Thứ Năm, 31 tháng 7, 2014

Political News 1/8

Vietnamese agencies work to ensure safety for citizens in Libya
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is coordinating with the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs and Vietnamese representative agencies in Libya and other regional countries to ensure the optimum safety for the Vietnamese citizens there.
Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Le Hai Binh told reporters at a regular press conference in Hanoi on July 31, emphasising that the agencies have devised proper, necessary protection plans.
He said some 1,550 Vietnamese are working in Libya , mostly in non-violence areas.
The Foreign Ministry had earlier directed Vietnamese representative offices to keep a close watch and coordinate with local relevant agencies to support and protect the Vietnamese citizens.
The Vietnamese Embassy in Libya has regularly kept in touch with the citizens to update them with the fresh developments and provide swift support.
The embassy has also set up two hotlines - +00218 926 903 041 and +00218 923 654 587 – which are available round the clock for the Vietnamese citizens in Libya . The Consular Department of the Foreign Ministry also opened its direct hotline: 0084 918370497 to assist them in case of emergency.
Action plan aims to increase transparency in ODA use
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has approved an action plan on improving the implementation of projects and programmes using official development assistance (ODA) and preferential loans in the 2014-15 period.
Under the plan, the Ministry of Planning and Investment will be responsible for devising a project on attraction, management and use of ODA capital and preferential loans from 2016 to 2020.
The ministry will review ongoing ODA-funded projects and programmes as well as consider those expected to use ODA and soft loans in order to ensure that they do not exceed the public and government debt ceiling approved by the National Assembly. These projects are expected to be submitted to the Government in the last quarter of 2015.
The PM also assigned relevant ministries and sectors to perfect the legal system and mechanisms on ODA and preferential loans, while enhancing their capacity in managing and implementing projects.
They have been asked to increase transparency, prevent corruption and enhance supervision and assessment work.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment will build a circular instruction site clearance process, while relevant ministries will collaborate with donors to review all projects, programmes and bidding packages and then propose specific measures to ensure transparency in project management.
Government moves to protect people’s life
Minister and Chairman of the Government Office Nguyen Van Nen hosted a post-government regular meeting press conference in Hanoi on July 31 in the presence of ministry and sector officials.
When asked about the fighting in Libya and measures to protect the Vietnamese working there, Minister Nen confirmed that the Prime Minister and the Government gave special attention to the issue.
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has assigned the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs to work closely with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to watch over the situation and get ready to evacuate the workers and ensure their absolute safety, Minister Nen said.
Regarding the organisations and individuals relating to the repeated breakdown of the water pipelines linking with the Da river, Nen affirmed the Government has directed relevant agencies, including the Ministry of Construction and the Hanoi municipal People’s Committee, to quickly fix the problem.
Meanwhile, Vice Governor of the State Bank of Vietnam Nguyen Dong Tien cleared queries concerning the Police Investigation Police’s detention of several executives of the Ho Chi Minh City-based realty Thien Thanh Group with one of them being the ex-leader of the Vietnam Construction Bank. Police has commenced legal proceedings against the case.
Tien said the central bank has adopted support measures, including a plan to ensure the bank’s operation cannot be affected.
People should believe in the measures taken by the Government and the State Bank, Tien said.
Deputy PM Minh to attend ASEAN Meetings in Myanmar
Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh will attend the 47th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (AMM-47) and related meetings to take place in Myanmar from August 5-10.
The related meetings include a meeting between ASEAN Post Ministerial Conference Plus One (PMC +1) sessions with ASEAN’s Dialogue Partners, the 15th meeting between ASEAN and three Northeast Asian nations (ASEAN Plus Three – APT), the fourth East Asia Summit’s Foreign Ministerial Meeting (EAS FMM-4) and the 21st ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF).
The meetings will review recent cooperation within ASEAN, and between ASEAN and its partners, and discuss measures to boost future cooperation. They will also touch upon regional and international issues of mutual concern.
Deputy PM Minh’s participation in these events shows Vietnam’s efforts to consolidate solidarity and increase cooperation in building a united, resilient ASEAN community, bringing into full play the central role of the grouping in maintaining peace, stability, security and cooperation in the region, as well as broadening relations with partners for the sake of common interests.
HCM City remittances reach $2.4b ahead of peak season

An employee at VP Bank counts dollars. The 5.2 per cent increase of overseas remittances to HCM City in the first seven months was a positive sign, as the peak remittance season hadn't begun yet, experts said. - VNA/VNS Photo Truong Vi
HA NOI (VNS) - Overseas remittances to HCM City in the first seven months reached US$2.42 billion, representing a year-on-year increase of 5.2 per cent.
Head of the State Bank of Viet Nam's City branch, Nguyen Hoang Minh told the Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that in July around $170 million was remitted to the City.
Minh saw the increase as a positive sign because the peak remittance season hadn't begun yet.
In the first six months, the remittance volume through the banking system in HCM City was mainly from Europe and the US.
Market observers in the City said that recipients of overseas remittances were getting less interested in securities, deposits and gold due to the low profit of 0.25 to 1 per cent annually, which was a result of the Government's policy in the last two years to discourage people from hoarding the dollar.
To ensure a substantial recovery, recipients are likely to invest in the property market which the Government's housing packages are designed to support.
In 2013, about $4.8 billion was transferred to Viet Nam through HCM City. Of this, 72 per cent went into production and business, 21 per cent into the real estate market and the remainder was sent to support relatives.
Last year, Viet Nam was among the top 10 remittance recipients with $11 billion, and it is likely to stay robust this year, according to the World Bank's Migration and Development Brief released in April. - VNS
Social News 1/8

Thien Thanh firm's top leaders arrested
Three top officials of the HCM City-based Thien Thanh Group Ltd Company were arrested yesterday for allegedly violating Viet Nam's Penal Code's Article 165.
The Article deals with deliberate acts against the State's regulations on economic management, leading to serious consequences.
The arrested persons are the company's Chairman of the board of directors Pham Cong Danh, 49; former Director General-cum-member of the board of directors Phan Thanh Mai, 43; and another former member of the board of directors Mai Huu Khuong, 31.
They were also top managers at Viet Nam Construction Bank, a commercial bank with registered capital of VND3 trillion. On Monday, a day before they were arrested, State Bank of Viet Nam announced that the three top executives had been dismissed from service to ensure normal operations of the bank.
Thien Thanh Group Ltd Co is a subsidiary of the Thien Thanh Group, based in HCM City. Its businesses include construction materials, auto services, real estate, finance and hotels.
Drug-resistant tuberculosis cases surge in the capital
The amount of people suffering from multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR TB) in Ha Noi has spiked, according to the Ha Noi Lung Hospital.
Back in 2011, the hospital received about 60 patients with MDR TB. This year, that number has increased to more than 160.
The hospital's deputy director Vu Cao Cuong told the Kinh te & do thi (Economic and Urban) newspaper that each year more than 5,000 TB patients were being discovered in Ha Noi, with 80 per cent of them suffering from pulmonary tuberculosis.
It was the main source of the disease's spread in the community, he said.
Meanwhile, health experts have attributed the surge in MDR TB cases to the prolonged exposure of drugs to the bacteria which has led to multidrug-resistance.
Patients were also failing to strictly adhere to prescribed treatments; either by stopping use of the drugs or not using them in the right quantities. Some patients found they showed signs of recovery after a period of using the drugs, causing them to stop use of the drugs, experts said.
Additionally, patients may have become susceptible by inhaling traces of the multidrug-resistant bacteria from other patients, causing the bacteria to quickly develop in their bodies.
Cuong said that TB treatment was expensive and MDR TB treatment was much more expensive, adding that the treatment could last for up to two years.
MDR TB requires a different strand of drugs to be treated and carry a number of side-effects. The treatment would be more complicated and require closer supervision, he said.
However, TB drugs for adults and TB vaccines for children were currently available free-of-charge, said Cuong, adding that patients received treatment based on the Directly Observed Treatment Short course.
By the end of this year, the country could expect to be using a new drug to treat MDR TB patients, he said.
