commune, Trung Khanh district.
The centre, spread over an area of 950, was built with an investment of more than 2.2 billion VND (104,000 USD), from Luxembourg's development grant.
It is expected to provide better healthcare to about 5,000 people, mostly from the Tay ethnic group in the commune.
The healthcare centre is part of Luxembourg's support to the healthcare policy for the poor in the northern provinces of Cao Bang and Bac Kan.
Under the project, the construction of other 11 healthcare centres, worth 26.8 billion VND (1.25 million USD), is scheduled to finish next month in the two provinces.
Sustainable development forum for youth opens
A forum aimed at empowering Vietnamese youth to share initiatives and solutions on sustainable development and environmental protection was opened in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue on June 28.
In his opening speech, Director of the British Council in Vietnam Chris Brown voiced his hope that participants will become environment ambassadors with specific actions, expanding spillover effects on the community.
The forum, themed “ Be Active Citizens ”, attracts 40 outstanding young people selected from 400 profiles nationwide, focusing discussions on climate change and natural disasters, energy saving, green economy, bio-diversification, vulnerable groups and climate change.
The five-day event is held within the framework of the active citizen programme launched by the British Council in 2009. The programme has been implemented successfully in 38 countries around the world, attracting the participation of 530,000 youngsters and bringing great value to 15 million people.
Conference seeks to improve resource management in Asia
Domestic and foreign experts discussed ways to increase the effectiveness of resource use and management at a regional workshop hosted by the central city of Da Nang on June 25-26.
The event is part of the ongoing Integrated Resource Management in Asian Cities: Urban Nexus project implemented by the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) with financial support from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
Participants reviewed the progress of realising urban nexus initiatives in participating cities and the sharing of experience in the field. They also mentioned the importance of State management to the urban nexus and discussed next steps of the project.
Participating in the project, Da Nang has been assisted by GIZ experts in improving the capacity of treating wastewater and managing urban agriculture.
The city’s representatives voiced hope that Asian cities will further enhance advanced technology transfer and sharing of management experiment to heighten the efficiency of managing and using resources towards a sustainable Asia.
Many said the Pacific-Asia region faces rapid urbanisation which causes serious impact on the resources, especially water, energy and food.
The majority of regional cities are managing separately their sectors, which makes them unable to optimise collaboration.
Ten cities in six Asian countries, including China, Mongolia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, benefit from the project which will be implemented until December 2015.
Mekong rice sector in need of restructuring
The restructuring of rice farming in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta should focus on improving farmers' incomes and sustainable development, experts told a seminar in Can Tho on Tuesday.
Le Van Banh, head of the Cuu Long Delta Rice Research Institute, said though the rice cultivation area and output increase every year farmers remain poor.
The main goal of restructuring the rice sector should be to improve farmers' incomes so that they continue to farm, he said.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Le Quoc Doanh said besides yields it was also time to focus on improving the commercial value of the rice varieties grown.
The country exports the grain at around US$400 a tonne, but needs varieties that can fetch $600 and even $1,000, according to Doanh.
The delta is the country's important rice producer, but the rate of certified rice seeds used is only 35 per cent.
Since the rest are uncertified, the quality of exported rice and output are adversely affected.
The ministry had begun a research and agricultural extension programme focusing on creating high-quality rice varieties that would improve export value and farmers' incomes, he said.
Participants in the seminar said the production and trade of rice faced many limitations like low quality of exports, low competitiveness, and small scale of cultivation and trade.
The delta's provinces were not closely linked and there was little application of modern technologies in rice processing, they said.
Le Duc Thinh, deputy head of the ministry's Department of Cooperative Economy and Rural Development, said the average land holding per household in the delta was 0.87ha.
Of the delta's total rice area, low-quality varieties accounted for 45 per cent and medium-quality ones for 35 per cent.
Traders bought around 90 per cent of the rice grown in the delta, he said, meaning farmers did not make much profit.
Nguyen Do Anh Tuan, deputy head of the ministry's Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development, said the proposed restructure of the rice sector envisaged strengthening the links between exporters and farmers and focus on rice cultivation areas specialising in exports.
It also sought to usher in advanced farming techniques and technologies to increase yields and values, attracting foreign investment in agriculture, developing new export markets, and increasing the output of high quality rice for exports, he said.
Nguyen Quoc Viet, deputy head of the Southwest Region Steering Committee, said the delta planned to stabilise paddy output at 24-25 million tonnes a year from now through 2010.
The region has 1.6-1.8 million hectares under the grain, but plans to grow higher value crops like corn and soybean on 112,000ha of low-yield rice fields in 2014-15.
As of the end of last month 87,000ha had been switched to corn, dragon fruit, and lime, according to the Plant Cultivation Department.
Farmers cash in on tiger shrimp
The model to establish large-scale fields to breed black-tiger shrimp in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta district of Dong Hai has resulted in high profits for farmers.
Early last year, the Dong Hai District Agriculture and Rural Development Bureau in Bac Lieu Province set up a large-scale shrimp field on an 83-ha area with the participation of 43 households.
Under the model, farmers are given financial support and farming techniques under the Vietnamese Good Agriculture Practices (VietGap) standards.
Under a new cultivation method, farmers change the water a fewer number of times in shrimp ponds.
Duong Minh Doan, who owns 2.6ha of land on a large-scale shrimp field, said participating farmers had a bumper harvest last year.
"My family made a profit of VND180 million (US$8,600)," he said.
Farmers earned a profit of between VND60-80 million ($2,900 – 3,800) per ha a year.
The breeding period for each black-tiger shrimp crop lasts about three months.
Vo Ngoc Can, who breeds 2.8ha of black-tiger shrimp under the model, said he had consolidated pond banks to prevent water leakage, and improved water quality, including the content of pH and salinity.
"I use probiotic products in shrimp ponds once every 15 days to improve water quality," Can said.
River water is taken into the ponds when there are high tides, he said.
Water in shrimp ponds was released into the river only when it was necessary, with the instruction of agricultural officials, he said.
Nguyen Truong Han, head of the Dong Hai District Agriculture and Rural Development Bureau, said the large-scale shrimp field model had been expanded to four of Dinh Thanh Commune's five hamlets, with a total of 200ha.
Dong Hai District plans to develop large-scale shrimp fields on a total area of 260ha, focusing on Dinh Thanh and Long Dien Tay communes.
"With high profits from the model, farmers have developed large-scale shrimp fields to a total of more than 380ha so far," Han said.
The new farming model has also helped protect the environment as farmers have reduced the amount of dredging of mud in shrimp ponds, which they had discharged into the environment.
Passion fruit switch could taint supply
More farmers in Dak Nong Province are planting passion fruit trees to reap the benefits of a price increase, despite warnings from authorities that there could be an oversupply.
Ha Van Nam in Gia Nghia Town's Dak Nia Commune, for example, recently cut down two hectares of coffee trees in order to plant passion fruit.
"If I replanted my coffee trees, I would have to spend about hundreds of millions of dong and wait for a few years to have a coffee harvest," he said. "Passion fruit vines take a shorter period to bear fruit."
