Thứ Hai, 22 tháng 5, 2017

What has Vietnam gained after 10 years of WTO membership?

While foreign experts say that Vietnam gained more than it lost after joining the World Trade Organization (WTO), some Vietnamese experts say the opposite.

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Pascal Lamy, former Director  General of WTO

Speaking to Tri Thuc Tre on May 15, Pascal Lamy, former Director  General of WTO, stuck to his opinion that Vietnam has gained more than it lost as a WTO member. 
Vietnam has been a member of WTO for the last 10 years, during which it has gained great achievements. Lamy said that Vietnam is a success story as it can fully exploit its comparative advantages.

The advantages, as Lamy pointed out, are the high quality of the labor force and productivity. The industries where Vietnam has advantages include electronics, textile & garments, and farm produce.

Vietnam has been developing strongly thanks to expansion of relationships and reform policies, while the market opening has brought big benefits.

Looking back on Lamy’s comments in the past to the local press in 2007, when Vietnam officially because a WTO member, and in 2010, he has had a consistent opinion. 

While foreign experts say that Vietnam gained more than it lost after joining the World Trade Organization (WTO), some Vietnamese experts say the opposite.
Huynh The Du from the Fulbright Economics Teaching Program (FETP), however, commented that in the last 10 years, Vietnam has lost in the home market.

The expert thinks that Vietnam has suffered from the so-called Dutch disease. Vietnam does not lack capital as a huge amount of money has been pumped into the economy, but the money has been flowing into property speculation, thus distorting the national economy.

The view has been advocated by other experts, including Vo Dai Luoc, former head of the Vietnam Economics Institute.

Imports/exports have been increasing but the achievements belong to foreign invested enterprises, not Vietnamese.
“Though exports from Vietnam have higher technology content and the products are more diverse, the products’ added value remains modest,” said Vo Tri Thanh from the Central Institute of Economic Management (CIEM).

Regarding the trade deficit, Thanh said the situation has improved after 10 years of WTO membership, but the ratio of trade deficit to GDP and on total import/export turnover remains low.

While other WTO member countries can take full advantage of WTO membership to export their goods to Vietnam, Vietnam still cannot fully exploit opportunities to export products to other WTO member countries.

“The WTO member status has exposed Vietnam’s weak points,” Thanh commented.

Meanwhile, Le Huy Khoi from the Trade Research Institute, said Vietnam’s average GDP growth rate in the last 10 years was lower than that in the pre-WTO period.

Kim Chi, VNN

Automobiles discovered not operating GPS equipment

Some 16,610 coaches, taxis and buses do not operate their global positioning systems (GPS) equipment regularly, according to the Hà Nội Department of Transport. - Photo
HÀ NỘI – Some 16,610 coaches, taxis and buses do not operate their global positioning systems (GPS) equipment regularly, according to the Hà Nội Department of Transport.
Hà Huy Quang, deputy director of the department, said that GPS equipment was required to be installed in all taxis, coaches and buses since 2015 by the Ministry of Transport so that authorities can monitor their journeys.
However, he said, over the past month inspectors discovered that 16,610 vehicles did not use the equipment regularly, and 1,043 of them even did not use it once in the month, so they transferred no data to the Directorate for Roads of Việt Nam and the municipal Department of Transport.
Deputy Director Quang temporarily suspended the 1,043 automobiles for a month. The automobiles included taxis from various firms including Mai Linh, An Dân, Thành Công and Bảo Việt, and coaches of firms such as the Hà Tây Transport Joint-stock Company, Hà Nội Transport Joint-stock Company and South Hà Nội Coach Enterprise.
The remaining 15,500 automobiles, which did not operate the GPS equipment regularly, received warnings from the Hà Nội Department of Transport. If they repeat the violation, they will also be temporarily suspended.
Ngô Văn Hùng, deputy director of Tân Đạt Enterprise, which has three buses that did not use the GPS equipment for a month, told Tiền Phong (Vanguard) newspaper that all of the firm’s buses had the equipment and were checked regularly.
The three buses in question may not have been used or may have been in a repair shop, and the enterprise would inspect the situation, he said. – VNS
Ho Chi Minh City estate official ‘rescues’ buildings violating construction permits

An estate official in Ho Chi Minh City has been receiving money to turn a blind eye to buildings in violation of their construction permits, Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper has discovered.

Le Van Tan, an official at the Land Registration Office of District 7, looks through T.’s papers at his company, April 27, 2017.Tuoi Tre

