By Chua Siew Joo
July 28 – The economies of Asia are experiencing soaring inflation rates driven by rising food and fuel prices. Vietnam’s inflation rate has hit an impressive 27.4 percent in July, with the rest of the Asian economies, including Japan, achieving rates of between 7.5 percent and 11 percent. Such hikes, in the context of a looming global economic recession, are read by some to portend a second Asian financial crisis.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has warned that rising inflation could hit investment and corporate earnings, besides potentially destabilizing governments in the regions. High inflation rates, considered being the a regressive form of taxation will have the greatest impact on the Asian poor which makes up two-thirds of the world’s poor population.
July 22 – China is protesting a preliminary agreement that will allow state oil firm PetroVietnam and Exxon Mobil to explore oil in the South China Sea near Vietnam's south and central coast.
Chinese diplomats in Washington warned Exxon that the move is a breach of Chinese sovereignty and could affect its future business interests in the country.
According to Reuters, unnamed sources said that while Exxon Mobil was sure of Vietnam's sovereign rights to the area in question, it could not dismiss China's warnings as out of hand.
July 18 – Vietnam has been plagued with severe power outages that are affecting business in the country.
The Deputy Prime Minister has already ordered power suppliers to hurry the construction of electricity power plants and facilities to meet rising demand.
In Ho Chi Minh City, shops and restaurants have resorted to using electric generators to keep business running although not all the businesses in the city can afford to buy generators.
Blackouts in the city’s district 3 and Binh Thanh reported incidents of knocked out traffic lights causing traffic jams and vehicular accidents.
July 16- The Vietnamese Commerce and Information Technology are making the final preparations for the launch of a portal for foreign markets on September 1st.
The new portal also aims to attract local business.
In addition, there will be versions of the Vietnam export portal in English and other foreign languages that will showcase Vietnamese enterprises and products.
July 10 – Russia's second largest mobile phone operator Vimpelcom is investing almost US$270 million in a joint venture with Vietnam's Global telecommunications Corporation.
Vimpelcom announced Tuesday it had secured a 40 percent stake in the GTEL-Mobile venture and will start providing services in Vietnam next summer.
July 9 – Auto sales in Vietnam rose 141 percent year-on-year in the first half of 2008, industry group the Vietnam Automobile Manufacturers' Association said on Tuesday.
The association said from January to June its members sold 68,609 vehicles, including cars, trucks and buses, compared with 28,522 in the first six months of 2007.
Japan's Toyota topped the list with 12,510 units sold, followed by domestic companies Vinamotor with 14,594 units and Truong Hai with 11,295 Agence France-Presse reported.
July 7 – Work has begun on what will be Vietnam's largest steel plant, part of a US$7.9 billion complex that will include a deep-sea port, Thanh Nien reported Monday.
The complex, located in central Ha Tinh province and run by Taiwan-based Formosa Heavy Industries Corp., will be Vietnam’s largest steel production facility when it is completed, with an expected annual capacity of 7.5 million tons.
The plant is expected to take four years to complete and cost an estimated US$7.87 billion. The project is the largest foreign direct investment Vietnam has seen and when completed, will employ around 10,000 locals.
July 4- The two-day workshop, “The Cross Cutting Issues of WTO Accession” jointly held by the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the World Bank discussed Vietnam's improving legal system on the protection of intellectual property rights.
Since the new IP laws were introduced 2 years ago, Vietnam has built a legal corridor for its implementation based on the Law on Intellectual Property Rights.
IP protection is considered a vital part of national policy if a country wants to foster local innovation and creativity. Companies and individuals are not likely to invest time and energy in creating original work if the product can be easily copied and sold.
July 2 – Australian financial institution, ANZ Banking Group Ltd, has been granted a local bank license that allows it to compete equally with Vietnam banks and expand its branches.
The bank is among the first foreign banks to be allowed a full incorporation. The move is part of the country’s compliance as the newest member of the World Trade Organization.
June 23 – Vietnam’s gross domestic product rate is estimated at 6.6 to 6.7 percent for the first six months of the year.
According to the Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment, Cao Viet Sinh, the rate helps ensure the government’s target annual growth rate of 7 percent.
Preliminary figures showed that Vietnam attracted US$31.6 billion worth of foreign investment during the period compared to last year’s US$21.3 billion.