It takes about six months for passion fruit vines to produce fruit.
Mature passion fruit vines have four major harvests a year and yield 80-100 tonnes per ha a year.
Nam estimated that if the price of passion fruit was from VND7,000-8,000 (US$0.3-0.38) a kilo, his family would have a good profit from 2ha of passion fruit.
Passion fruit has been planted in the Tay Nguyen (Central Highland) province since 2007.
Pham Hung Vy, deputy head of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development's Plant Cultivation Bureau, said when passion fruit was planted for the first time in the province, the department planned to develop only 200ha of the fruit.
However, it has contracted with Phu Thinh and Tia Sang Co-operatives to supply passion fruit seedlings for farmers in order to control the quantity and quality of seedlings, Vy said.
However, the price of passion fruit has increased and passion fruit farmers have earned high profits, he said.
The rapid increase of passion fruit area will lead to a threat of disease outbreaks, he said.
Passion fruit vines can become infected with powdery mildew and bacterial blight.
Many farmers grafted passion fruit seedlings by themselves, increasing the risk of disease, Vy said.
Most farmers who grow passion fruit beyond the zoning area are not trained in growing techniques.
Farmers that have chopped down perennial trees to replant passion fruit trees have also affected the province's cultivation structure.
The total area of passion fruit in the province has increased to nearly 1,000ha, mainly in Dak Glong and Dak Rlap districts, according to the department.
Meanwhile, passion fruit processing plants in Dak Nong can buy only 200ha of passion fruit, said the department.
Nguyen Van Xuyen, director of the Dak Nong –based Nghia Duc One Member Co., Ltd, said his company had bought passion fruit for at least VND20,000 ($0.95) a kilo in previous months.
However, the supply is abundant, and the company has reduced the purchase price, he said.
Traders are now paying VND5,000-6,000 a kilo for the fruit.
Falling rubber prices take their toll on local industry
Price falls and low yields hit farmers and rubber workers in central Quang Binh Province while local authorities are struggling to find new plants in the locality.
According to Nguyen Duc Phong, chairman of farmer association in the province's Nong Truong Viet Trung commune, there has been a critical collapse in the price of natural rubber.
"One kilogramme of fresh natural rubber cost at VND8,000, while the cost was VND20,000 per kilogramme the same period last year," he said.
In addition to the price falling, rubber trees in the commune, which is considered a hub for rubber plantations in the central province, strong storms that struck Quang Binh Province last year have also ravaged earnings.
"We have a total of 2,000ha of rubber trees and the storms ruined 80 per cent of the total. The remaining trees are producing a very low yield," said Phong.
According to statistics produced last year, each worker could harvest 50kg of fresh natural rubber per day, compared with this year's maximum of 10kg per day, he said.
Many rubber plantation owners have said they want to get rid of the trees to use the land to grow other industrial trees.
Tran Xuan Hau, owner of a 120ha rubber plantation, said he had no choice but to replace the trees as it would take another six years to harvest. He also said he could not afford the cost of replanting the trees.
Hau is now among a host of farmers looking to grow more profitable trees.
Phong said the commune's authorities had organised several trips for farmers to learn about different models in neighboring Quang Tri Province.
"We found the cultivation of dragon fruits and black pepper might be suitable for the land. But we need to investigate the supply of water for pepper," he said.
Meanwhile, farmers themselves are having to cut down the trees to grow cassava and watermelon across 653ha. According to the farmers' association, watermelon has turned out bumper crops and earnings for farmers.
At the commune, there are 3,000ha of rubber trees managed by the local Viet Trung rubber company. The company refused to comment on the price fall, but workers said the collapse had created tough times.
Nguyen Thi Hong Nhung, a worker in the Quyet Tien team of the company, said she could harvest only 2kg of fresh natural rubber a day, much lower than an average of 60kg a day she did last year.
"Harvesting 2kg a day equals to wage of VND600,000 (US$26) a month. Many of my colleagues have quit to find a seasonal job as some of them were making even less than me," she said.
The company has a total of 17 teams of harvesters, with around 80 workers each. The majority of workers have become redundant as a result.
In the meantime, experts have recommended a halt to planting rubber trees in the province due to heavy annual storms.
Ninh Binh City to become regional cultural-historical centre
The upgrading of Ninh Binh City to the second grade creates more favourable conditions for the city to develop into a cultural-historical centre of the Red River Delta, according to Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai.
Addressing a ceremony on June 28 to announce the Prime Minister’s Decision on recognizing Ninh Binh as a second-grade city under Ninh Binh province, Deputy PM Hai said the city should make good use of its natural and historical heritage to become a destination of choice for tourists, helping boost the comprehensive development of Ninh Binh province.
To be recognised as a second-grade city, the city should be a political, economic, cultural and tourist centre as well as a transport hub of a region while meeting a number of requirements such as a population of at least 800,000 for a centrally-run city and 300,000 for a provincial city, fair infrastructure and at least 80 percent of urban labourers working in non-agriculture sectors.
Ninh Binh City is the capital city of the province of the same name, which is home to such well known tourist destinations as Bai Dinh Pagoda, the newly-recognised UNESCO cultural and natural heritage site of Trang An, Cuc Phuong national park and Tam Coc-Bich Dong site.-
Nearly 40,000 poor students benefit from EMW-funded programme
Close to 40,000 disadvantaged students in the central region of Vietnam have been aided 3.7 million USD in the last ten years from a scholarship programme funded by the non-governmental organisation East Meets West (EMW).
Set up in 2004, the Scholarship Programme to Enhance Literacy and Learning (SPELL) aims to provide students with difficulties in Vietnam with a bright future via education.
With its goal of preventing students from dropping gout of school and improving learning quality, the programme has supported children of the poorest households in the seven central localities of Quang Binh, Thua Thien-Hue, Da Nang, Quang Ngai, Binh Dinh and Phu Yen.
After 10 years of operation, SPELL has gained impressive results – a decline in the dropout rate and an impressive pass rate that meets or exceeds the national average. Many of SPELL scholarship recipients have won municipal, provincial and national awards for their academic achievements.
Poor students will have a bright future if they receive support, EMW Country Director Nguyen Minh Chau said, adding they will help their families escape from poverty and make the society prosperous.
“Their success is a great encouragement for us to continue our work,” she noted.
In 2010, EMW set up a university scholarship programme namely SPELL Goes to College (SGTC), which has helped 130 disadvantaged students access university education.-
Khmer pagodas hold summer classes for children
Many Khmer pagodas in the southern province of Bac Lieu have opened summer classes on Khmer language for local children.
At Chot Pagoda in Hung Hoi commune, Vinh Loi district, more than 100 children of all ages are attending four classes held at different hours throughout the day.
Monk Thach Uong, who is in charge of the classes, said the monks want to teach the children not only the ethnic group’s language but also traditional customs and good behaviours.
Eleven-year-old Lam Thi Phuong Anh said the Khmer script is very difficult, but after a long time of practicing, she can now write in a proper way.
The pagoda classes are hailed by Tran Thi Hoa Ry, head of the provincial Committee for Ethnic Affairs, who said they help Khmer children become aware of their cultural root while contributing to preserving and developing the fine traditions of the Khmer ethnic group in the southern region.