With the help of around VND100 million (US$4,400) and a good connection, a hotel built in violation of its permit can be ‘legitimized’ in Ho Chi Minh City.
Last month, T., an estate developer in Ho Chi Minh City, had planned on taking over a small hotel on Nguyen Thi Thap Street in District 7.
According to the building’s construction permit, the hotel is licensed to include one ground floor, one mezzanine, three floors and a partial roof.
However, its previous owner had rebuilt the mezzanine and transformed it into a full floor, with the roof walled to add additional rooms.
Unwilling to demolish the illegal parts of the building, T. got in touch with a ‘broker’ to help him legitimize its papers.
Money talks
T. met up with a so-called ‘broker’ going by the name of Nam, who advised him to ‘take a shortcut’ with a promise that “if you’re willing to pay, your papers will be done in no time, 100 percent guaranteed.”
Nam introduced T. to Vu Thuy Duong, director of Thai Duong Land, a real estate and construction services company based in District 7.
Scanning through T.’s papers, Duong reassured the man that he could handle the issue, as he had some strings he could pull at the Land Registration Office of District 7.
“You can proceed with the purchase, then send me the files after they’ve been notarized, so I can have my minions sketch the building plan,” Duong instructed his client. “After that, I will escort you myself to the district authorities to submit the files. You can keep the original copy. Just send me photos of those files so I can forward to the official in charge.”
Duong demanded VND150 million ($6,600) for the deal, 50 percent of which was to be paid once the files were submitted, and the rest once the mission was accomplished.
After T.’s continued requests to meet the official in charge of processing his papers, Duong agreed to set up an appointment between him and Le Van Tan, an official of the Land Registration Office of Distrct 7.
“It’s out of respect that he agrees to meet you,” Duong said. “Tan’s not in the same league as us. He is putting his career at risk even by sitting down with us. It cost him a fortune to get into that position, so the money he gets for legitimizing a house is not worth the risk.”
At 11:00 am, Tan arrived at the designated location for the meeting and began looking through the papers handed to him by T.
“I already told you that I can get this done,” Tan assured T. “Some serious violations may have to be pulled down, but I can pull some strings to have them left intact.”
Duong said that Tan was the official directly in charge of approving T.’s papers, and that it is entirely in his decision whether the papers are ‘right’ or ‘wrong.’
‘VND100 million would be reasonable’
On April 28, T. visited Tan in his office at the headquarters of District 7’s administration, but was told to wait for him at a nearby coffee store as “the bosses are around.”
Despite his earlier confirmation that he could get the paperwork done, this time Tan said the house T. was about to buy had some serious violations.
“I could skip a few violations if the house was in an alley, but this one’s right at the front,” Tan explained. “Your files will have to go to my boss for approval.”
Tan admitted that he had worked with Duong many times to legitimize multiple house papers.
“I only agree to do it when I know I can,” Tan said. “I can help you with the home’s violations in construction, but I can’t help you with the paperwork to purchase the house.”
When T. complained about having to pay Duong VND150 million ($6,600) for the deal, Tan said the price was a bit too high.
“You should bargain it down a bit, around VND100 million would be reasonable,” Tan suggested.
Tan said he gets VND50 million ($2,200) for his part, but he did not pocket the whole sum for himself.
“I clearly have to share it with my colleagues in charge of receiving and screening the files, and with those who can help speed up the process,” Tan explained. “And then there’s also my boss.”

Chủ Nhật, 21 tháng 5, 2017

Vietnam female player tops Asia chess championships

Vo Thi Kim Phung took the lead of the Asian Continental Chess Championships’ Women’s Category in China on May 19.

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Vo Thi Kim Phung

Phung beat Indian Ramesh Babu Vaishali in the eighth round to lead with seven points. She will meet Mary Ann Gomes of India in the next round.
Guliskhan Nakhbayeva of Kazakhstan and Gomes are second and third with 6.5 points and 5.5 points, respectively.
Two other Vietnamese masters Hoang Thi Bao Tram and Pham Le Thao Nguyen sit in fifth and sixth place. Tram tied with Lei Tingjie of China, while Nguyen drew with Gomes in the seventh round. They now both have 5.5 points.
Tram will face Nakhbayeva of Kazakhstan, while Nguyen will play with Swati Ghate of India in the ninth round.
In the Open Category, Vidit Santosh Gujrathi of India leads. He crushed Jinshi Bai of China in the eighth round, leaving him with six points. Gujrathi will next meet Yu Yangyi of China.
Vietnamese representatives, Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son and Tran Tuan Minh are in 18th and 19th place.
Car market to see changes with new regulations

The domestic market will open more widely to foreign cars as enterprises now will not be required to submit as many documents as they did before, as stipulated in Circular No 20/2011.

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The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT) has opened the draft decree on conditions for automobile trade, manufacturing, assembling, import and maintenance.

The most important provision of the draft is the removal of the requirement on manufacturers’ authorization certificates as stipulated in Circular No 20/2011.

The circular states that importers of unused cars with nine seats or less, besides performing current import procedures, must be designated or authorized by official carmakers or dealers as their distributors in Vietnam.

The circular had been criticized by car dealers, who said it ‘distorted’ the Vietnamese car market.
Since November 2016, car trading has been listed as a conditional business field. However, to date, management agencies still have not released any document about the conditions. 
Car imports will have to get car import codes from MOIT, and in order to do so, will only need to submit business registration certificates, or investment certificates and documents to prove that they have maintenance units that satisfy requirements.

Bui Xuan Truong from Anycar Vietnam said since June 2011, when Circular 20 took effects, his company, like many other car dealers, have had to stop business.

However, as the requirement on manufacturers’ authorization certificates is removed, Anycar is considering resuming the business.

The representative of another car company said that since March 9, MOIT has not required the certificates on car maintenance units granted by the Ministry of Transport.

“We will look for different supply sources so as to bring to diverse Vietnamese products to satisfy Vietnamese requirements at reasonable prices,” he said, adding that once authorized importers have to compete with other car dealers, they will have to cut car prices and improve services.

An analyst commented that the removal of the requirement on manufacturers’ authorization certificates will stop market control by authorized importers. In general, one manufacturer authorizes one car import company. If the company does not have to compete with others, it will control car prices and consumers won’t have the opportunity to buy cars at low prices.