Bear kept in captivity shifted to rescue centre
A female bear, weighing 150 kilograms, was shifted from the Central Highland Dak Lak Province to the Tam Dao Bear Rescue Centre in the northern Vinh Phuc Province yesterday.
The bear, which had been kept in captivity by a local man since 1999 when she was a cub weighing five kilograms, was voluntarily handed over to the Dak Lak Province's Forest Management Department.
Animals Asia Foundation provided free medical aid to help shift the bear to the rescue centre.
This is the fifth case of a bear receiving medical aid from the foundation since early this year.
ADB asked to aid Sa Pa urban development project
The northern province of Lao Cai has proposed the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to provide assistance worth up to US$73.6 million for a Sa Pa urban development sub-project.
The proposal was made during a working session between local authorities and an ADB delegation on July 29.
According to Lao Cai authorities, the funding will be used in the construction and upgrade of urban infrastructure, technical assistance and the enhancement of capacity in planning, infrastructure and work management, the development of urban transport network, and the improvement of clean water supply system and environmental hygiene.
The Sa Pa urban development sub-project is part of an ADB-funded project on technical assistance for development of urban centres along the Greater Mekong Sub-region corridor, carried out in seven localities of three regional countries. Sa Pa in northern Lao Cai, and Mong Cai and Bac Giang cities in northern QuangNinh and Bac Giang provinces have been selected for the project.
Sa Pa district, about 400km northwest of Hanoi, is known for its resort town of Sa Pa is 1,600m high above sea level, with the average temperature of 15-18Celcius degrees. The whole town is dominated by the Hoang Lien Son mountain range which is famous with the Indochina’s highest mountain of Fansipan at a height of 3,142 m above sea level.
Defence ministry provides VND 8 bil for Agent Orange victims
Despite the conflict ending in 1971 – four decades on – Vietnamese are still suffering from the devastating effects of Agent Orange sprayed on crops, plants and trees by US military forces.
Sen. Lieut. General Ngo Xuan Lich, Chief of the Vietnam People’s Army (VPA) General Political Department, made the statement on July 30 during a working session with the Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin (VAVA) representatives.
“VAVA has set up offices in 59 provinces nationwide with more than 325,000 members in total,” he said.
“Over the past forty some odd years, the Party, State and Government of Vietnam have offered numerous incentives for social policy beneficiaries, including victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin.”
VAVA has received international advocacy support from over 500 organizations and individuals from 30 countries and territories around the globe for Vietnam’s lawsuit pending in the courts against 37 US chemical companies, who produced and provided chemicals for the US military’s use during the war, he said.
Despite opposition from the courts, Vietnamese lawyers and international friends are also avidly demanding the US Government take on the humanitarian responsibility for cleaning up the environment in Vietnam and provide assistance and healthcare services for Agent Orange/Dioxin victims.
Annually, the Defence Ministry cooperates with the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs and other social organizations to grant aid to war veterans and families of those who rendered great service to the nation during the wartime.
Lich asked VAVA to continue helping Agent Orange/Dioxin victims stabilize their lives and struggle for justice while seeking retribution under international law.
On the occasion, the Defence Ministry also provided VND8 billion in support of VAVA and its efforts to help the victims of the deadly toxic overcome the consequences.
Scholarships granted to Hanoi needy students
The National Fund for Vietnamese Children (NFVC), in collaboration with the Hanoi People’s Committee, on July 29 presented scholarships worth VND3 million (US$141) each to 170 outstanding students living in difficulties in the city.
At the event, Vice President Nguyen Thi Doan, who is also NFVC President, appreciated Hanoi in the care of its children, especially in reducing child-abuse cases. She asked municipal authorities to seek measures to increase the efficiency of support activities.
Hanoi is home to over 1.7 million children, of whom 13,000 are in extremely difficult circumstances and nearly 1,000 living in sponsor centres.
The municipal fund for children has to date mobilised VND5.8 billion (US$272,600), which have been used effectively for charitable activities. It has given bicycles to 80 students with good performance in study, provided free surgery for 25 hare-lipped and cleft palate children, and equipped seven kindergartens with toys.
On this occasion, the Imex Pan Pacific Co. Ltd. donated VND500 million (US$23,500) to the fund.
Japanese city provides aid to Phu Quoc island
Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)on July 30 approved a US$40 million funding to help southern Kien Giang province implement a water supply and waste treatment project in Phu Quoc island.
Construction of the project is being made pursuant to a cooperation agreement signed the same day in Phu Quoc island district between Kien Giang province and Kobe city, Japan.
Signatories to the agreement were Kien Giang provincial People’s Committee Vice Chairman Le Khac Ghi and Kobe Vice Mayor Satoshi Toorii.
Under the terms of the cooperation agreement, construction of a water plant will be built in Cua Can commune next year, with a designed capacity of 20,000 cubic metres per 24 hours.
The project is expected to stimulate greater cooperation between businesses, especially in the fields of the environment, water supply, waste treatment, agriculture, and tourism.
Takahiro Morishita, an official from Kobe took the occasion to introduce the city’s environment policies. With its experience and technology, Kobe city is committed to helping Phu Quoc island achieve sustainable development, he said.
VAVA urged to continue demanding justice for AO victims
A senior military official has hoped that the Association of Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin (VAVA) will pursue the struggle for justice for local AO victims on the basis of international law.
Sen. Lieu. Gen. Ngo Xuan Lich, permanent member of the Central Military Commission and head of the General Department of Politics of the Vietnam People’s Army (VPA), expressed the hope at a working session with VAVA representatives in Hanoi on July 30.
In recent years, the Ministry of Defence has worked with the Ministry of Labour Invalid and Social Affairs in proposing to the Party and State mechanisms and policies in support of AO-infected war veterans and their relatives, he said.
Domestic and foreign organisations and individuals have taken a range of activities to help them enjoy a better life, he added.
According to VAVA, over the last decade, the association has established its branches in 59 provinces and cities across the country with over 325,000 members. It has also set up funds in 33 localities and 24 rehabilitation centres in 20 provinces and cities.
It has raised nearly 718 billion VND (34 million USD) in and outside the country to repair and build houses, grant scholarships, generate jobs and offer storm relief for AO victims and their families.
The association has partnered with 500 organisations and individuals from 30 countries worldwide to aid its lawsuit against 37 US chemical companies which sprayed the toxic chemical during the war in Vietnam.
Public opinions in and outside the country have forced the US government to detoxify dioxin-contaminated areas as well as provide financial support for AO victims to assess medical checkups and treatment.
From 1961-1971, US troops sprayed more than 80 million litres of herbicides - 44 million litres of which were AO that contained nearly 370kg of dioxin - over southern Vietnam.
As a result, around 3.5–4 million Vietnamese people were exposed to AO/dioxin. Many of the victims have died, while millions of their descendants are living with deformities and diseases due to the effects of the chemical.
Kien Giang schools teach ethnic minority languages
As many as 26 primary and nine secondary schools in the Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang are providing lessons on ethnic minority languages besides the regular classes in Vietnamese for local children of these ethnic groups.
Most of the schools are in districts and towns where there are large communities of ethnic minorities.
The ethnic language classes have been underway since the 2004-2005 school year to help the youngsters study and promote their ethnic culture-art values and traditional customs, according to the provincial Department of Education and Training.
Vietnam is home to about 12 million people of ethnic minority groups, accounting for 15 percent of the nation’s population. The Vietnamese Government issued Decree 82/2010-ND-CP in July, 2010 stipulating the teaching and study of the oral and written forms of ethnic languages to keep them from falling into obligation.
In addition, many local TV stations have broadcast programmes in ethnic languages, while other forms of media are also striving to reach out to the ethnic minority audience.
The Vietnam News Agency (VNA), for example, has published a monthly bilingual pictorial magazine – the Dan Toc va Mien Nui (Nationalities and Mountain) - in eight ethnic minority languages, which are Khmer, Bhana, Jrai, Ede, Cham, Mong, K’ho and M’nong in parallel with Vietnamese.