Bac Lieu province is home to around 65,000 Khmer people.-
Children in Ben Tre discuss their rights with local officials
Children in the southern province of Ben Tre discussed issues their rights and State policies for children with local officials at the second annual Children’s Forum on June 29.
The forum, held as part of the month of action for children, focused on the theme of preventing violence against and abuse of children.
Students from primary and secondary schools in nine districts and towns as well as children from social welfare facilities presented their opinions and messages regarding issues of their interests such as beating or exploiting children, and discrimination against disadvantaged kids.
The forum is held with the aim of making children better aware of their rights and role in society, as well as creating a chance for government officials and policy makers to understand children’s wishes and needs, thus improving the building and implementation of policies targeting children.
Over 500 volunteers join in ‘2014 Give Strength in Exam Season’ program
More than 500 volunteers on attending a departure ceremony themed ‘the 2014 Give Strength in Exam Season’ program was held at Vinh Nghiem Pagoda in Ho Chi Minh City on June 28, aiming to support the provincial candidates to three cities including Ho Chi Minh City, Da Lat and Can Tho City for the 2014 University Entrance Examination.
Over 10,000 free accommodations and 420,840 free vegetarian meals will be supported to candidates and their relatives at more than 120 pagodas and homes in Can Tho, Da Lat and Ho Chi Minh City during the examination season, said organizers.
520 volunteers will be divided into three groups, including 330 volunteers in Can Tho city, 130 volunteers in Da Lat City and 60 volunteers in Ho Chi Minh City.
In Ho Chi Minh City, volunteers will be present at Western, Eastern Bus Station, Saigon train station to provide information about favorable rooms as well as routes to candidates.
Most volunteers are students from colleges and universities.
The ceremony was held by Central Buddhist Board.
Increasing play areas being used for other purposes
At a recent forum on held by the Department of Child Protection and Care, a student commented that the play areas of children are being taken over by adults.
In fact, this can be documented. The playground of building G at Nam Thanh Cong, in Dong Da District, has been illegally occupied with houses, the rest being used as a parking lot. Children there now play in the empty spaces of the lot, among charcoal stoves and tea stands.
The same situation is also seen at apartment blocks in Thai Thinh, Giang Vo and Trung Liet streets with even smaller playgrounds.
A playground in Ngoc Khanh Ward is built for children, but now, it has been turned into a temporary market. Giang Vo Ward has nine playgrounds, but they have all been taken over by tea stands and mobile restaurants.
Other playgrounds designed for children, such as the one at Tan Nhue Street, in Bac Tu Liem District, have been co-opted by adult game courts, used for volleyball or activities for old people.
Many parents say that they are satisfied with the playgrounds at schools, which offer large spaces with greenery, but the schools close after lessons are finished.
Authorities have recognised the problem. They intend to increase the area of playgrounds by 45% by 2020. However, this may be a difficult task, as allocation of funds for such projects in municipalities faces many obstacles.
Hanoi grapples with purulence of false taxis
Authorities in Hanoi are trying to deal with thousands of taxis operating in the city, whose licenses are from other provinces.
A number of taxi companies, registered in other provinces, continue to operate in Hanoi. Agencies have stated that this has caused difficulties for them. Even though the authorities have ceased granting licenses to new companies, the number of taxis operating in the city continues to rise.
In order to avoid the laws, taxi firms register the number plates in Hanoi but go to other provinces to register their taxi license badges. Those taxi cars with badges of other provinces would be working in Hanoi instead of their registration locations.
Ha Quang Vinh, an inspector from the Hanoi Department of Transport, said they discovered 10 taxi companies have been using cars without the required licenses in Hanoi. Vinh went on to say that Hanoi currently has 19,000 taxis, of which about 2,000 are not under the management of Hanoi municipal authorities.
Deputy head of Hanoi Department of Transport, Nguyen Hoang Linh, said in order to deal with this problem, there are plans to make special licenses for taxis that are allowed to operate in the city. If the project goes through, 17,000 registered taxis would be given a special badge to show their validity. The project is expected to be implemented by the end of the year.
"The 'special badge' will help management agencies decipher reputable cab companies from those who are trying to get around the law by tricks. This will also make it easier for customers to tell reliable taxi companies from bad ones," said Linh.
Some experts have come out to say even this restrction is not strict enough, criticising the inspection process and even the competency of authorities to uphold current laws.
Vietnam commended on improved treatment of LGBT community
American professor, Tobias B. Wolff, also a well-known lawyer, remarked that he was impressed by the activities in Vietnam to improve the rights of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community over the past eight years.
At at a meeting with Vietnamese reporters held by the US Embassy recently, he said that despite cultural differences, I have seen many shared experiences of the Vietnamese and American people concerning the rights of the LGBT community when I met Vietnamese people in Hanoi and HCM City during his stay in the country.
In Vietnam or the US, the LGBT community expect that their rights to be ensured, including access to health services. Their care is also similar to any ordinary person in society. Many LGBT people still suffer from public discrimination, but this helps them to be stronger to fight for their rights.
“Vietnamese people who I have met all have an progressive outlook. They agree on an equal treatment for the LGBT people. Vietnam still faces oppositions for ensuring rights of LGBT people, however, the opposition level is smaller than many other countries,” he added.
Prof. Wolff said that “ In spite of staying Vietnam for a short time, but I have recoganised that Vietnam is willing for active changes to ensure rights of the local LGBT community.
“I am really impressed by activities to boost the LGBT community’s rights in Vietnam over the past eight years. Eight years ago, Vietnam did not have national-level discussions on rights of the LGBT community eight years ago. But now the situation has changed and the issue has received support from some ministers, including Minister of Justice,” he said.
The professor also showed his regret on the National Assembly’s rejection of Article 16 on rights of same-sex marriage of the draft Law on Marriage and Family. “If the situation has not been changed, this will be a standstill in ensuring equal rights for the Vietnamese LBGT community. However, Vietnam will have time to consider whether same-sex marriage should be recoganised or not.”
According to Prof. Wolff, LGBT people should be brave to announce their real gender and be patient to persuade the public for their recognisation of their rights.
More stories about discrimination against the LGBT community should be told, including problems each family and person faces.
He said that one of the most difficulties for the LGBT community to announce themselves is the fright to be discriminated and abandoned by their family.
He called on parents to encourage their children if they belong to the LGBT community so that they can be stronger.
Currently, 19 among 50 states in the US have recoganised same-sex marriage. This is a fast and remarkable change in ensuring rights for the LGBT community.
Ninh Binh recognised as second-class city
A ceremony was held on June 28 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Ninh Binh city's Liberation Day (June 30, 1954) and to announce that Ninh Binh city, Ninh Binh province, has been recognised as a second-class city.
The event was attended by Politburo member Dinh The Huynh, who serves as head of the Party Central Committee’s Commission for Popularisation and Education and President of its Theory Council, as well as Minister of Public Security Gen. Tran Dai Quang, Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai and several leaders of ministries and local branches.
