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    In Vietnam’s Las Vegas, Foreign Passports Required

    June 12 – Vietnam will soon have its very first casino at the Ho Tram Strip resort in southern Vietnam. To be constructed at a cost of US$4.2 billion, the casino which will only be accessible to foreigners, is one of the largest investments in Vietnam's tourism infrastructure. The builders, Canadian-based Asian Coast Development, say that the casino will be part of a resort which will have two five star hotels.

    Vietnam has become the most popular destination for the hospitality industry in south east Asia, as it offers the same climate and low cost conditions as neighboring Thailand or Indonesia, but is not yet saturated. This has spurred an impressive volume of infrastructure development and construction activities to cater to the country's newfound source of income.

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    Vietnam Now Premier Emerging Market Destination

    June 4 – Vietnam emerged as the most attractive emerging market destination for retail investment in the seventh annual Global Retail Development Index (GRDI), a study of retail investment attractiveness among 30 emerging markets conducted by management consulting firm A.T. Kearney.

    Vietnam's leap to first place in the 2008 GRDI from fourth place in 2007 was driven by strong GDP growth, changes to the country's regulatory structure favouring foreign investors and increasing consumer demand for modern retail concepts, the report said.

    The report states that while Vietnam's US$20 billion retail market pales in comparison to India or China, the absence of competition and 8 percent GDP growth, make it an attractive expansion opportunity for global retailers.

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    Credit Rating Agency Lowers Vietnam Outlook

    June 2 – Last week, international credit ratings agency Fitch lowered its Vietnam rating from stable to negative.

    Fitch Ratings, a global credit rating agency, gave Vietnam a BB-minus sovereign rating. The new rating is three levels below investment grade.

    Investment grade refers to the quality of a company's credit. A rating below that increases the chances of a company not being able to repay debt.

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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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