Some government officials have warned that if the requirement is removed, foreign cars will arrive in Vietnam in large numbers, which will do harm to the domestic market.

However, Nguyen Thi Hien from Toyota Vietnam, in charge of distributing used cars, does not think so.

“If more enterprises are allowed to import cars for domestic sale, car prices will be more competitive, thus bringing more choices to customers,” Hien said.

Since November 2016, car trading has been listed as a conditional business field. However, to date, management agencies still have not released any document about the conditions. 

Mai Chi, VNN
Tentative banks slow hi-tech agricultural credit package

There is a VND130-140 trillion ($5.72-$6.16 billion) credit package for hi-tech agricultural projects, however, few firms have been able to access it due to cautious banks.

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The guidance on the VND100 trillion ($4.4 billion) credit package for hi-tech agricultural projects was issued by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) and the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV). With the participation of nearly a dozen banks, the credit package’s value has increased to VND130-140 trillion ($5.72-$6.16 billion).
However, according to a source of VIR, only a handful of firms can get disbursement from this credit package. Agribank is the leading lending, having provided loans for 18 firms and hi-tech agricultural projects. Many firms said that the banks’ lending procedures are strict, although MARD’s criteria are quite simple.
Responding to firms’ complaints, many banks said that they wish to provide capital for hi-tech agricultural projects, but only a few applicants meet their criteria.
Talking with VIR’s reporters, Nguyen Thi Phuong, deputy general director of Agribank, said that, “When agreeing to finance a firm’s project, banks become project investors. Thus, banks have a vested interest in ensuring that the firms themselves are efficient and the projects feasible and capable of recovering the investment capital in the future.”
Similarly, Nguyen Duc Huong, senior advisor of LienVietPostBank, said that banks have surplus capital and are looking for good projects. If firms have feasible projects with a high likelihood capacity of recovering capital, then garnering investment capital is a simple problem.
Feasibility is key
What firms usually complain about the most when submitting application for loans is the collateral for their projects, because agricultural lands have low value, while the assets on these lands and factories are not considered collateral. Nevertheless, many banks insist that if the projects are feasible enough, they do not ask for collateral.
“We do not require collateral, we just look at the projects’ feasibility and risks involved during all stages of investment, manufacturing, consumption, and the capacity to recover capital,” Phuong said.
Previously, many hi-tech agriculture projects, such as the hi-tech egg processing plant of DTK Phu Tho Co., Ltd, and Ba Huan Co., Ltd, have borrowed hundreds of billion VND from banks without collateral.
To approach these loans, firms have to be transparent and publicise all relevant information, as well as invite banks to participate in the project from the beginning, from the stage of planning, to supervising the projects’ construction, cash flows management, and selling the products.
Nguyen Duy Hung, chairman of The PAN Group, said that if a project has capital but fails to determine the products and market, the possibility of failure is high.
“The foundation for an investment decision in hi-tech agricultural projects is market demand, and only high-value agricultural products can apply hi-technology to the production, as the production cost for these products is much higher than usual,” Hung said.
It is rumoured that many firms are racing to implement hi-tech agriculture projects with the aim of borrowing from the credit package, although the feasibility of recovering capital is not verified.
The market for agricultural products is not stable, while hi-tech agricultural products usually have high selling price, thus, it is more difficult for firms to sell their products. 
Therefore, if banks decide to lend too easily, it may lead to huge consequences for firms and banks.

Thứ Sáu, 19 tháng 5, 2017

Transnationals dominate Vietnam personal care market

Large transnational companies have rapidly taken control of the manufacturing and retail beauty and personal care segments of the Vietnam economy, say leading market analysts.

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At a recent conference in Ho Chi Minh City, the analysts said the reason is in large part due to lack of investment by domestic sector companies in research and development as well as the latest technologies among other things.
Deputy chair of the Vietnam Essential Oils, Aromatherapy and Cosmetics Association, Nguyen Van Minh said the domestic sector has only a 10% market share though they could easily compete with transnationals in terms of quality but for the lack of equity or debt capital.
Mr Minh said there are only 14 domestic sector manufactures operating in the country. He noted that Korean transnationals hold a 30% market share followed by those from the EU (23%), Japan (17%) and Thailand (13%).
The US and other countries account for the remaining 7%, he added, but the market is dynamic and market shares can change quickly.
According to the latest estimates by market research company Mintel, the personal care retail market in Vietnam is thought to be worth US$1.78 billion, a figure that should grow to US$2.35 billion in the near term.
Although the market is not large by international standards, its rapid expansion is creating opportunities in most personal care categories including body care, colour cosmetics, facial care, soap, fragrances, bath, hair care and sun care.
The growing demand for organic personal care items such as those for natural hair care, skin care and cosmetic products is expected to ignite growth in the personal care market over the short term.
Increasing consumer disposable incomes coupled with changing lifestyles has contributed to the rising demand for chemical-free skin and hair care products by Vietnamese consumers, other analysts at the conference noted.
Consumers are aware of the ability of natural ingredients to provide anti-oxidation properties and improve skin immunity and now with more money in their pockets—that is a major factor fuelling market growth.
Consumers are moving away from petroleum based products in favour of natural products, said Huynh Ky Tran, director of Lan Hao-Thorakao Cosmetic Company, noting that this gives domestic companies an advantage over foreign competitors.
Vietnam agriculture produces many plants that are perfect for the manufacturing segment such as aloe, citronella, saffron, grapefruit and soapberry that his company uses to make their personal care products.
Transnationals have much higher manufacturing and transportation costs than we have in Vietnam, said Mr Tran. The fact that we can buy natural products locally at favourable prices and our manufacturing costs are not as high gives us a competitive advantage in the local market.
Where the 14 companies comprising the domestic sector come up short is in terms of equity or debt capital for investing in research and development as well as modernized machinery and equipment incorporating the latest technological advances.
The domestic sector companies also skimp on marketing expenses and as a result lose out on sales.
Consequently, most of the domestic sector manufacturers produce facial and hand cleansers that are targeted at low income consumers who base their purchasing decisions almost entirely on cost.
A sizeable proportion of domestic manufacturers products, probably around 60%, said Mr Tran, are also exported to poor African countries and low income markets in Laos and Cambodia.
Social News 19/5