Addressing the ceremony, Deputy PM Hai praised the city’s efforts and outcomes, saying that they have contributed to the achievements of Ninh Binh province and the nation in general in the past.
He urged Ninh Binh city to uphold its spirit of dynamism and creativity and to promote its potential and advantages to accelerate economic restructuring, serving the city’s comprehensive and sustainable economic growth. The city should be active in international integration and tourism development, striving to become one of the country’s key tourist centres.
The deputy PM directed Ninh Binh city to focus on tasks on building the Party and a pure political system and accelerating administrative and legal reform.
On the occasion, the Ninh Binh Municipal People's Committee honoured 11 organisations and 18 individuals for outstanding achievements in the campaign on building Ninh Binh city.
Experts advise on support industries
To develop its support industries, HCM City needs to identify the main sectors and focus on training, technology, and incentives for their development, experts told a seminar on attracting investment in the sectors last week.
Vu Van Hoa, president of HCM City Export Processing and Industrial Zones Authority(HEPZA), said Vietnam has not identified key national products to develop a suitable support industry development strategy and create mechanisms and policies to support SMEs, and this curtails the development of support industries.
He also blamed it on the shortage of skilled human resources.
He called for designating projects to develop support industries industrial parks as "special important infrastructure projects," which are entitled to various tax breaks.
"They should be allowed to enjoy interest subsidies from the demand stimulus fund for land clearance and compensation and building technical and social infrastructure and standardised factories."
He also urged the government to offer the same tax incentives for support-industries industrial parks as those given to hi-tech enterprises – a 10% rate for 15 years.
Besides they should be given import duty breaks, longer land lease periods, and financial incentives, he said, while industrial parks should strengthen ties with foreign business groups to attract investment in support industries.
The city is building the Viet-Pan Techno Park at the Hiep Phuoc Industrial Park, and it will open in October this year, when it will focus on attracting investment from Japanese SMEs in high-technology support industries.
Hirotaka Yasuzumi, managing director of JETRO (Japan External Trade Organisation) HCM City, said the Government must support the development of Vietnamese companies and foster technology transfer to boost support industries.
"If Vietnam has only foreign firms in support industries, the country cannot hope to acquire technologies or develop the industry," he pointed out.
He blamed policies that have failed to meet companies' expectations for the lack of support industries in Vietnam.
Poor policies meant companies are unable to raise funds or train human resources, lack incentives, have no forum to compare notes with other companies in the same sectors, and lack large markets, according to Yasuzumi.
Le Hoai Quoc, president of the Sai Gon Hi-tech Park (SHTP), said attracting investment from multinationals will enable the development of support industries.
The SHTP management currently has a programme to develop support industries for hi-tech manufacturing, with the first pilot project intended to create the development of a supply chain for Intel's plant at the SHTP.
Similar projects are also planned for subsidiaries of multinationals Nidec Group, Sonion, Datalogic, and Jabil.
HCM City has a semiconductor industry development programme for 2013-2020 aimed at developing an "ecosystem" for the industry comprising human resource development, research and trial production, mass production, market development, and product promotion.
Doan Hong Tam, deputy chairman of the Vie-Pan Techno Park, said Japanese investors in support industries are mostly SMEs producing specialised, high-value-added products using complex engineering and technologies.
"We must have appropriate conditions to meet Japanese tenants' requirements including power infrastructure, clean water, telecommunications, skilled workforce, and legal services."
Besides, to attract Japanese investors, the city needs to offer a skilled and disciplined workforce, support with personnel recruitment and training, comfortable housing for professionals and workers.
Japanese firms also expected Vietnam to simplify procedures of all kinds, including by having a ‘one-stop service' in Japanese at industrial parks, he added.
Vietnam Airlines proposes VND22,300 per share in IPO
The national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines propose to sell their shares at VND22,300 each at an initial public offering.
The proposal was a part of the groups’ equitization project which the Ministry of Transport submitted Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung on June 27.
According to the project, the company’s book value is VND57,156 billion (US$2.68 billion).
The group’s charter capital is expected to be VND14,102 billion. In the IPO, the State will hold 75 percent of the charter capital, 20 percent will be sold to strategic investors, 3.47 percent will go under the hammer and the rest will be offered to its staff.
The carrier shares will be listed on the Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange.
Brazil reduces import tax on 250 items creating opportunities for Vietnamese goods
The Brazilian Government has decided to temporarily lower import tax rates from 16 percent to 2 percent on 240 types of machinery and equipment goods and 10 types of information technology and telecommunications goods.
The import tax reduction went into force on June 24, 2014 and will last until December 31, 2015, according to Vietnam's Commercial Affairs Division in Brazil.
Two-way trade between Vietnam and Brazil has grown strongly in the past years, putting it behind only the US in the American region. Thus, it is said that the import tax cut will create positive effects on bilateral trade. It is also considered an opportunity for Vietnamese exporters to expand their markets, reducing the dependence on specific markets.
In the first five months of this year, the two-way trade revenue between Vietnam and Brazil totaled US$1.23 billion, a year-on-year increase of 52.9 percent. Of the total, Vietnam exported US$579 million worth of goods to and imported over US$651 million from Brazil, up 42 percent and 64 percent over the same period last year.
Several Vietnamese goods exported to Brazil recorded higher earnings than during the same period last year including telephones and components (up 594 percent), aquatic products (52%), computers and electronic products (44%) and garments and textiles (55%).
The two-way trade between the two countries is expected to reach US$3 billion by the end of 2014.
HCMC Industrial Zone to be built in Myanmar
Vice Chairwoman of People's Committee of Ho Chi Minh City Nguyen Thi Hong visited and worked with Minister of Commerce of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar Win Myint in Yangon City on June 28.
The meeting is part of the framework plan of the 2014 Ho Chi Minh City Expo, taking place in Yangon City from June 26-30.
At the meeting, Vice Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Hong expressed her determination and desire to invest in fields such as high-tech agriculture, processing industry, jewelry, hotel, tourism and exporting goods into Myanmar market.
Currently, the agricultural sector of Vietnam in general and Ho Chi Minh City in particular has focused on high- tech manufacture and investment. Although Vietnam has square for rice growing  smaller than Myanmar, Vietnam has achieved a high agricultural output because of high- tech application in creating new rice varieties, added Nguyen Thi Hong.
Vietnam became the world’s top rice exporter with the export volume of seven million tons per year in 2013 and Ho Chi Minh City achieved successfully in importing and breeding milk cows.
As result of, we have a great investment potential in agriculture and wood processing industry, Ho Chi Minh City hoped that Myanmar Government, Ministries and Departments will agree to establish a new industrial zone of Ho Chi Minh City in Myanmar in the upcoming time, aiming to introduce Vietnamese goods to Myanmar customers, Hong stated.
Minister Win Myint said that Vietnam is ranked the eighth in the list of investors into Myanmar market. Myanmar consumers have appreciated the quality as well as reasonable price of Vietnamese goods. HCMC should send the proposal of building HCMC industrial zone in Myanmar soon. He also expressed his hope to strengthen ties economic cooperation relationship to Vietnam's dynamic investors.  