It plans to issue three more bilingual versions of the pictorial magazine for ethnic minority readers as from 2015.-
Training programme for Vietnamese children with hearing loss
A training programme for children with hearing loss held at the Thuan An Centre for Disabled Children in southern Binh Duong province has helped many children develop their listening and spoke language skills.
Director of the centre Nguyen Thanh Thu Thuy said through the Global Foundation for Children with Hearing Loss funded by the US, 11 hearing impaired children taking part in the programme are able to listen and talk and go to integration classes in the 2014-15 academic year.
The Thuan An Centre is providing training for nearly 400 hearing impaired children and one-fourth of them attending the programme, which brings a high hope for them.
The Foundation is a non-profit organisation designed to provide resources to children with hearing problems.
The Foundation and the Thuan An Centre have jointly organised the programme since 201.0
On July 29, US Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City Rena Bitter visited the centre, promising to send more US experts to the centre to help hearing impaired children gradually reintegrate into community.
Modern patrol ship added to fisheries surveillance fleet
The Vietnam fisheries surveillance force received a new patrol ship, the most modern of its kind in Vietnam so far, at a ceremony on July 30 in the northern province of Quang Ninh.
The 90.5m-long ship, coded KN-782, was built by the Ha Long Shipbuilding Co., Ltd. since October 2012.
It has a displacement of 2,500 tonnes and a maximum speed of 21 nautical miles per hour. The vessel is also equipped with large fuel and water storages, modern rescue and medical equipment along with other advanced features.
Vice Chairman of the Quang Ninh People’s Committee Do Thong said a powerful fisheries surveillance force will help better safeguard the nation’s sovereignty and support fishermen at sea.
On June 30, the Ha Long company handed over the ship KN-781 with similar design features to the Vietnam Fisheries Resources Surveillance Department.-
Workshop aims to enhance anti-corruption efficiency
Accelerating administrative reforms, perfecting State budget use standards and norms, and building methods to control civil servants’ assets are measures to ensure the feasibility and increase the efficiency of corruption prevention.
The measures were put forth at a workshop organised by the National Assembly’s Judicial Committee in the central province of Phu Yen on July 29-30.
Participants stressed the need to ensure transparency in the operation of agencies and units in charge of corruption prevention, supervise civil servants’ implementation of codes of conduct and professional ethics, and strictly handle detected corruption cases.
Heads of agencies must take responsibility for any corruption cases that happen in their agencies, they said, adding that measures should be taken to protect those reporting corruption behaviours.
To make anti-corruption work effective, it is necessary to build a synchronous legal system in line with the reality and international conventions to which Vietnam is a party, said Vice Chairman of the National Assembly Uong Chu Luu.
Last year, competent agencies took legal proceedings against 233 corruption cases involving 568 people, increasing 11 cases and 97 people compared to 2012. As many as 335 cases with 803 defendants were prosecuted during the year, up 91 and 202 respectively.
Home vegetable gardening gains traction in Hanoi
Many people in Hanoi have started growing vegetables inside their homes as concerns about the additives on food products grow among the population.
Even though many families in Hanoi live in row houses or apartments, they have been finding innovative ways to grow and maintain small gardens that produce vegetables for home consumption.
The rooftop garden has become especially popular because they can be contained inside plastic boxes or even unused pipes. The people grow the plants hydroponically for conveniences and hygiene.
The cost to build and maintain a mini-garden can easily exceed buying vegetables on the market. However, more and more consumers are putting growing their own vegetables anyway because of their health concerns about bought produce.
Nguyen Minh An, a resident of Ha Dong District, has spent VND4 million (USD190) to set up a garden of a little more than 2 square metres. In this garden, she grows about 13 kinds of vegetables, including onions, lettuce and water spinach. An also grows lemon and guava.
An said, "After a good harvest I keep some in the fridge or share with neighbours. Some I use to feed the chickens."
Some companies provide water systems for indoor gardens. The water and nutrients are pumped evenly to all receptacles, and can even adjust to weather conditions. According to several experts, the rise of indoor gardens indicates how little credibility the produce market has among consumers.
Minimum wage rise of 23 % proposed for next year
The Vietnam General Confederation of Labor has proposed an increase of 23% in the minimum wage next year to help workers improve their living standards, according to an official from the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs.  
The proposal was shared by Nguyen Tien Dang, head of the salary division under the ministry’s Labor and Salary Department on the sidelines of a meeting organized by Vietnam’s National Wage Council in Hanoi on July 29.
The monthly minimum salary for Zone 1 would reach VND3.32 million next year if the proposal is approved.
The confederation made the suggestion after it conducted a survey of nearly 1,900 workers at industrial parks. The survey showed 7.9% of respondents said their incomes are not enough for their daily expenses while 39% said they must tighten spending.
Among the respondents, 41.2% said the current wage is just enough to feed themselves and only 11.9% said they could save some money after all expenses are deducted.
According to the survey, the average monthly wage is VND3.667 million per worker but they actually get VND3.14 million as many enterprises have owed wages and insurance payments to their employees. This average income is lower than the average spending of VND3.905 million for a worker with children.
However, Dang said many employers suggested keeping the current minimum wage unchanged or increasing it by only 12% due to economic difficulties.
Ninh Binh looks to become national tourism center
The PM has passed a master urban planning scheme for Ninh Binh city through 2030 with a vision to 2050 with an aim to develop the city into a national-level hub of culture, history and tourism.
A corner of Trang An national tourism site
Under the newly-approved scheme, Ninh Binh city will be expanded with a total area of 21,052 hectares and a population of around four millions by 2030.
The city is home to a number of old tourist landscapes, including Hoa Lu ancient capital, famous tourist sites like Trang An, Tam Coc-Bich Dong, primeval forest which will be developed into the core zones.
The Trang An national tourism site and the spiritual tourism complex of Bai Dinh Pagoda will be upgraded, according to the scheme.
The city will also develop rural ecotourism, traditional trade villages, and waterway to connect tourist sites.
Five scenarios for East Sea

There are five scenarios for the East Sea dispute in the next 10 years.

China cannot give evidence

scenarios for East Sea, china, vietnam, hoang sa 
Visitors at an exhibition of ancient maps showing Hoang Sa, Truong Sa as Vietnam's territories.

Before international law, historical evidence with legal values is the most convincing factor.
However, international law experts also said that in resolving territorial disputes, on land or on sea, the ability of the involving parties to have historical evidence with legal value is not high.
According to Nuno Sergio Marques Antunes, a Portuguese expert on international maritime disputes, "the disputes based only on legal arguments ... are relatively rare. The vast majority of the territorial disputes lack meaningful legal arguments. In most cases, the arguments without legal value stand out."
Each side in the territorial dispute must take advantage of all the evidence seriously, regardless of form, as Brian Taylor Sumner, American expert on international law has confirmed, pointing out nine different categories, including historical evidence.
China’s historical evidence on its sovereignty over Hoang Sa-Truong Sa (Paracel-Spratly Islands) based on ancient history or even on the events that happened in the past 60 years contain many mistakes, intentionally to mislead the public opinion.
While some Western scholars relied on a part or the entire Chinese ancient history to support China, Vietnam's researchers have analyzed the serious flaws in ancient history of China over its sovereignty of the Hoang Sa-Truong Sa.
In his book published in English in 2013, Wu Shicun used the following arguments to justify China’s claim on the islands in the East Sea: China discovered and named the islands of the Hoang Sa-Truong Sa Islands, China received tributes from the Vietnamese feudal government, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam acknowledged the sovereignty of China over Hoang Sa-Truong Sa, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam just inherited only from the DRV, etc.
The value of the argument
Firstly, if you think China is the country that explored or named the islands in Hoang Sa and Truong Sa Islands so it  holds sovereignty over Hoang Sa-Truong Sa, then this argument does not meet the standards of international law on possession as I mentioned above.
At the same time, the argument that as the country receiving tribute from the Vietnam feudal government until 1885, then it holds sovereignty over Hoang Sa-Truong Sa, is also rejected based on historical evidence and the case between France and Britain on the Minquiers -Ecrehos region.