Vietnam joins tea, coffee festival at UN headquarters


Vietnam and 14 other world leading tea and coffee exporters, including China, the Philippines and India took part in a tea and coffee festival at the United Nations headquarters in New York on May 18.
The event was organised by the UN Correspondents Association (UNCA) and the association of wives of Arab diplomats in the UN.
Products such as tea, coffee, candies and cookies were sold at 1 USD each. However, visitors did not pay in cash but in tokens sold by UNICEF at the entrance to the festival. All the proceeds will be used to support children in famine-ravaged Yemen. 
UNCA President Sherwin Bryce-Pease said the festival was an occasion for countries to advertise their tea and coffee products, and for diplomatic workers to learn more about one another’s cultures.
An The Dung, Director of Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade’s trade promotion centre in New York, said it was a good chance for the country to popularise its beverage products in the US. 
About 158 million people drink tea in the US, but Vietnamese tea has only a 2-percent market share.
Monument of Ho Chi Minh and his father inaugurated in Binh Dinh
A monument of late President Ho Chi Minh, known as Nguyen Tat Thanh in his early years, and his father Nguyen Sinh Sac, was inaugurated at the central square of Quy Nhon city, central coastal Binh Dinh province on May 18.
The inauguration took place to celebrate the 127th birthday of the late president (May 19, 1890) with Vice President Dang Thi Ngoc Thinh and head of the Party Central Committee’s Commission for Internal Affairs Phan Dinh Trac in attendance.
The 15.5-metre-high bronze monument was created by sculptor Vu Dai Binh. Binh said it is Vietnam’s only monument portraying Nguyen Tat Thanh with his father. The pair stand side by side, looking to the East Sea.
According to historians, Nguyen Tat Thanh followed his father, a Confucian scholar and teacher, to Binh Khe, a small district of Binh Dinh, to work as an imperial magistrate. Sac was later demoted, an event that greatly influenced Thanh’s thinking. At the age of 20, he was aware of the country’s political deadlock which led to his decision to travel to the West to win his nation’s freedom.
Binh Khe is also the last place Thanh and his father were together, after which the young man embarked on a long-journey and never saw his father again.
When Ho Chi Minh returned to Vietnam in 1941, 30 years after he left the country, his father had died.
Secretary of the provincial Party’s Committee Nguyen Thanh Tung said the monument was built to mark the late President’s young days when his revolutionary outlook emerged.
HCM City confiscates 70 tonnes of smuggled sugar
The HCM City Market Management Department on Tuesday discovered 70 tonnes of smuggled sugar in Bình Tân District.
The 2A team of the agency checked the Thành Phát Business Establishment’s warehouse in Bình Tân District’s Tân Tạo A Ward.
The inspectors found about 70 tonnes of smuggled sugar with Thailand and Cambodia brand names in the warehouse.
The inspectors also checked two trucks parked outside the warehouse and detected hundreds of sugar bags hidden by waste.
Nguyễn Thị Ngọc Xiêm, 30, from the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Tiền Giang, was the owner of the smuggled sugar.
The sugar was smuggled from Cambodia to the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta province of An Giang and then brought into HCM City for sale, according to market managers.
An Bình islet to boost solar power
The Central Rural Power Project Management Board--in co-operation with the HCM City-based SolarBK company--will start construction of a solar power system on An Bình Islet of Lý Sơn Island next month.
Đoàn Yên, director of Lý Sơn Power sub-department, told Việt Nam News on May 15 that the solar system, with a capacity of the 96 kWp (kilowatt peak for a solar module), will supply power 24 hours a day for 400 islanders living in An Bình Islet.
Yên said the renewable energy will provide enough power for islanders’ consumption from the third quarter of this year.
He said each household will have access to ‘clean and green’ power for lamps, TV sets or battery chargers within 24 hours.
Yên said the renewable energy will fill the area’s power void; for years, residents have only been able to use power 12 hours a day from two diesel-driven generators.
The solar power system, which will be built with an investment of VNĐ10 billion (US$442,000), will generate around 166kWh of electricity and reduce 93 tonnes of carbon emissions each year.
The Islet, three miles off the main Lý Sơn Island, is home to 400 fishermen and farmers of garlic and onions.
As scheduled, the solar power system will be completed this September before operation in October. According to SolarBK, the company plans to build up a solar power system for operation of the 2012-built seawater desalination station in the islet.
The company also helps to build a monitoring system, SSOC (Solar System Operation Centre), that aims to monitor a combined solar power and diesel power network for better use on the An Binh Islet.
SolarBK has built a lighting project for Trường Sa (Spratly) Islands and seawater desalination stations in Song Tử Island, island communes of Sơn Chà in Thừa Thiên-Huế Province, Mê Island  in Thanh Hóa Province and Trần Island of Quảng Ninh Province.
An Binh Islet, which used fresh water from a 2012-built desalination station with funding from the South Korean heavy industry group Doosan Vina, has limited operation due to a continued, years-long lack of power. 
