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    Vietnam To Boost Exports to Africa, Middle East

    May 16 – Vietnam aims to boost exports to the Middle East and South Asia by US$2.3 billion, according to sources.

    The figure is a 33 percent increase compared to last year.

    For 2007, the country earned export revenues of US$230.5 million for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and US$201.8 million for Turkey.

    The country’s exports to these regions include: rice, coffee, textiles, garments, footwear, plastics, electronic appliances, seafood, tea, rubber, coal and timber.

    The Ministry of Industry and Trade wants current export revenues to reach US$326 million for the UAE, US$141 million for Egypt, US$299.8 for Turkey, US$236 million for India and US$184.9 million for South Africa.

    Vietnam is also thinking of importing competitive goods from these regions like petroleum and chemicals from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, textiles and garments from India, plus cotton and timber from nations in Africa.

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    PetroVietnam to Control Rising Fuel Costs

    May 12 – State-owned, PetroVietnam announced efforts to control rising fuel and fertilizer costs by increasing domestic natural gas production and finding cheaper import alternatives.

    In a press conference, the company vowed to cut waste and concentrate in its core business, saving an estimated VND550 billion (US$34.4 million).

    "PetroVietnam will still inject capital into key projects for ports, warehouses and shipping fleets, but it will cease putting capital into real estate construction projects and other less-effective projects," management board member, Phan Thi Hoa, told VNS.

    He said the company would review all projects and direct capital only to highly-prioritized projects.

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    Vietnam Car Sales Increase By 181 Percent

    May 12 – The Vietnamese Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (VAMA)
    reports that car sales for the first four months of the year increased by 181 percent led by a rise in the commercial car segment. The 16-member VAMA announced combined sales of 47,366 units for the period.

    Vinamotor sold the most number of units sold at 11,230, followed by Toyota with 7,896 and and Truong Hai with 7,492. Commercial car sales rose by 313 percent with 29,745 units sold, while passenger car sales went up 105 percent with 7,791 units. For April, automobile sales jumped to 13,271 units, an increase of 183 percent.

    Car dealers attribute the increase in sales with consumers shifting from motorcycles to cars and government plans to hike special consumption tax to 50-70 percent by the year's end.

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    U.S. Clears Vietnam from Apparel Dumping

    May 9 – The U.S. Department of Commerce has cleared Vietnam from apparel import dumping citing insufficient evidence to warrant an investigation. The agency studied 12 months of apparel import data beginning from Vietnam’s entry into the World Trade Organization in 2007.

    The move is part of U.S. efforts to prevent dumping practices wherein a product sold in the importing country is less than the price of that product in the market of the exporting country.

    “Our department will continue our commitment to examine imports from Vietnam to ensure that apparel is not dumped into the U.S. market, threatening American manufacturers’ competitiveness,” said Assistant Commerce Secretary David Spooner in a press release.

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    PM Approves Plans to Turn Hanoi Into Top City in Asia

    May 8 – Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has approved plans to develop the capital, Hanoi, into one of the top cities in Southeast Asia in 40 years. The plan foresees a capital 13 times larger than its present size that will serve as the country’s political, cultural and economic center.

    Under the new plan, Hanoi Capital Region (HNCR) will include Hanoi plus the seven provinces of Ha Tay, Vinh Phuc, Hung Yen, Bac Ninh, Hai Duong, Ha Nam and Hoa Binh.

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    Vietnam to Purchase US$160 Million Worth of Electricity from China

    May 6 –Vietnam’s largest electricity producer, state-owned Electricity Vietnam (EVN), is planning to purchase an estimated US$160 million worth of electricity from China. The amount translates to roughly 3.5 billion kWh of electricity that will be resold by EVN for domestic consumption.

    EVN will pay 4.5 U.S. cents per kWh of electricity with a reselling price of 5.6 to 11 U.S. cents.

    Vietnam’s demand for electricity is forecast to increase by 17 to 18 percent this year. Sources report that in some provinces in the country, electricity consumption has jumped by as much as 40 percent.

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    Global Crunch Can’t Cool Vietnam’s FDI Fever

    May 5 – Although America is in a de facto recession, sending both trade and stocks into a slump from Germany to Jakarta, international businesses seem as eager as ever to pour investment capital into Vietnam.

    No doubt some of the influx comes courtesy of ongoing government efforts to accelerate FDI disbursements. The government hopes to attract US$22 billion in FDI for 2008, and disburse more than $10 billion. With $8 billion of FDI in the first four months of this year alone, Vietnam seems well on its way to hitting its 2008 target.

    Recent FDI projects are representative of the breadth and scope of international business that sees Vietnam as a profitable frontier for international expansion.

    UK real estate investors Protego will have a fund worth some half billion U.S. dollars established in Vietnam by late June. The fund will focus on upscale apartments, luxury estates, and branded resorts in suburban and coastal areas of Vietnam. Domestic developer Qudos Asia and HBP Group will partner on the massive project.

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    Rates won’t rise with rice and paper

    April 30 – Drastic increases in the prices of raw commodities are not enough to prompt a rise in interest rates, as Vietnam’s central bank reports that its anti-inflation measures are proving effective.

    Although consumer prices are up 22 percent this month over last year at the same time, the bank is confident that its previous rate raise, to a current level of 8.75 percent, as well as increased bank reserves and compulsory bills sold will be enough to combat the inflation that plagues Vietnam.

    As proof, Governor Nguyen Van Giau points to month-on-month inflation as a benchmark, rather than comparing gains from the year previous. While February to March saw a rise of 3 percent in consumer prices, they rose only 2.2 percent from March to April.

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    Can Western schools help with Vietnam’s HR problems?

    April 24 – Some of Vietnam’s hottest sectors – banking, finance, and hi-tech, are struggling to find enough talent capable to keep up with the economy’s runaway growth.

    Banks increase their capital, network, and number of branches at every opportunity. One mid-size bank wants to increase its staff of 3500 by more than 50 percent this year. A spate of new securities firms seeking to capitalize on recent stock regulations have sent demand for skilled financiers soaring. And Ho Chi Minh City’s Hi-Tech park needs more than 14,000 new workers by 2009.

    Despite increased salaries and attractive bonuses, the industry is still facing HR shortages, for the simple reason that there just aren’t enough Vietnamese with the right skills.

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    Vietnam to consider opening up to foreign-owned fund management companies

    April 22 – Vietnam is considering opening the country to overseas fund management companies in accordance to its accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2007.According to the finance ministry, the proposal is has already been sent to the Prime Minister for approval that will allow investors to establish 100 percent foreign-owned fund management companies.

    The move hopes to entice foreign investment and improve the economy. The proposal calls for investment firms managing securities worth at least US$300 million and have a minimum registered capital of $500 million.
    The draft specified that only when WTO commitments are met that fund management companies will be allowed to handle money raised outside the country.

    Presently, foreign fund management companies are required to operate only with a local partner. There are 31 such companies existing in the country today along with Vietnamese investment managers.

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