The argument that the Democratic Republic of Vietnam once recognized China’s sovereignty over Hoang Sa-Truong Sa and the SRV only inherited from the DRV, so China holds sovereignty over Hoang Sa-Truong Sa, is rejected, based on the adaptation of the principles of prevention (estoppel), the nation's inheritance rights under international law and historical evidence in international relations of Vietnam in the period 1954-1976.
In addition to satisfying two standards of international law before the Convention of Berlin, historical evidence about Vietnam’s sovereignty over Hoang Sa in ancient Western documents in over 200 years from the early seventeenth century to the late nineteenth century particularly satisfy criteria set forth in the 1885 Convention on the awareness of the international community to the sovereignty of Vietnam.
In contrast, until today, the Chinese cannot present any historical evidence favorable to their claims from the ancient Western sources before the twentieth century.
China refers to two events: Kuo Sung-tao, the first Chinese ambassador in England in 1876-1877 stated that Hoang Sa belongs to China, and China opposed and prevented the Germans from the survey in Hoang Sa and Truong Sa in 1883.
However, China does not have independent documentation verifying the accuracy of the claims of Kuo Sung-tao and in 1885, Germany popularized the detailed map of Hoang Sa area that they surveyed in 1881-1883.
Compared with China, the historical evidence of Vietnam over its sovereignty of Hoang Sa-Truong Sa is more clear and stronger.
The five scenarios
In late September 1975, in a meeting between leaders of the two countries, when the First Secretary of the Workers' Party of Vietnam Le Duan raised the issues of Hoang Sa-Truong Sa Islands, Chinese Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping admitted the dispute and proposed that the two countries discuss the issue later. But, after nearly 40 years, the dispute has not been resolved.
In this context, we believe that there are five scenarios for the East Sea dispute in the next 10 years:
The first scenario, China will use force to invade a part or entire Truong Sa Islands, in order to "resolve disputes and establish sovereignty over the islands and territorial waters by 2020" as Chinese scholars asserted and according to other sources.
In the marine disputes, China used force against Taiwan in the 1950s, and against Vietnam in the 1970s and 1980s.
The new military adventure of China in Truong Sa, in order to control all of the islands, rocks within the "cow tongue", will cause insecurity and instability in the East Sea, affecting maritime traffic of the U.S., Japan, India, etc.
No one was surprised with the statement that China has closely followed developments in Ukraine and Crimea to assess response and countermeasures of the U.S. and the European Union to Russia.
However, due to major differences with the annexation of the Crimea to Russia, this scenario may bring about economic, military, political, etc. results that are beyond the estimations of China's leaders.
 scenarios for East Sea, china, vietnam, hoang sa
The second scenario, China agrees to solve the dispute at international courts. Due to the weakness of China in historical and legal evidence, due to the use of force in 1974 and 1988 to occupy the islands and rocks in Vietnam’s Hoang Sa-Truong Sa, and to not have enough for the principle of "quieta non movere",China opposes legislation or internationalization of the East Sea issue, sticks to the policy of "bilateral negotiations", "setting aside dispute and pursuing joint development". More than anyone else, China understands that they will lose more than they gain if they have to face international courts.
The third scenario, China does not use force but continues the tactics of prolonging the time to solve the East Sea dispute.
Based on the principles set forth in international law, China strengthens its position on the East Sea to permanently occupy the islands that are currently under its illegal control. This is a favorable scenario for China and disadvantageous for Vietnam, if Vietnam does not use international law to resolve the disputes with China in the near future.
The fact shows that China has been successful in more than 20 years when applying the "peaceful dialogue" tactics in territorial disputes with other countries until the Philippine sued China to the Arbitration Court in accordance with the Appendix VII of UNCLOS in early 2013.
The fourth scenario, China boosts the tactics "silkworms eat mulberry" over the East Sea. They continue to exercise sovereignty in the islands of illegal occupation, turn the undisputed areas into disputed areas and force the involving countries to implement "peace dialogue" or "setting aside dispute and pursuing joint development" in the new "disputed" areas.
This scenario helps China expand the boundaries of the "cow tongue" but they cannot predict every response, including the possibility of limited military conflict with ASEAN members, with the U.S. or other allies of the U.S.
This scenario is disadvantageous for Vietnam if Vietnam does not use international law to resolve disputes with China in the near future.
The fifth scenario. China makes serious negotiations with Vietnam (and the ASEAN countries having disputes with China) to solve the East Sea dispute. This is the most favorable scenario for Vietnam and other countries, but unfavorable to the ambition of monopolizing the East Sea.
The events related to the East Sea from early 2013 until today shows that the situation does not allow Vietnam to hesitate to resolve marine dispute with China to the roots.
Thai Van Cau, VietNamNet Bridge
(The author is a space scientist of Vietnamese origin living in the U.S.)

Positive outlook for German businesses in Vietnam
A recent survey reveals that 70% of German businesses operating in Vietnam hold a positive outlook on the economy in 2014 and are sanguine on prospects for continued buoyancy in the upcoming year.
The results of the survey, made public on July 29 by the German ASEAN Chamber Network (GACN), reflect the opinions of German invested businesses operating in –industry (48%), services (35%), business (9%), consultancy (6%) and auditing (3%).
The survey shows that 50% of the respondents report overall improved success in the past year and this positive outlook is being translated into ongoing plans to invest and recruit. Over 60% of the businesses plan to expand their workforce over the next 12 months.
However, 70% of the companies surveyed report they find it extremely burdensome to locate qualified engineers while 46% said it is essential for the country to develop a better skilled workforce.
Most of the companies have provided continuing education and organised training courses for their staff and workers, with 70% believing that the German vocational training model is a good choice for Vietnam.
A shortage of skilled workers was the number one obstacle reported in the survey followed by import barriers, corruption, inflation, and tax burden.
The survey reaffirmed the importance of the huge lucrative retail market in Vietnam to German businesses and the importance of free trade agreements (FTAs) contributing to their  optimism on the nation’s economic development.
Consumer confidence up in July
The ANZ-Roy Morgan Vietnam Consumer Confidence Index posted another strong gain, increasing by 3.1 points to reach 134.1 in July, to stand well above the 2014 average of 131.
ANZ Bank economists announced this in a report dated July 30, adding that easing of political tensions appear to have contributed to the increase in confidence during the month.
In terms of personal finances, 34% (up 2%) of the Vietnamese people say that their families are "better off" than a year ago, while 19% (down 1%) say that their families are "worse off".
About 55% (up 7%) expect their families to be "better off" financially this time next year, compared to 6% (down 2%) who expect their families to be "worse off".
As much as 61% (up 4%) of the Vietnamese people expect Vietnam to have "good times" economically over the next five years, compared to 7% (down 4%) who expect "bad times".
However, 47% (down 2%) expect the country will have "good times" financially during the next twelve months, while 15% (down 1%) expect "bad times".
Thirty-seven percent (down 1%) of the Vietnamese people say now is a "good time to buy" major household items, compared to 17% (up 3%) who say it is a "bad time to buy".
"We believe the economic backdrop will be one of sure-and-steady recovery, rather than a V-shaped rebound," said Glenn Maguire, the chief economist of ANZ in Asia-Pacific.
Consumer confidence sitting above the 2014 average is aligned with Vietnam's ongoing economic momentum. However, further strong gains in confidence will need to be propelled either via wealth effects from higher equity and gold prices, or a faster improvement in the economy.
"We would now assess confidence as being more likely to move sideways at elevated levels rather than continue to make strong gains," said Glenn.
The ANZ Bank and Roy Morgan Research launched the monthly private consumer index for Vietnam earlier this month, with surveys covering major cities and provinces across the nation.
The consumer index jumped 7.7 points in June.
Dong Nai cashew nut exports up in volume, value
Southern Dong Nai province exported 3,000 tonnes of raw cashew nuts earning US$19.7 million in July, up 7.1% in volume and 11.9% in value on-year.
The average price of raw cashew nut exports for the month hovered around US$6,588 per tonne, 6.2% higher than same period last year’s same period.