Tired of dust and noise, locals block road
Several residents of Điện Nam Trung street bloc in Quảng Nam Province on Wednesday blocked Provincial Road 607 to protest the constant movement of heavy, noisy construction trucks.
Residents of the south central province’s Điện Bàn Commune laid concrete drain pipes and other materials on the road to block traffic, in what they claimed was a “last-resort measure,” after repeated complaints to authorities led to no action.
Locals complain that trucks carrying construction materials such as sand drive through the road several times a day, spreading dust on the road and in the nearby areas, and causing a huge amount of noise. Also, because of the constant passage of heavy trucks, the road has started getting damaged and has developed potholes.
The police had to persuade protesters to clear the obstructions so that traffic could resume.
On the same day, Phan Minh Dũng, vice-chairman of Điện Bàn Commune, told online newspaper Zing that commune authorities “are aware of people’s complaints,” and would hold a meeting soon with affected residents to discuss measures to address the dust and noise pollution. 
Futsal event for disadvantaged kids to start
The 18th Futsal Tournament for Disadvantaged Children is scheduled to kick off on May 27 in Bình Định Province, the event’s organising board announced yesterday.
The tournament will see the participation of eight teams divided in two groups.
The winning team will receive a cup and VNĐ30 million (US$1,300). The runners-up will get VNĐ25 million ($1090) and VNĐ20 million ($870). In addition, the organising board will also give awards to the best player, best goal keeper and coach.
The event will end on June 1.
Symposium on building smart cities in Vietnam
Establishing smart cities will make urban areas better places to live and work due to their economic, social and environmental aspects, Minister of Information and Communication Nguyen Minh Hong said at a symposium in Hanoi on May 18.
As Vietnam faces many obstacles to developing smart cities, the ministry will work with agencies to build mechanisms, policies and instructions in the field, he said.
Trends and global experience in building smart cities were outlined to participants.
They proposed building a set of criteria to evaluate the efficiency of the project while encouraging using information-technology and database sharing.
Vietnam should design regulations on infrastructure development in association with smart urban management, the participants said.
They urged the Ministry of Information and Communication to coordinate with ministries, departments and businesses to helps cities and provinces build smart cities.
In Vietnam, urban areas make up 10 percent of the country’s land but contribute more than 70 percent to gross domestic product (GDP). Five centrally-run cities account for 50 percent of GDP.
Nearly 20 cities and provinces have launched projects to build smart cities, while information, technology and communication businesses have signed deals with localities in this sphere.
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s Decision No.1819/QD-TTg approved as part of the national programme to apply information-technology in State companies aims to build at least three smart cities. 
Meanwhile, Government Resolution No.5/NQ-TW outlines policies to push ahead with growth model reform and improve growth quality, labour productivity, and competitiveness of the economy as well as some priorities in developing smart cities.
The PM has directed the Ministry of Information and Communication to work with the Ministry of Construction to issue criteria to evaluate and recognise smart cities, whilst guiding localities to ensure effective investment to avoid waste and economic losses.
PM urges Thanh Hoa to draw investment
With its ample advantages, the north central coastal province of Thanh Hoa should work to become a model in attracting investment.
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc made the statement at an investment promotion conference in Sam Son city on May 18.
He said that the Government will provide opportunities for Thanh Hoa to become an exemplary locality to achieve its investment targets.
The PM described Thanh Hoa as a miniature Vietnam, with a dynamic economy full of potential.
He urged the locality to improve the investment environment to ensure equality for businesses, and provide land in an effective manner.
He agreed with local plans to develop oil refining, aquatic processing, and tourism.
The PM suggested studying developing hi-tech agriculture and focusing on products with high economic value.
He encouraged businesses to invest in agriculture, services and infrastructure while diversifying services and taking advantage of heritage sites such as Ho Citadel, Lam Kinh historical relic site, community-based and craft village tourism.
To increase enterprises’ competitiveness and to build a strong business community, the province should train skilled workers and help businesses make long-term investments and join the global value chain, he said.
He also noted that the province could not do business without protecting the environment.
Various Government projects are planned for the province, including the Hanoi-Thanh Hoa-Nghe An expressway and a coastal route to prevent natural disaster.
At the conference, Thanh Hoa granted investment licenses to 32 projects with a total estimated investment of 135.3 trillion VND (equivalent to 6.1 billion USD), mainly in processing and manufacturing.