For the tourism sector, Myanmar will continue to participate in the annual tourism fair under title of ‘Five countries, one destination’, held by the HCMC People's Committee.
Earlier, Nguyen Thi Hong visited and worked with Chief Minister of Yangon City Mr. Myint Swe to discuss cooperation opportunities between Yangon and Ho Chi Minh City.
Ho Chi Minh City and Yangon City trade turnover has increased year on year. In 2012, it reached US$ 66.4 million and US$ 127.4 million in 2013. The first half of 2014, it touched US$ 83.9 million.
Vietnam enjoys $6.85 billion FDI in six month
Foreign Direct Investment reached US$6.85 billion in the first half 2014, accounting for 64.7 percent over the same period last year, the Foreign Investment Agency under the Ministry of Planning and Investment has reported.
The country had 656 newly licensed projects with total registered capital of US$4.85 billion as of June 20, equivalent to 93.2 percent over the same period last year.
219 projects were registered to increase US$1.99 billion investment capital, equal to 37 percent of the same period last year.
Disbursement of FDI projects hit US$5.75 billion, up 0.9 percent year on year.
Forty one countries and territories have invested in 43 provinces and cities across the country. The South Korea took the lead with $1.55 billion, followed by Hong Kong with $1 billion and Japan of $806 million.
Ho Chi Minh City topped US$886.3 million of FDI projects. At the second and the third positions are Binh Duong Province with $876.05 million and Dong Nai Province with $688.37 million.
Central destinations attractive to tourists
The flow of tourists to major destinations in central provinces continued to grow in the first six months of this year.
Khanh Hoa province, home to the popular beach resort city of Nha Trang, welcomed more than 1.65 million visitors in the reviewed period, an increase of 22 percent year on year.
Of the figure, foreign arrivals numbered over 411,000, up nearly 33 percent, with those coming from Russia, the Republic of Korea, Australia and the US accounting for a majority. Russia continues to be a major market, with 91,000 visitors, representing a 50 percent from the same period last year.
The province has set its eye on attracting more Russian tourists while tapping into the potential North East Asia market including Japan and the RoK. At the same time, a promotional campaign to lure domestic vacationers has been launched, with the aim of receiving 3.4 million visitors this year, including 840,000 foreign holiday makers.
Meanwhile, Quang Binh province reported a 144 percent rise to 1.8 million visitors in the past six months. The surge was partly attributable to the crowd of pilgrims who travelled to the locality to pay respect to General Vo Nguyen Giap at his resting place in Vung Chua-Dao Yen area. An estimated 750,000 people visited the tomb in the period.
Besides, improved service quality and new tours to unique caves in the province also helped attract more tourists.
The province is well-known for various natural attractions, especially the ‘Kingdom of Caves’, a complex of over 300 caves, found in the Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park, which was recognised as a World Natural Heritage Site by the UNESCO last year.
With the opening of Son Doong Cave in 2013, Quang Binh was instantly catapulted onto the bucket lists of travellers around the world.
Recently, the New York Times named Quang Binh as one of the most attractive destinations in Asia and eighth out of the world’s 52 top tourist destinations for 2014.
B. Braun looks to invest extra US$270 million
Germany’s pharmaceutical company B. Braun Melsungen AG is planning to invest an additional US$270 million in Vietnam in order to satisfy increasing healthcare demand across the globe.
According to a local source, B. Braun will expand its investment capital in Vietnam over the coming seven to nine years. The boost in investment aims to meet a rising healthcare demand in both Vietnam and abroad. The additional investment will create 1,000 to 1,300 direct jobs, and spark the creation of 2,000 to 2,500 secondary jobs.
The expansion includes a US$ 45.5 million medical equipment factory which is expected to be completed within 2014, and another medical equipment plant worth US$97 million which is expected to become operational in 2016.
Moreover, B. Bruan will also build a new pharmaceutical factory worth US$66.3 million. This factory plans to cover 10,000 squares metres and is expected to start operating in the fourth quarter of 2015. All the projects will be implemented in Thanh Oai district, Hanoi, where the German healthcare company is already running an intravenous set production factory.
“B. Braun has commenced procedures to seek construction permits and land acquisition for new projects,” said the source.
The investment underlines Vietnam’s importance in its manufacturing strategy, and follows its initial successes in the country. The expanded investment is part of the firm’s wider US$4 billion expansion plans and is aimed primarily at building or expanding production facilities in Germany and around the globe.
B. Braun has maintained a presence in Vietnam since the early 1990s in the form of a joint venture. In 1992, the company initially opened a representative office in Ho Chi Minh City, followed by other offices in Hanoi, Danang, Can Tho and Hue.
B. Braun set up its first Vietnamese production facility, an IV solutions plant in Hanoi, in 1996.
Today, B. Braun Vietnam is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the B. Braun achieved US$75 million in revenue and created around 1,000 jobs in Hanoi, reported the source.
B. Braun is not the only European pharmaceutical company to have increased investment capital in Vietnam. Last year, France’s biggest drug maker Sanofi announced it would start building a US$75 million plant in Vietnam to satisfy the burgeoning healthcare demand in Asia.
Ocean Hospitality cited among top 50 most effective businesses
Ocean Hospitality-OCH has been listed in the top 50 most effective businesses in Vietnam, according to the results of an annual survey by Nhip Cau Dau Tu magazine in coordination with Thien Viet Securities Company.
The Company was one of the top performers in the Vietnamese stock market over the last three years, with capital mobilization of over VND500 billion and revenues in 2011, 2012 and 2013 surpassing VND200 billion and post-tax profits in excess of VND20 billion.
Sven Albert Saebel, OCH Director General said that with the leading experts’ assessment and consultancy, the list of top 50 most effective businesses in Vietnam will provide both local and foreign investors with useful and reliable information. He emphasized that the results have acknowledged great efforts by OCH staff who have brought the best services to customers.
In the future, OCH will promote its advantages in hotel management and business, and develop Givral trademark to contribute to the development of Ocean group as well as the national economy.
Int’l experts share institutional reform experience
International experts shared experience with Vietnamese partners in institutional reform at an international conference in Hanoi on June 29.
The conference themed institutional reform for transformation, inclusion and sustainability was held by United Nations University WIDER (UNU-WIDER) and the Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM).
Economic experts focused their discussion on institutional reform and three major global challenges of today's society- structural transformation, inclusion and sustainability.
Participants agreed that Vietnam has made great efforts in institutional reform, recording significant achievements in growth and poverty reduction. Promoting these achievements, the country is examining how best to deal with challenges arising from institutional reform and the policy making process, including the equitisation of State-owned enterprises (SOEs).
According to the Ministry of Finance’s report, 85% of equitized enterprises have gained profits resulting in higher contributions to the State budget.
CIEM Director Nguyen Dinh Cung said institutional reform, particularly SoE equitisation still faces challenges and difficulties as a large number of SOEs retain a monopolistic role in the market in key fields like electricity and petroleum.
Through the conference, UNU-WIDER experts want to give a clear explanation for development challenges related to transformation, inclusion and sustainability in developing countries.