In the first seven months of the year, the province exported a total of 15,200 tonnes of raw cashew nuts, grossing revenues of US$98.6 million, up 22.5% in volume and 30.6% in value.
Key cashew nut export markets include the US (US$42 million), China (US$22 million), Canada (US$6 million), the UK (US$4 million), the Netherlands (US$4 million), Australia (US$4 million) and Thailand (US$2 million).
Markets showing a decline included Canada (down 14.3%) and New Zealand (47%).
Advanced fisheries surveillance ship handed over
Vietnam’s second most advanced surveillance ship was handed over on July 30 to the Vietnam Fisheries Surveillance Force in northern Quang Ninh province by Ha Long Shipbuilding Co, Ltd.
The vessel – coded KN-782 – is 90.5m-long, 14m-wide and 7m-high and has been under construction since October 2012. It has a displacement of 2,500 tonnes and a maximum speed of 21 nautical miles per hour with a total capacity of 12,016 horse power.
Speaking at the handover ceremony, vice chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Do Thong said the Party and State have paid special attention to ensuring the fisheries surveillance forces and coast guard are adequately armed to protect sea and islands’ sovereignty, implement rescue work and assist fishermen at sea.
Nguyen Van Trung, deputy head of the Vietnam Fisheries Surveillance Department emphasised that the KN-782 ship helps instil confidence in fishermen that they will be adequately protected.
HCM City targets higher budget revenue in 2015
The Ho Chi Minh City local government has mapped out a plan to boost budget collections for 2015, with domestic revenues targeted to rise 14 -16% and earnings from export and import to increase 6-8 percent, the Saigon Times Daily reported on July 30.
The target was pointed out in the city’s budget plan for 2015 issued by the HCM City government last weekend.
In 2014, the total revenue of HCM City is estimated at VND226.3 trillion, or 0.53% lower than in 2013. Of the figure, domestic revenues are expected to contribute VND124.2 trillion, while some VND74.8 trillion will come from exports and imports, and VND27.3 trillion from crude oil.
The total revenue this year to date has amounted to VND148.5 trillion, or 14.3% higher than the same period last year. Domestic sources generated VND 81.89 trillion and export-import tax collections contributed VND48.5 trillion, rising 17.2% and 15.8 percent compared to 2013, respectively.
According to the HCM City Department of Finance, the increasing amount of tax collections is attributed to greater efforts to attract foreign investment, high consumption of consumer goods, cars, and oil and gas revenues. Other sources such as personal income tax, registration charges and land use fees are also higher.
Besides, the recovery of many manufacturing firms had positive impacts on the city’s revenues.
Speaking at a conference in June on the city’s socio-economic performance in this year’s first half, Chairman of the HCM City People’s Committee Le Hoang Quan expected the local economic recovery since 2013 will continue to gain tempo in the coming years.
Vietnam-UK trade gathering steam
Trade turnover between Vietnam and the UK picked up the pace in the first five months of the year, striking US$2 billion, according to statistics from the Vietnamese Trade Office in the UK.
Vietnamese exports to the UK totalled US$1.6 billion, consisting principally of mobile phones (accounting for 40%), garments and textile (12.5%), interior decoration accessories (9%), machinery and components (7%), plastic products (3%), coffee, tea, spices (2.5%), seafood (2%), and fruits (1%).
Major imports of Vietnam included turbine, machinery and equipment (24%), pharmaceutical products (11%), mobile phone accessories & recording equipment (9%), chemicals (7.5%), healthcare equipment (6%), plastic products (5%), iron and steel (4%),  cattle feed (4%), molluscs and aquatic invertebrates (3%), and ink, dyes, detergents, and paint (2.5%).
Vietnamese Trade Counsellor Nguyen Thi Hong Thuy noted though trade ties between the two countries are enjoying fruitful development, Vietnamese enterprises are still confronted with a number of difficulties competing with Europe, India, China, and Brazil.
A series of trade and investment promotional activities are being organised in the UK and Vietnam including conferences, seminars, and cultural exchanges to address these shortcomings in hopes of increasing Vietnamese competitiveness in the UK market, she said.
Thuy revealed that the UK has spent GBP8 billion (US$13.6 billion) in recent times on investment and trade promotions, aiming to boost exports and investment in highly prospective markets, including Vietnam.
However, differences in development levels and business culture are a big obstacle to increasing Vietnamese exports to the UK.
She pointed out the fact that most Vietnamese businesses are small and medium-sized in terms of financial and management capacity, finding it hard to market their products in the UK.
That’s why Vietnamese businesses need more time to carefully explore, penetrate and find a firm foothold in a well-organised distribution network in the UK.
Trade surplus tops $1.3b in first 7 months
The country's trade surplus in the first 7 months of this year reached US$1.26 billion thanks to a good export performance, the General Statistics Office reported.
The result was due to an improvement in export value which reached $83.5 billion in the first 7 months, up 14.1 per cent compared to the same period of last year.
There were a number of high-valued export staples including marine products with an increase of 25.5 per cent to $4.23 billion, textile and garment industry with a rise of 19.4 per cent to $11.48 billion and phones and accessories manufacturing that showed a growth of 13.9 per cent to $13.15 billion.
Crude oil export value also made up $4.61 billion, up by 5.8 per cent in volume and by 8.3 per cent in turnover.
The GSO stated that the export turnover could reach a higher value if there was no reduction of export value in agricultural products. These included rice exports with 3.86 million tonnes worth $1.75 billion, down 8 per cent in volume and 4.7 per cent in value.
A decrease in rubber exports also contributed to the situation with 454,000 tonnes worth $832 million, down 9.5 per cent in volume and 32 per cent in value.
In the first seven months, the country's import value was $82.24 billion, up 11.4 per cent year-on-year.
The GSO said that the country spent most for imports of raw materials for production such as cotton which increased by 35 per cent to 458,000 tonnes and 36.3 per cent in value to $919 million.
The value of imported machines and spare parts increased by 24.4 per cent to $12.65 billion, and fabric import value reached to $5.5 billion, an increase of 16.7 per cent.
The GSO said that China remained Viet Nam's largest import market with a total turnover of $23.4 billion, an increase of 15.3 per cent compared to the same period last year. The figures brought the trade deficit with China to $14.8 billion, up 14.4 per cent over the same period of 2013.
Most of the imported products from China were textile raw materials, machines and equipment for energy industry, light industry, consuming products and electronic products.
Viet Nam also spent significant values for importing goods from ASEAN and South Korea markets with import turnover of $13.4 billion and $12.3 billion, up 8.4 per cent and 6.3 per cent, respectively.
Import value from Japan, EU and the US were low range between $3.7 billion and $6.9 billion.
Solutions proposed to develop support industries
Support industries are the backbone of the country's industry, according to Truong Thanh Hoai, deputy director of the Heavy Industry Department of the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
Further, support industries play a key role in raising the competitiveness of industrial products and are a decisive factor in the development and enhancement of the nation's competitiveness. Without having support industries, it would be impossible to operate manufacturing industries, Hoai said during a workshop to discuss solutions to develop support industries in Viet Nam, held by HCM City Economics University and the Economic Commission of the Party Central Committee in HCM City yesterday.
Regarding developing solutions for support industries in Viet Nam, Professor Vo Thanh Thu said developing support industries must focus on key industries in Viet Nam, including those attracting large foreign investments, such as garments and textiles, engineering and electronic assembly. These industries have a large demand for support industries, as well as provide a need to modernise technologies and train highly-qualified workers to produce standardised products.
Thu emphasized that investment in technology required large amounts of capital. To assist enterprises, the Ministry of Finance and the State Bank of Viet Nam should work out policies to create favourable conditions for enterprises to have access to long-term loans with preferential interest rates. A representative of the HCM City Department of Industry and Trade told those at the seminar that support industries in Viet Nam were mainly catering to export processing technologies, while manufacturing industries largely relied on imported raw materials and components.
In addition, the country has not yet developed specialized industrial complexes, resulting in underdeveloped support industries.
The HCM City Department of Industry and Trade has proposed a series of measures to develop support industries by offering incentives to attract FDI businesses. It is stated that FDI businesses are an important driving force to promote domestic support industries.