Earlier, the PM had a meeting with local authorities, during which he stressed that Thanh Hoa is one of Vietnam’s key investment destinations.
The province has eight industrial parks, attracted big companies and deployed policies to lure social investment, he said.
He hailed local efforts to build synchronous infrastructure for investment projects, offer competitive land lease prices and labour costs, and promptly address difficulties for businesses.
Thanh Hoa covers more than 11,000 square meters and has a population of 3.6 million people, ranking fifth nationwide in natural area and third in population.
The per capita average income was 1,620 USD at the end of 2016, the highest level in the north central region. It is expected to reach 1,750 USD in 2017.
The province is striving to record economic growth of 12 percent this year.-
Hanoi customs agency discuss ways to prevent drug trafficking
The Hanoi Customs Department held a conference on boosting drug detection and prevention at border gates and customs clearance points in the capital city on May 18.
Besides customs officers, the event drew the participation of representatives from the Police Department on Anti-Smuggling (C47) and the Institute for Crime Science (C54) under the Ministry of Public Security.
Necessary skills to early detect drug trafficking via road, air transport or fast delivery and to differentiate drug types were among topics tabled.
Participants especially emphasized how to recognize suspicious activities at international airports, particularly among passengers of flights departing from drug hotspots.
Nguyen Truong Giang, vice director of the Hanoi Customs, said the agency has worked to simplify clearance procedures and apply risk management techniques. 
He noted that with the launch of the Vietnam Automated Cargo and Port Consolidated System and Vietnam Customs Information System (VNACCS/VCIS), customs personnel cannot check every single passenger, vehicle and goods as before, adding that traffickers have used more tricks to take advantage of the condition.
C47 representatives brought to the seminar methods to recognise and capture traffickers.   
The Hanoi Customs Department busted about 10 drug trafficking cases in 2016, including the illegal transportation of 2.2 tonnes of dried “Khat” leaves into Vietnam via international postal services and air route. 
“Khat” leaves, a new type of drugs making it way to Vietnam, contain Cathinone, an amphetamine-like stimulant, which is said to cause strong euphoria and is 500-fold more dangerous than normal drugs.
Science, technology information access place opens to public
The National Agency for Science and Technology Information on May 17 opened a place providing free access to science and technology information at No.24, Ly Thuong Kiet street, in Hanoi’s Hoan Kiem district.
The establishment of the information access place aimed to encourage not only scientists and students but also all members of the public to search for and acquire science and technology information of the country and the world.
The information sources include about 7,700 domestic and foreign magazines, 380,000 books and 17,000 monographs, as well as 23,000 research projects at the national, ministerial and provincial levels.
People can also access 220,000 Vietnamese scientific reports and 40 million international documents over the world.
Measures mitigating climate change impacts on children sought
Measures to mitigate impacts of natural disasters and climate change on children were discussed at a conference jointly held by the Central Steering Committee for Disaster Prevention and Control and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Hanoi on May 18.
Participants also shared knowledge and experience in children-oriented disaster risk mitigation, while seeking ways to intensify cooperation in this field.
Based on the outcomes of a national conference on children-oriented disaster risk mitigation held in the central province of Ninh Thuan in December 2016, this conference continued promoting cooperation within the framework of the Law on Disaster Prevention and Control, Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Mitigation and sustainable development goals.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong, head of the central steering committee, said that Vietnam annually suffers a variety of natural disasters which cause huge asset and human losses.
In 2016, disasters left 264 people dead or missing, and 431 others injured, causing an economic loss of 39.7 trillion VND (1.74 billion USD).
UNICEF Chief Representative Youssouf Abdel-Jelil said that climate change impacts are unavoidable, but the Sendai framework gives priority to investing in reducing the impacts on children at their early ages as this is an important period for their development.
Decreasing vulnerability of children is a long-term strategy to improve the community’s resilience, he said, calling on the Vietnamese Government and its development partners to maintain investment in children-oriented disaster risk mitigation.
Since August 2016, the UNICEF and the Vietnamese Government have provided emergency aid for children and women hit by drought and saline intrusion in 10 provinces of the Central Highlands, the coastal south central region and the Mekong Delta sourcing from the Japanese government and the CERF. 
Nearly 140,000 Vietnamese people have benefited from the effort.
Vietnam has 325 new rural communes