Promotions help business growth
Local enterprises are increasingly launching sales promotion to limit inventory and stabilise production, according to independent market watchdogs.
Analysts said that tough economic times had forced producers to seek new ways to survive.
In addition to supplying the market with products that have diversified designs, reasonable pries and high quality, many producers have focused efforts to offer sales that meet consumer demand.
Trade centres, supermarkets and retail stores typify this trend. They have regularly launched sales promotions that last two to three months, offering discounts of up to 50 per cent or more, depending on the product.
The director of a retail company in HCM City, who declined to be named, said that enterprises often had high turnover during these promotions.
Nguyen Khanh, director of the Thien Hoa Group, agreed, saying his company had more sales and had achieved high turnover with such promotions.
He said that many promotions are launched during holiday periods.
Sales are offered for high-demand products such as household appliances, accessories and cosmetics, as well as for high-grade products with top brand names like Karen Millen, Coast, DKNY, Swaroski, ICB, Nine West and Steve Madden.
Shops at Sai Gon Tax Trade Centre have offered big discounts on name brands also.
Nguyen Thi Hong, vice chairwoman of the HCM City People's Committee, said the city government had also called on enterprises to participate in consumer support programmes through sales promotions to stimulate demand.
Analysts said consumers had welcomed the promotions, particularly during difficult economic times.
City resident Phan Thu Ha of Tan Binh District said her family "often hunts for sales programmes where we can buy good quality products at low prices" in order to reduce spending.
Vu Thi Kim Dung, marketing director of Parkson Mall in HCM City, said: "Enterprises should make thorough preparations before launching sales promotions if they want to win over consumers. In particular, they should pay more attention to quality as well as prices."
Deputy PM says Quang Ninh should lead investment efforts
The north-eastern Quang Ninh Province should lead in implementing the Government's resolution on measures to improve the investment environment, said Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai.
In his speech delivered at a conference on promoting investment and improving provincial competitiveness held on Saturday, Hai said the province should focus on building modern infrastructure to make the fullest use of its potential and advantages.
The province needed to build a sustainable socio-economic development model along with ensuring security and defence by 2020, adding that it should prepare to develop Van Don district into the first exclusive administrative and economic zone in the country, he added.
Special attention must be paid to the transport system, including the road linking Ha Long City with the Ha Noi-Hai Phong Highway, the Ha Long-Van Don-Mong Cai Highway and the Van Don international airport, he said.
Nguyen Van Thanh, Vice Chairman of the Quang Ninh People's Committee said the province has seen improvement in its competitiveness, taking the fourth position out of 63 cities and provinces nationwide in term of provincial competitiveness index in 2013.
It was a rise of 16 places from 2012, Thanh said, adding that Quang Ninh Province also took the 4th place out of seven localities which have excellent quality in economic management.
Quang Ninh has granted investment licences to 39 foreign direct investment (FDI) projects capitalised at more than US$1 billion and 205 domestic projects at nearly VND114 billion ($5.4 million) over the past two years.
Its annual GDP growth has reached more than 7 per cent over the two-year period, higher than the national average. The province has always been in the top five localities in terms of budget revenues.
Its GDP per capital last year was $3,000.
It also revealed that over 130 delegations of foreign investors, including conglomerates like Las Vegas Sands, Texthong and Amata groups had recently conducted fact-finding tours in the province seeking co-operation opportunities.
"These figures were proof of the province's efforts in implementing reforms," said Pham Minh Chinh, Secretary of the provincial Party Committee, adding that it had gained trust from investors and businesses operating in the region.
Chinh said the province had set a target to become a stable and attractive destination for investors with an aim to maximise capitals, technologies and management experiences.
It has striven to attract investment of $2.6 to $3 billion a year of which FDI would account for over $1 billion.
Dau Anh Tuan, head of the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry's Legal Department said, according to its latest survey on investment attraction and competitive capacity, the province has been one of the 12 that enterprises rate as attractive investment destinations.
The interest of companies to invest in Quang Ninh Province was due to its high PCI and improved infrastructure as well as administrative procedures, Tuan said.
Le Khac Hiep, Vice Chairman of the BIM Group which has operated in the province for over 20 years, told the conference that the province's authorities have always supported businesses quickly.
Atsusuke Kawada, chief representative of the Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO), spoke highly of the province's potential as well as chances of investment in the province in the time to come, and stressed on the importance of building trust among the investors.
To do this, local authorities should fully realise what they have promised to enterprises and announce concrete indices on the quality of trade promotion activities, he added.
Over 450 representatives of the local business communities attended the conference and discussed co-ordinated marketing efforts aimed at increasing the investment attractiveness of the province.
Talks among policy makers, investors and economic experts were also held on the same day to discuss optimal solutions for improving the quality of investment attraction and competitive capacity for businesses.
Ginger prices double to hit record-high
The price of ginger has doubled, hitting a record-high, this year, according to head of a Farmers' Association branch in HCM City's Binh Chanh District.
Tran Van Thanh, who heads the branch for Hamelt 1 in the district's Hung Long Comumune, said the price of ginger rose from VND40,000 (US$1.87) in February to VND80,000 per kilo.
Vo Thanh Phong, a member of the branch, said he began to plant ginger in 2002 on on 2,000sq.m of land.
Although he did not succeed initially, he studied farming techniques from books and experienced farmers, expanding his ginger cultivation area to 7,000sq.m.
"Ginger growers were very excited this year as prices surged to VND75,000-VND80,000 per kilo," he said.
Tran Van Tung, another member of the branch, said that he now had 5.000sq.m under ginger cultivation.
Tung said demand had increased as ginger was a common ingredient in Vietnamese dishes, but also used for its health benefits.
Farmers said the price shot up because of a supply shortage, as this is not the peak season for the fruit.
Traders are visiting ginger gardens dirctly to purchase freshly harvested ginger and then resell it to export firms, they said.
Nguyen Thi Lan, a trader at the Thu Duc wholesale market, said main ginger supplies for the HCM City market were from western provinces and the Central Highland Provinces such as Dak Lak, Dak Nong, Buon Me Thuot and Lam Dong, as well as from China.
However, some traders in the market have suspended imports of ginger from China, contributing to lead to a shortage, she said.
According to ginger growers in the district's Hung Long commune, all products were being sold immediately after harvest because farmers had no preservation methods.
Farmers said they needed help with growing, caring and preservation techniques to improve ginger productivity and quality.
Besides domestic sales, Vietnamese ginger is exported to many markets, including Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, Bangladesh and India.
Property market to recover in near future
The property market expects to see more recovery by this year end and beyond due to positive business results on the market in the first half of 2014, said experts.
According to a recent report on the local real estate market in the first half of this year released by the Ministry of Construction, the market had more positive developments than the same period of last year with a strong increase in transactions of small and medium-scale houses with medium prices. Some developers that had stopped constructions temporarily have restarted their housing projects.
The ministry said supply of apartments in large cities like Ha Noi and HCM City had increased and transactions of social apartments with medium selling prices had surged, reported the Xay dung (Construction) newspaper.