The department has also suggested that the Government consider a master plan for support industries and offer credit loan policies for businesses to develop support industries and human resources in support industries.
Hoai said the Ministry of Industry and Trade is now developing a decree on the development of support industries, and is expected to submit to the Government in the fourth quarter of this year.
Hoai added that the decree would focus on measures to support technology, production management and customer services to avoid shortcomings in local support industry companies.
Furthermore, the decree would supplement incentives on corporate income taxes and construction regulations on the building of support industry complexes to attract global multinational corporations to provide parts and materials to invest in Viet Nam.
Subsidence blamed on residents
Construction conducted by nearby residents has caused the pavement along the O Cho Dua-Hoang Cau road, the most expensive route in Viet Nam that opened early this year, to subside, said Nguyen Sy Bao, the director of the management board on key urban development projects in Ha Noi.
Speaking at the press conference on Tuesday, Bao said the pavement subsided after a short period of construction after residents demolished their old houses. Residents then gathered concrete stakes and drove excavators and trucks over the new pavement.
Bao confirmed that samples of bricks used on the pavement had been tested to meet quality standards.
The loose management and co-operation between the project's investor, inspection consultancy unit and local authority had enabled the damage, he said.
The investor had asked the construction unit to quickly re-build 165 square metres of the damaged pavement, repair the covers of manholes and reduce the height of the pavement to help drivers go up and down more easily.
The pavement had since been fixed, he said, adding that a cost of more than VND70 million (US$3,301) was incurred by the project's contractor.
Bao said the management board would re-examine the incident to establish the fault of those involved, including four units participating in constructing, designing, consulting on and supervising the project.
In June, Ha Noi Party Secretary Pham Quang Nghi had requested a re-examination of the construction of the pavement on the O Cho Dua-Hoang Cau route following inspections.
He said that each phase of the project would reveal the responsibilities of those responsible for the poor-quality pavement.
The O Cho Dua-Hoang Cau road route was part of the city's Belt Road No1 project costing VND642 billion ($30.5 million), including $25 million for site clearance.
However, the real amount for site clearance had been raised to VND743 billion ($35.3 million), making it the most expensive road in the country.
Although the city has opened the road for traffic, the installation of lighting systems, separators, painted lines, pipelines and trees is yet to be finalised.
VN exports face tough challenges
Low value adds, poor quality of exports and heavy dependence on raw material imports along with poor processing facilities and transportation were affecting the country's export quality and efficiency.
Nguyen Thi Thu Hang, senior technical consultant at Export Potential Assessment (EPA), told a conference in Ha Noi yesterday that limited understanding about foreign markets and international trade issues and inadequate market information, poor supply chain and sector linkages as well as outdated production and processing technologies for export products were also problems plaguing the country's exports.
EPA is the first major activity of the four-year "Decentralised Trade Support Services for Strengthening the International Competitiveness of Vietnamese Small and Medium-sized Enterprises" programme, being implemented nationally by the Trade Promotion Agency.
In order to deal with these issues, Hang emphasised on the importance of promoting the implementation of the State's preferential policies in support industries to solve input material shortages.
Besides, to enhance linkages in supply chains to reduce cost, improving product quality and competitiveness of exports, diversifying export markets and accelerating trade promotion were also necessary, she said.
She added that improving the capacity of domestic enterprises in negotiating, contracting and getting international transactions reduced should be also included.
On his speech at the event, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Do Thang Hai said Viet Nam was attempting to increase exports of high-value goods while reducing shipments of raw materials abroad.
The country was also fostering its negotiations of Free Trade Agreements with foreign countries to expand export outlets, he said.
In the future, it was necessary to identify and assess products and services which had an export potential and then focus on accelerating exports of these goods, he noted.
According to a report which was also released at yesterday's conference, the items with high export potentials in the short to medium terms were coffee, rubber and cassava along with pepper, garments and leather shoes. Seafood such as tuna and shrimp were also on the list. Electronics, textiles and garment, and wooden goods apart from bamboo and rattan products, were also items with high export potential. Tourism and labour were items on the list.
SBV approves new Construction Bank head
The State Bank of Viet Nam (SBV) has approved a new chairwoman and general director of the Viet Nam Construction Bank (VNCB).
The decision follows the arrest and temporary detention of the bank's three former senior officials on July 29.
The new chaiworman is Vu Bach Yen, who has been a member of VNCB's executive board since February 2012 and is a major shareholder. Meanwhile, the bank's Deputy General Director Dam Minh Duc, who was in charge of the bank's operations in Ha Noi, is the new general director.
According to the Ministry of Public Security's Investigation Police Agency, the three former officials were arrested on Tuesday for allegedly violating Viet Nam's Penal Code's Article 165.
The Article deals with deliberate acts against the State's regulations on economic management, leading to serious consequences.
The arrested persons are Pham Cong Danh, 49, former chairman of VNCB; Phan Thanh Mai, 43, former member of VNCB's executive board and general director; and Mai Huu Khuong, 31, former member of VNCB's executive board, in charge of finance.
On Monday, a day before they were arrested, SBV announced that the three officials had been dismissed from VNCB's service to ensure normal operations of the bank.
VNCB was established from the Trust Bank in May 2013. The Trust Bank was in operation for 23 years with a charter capital of VND3 trillion (US$142.85 million).
It's reported that Mai, Danh and Khuong were elected members of VNCB's executive board in February 2013. Then Mai was appointed as the bank's general director.
Danh was also Thien Thanh Group Ltd Company's chairman of the board of directors.
Thien Thanh Group Ltd Co is a subsidiary of the Thien Thanh Group, based in HCM City. Its businesses include construction materials, auto services, real estate, finance and hotels.
Meanwhile, Khuong was also chairman of the executive board of the Dai Viet Stock Company, while Mai was a member.
The case is being investigated further.
Pan Pacific stitches up tender for largest stake in Vinaseed
Pan Pacific Corporation (PAN) announced it has become Viet Nam National Seed Corporation's (NSC) biggest shareholder after completing the tender offer for its shares.
According to its filing on the HCM City Stock Exchange yesterday, Pan Pacific has bought 4.63 million shares of Vinaseed, lower than the total 6.23 million shares it registered while buying.
PAN's total holdings in the seed firm increased from 2.47 million shares to nearly 8.14 million shares, equivalent to 53.2 per cent of the firm's stakes that makes NSC a PAN subsidiary.
The company could spend over VND352 billion (US$17 million) to own NSC shares as in March, PAN offered to buy their shares at a price of VND76,100 (US$3.61) per share from May 30 to July 15.
Sellers included Sai Gon Securities Inc (SSI) who sold out all its holdings of over 2.42 million shares in July.
NSC shares fell 0.7 per cent to close yesterday's session at VND74,500 ($3.53) a share while PAN shares tumbled 3.1 per cent to end at VND47,500 ($2.25) each.
The acquisition of Vinaseed has shown PAN's investment strategy to expand business in the agricultural sector in which Vinaseed is a leading company in the field of plant varieties.
NSC is a stable performer with profits rising steadily from 2009 to 2013. It estimates a profit of VND59 billion ($3 million) in the first half of this year, equivalent to 51 per cent of its yearly profit target and a rise of 9 per cent against the same period last year.
Apart from Vinaseed, Pan Pacific owns 62.4 per cent stake in Ben Tre Forestry and Aquaproduct Import and Export Co (ABT), and 23 per cent in Long An Food Processing Export Co (LAF).
PAN is operating in administrative and support services with 10 business lines, including agricultural and seafood production, home care services and industrial solid and liquids apart from gas waste treatment services and high-rise building and apartment management services.
Pan Pacific incurred losses of more than VND2 billion ($95,000) last year and is under warning status by the HCM Stock Exchange. Its first-half net profit is projected at VND22.5 billion ($1 million), six times the same period last year.
VSA sees slight increase in steel sales in July
The Viet Nam Steel Association (VSA) has reported that steel consumption in July was 380,000 tonnes, an increase of 1 per cent against last month.