An additional 325 communes were recognised as new style rural areas in January - April, 2017, a rise of 3.6 percent compared to end of 2016, announced the Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Development (MARD).
The country has a total of 2,656 new style rural communes, 29.7 percent of the total.
The MARD devised a plan to develop 15,000 efficient agricultural cooperatives by 2020 and worked with localities to implement the cooperative renovation campaign.
In mid-April, the ministry issued criteria and classification of agricultural cooperatives. It has been working on policies to link agricultural production with consumption.
The national programme on building new-style rural areas, initiated by the Government in 2010, includes 19 criteria on socio-economic development, politics and defence, aiming to improve rural areas.
The criteria cover infrastructure development, production capacity improvement, environmental protection and cultural value promotion.
Argentine media spotlights late President Ho Chi Minh
The media in Argentina has published work praising late President Ho Chi Minh’s contribution to national liberation on the occasion of the 127th anniversary of his birthday (May 19, 1890).
The article "Ho Chi Minh: One of the greatest leaders of the anti-imperialism struggle" on the Latin American Summary magazine (Resumen Latinoamericano) highlighted his revolutionary activities when he traveled to the West in search of national liberation under the name Nguyen Ai Quoc.
It described the late President as a symbol of the cultural values and wisdom of the nation, while he was also an example of simplicity, love and faith in humans.
Meanwhile, another article on said that, unlike many other Vietnamese patriots of his time who focused on the East, Uncle Ho headed West and did all kinds of work, for example, a cook assistant, waiter and journalist, to pursue the revolutionary path.
In the last moments of World War II in 1945, he took advantage of a unique historical conjuncture, leading Vietnamese people on a triumphant general insurrection. He then proclaimed the independence of Vietnam before the world on September 2, 1945, wrote the article.
Ho Chi Minh led Vietnamese people to put an end to the domination of France and opened a new era for Vietnam, the era of a new, independent and free Vietnam.
The page of Argentina dedicated a large space for a portrayal of late President Ho Chi Minh with Vietnam’s national flag in the background alongside the article "Ho Chi Minh, a man of Peace."
According to author Jorge Tuero, Uncle Ho sacrificed his life to the struggle for national liberation and his death was a deep pain for Vietnamese hearts.
Tuero hailed Ho Chi Minh as a great leader and politician and a hero of Vietnam. To generations of Vietnamese, President Ho Chi Minh will forever be remembered as the founder of modern Vietnam and the father of the nation, called by Vietnamese from all ages Uncle Ho or Uncle, he said.
Can Tho to launch model of controlling non-infectious diseases
A model to control non-communicable diseases (NCDs) will be launched in Can Tho with support from the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The information was heard at a working session between the People’s Committee of the southern city of Can Tho and representatives of the WHO on May 18 in the locality.
The project aims to enhance NCDs detection and management capacity of local healthcare facilities by providing new equipment and training courses, said Lokky Wai, a representative of the WHO in Vietnam, adding that it is expected to reduce pressure on higher-level facilities.
After training, local facilities are hoped to able to assess, consult and track NCD cases such as obesity, diabetes and high-blood pressure, he noted.
The model will initially be carried out in Long Tuyen and Thoi An Dong wards of in Binh Thuy district and Co Do district’s Thoi Xuan and Trung An communes, before expansion to other six units by 2018.
Non-infectious diseases claim the lives of about 400,000 Vietnamese people each year, according to Deputy Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long at a recent conference seeking to prevent and control the diseases.
The number of suffers are rising at an alarming level, he stated, revealing that 70 percent of deaths each year are caused by non-communicable diseases, of whom 40 percent are under 70 years old.
He attributed the fact to the unhealthy lifestyle of many Vietnamese, adding that there are currently 49 percent of males smoking cigarettes, and 77 percent of the population consuming alcohol.
The Health Ministry has set a target of decreasing the rate of deaths caused by non-infectious diseases to 20 percent by 2025.
It also aimed to reduce 30 percent of smokers, 10 percent of alcohol users, while cutting down the amount of salt used by 30 percent, controlling the rate of obesity under 15 percent and the rate of high blood pressure patients under 30 percent.-
Cambodian cyclist wins 9th Countryside stage
Yoeun Phi Yuth of Cambodia won the penultimate stage of the Return to the Countryside cycling tournament yesterday.
Yuth took the lead in the 117km race from Rạch Giá to Châu Đốc City with a time of 3:04.06. Nguyễn Minh Luận of Premium Cycling Vĩnh Long and Trần Nguyễn Duy Nhân of the Military Zone 7 finished second and third.
Yuth retained his green jersey as the best sprinter with 123 points.
The yellow jersey belongs to Quàng Văn Cường of Gạo Hạt Ngọc Trời-An Giang, with the best overall time of 22:28.55 after nine stages. Cambodian Yuth came in second and Luận finished third.
In the amateur event, Nguyễn Hoàng Sang of Lê Đoàn Kiên Giang won the stage and took the green jersey award with 106 points.
Bùi Văn Sành of Hiệp Nhất-Tịnh Biên held the yellow jersey with a time of 22:30.53. Sang’s teammate, Huỳnh Văn Thuận and Đặng Văn Bảo Anh of Vĩnh Long were the runners-up.
This morning, cyclists will compete in the 10th and final stage from Châu Giang ferry in Tân Phú District to Thuận Giang ferry in Phú Tân District, An Giang Province, lasting 56km.
In the afternoon, they will cycle 25 laps around Long Xuyên City to gain local awards. 
VN tie with Indonesia in Asia futsal event
Việt Nam tied 1-1 with Indonesia in the second match of Group B of the 2017 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-20 Futsal Championship Bangkok, Thailand, yesterday. The two sides played conservatively in the first half, and the block was broken in the 36th minute when Dương Ngọc Linh opened the score for Việt Nam.
After taking the lead, Việt Nam played defensively. However, Indonesia leveled the score in the last minutes, thanks to Samuel Eko.
Indonesia temporarily grabs the lead in the group with seven points after three matches. Vietnam rank second with four points after two matches.
With this result, Việt Nam must to try their best in remaining matches to raise their hope to reach to the event’s quarter-finals.
Today, Việt Nam will face Chinese Taipei.