The report said that in the first half of this year, Ha Noi had 4,000 successful transactions on the property market, doubling against the same period of last year, while HCM City also saw a positive situation in property transactions, especially apartments with a price at VND15 million per sq.m.
Real estate projects had seen 50 to 80 per cent successful transactions via property trading floors, the report said.
Therefore, the ministry said, the local real estate market at present still had many challenges but it was really warmer.
However, the recovery on the local property market would be slow in the future, said experts.
According to Tran Kim Chung, Deputy Head of Central Institute for Economic Management, the local property market may not see change at present, but it has the potential to get better and this can happen quite easily.
On the other hand, the market will start a full circle of development if Viet Nam succeeds in negotiations over the Tran Pacific Partnership agreement and maintains stability in macro economy.
Pham Duc Toan, Director of EZ Viet Nam Company, said the property market has a short circle and some instability. But in future, the local market would enter a new circle with longer stability within 10 years. The market would be brighter within the next 1-2 years.
Meanwhile, Neil MacGregor, Managing Director of Savills Viet Nam, a foreign property service and consulting provider in Viet Nam, said the country's real estate market was at an attractive phase in its development having recently bottomed out and shown some encouraging signs of recovery.
The HCM City office and residential markets in particular, were starting to demonstrate a better balance between supply and demand. Whilst this had not yet resulted in significantly increasing rentals or residential prices, Savills expected this to occur in the second half of 2014 and into 2015.
Whilst Viet Nam is at the bottom of its real estate cycle, many other Asian markets are at the top and may be set for a downturn over the next few years, according to Savills. Viet Nam is therefore attractively placed for investors to take advantage of the market recovery, as other markets begin to cool.
In addition, the current investment trend is focusing on the following sectors: office, hotel, and residential. Within the office sector, the HCM City market is seen to have bottomed out with rents starting to pick up. Investors are therefore focusing on operating office buildings with stable cash flows.
Leather, footwear criteria to be set
The Viet Nam Leather and Footwear Association (VLFA) has unveiled plans to develop product quality and safety criteria to raise the industry's production standards.
The move aims to offer a basis for producers to deliver better quality products and create a level playing field between domestic and foreign players.
The VLFA General Secretary Phan Thi Thanh Xuan told Industry and Trade newspaper that despite Viet Nam's leather and footwear industry still being heavily reliant on imported materials, it did not have its own set of criteria to control the use of unsafe chemicals.
According to the association, the industry required 220,000 – 250,000 tonnes of leather each year, with domestic suppliers supplying about 100,000 tonnes.
Xuan said there were only a small group of testing centres in Viet Nam dedicated to assessing material inputs used by leather and footwear producers.
"As a result, footwear firms have to test their materials and products themselves to meet importers' requirements," she said.
Nguyen Bich Thuy, a representative from the Thuong Dinh Footwear Ltd Co, said the company usually sent its samples overseas for testing before producing bulk orders.
If the testing results failed to satisfy the client's requirements, the company would change its materials, she said.
Another representative for Ladoda Production, Service and Trading Leather Products Company, said it spent US$10,000 on testing substances in products each year.
Head of the Viet Nam Leather and Footwear Research Institute, Nguyen Hai Trung, said the absence of a system for controlling the use of chemicals in leather products meant domestic producers were being held to a double standard.
Currently, leather and footwear products that were imported to Viet Nam did not face such barriers, he said. He further explained that Viet Nam's participation in major trade pacts that imposed zero per cent tariffs on products, created even bigger challenges to domestic producers, including losing their market share at home.
Head of Science and Technology Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Nguyen Dinh Hiep said most Vietnamese leather and footwear firms were being outsourced to by foreign firms and were required to meet international standards.
A set of criteria imposed by Viet Nam or technical barriers were needed to better control imported materials and products to the country, he emphasised.
Since 2007, the European Union has adopted the Regulation on Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals to improve the protection of human health and the environment from risks posed by chemicals. The measure simultaneously enhanced the competitiveness of the EU's chemicals industry.
However, when developing such a set of criteria in Viet Nam, Hiep said it was important to assess the impacts on local firms and their ability to adapt.
Leather and footwear account for Viet Nam's leading export industries, with export turnover rising from more $4.7 billion in 2008 to an expected $9.6 billion this year.
Businesses eye extra incentives to boost productivity
Domestic and foreign businesses want incentives from the Government and local authorities for better operations, according to a recent survey released at a seminar in Ha Noi on Thursday.
Nearly 1,500 firms that responded to the survey have expressed the hope that they would receive tax incentives, financial support and opportunities to access loans, according to Patrick Gilabert, a representative from the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO).
The findings revealed that with incentives, foreign businesses have operated more productively, tended to use a large number of workers, achieved higher productivity and made more investments than local peers.
In the survey, foreign businesses gave high ratings to Viet Nam's political stability and better business environment, saying these were important factors, which determined whether they should carry out investment projects here.
At present, incentives attracting FDI in Viet Nam have played an important role in the period of economic reforms including financial incentives in taxes that attracted the attention of foreign investors. Many foreign investors have been able to expand their businesses to enjoy preferential tax benefits.
However, that is not the decisive factor in volume and quality of foreign capital, according to the report.
Therefore, the report recommended, Viet Nam should be careful while building mechanisms for incentives and implementing and supervising impacts from the incentives.
The action would help the nation to choose and manage FDI in sectors that the economy needed.
Deputy head of the Foreign Investment Agency under the Ministry of Planning and Investment, Dang Xuan Quang, called for relevant agencies to work together to introduce incentives suitable for international practices to attract more foreign investors in Viet Nam.
The report was studied in nine cities and provinces including Ha Noi, Hai Phong, Bac Ninh, Vinh Phuc, Da Nang, HCM City, Ba Ria Vung Tau, Binh Duong and Dong Nai.
Vietnam brewers in race to increase production capacity
Breweries operating in Vietnam have announced plans to increase production capacity as there is still huge potential for growth in a market that downed as much as three million liters of beer in 2013.
Sapporo Vietnam Co Ltd has approved a plan to send the production capacity of its plant in southern Long An Province from 40 million liters to 100 million liters a year, CEO Hirofumi Kishi said.
While it is currently focusing on the Ho Chi Minh City market, the chief executive officer said the company will expand into neighboring provinces in the Mekong Delta and even Hanoi.
The Saigon Beer-Alcohol-Beverage JSC, commonly known as Sabeco, has recently broken ground on the Saigon – Kien Giang brewery project in the Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang.
The VND600 billion (US$28.24 million) plant, expected to produce 50 million liters of beer every year, came just after the groundbreaking ceremony of a similar project in Can Tho.
In HCMC, where Sabeco is headquartered, the company has also planned to increase the capacity of its Cu Chi facility.
With these new expansions, Sabeco is expected to reach the milestone of producing two million liters of beer a year, given its current capacity of 1.8 million liters. The company will thus become the leading beer supplier in the Southeast Asian country.
Vietnam Brewery Ltd, which manages the popular brand Heineken, has already increased its production from 150 million liters to 420 million liters per annum.
Still, the market will soon welcome some newcomers.