In July, steel plants churned out only 400,000 tonnes, which was lower than the designed output due to low demand.
The Vice President of VSA, Nguyen Van Sua said that steel consumption could decrease in August due to the rainy season.
VSA forecast that the steel industry will increase business by 10 per cent this year.
Footwear exports fetch more than $1.1b
The southern province of Dong Nai has earned more than US$1.1 billion from footwear exports in the first seven months of this year, up 12.8 per cent year-on-year.
According to Director of the provincial Department of Industry and Trade Le Van Danh, in July alone, the export of this product brought $167 million to the province, up 16.4 per cent over the previous month and 5.1 per cent compared to a year earlier.
He said that growth was seen in almost all markets, led by the Republic of Korea with $323 million and the US with $309 million. They were followed by Belgium with $98 million, China with $50 million and the UK with $75 million, he said.
Local businesses attributed the growth to the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) that the European Union has granted to Viet Nam, coupled with the economic recovery in many markets, including the EU and the United States.
Unsold sugar inventory reaches nearly 460,000 tonnes
The unsold volume of sugar at factories was estimated at 457,890 tonnes as of July 15, 32,160 tonnes higher than a year earlier, an official of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) said.
However, this will not be a serious problem if the current effective control of smuggling can be maintained, according to Doan Xuan Hoa, deputy head of MARD’s Department of Processing and Trade for Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Products and Salt Production.
At the same time, he pointed to the fact that most sugar makers have not formed partners with distributors, thus their sales depend much on the market. As a result, they are under great pressure when supply overcomes demand on the domestic market. To add to the problem, sugar export is also facing many difficulties.
Hoa urged the Vietnam Sugarcane and Sugar Association and businesses to devise production and sales plans for 2015 so as to ensure supply and demand balance in the domestic market.
The department forecasts the sugar output from now to the end of 2014 at 300,000 tonnes, while imports this year are expected to reach 77,300 tonnes, bringing total supply to 835,190 tonnes.
Meanwhile, sugar consumption is predicted to be at the same level as last year, resulting in unsold inventory of around 251,240 tonnes by the end of the year.
Personnel appointed for Steering Committee for Price Regulation
Deputy Prime Minister Vu Van Ninh who is head of the Steering Committee for Price Regulation, has appointed Finance Minister Dinh Tien Dung as deputy head of the committee.
Nine members of the committee were also named under Decision 52/QD-BCDDHG freshly signed by the Deputy PM. They are officials from the Ministries of Finance, Industry and Trade, Planning and Investment, Public Health, Education and Training, Transport, and Agriculture and Rural Development, as well as the Government Office and the State Bank of Vietnam.
The Steering Committee for Price Regulation was set up in May this year with Deputy PM Ninh as its head under the Prime Minister’s Decision 690/QD-TTG. It is responsible for studying and helping the Government leader consider and approve major policies and orientations for price management in a certain period, as well as specific measures to stabilise prices for essential goods and services.
The committee will also assist the PM in directing local and municipal ministries and agencies to manage prices, serving the targets and requirements of the Government on curbing inflation and stabilising macro economy.
In addition, it will hold seminars and conferences for experts to share experience in and out of the country to improve the operational efficiency of the committee.
Philippine firms encouraged to invest in Vietnam
Vietnamese Ambassador to the Philippines Truong Trieu Duong has called on Philippine businesses to expand their investment in Vietnam.
Speaking at the 22nd Metro Manila Business Conference recently held in Manila, the Ambassador briefed participants on Vietnam’s economic integration policies as well as the country’s advantages.
Philippine firms said they highly value Vietnam’s investment environment and took this opportunity to thoroughly enquire about business opportunities in country.
Hosted by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the conference aimed to gear up for regional integration as an ASEAN economic community will be formed by 2015.
Many barriers to business remain, says expert
Many policy drafting agencies tend to resort to the “prohibition” term for the business scopes that are hard to control and this has set up many barriers to the country’s business environment, said the director of the Central Institute for Economic Management.
Speaking at a seminar held in Hanoi Thursday to introduce the revised Enterprise Law, Nguyen Dinh Cung described the legal documents about allowable and conditional business areas as a maze. “We assume these documents would be a cubic meter if they are put together,” Cung said.
Cung said regulations for the prohibited business areas regarding dangerous games for children and their character development, social security and order, sexual products and scrap imports which can pollute the environment among others are unclear as there are a lack of detailed criteria and definitions.
Such regulations, according to Cung, can be interpreted differently by different market monitors depending on their worldviews, and this puts producers and traders at risk.
“Individuals at State management agencies can take advantage of different interpretations for their private gains,” he warned.
The regulation banning enterprises trading pollution-causing scrap imports, according to Cung, is also unreasonable. He wondered whether enterprises are allowed to trade domestic scraps or not.
Cung noted the Enterprise Law is ruled by 20 industry-specific laws and regulations, and ministries and sectors make full use of these laws to protect their interests.
However, chairman of the Vietnam Tea Association Nguyen Huu Tai disagreed with Cung.
Tai said food producers should strictly follow the regulations on safety and hygiene of the Ministry of Health rather than the Enterprise Law. He furthered a person owns a big piece of land in a downtown area of a city but he is not allowed to raise pigs on his land as he should observe the Land Law.
Dau Anh Tuan, head of legislation at the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said in support of Cung that the Enterprise Law would be invalid if industry-specific laws and regulations set too many business conditions.
Tuan said the inclusion of business lines with special requirements in the Enterprise Law or in decrees needs careful consideration as it cannot be kept updated with the reality.
Two contractors banned from road projects
Two consulting contractors responsible for supervising a project to construct a road connecting Vi Thanh Town in Hau Giang Province with Can Tho City in the Mekong Delta have been prohibited from joining any traffic projects for 18 months for not fulfilling their duties properly.
The Ministry of Transport in a decision issued on July 24 banned Consulting and Construction Ltd., Co. 747 and Design Consultant Enterprise, an arm of Investment Construction Joint Stock Company No.10 under the Vietnam Urban and Industrial Zone Development Investment Corporation (IDICO).
The two consultants are found by the ministry to have violated regulations in supervising the project’s quality and progress and failed to perform their contracts duly.
Apart from these two contractors, over then other units relating to the construction of the road have also had their works reviewed to guarantee the project’s quality.
Previously, the transport ministry made a snap inspection into the project, invested by the Hau Giang Province’s Department of Transport, and identified many violations by contractors.
Gov’t orders customs procedures simplification
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has told the Ministry of Finance and its General Department of Customs to remove unnecessary customs procedures to help enterprises at a time of economic hardship.
In Notice 289/TB-VPCP, the Prime Minister requests that import and export goods clearance time should be cut by 50% from the current level by the end of 2014. Paperwork should also be streamlined.
In 2015, Vietnam should reach the same standards of the countries in the ASEAN-6 bloc of Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei with the average time of completing export and import procedures and customs paperwork reduced to 171 hours a year.
The Government orders the General Department of Customs to further speed up application of information technology and deployment of the ASEAN one-door mechanism and the One-door Customs Mechanism.
The Ministry of Finance will have to cooperate with relevant units to secure consistency in management of export and import goods, people and means of transport traveling into and out of the country.
Relevant agencies are required to review the policies issued in recent times to help the Government work out decrees guiding implementation of the amended Law on Customs. The National Assembly has recently passed the law to ensure administrative reform goals and requirements will be met.
Notably, the Government requests stricter management of customs staff, especially at grassroots levels, to prevent wrongdoing in the process of customs clearance. Officials who violate rules must be eliminated.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Finance and the General Department of Customs will draw up a project allowing the non-State sector to join equipment procurement and infrastructure investment contracts in the customs sector. The contracts aim to improve supervision and goods checks by the customs.
The Government will continue investing in scanners to check goods and enhancing supervision at border gates.
The General Department of Customs should encourage private firms to join customs service and agent sectors. The department will initiate a pilot scheme to apply a consistent management model at border gates by arranging courses for officials.
Initially, the model will be piloted by the customs departments in Haiphong City and HCMC. The ministry will report the project to the Government before November 1.