More Chinese visitors welcomed in Vietnam
The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has called on provincial authorities to take efforts to sustain the strong growth in the number of Chinese tourists.
In a letter this week the ministry said the industry, especially service providers catering to Chinese visitors, must improve their capacity at popular destinations and during the high season.
It noted that many destinations and countries in the region and around the world are adopting policies to attract Chinese travellers.
Some 1.27 million Chinese came to Vietnam in the first four months this year, a 60 per cent jump from the same period last year.
Last year 2.7 million Chinese tourists arrived, up 51 percent from 2015. The average annual growth between 2010 and 2016 had been 20 per cent.
Hạ Long Bay and the central cities of Đà Nẵng and Nha Trang are among the places most visited by Chinese tourists.
Tourists to Ha Long Bay will have to pay double for cruise terminal
The only tourist wharf in Ha Long Bay has announced to double the entrance fee for visitors to the famous destination to around US$2 starting May 28.
Tuan Chau Corporation, which manages Tuan Chau Wharf, said tourists who want to take a cruise trip on Ha Long and the nearby Bai Tu Long Bay will have to pay VND40,000 (US$1.76) for a ticket.
This entrance fee does not cover the expenses for their trip afterward but tourists will be offered free water and Wi-Fi at the terminal.
The current fee is VND20,000, which was only introduced last November, several months after the wharf opened and replaced the degrading Bai Chay.
The terminal can handle about 2,000 boats, 10 times more than the old one, and it can receive large vessels.
Ha Long Bay, a UNESCO heritage, and Bai Tu Long to the northeast, are popular destinations in northern Vietnam and the main attractions in Quang Ninh Province, which drew 8.3 million tourists last year, 42% of them foreigners.
Last month, the bay managers bundled many attractions together, forcing tourists to pay more for a full package. Many visitors were upset and some just canceled their trip as they just wanted to visit a couple of places.
HCM City honors 350 outstanding children
A ceremony honoring 350 outstanding children with the "Uncle Ho's Good Nephews and Nieces" title was held in Ho Chi Minh City yesterday by the City's Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union. 
The event aims to recognize children’s outstanding performance in studying, taking  extracurricular activities at school, and honored young artists and talents.
Attending in the event were Standing Deputy Secretary of the Ho Chi Minh city Party Committee Tat Thanh Cang; Nguyen Thi Quyet Tam, Deputy Secretary of the city Party Committee and Chairwoman of the City People’s Council;  Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union Central Committee Secretary Nguyen Long Hai.
On the same day, the  HCMC University of Technology (BKU)  was presented the first prize at the award ceremony of the 9th Olympic contest on Marxism-Leninism philosophy and Ho Chi Minh Thought.
The competition attracted more than 40,000 contestants from schools, universities and colleges throughout the city.
The Olympiad aims to enhance the education of Marxist-Leninist philosophy and Ho Chi Minh Thought, contributing to raising political awareness and fostering revolutionary ideals for youth union members and students.
Photo exhibition legendary Truong Son trail opens in Quang Nam
An exhibition on the legendary Truong Son trail was launched at Quang Nam Museum in the central coastal province of Quang Nam on May 19.
The event aims to mark the 127th birthday of the late President Ho Chi Minh (May 19); 55 years of the traditional day of the 559 Army Corps, one of the units that took part in the construction of the legendary Truong Son trail (also known as the Ho Chi Minh trail) during wartime and is part of the Quang Nam Heritage Festival 2017.
The exhibition also displays a sculpture describing the beauty of the grandiose Truong Son mountain range and Uncle Ho in Dong Khe Battlefield in the Autumn-Winter Border Campaign, 1950.
The art work called “The legendary Truong Son” by artist Dinh Gia Thang of the Vietnamese Fine Arts Association is 5.59m high, 18m wide and 6.5m thick also honoring the special relationship between Laos and Vietnam.
The event co-organized by the Quang Nam Museum, Ho Chi Minh Trail Museum under the Ministry of National Defense runs until May 24.
HCMC kickstarts school milk program
From the school year 2017-2018 onwards, school children from one year old to the second grade in HCMC will be given at least 180ml of pasteurized milk a day.
The city government has issued a three-phase program intended to improve the stature of preschool and elementary school children in the city from 2017 to 2020.
Preschools in the city’s 24 districts will implement the project in the first phase from 2017 to 2018. First and second graders will be respectively included in the program in the second and third phases in the next two school years which last nine months each.
The city government will finance 30% of the program cost while 50% will come from parents and society and the remaining of 20% from dairy producers.
The city government will invite competitive tenders to supply milk for the program. Local dairy processing enterprises having facilities in HCMC and contributing to the city’s budget revenues will be prioritized. They have helped develop dairy farms in the city, purchase cow milk from local farmers and offer a price of about VND6,875 (US$0.3) a box.
Go May overpass opened to traffic
Go May overpass on a National Highway 1A section in Binh Tan District, HCMC was opened to traffic on May 17, three months ahead of schedule.
Developed by domestic infrastructure development firm IDICO at a total cost of VND511 billion, the overpass is 538 meters long and 24 meters wide.
Faced with limited space and heavy traffic around the construction site, the company had to quicken work on the project. Therefore, a branch of the overpass was put into use in January to cut traffic congestion there.
The project was originally expected to be up and running in August, meaning the construction duration was shortened by three months.
Go May Intersection is where National Highway 1A and Nguyen Thi Tu and Le Trong Tan streets meet. The area has two large industrial parks, Tan Binh and Vinh Loc, so traffic is heavy there.
Go May Intersection is part of a build-operate-transfer project to upgrade a 14-kilometer section of National Highway 1A from An Suong Intersection in District 12 to An Lac Roundabout in Binh Tan District. The three-phase project is scheduled for completion by 2033.
The section is an artery road connecting HCMC and southeastern and southwestern provinces, as well as central and northern regions. That is why many road users travel in the area, leading to traffic congestion at intersections there.