Slovakia-based BTG Holding is scheduled to put its first-ever Vietnam facility into operation in the fourth quarter of next year. The EUR86 million (US$117.15 million) brewery is capable of producing 190 million liters a year.
U.S. player AB In Bev, which owns the Budweiser brand, is also speeding up the construction progress of its maiden Vietnam plant. The 100 million liter brewery is scheduled to become operational by the end of this year.
Nguyen Van Viet, chairman of the Vietnam Beer and Beverage Association, said beer consumption in the country is forecast to rise seven percent from three million liters in 2013, despite economic turbulence.
“Beer businesses are in a fierce competition for market shares,” he commented. “If the seven percent growth is really reached, it will be a great achievement given such a competition.”
Vietnamese breweries are facing yet another tougher challenge to avoid being defeated by foreign players on home soil.
“The competition pressure from international brands is truly challenging,” Sabeco general director Pham Thi Hong Hanh admitted.
Although foreign breweries have smaller market shares, their products have much higher commercial values than the locally produced, according to industry insiders.
In the same product segment, brands such as Heineken, Sapporo, Tiger and Budweiser have higher commercial values than Sabeco’s products, an analyst said.
“Sabeco may post larger sales than its foreign rivals, but it is understandable that the latter can report bigger profits,” he remarked.
SeABank funds Cat Bi Airport expansion
SeABank has signed an agreement to provide VND500 billion (US$23.8 million) for the upgrade of the Cat Bi International airport in Hai Phong port city.
The signing ceremony took place on Wednesday and was attended by representatives from SeAbank, Vietnam Airlines and the Hai Phong City People's Committee.
Under the plan, a three-kilometre runway, capable of receiving the Boeing B777, B767 and A321 aircraft, will be built. The project will also include a series of auxiliary facilities. Construction, which began in March 2013, the project is scheduled to be completed in 2015.
Generali ties up with local Techcombank
Generali Vietnam Life Insurance L.L.C and Techcombank have signed a bank-assurance partnership agreement.
The partnership between Techcombank – a leading bank in Vietnam with strong financial ability and influence in banking and financial service sector and Generali Vietnam – a member of the world leading insurer Generali Group, aims to provide the customers of Techcombank insurance solutions meeting their diversified needs for the financial protection of themselves and families in different life stages.
SSI launches trading app for iPhone, iPad
The Sai Gon Securities Inc. (SSI) has announced the launch of its mobile trading app for iPhones, iPads and other portable products.
Investors can do stock transactions on their mobiles with this app from June 30.
SSI's Mobile Trading is a stock trading application designed especially for the iPhone and the iPad, with simple and easy-to-use functions such as watch list, placing orders, margin trading, time conditional order, auto stop loss order, asset management etc, said the company.
It added that customers can use the app with wireless and 3G networks that are available everywhere in Viet Nam and other locations.
Investors owning iPhones and iPads can download and install the tool by searching "SSI mobile" in their App Store. Others having Android OS or Windows phones can access it via or
FDI enterprises a driving force for many industries
Foreign-invested enterprises play an important role in bolstering the growth of many sectors, especially the processing and manufacturing industries, according to the General Statistics Office (GSO).
At a press conference on June 27 focusing on FDI enterprises’ operation in the 2000-2013 period, the GSO also affirmed that the foreign-invested sector has helped in economic re-structuring and dealing with many social issues while furthering the country’s integration into the global economy.
By the end of 2013, there were 9,093 FDI enterprises operating in Vietnam, a six-fold increase compared to the figure in 2000. Of the total, wholly foreign-owned enterprises accounted for 83 percent.
The foreign-invested sector provided jobs for more than 3.2 million workers during the reviewed period, eight times the figure in 2000.
The GSO also reported that FDI enterprises accounted for 30.5 percent of total financial contribution to the State budget of all enterprises in the country and 45.4 percent of their total profit.
However, the office noted that low added value is a weakness of the FDI sector as most enterprises operate in assembling and sub-contracting, such as automobile assembly and garment and shoe making.
Pham Dinh Thuy, chief of the GSO’s Industrial Statistics Department, said while Vietnam has pinned great hope on FDI enterprises for the transfer of technology and professional skills, the situation so far has fallen short of expectation.
Thuy added that many FDI enterprises also failed to fully carry out their commitments in terms of environmental protection./
CMC Group launches R&D Institute
CMC Group one Thursday announced they were setting up an institute that would conduct research in technology applications and develop high tech products and services.
The research conducted by the CMC Institute of Research and Development (CIRD) would also help in improving the group's competitiveness.
The institute has a charter capital of VND5 billion (US$247,000) and operating capital of VND100 billion. The capital would be mobilised from loans and donors.
Speaking at the ceremony, Nguyen Trung Chinh, the group's General Director, said CMC has clarified on the most important strategy to become a creative group.
According to international standards, the turnover of creative activities would have to account for 30 per cent of the companies.
Southern province fulfills 96 percent of FDI attraction goal
Despite complicated developments in the first months of 2014, the southern province of Dong Nai attracted nearly 825.9 million USD in foreign direct investment (FDI) as of June 15, reaching 96 percent of its yearly target.
Of the sum, about 343.9 million USD came from 37 new projects and the remaining was added to 32 existing projects, said the provincial Department of Planning and Investment.
Notably, 560 million USD of FDI was disbursed during the period, up 12 percent from a year earlier and accounting for 56 percent of the annual target.
By June 15, there were 1,433 licensed foreign invested projects in Dong Nai with a total capital of over 25.2 billion USD. Up to 1,115 of them, worth 20.8 billion USD, are valid.
Director of the department Bo Ngoc Thu said that to achieve such outcomes, local authorities have carried out a number of measures to attract investment and support businesses.
Particularly, they have provided timely assistance to those suffering from disturbances which erupted during workers’ rallies protesting China ’s illegal placement of its oil rig Haiyang Shiyou – 981 in Vietnam ’s continental shelf and exclusive economic zone.
Currently, all affected enterprises have resumed their normal operation, she noted.
Vietnamese, Norwegian firms expand factory
Executives of Norway’s Sapa Group and Vietnam’s Benthanh Group (BTG) recently inked a contract on expanding their aluminium factory in Vietnam.
With more facilities and space, the second phase, worth 8 million USD, will raise the plant’s output to 15,000 tonnes when operational in 2016.
At the signing ceremony in Oslo on June 26, Vietnamese Ambassador Le Thi Tuyet Mai and State Secretary to Norwegian Minister of Industry and Trade Lars Jocob Hiim spoke highly of the two firms’ cooperation.
They also expressed their belief that the signing of a free trade agreement between Vietnam and the European Free Trade Association (grouping Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, and Liechtenstein) will further enhance business and trade relations between both countries.
The two sides also highlighted the Vietnamese and Norwegian Governments’ commitment to continuing to bridge the two business circles so as to create more effective joint projects such as that between Sapa and BTG.
BTG General Director Nguyen Quang Tien said the joint venture’s revenue grew 9.4 percent while its pre-tax profit jumped 38 percent per year from 2011 to 2013.
Aside from serving the Vietnamese market, Sapa BTG’s products are also exported to the North America and Japan, he added.