According to the Doing Business 2014 report by the World Bank (WB), Vietnam now ranks 65th among 189 economies in terms of customs procedures.
It normally takes enterprises in Vietnam 21 days to finish export papers, compared to only 11 days in the member countries of OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development).
In addition, it costs firms in Vietnam US$610 to ship a container, compared to US$450 in Malaysia and US$856 in East Asia-Pacific.
Liquidity risk still high at EVN
The power purchase deals between Vietnam Electricity Group (EVN) and its subsidiaries lack transparency with huge losses offset internally, which are among reasons for high liquidity risk at the group, said State Audit of Vietnam.
According to the auditing result for 2012, five power corporations of EVN owed the parent firm as much as VND9.88 trillion worth of electricity and the amount the parent company owed power plants also amounted to VND6.06 trillion.
The debt amounts collectible and payable between the parent company and its subsidiaries were quite high but EVN did not perform good bookkeeping to monitor and analyze such debts. Besides, debt payments made by power purchasing companies to power plants were often late.
According to State Audit of Vietnam, power purchases between the parent company and subsidiaries and affiliates were not objective as the internal power price in 2012 took into account the losses incurred in 2011. By lowering the internal price, the parent company offset losses for five subsidiaries with a total of nearly VND1.72 trillion.
Besides, the parent company underwrote the losses of VND865 billion incurred in 2011 for its two wholly-owned thermal power companies, with VND722 billion for Uong Bi thermal power plant and VND143 billion for Can Tho Thermal Power Company, said Nguyen Hong Long from State Audit.
EVN also owed other groups like Vietnam National Oil and Gas Group and Vietnam National Coal and Mineral Industries Holding Corporation a combined VND16.07 trillion as of 2013, most of it overdue. However, EVN had pledged to pay VND2.65 trillion by December 31, 2013 and the rest would be paid within seven years, with VND1 trillion to be paid each year.
According to Long, EVN earned a profit of around VND8.82 trillion in 2012 and the return on equity ratio was 7.52%, though the group earmarked over VND10 trillion to cover exchange rate changes and other amounts to provide for losses of previous years.
EVN borrowed much to invest in power generation and transmission systems, with loans totaling VND25.04 trillion as of 2013, including short-term loans of VND6.1 trillion.
With business results improving gradually, EVN’s long-term loan payment capacity in the next five years, according to State Audit, is ensured thanks to the amortization of assets as well as its supplementary assets being revalued.
Philips introduces smartphones in Vietnam
Dutch electronics giant Philips has launched its latest smartphone models and announced a new distributor in Vietnam.
Smartcom Co. has been picked by Sangfei Mobility Singapore, a company that holds the right to trade Philips smartphones on global markets, as the authorized distributor of Philips handsets in Vietnam. Smartcom has been selected as it has much experience in distributing major brands, including Sony, HTC, Blackberry and Gionee.
With the debut last week, Vietnam was chosen by Philips as the first market in Southeast Asia for its four new smartphone models of S308, S388, W6110 and i908. These cellphones are retailed for VND1.29 million to VND6.99 million (around US$60-329).
Philips has also introduced its feature phone X2566 to the Vietnamese market.
Long-lasting battery technology is among the highlights of Philips phones.
Philips had its cellphones distributed by Thanh Cong Mobile in Vietnam in 2009.
Supporting industries lack effective policies
Vietnam’s supporting industries have made slow progress in the past decade due to a lack of effective policies to support their development, according to the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO).
Yasuzumi Hirotaka, managing director of JETRO in HCMC, told a function on establishing the Japan-Vietnam supporting industries forum last week that policy-making agencies had not fully understood the needs of enterprises.
The lack of effective policies to spur Vietnam’s automobile industry is a case in point. This is one of the brakes on development of supporting industries in this market, Hirotaka said.
Therefore, the HCMC Export Processing Zones and Industrial Parks Authority (HEPZA) and JETRO in HCMC signed a memorandum of understanding to boost supporting industries in this city, including the establishment of the Japan-Vietnam supporting industries forum. This forum is expected to bring the requests of both Vietnamese and Japanese firms to policy makers and help them get a better understanding of businesses.
According to Hirotaka, the forum will also assist in human resource development for supporting industries as if there are not qualified people making technological transfers happen, it is difficult for local businesses to grow and benefit from technological advances despite strong foreign investment inflows.
As Japanese firms have not found good local enterprises in supporting industries, JETRO and HEPZA will make a list of businesses at exporting processing zones and industrial parks in HCMC that can meet the demand of Japanese firms.
There were 311 Vietnamese enterprises active in supporting industries as of last year. Many foreign enterprises operate in supporting industries Vietnam but their products are mainly for export.
There are many final products made in Vietnam but their localization rates are low. A 2013 survey of JETRO showed that the average rate of products by Japanese enterprises in Vietnam were 32.2% last year compared to 27.9% in 2012.
Citibank launches new credit card
Citibank Vietnam has launched the international credit card Citi Rewards, targeting office workers and young consumers in the country.
Raul Parades, Citibank Vietnam’s consumer business manager, said Citi Rewards is the first product to enable customers to accumulate far more bonus points than other credit cards. The points can be redeemed for gifts, including music players, cell-phones and entertainment services.
In addition, card holders can enjoy privileges at Citibank partner restaurants, hotels and shopping centers.
The group has introduced Citi Rewards in several markets in Asia-Pacific such as Hong Kong, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Taiwan, India, Malaysia, China and Australia.
Citibank joined the local retail banking market in 2009. Earlier, it launched other credit cards onto the market such as Citibank PremierMiles World MasterCard, Citibank Visa Platinum Cask Back and Ready Credit.
HCM City’s credit growth better than expected
The amount of total outstanding loans in HCMC is estimated at VND984 trillion in the first seven months of this year, a rise of 3.35% compared to end-2013, heard a meeting on the city’s socio-economic situation yesterday.
The central bank’s HCMC branch earlier estimated the city’s credit growth rate by end-June at 1.32%, but the rate actually increased to 2.84%.
Nguyen Hoang Minh, deputy director of the State Bank of Vietnam's HCMC branch, told the Daily that the accelerating credit growth rates in June and July were attributed to the city’s bank-business capital connection program.
Up to date, there have been 701 companies, two cooperatives and 25 family-run businesses approved by banks for loans totaling VND15.7 trillion.
The total amount from the program is expected to reach VND28-30 trillion at the end of this year compared to the earlier estimate of around VND20 trillion, Minh said.
As many as 34 companies will also borrow an additional sum of nearly VND1.9 trillion from banks on August 8 with the annual interest rates of 7.5% for short-term tenors and 9.5-10.5% per annum for medium and long-term tenors.
Businesses in fact have accelerated borrowing money from banks to support their operations. However, certain obstacles concerning bad debts and stockpiled goods are reasons behind the low credit growth rate.
The ratio of bad debts stood at 4.84% as of end-May, up 0.15 percentage point against the end of last year.
The city’s export turnover hit US$16.4 billion, a year-on-year rise of 3.5%, in the first seven months of this year, director Thai Van Re of the city's Department of Planning and Investment told the meeting.
Certain exported products enjoyed good results including pepper, up 85.8% year on year, followed by vegetables and fruit with a 48.5% increase, machines and equipment up 37%, aquatic products up 14.8%, coffee up 14.6%, rice up 11%, apparel up 8.6% and footwear 7.4%.
Meanwhile, the city’s import revenue stood at US$14.14 billion in the first seven months of this year, an 8% year-on-year fall.
Notably, goods from China that account for 22% of the total import revenue inched down 1.9% in value. However, imports from Singapore surged by 45.8% in value, followed by goods from the U.S. up 28.3%, Taiwan 18.5%, South Korea 11.7%, Thailand 4.8% and Japan 4.1%.
The city used to buy a wide variety of products from China, ranging from machines and equipment, electronics, metal to materials for agriculture.
However, China’s illegal placement of an oil rig in Vietnam’s waters in early May has influenced the export-import activities between the two countries, but it is also deemed as an opportunity for the city to lessen economic dependence on China.