Economy & Trade

Vietnam’s Labor Strikes Reach 762 in 2008

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Jan. 12 – A Vietnamese labor union official said that a record of 762 labor strikes hit the country last year, majority of them coming from the south's textile and footwear plants.

The number is a sharp increase from 2007's 541 strikes because more workers struggled to cope with inflation in a low-wage economy.

"High inflation made the lives of low-income workers more difficult," a Vietnam General Confederation of Labor official, who asked not to be named, told Thanh Nien News. "The strikes were mainly for higher wages and benefits."

Vietnam, China Hold Border Talks

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Jan. 9 – The members of the Vietnam-China joint working held the fifth round of talks on the demarcation of waters off the Gulf of Bac Bo (Tonkin) in Hanoi.

Both sides agreed that discussions should focus on a joint survey to support the demarcation scheme and promote mutual development for the waters. The disputed area covers an area of 126,250 kilometers.

It borders Vietnam on the northwest, west and southwest while China's Hainan lies to the north and forms the eastern limits of the gulf.

Vietnam to Revamp Business Tax Procedures

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Jan. 8 – Vietnam's tax agencies have been told to reduce the time it takes to fulfill tax and customs requirements from the average 1,050 hours annually to 800 hours.

The Deputy Minister of Finance, Do Hoang Anh Tuan, said that tax agencies should cut red tape to lessen the amount of time it takes for businesses to compny with tax formalities.

Tuan told Thanh Nien News that customs offices will start processing 80 percent of tax declarations online to save time. The plans for streamlining the tax process also include slashing the amount of time it takes to check export shipments by a third.

New Personal Income Tax Cuts Stock Market Trading

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Jan. 7 – The implementation of the new Personal Income Tax (PIT) law beginning January 1 has discouraged potential investors, according to Thanh Nien News.

On Monday, 7.3 million shares were traded compared with last year's daily average of 11.8 million.

The PIT law requires stock investors to either pay a 0.1 percent fee of the value of each transaction or 20 percent on their net profit for the year. In addition, those who choose to pay 20 percent on their annual net profit are still required to pay 0.1 percent fee of each sale and the excess tax paid to be refunded at the end of the year.

Vietnam’s Labor Official Predicts 300,000 to Lose Jobs in 2009

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Jan. 6 – An official from the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA) predicts that the slowing Vietnamese economy could lead to job losses amounting to 300,000 jobs, or 0.65 percent of the country's labor force.

The head of Employment Division under MoLISA, Nguyen Dai Dong, said some 300,000 people might be affected by the economic slowdown.

The hardest hit will be the industrial and services sectors, which already provide about 9 million jobs while the more than 35 million working as agricultural workers should expect reduced working hours.

Vietnam Allocates VND40 Billion on Energy Saving Efforts

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Jan. 5 – Vietnam is set to invest VND40 billion (US$2.35 million) for projects that promote an effective and economical use of energy for 2009.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade also plans to implement large scale projects that hot water sprays that utilize solar energy, bio-gas plants and energy saving buildings.

Nguyen Dinh Hiep, Chief of the ministry’s Energy Saving Office (ESO) told the Vietnam News Agency that it would create and broadcast radio and television programs that dealt with energy saving in addition to organizing training courses for agencies and top businesses.

Vietnam’s New Property Taxes

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Dec. 30 – With the introduction of the new Personal Income Tax Law on January 1, owners of more than one house will have to pay a 2 percent tax on each house they sell.

Another option is to pay a 25 percent tax on the remaining money after they have bought a new house, with proceeds of the sale of a property for which all fees have been paid.

Work Begins on Shenzhen-Financed Trade Zone in Haiphong

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Dec. 29 – Construction on a Shenzhen-invested economic trade zone in Haiphong City started yesterday.

The US$200 million zone, which will cater to businesses from the Southern Chinese city, is located in Yen Hung district, Quang Ninh Province, 125 kilometers from Hanoi. It will include 2.2 million square meters of factory space, 400,000 square meters of warehousing and 100,000 square meters of office buildings for management, research and public services.

Vietnam’s FDI Increases 43.2% in 2008

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Dec. 24 – An estimated US$11.5 billion in foreign direct investment flowed into Vietnam this year, a rise of 43.2 percent from last year, the state-run newspaper An Ninh Th Do reported.

Investors have also pledged a record $60.22 billion in new investment projects this year. While 2008 was a banner year for foreign investment, FDI into Vietnam is expected to slow in 2009 due to the global downturn.

"It is certain that we will see a decline in FDI registration next year," said Phan Huu Thang, head of the Planning and Investment Ministry's Foreign Investment Department. Thang told the newspaper in an interview. "Maybe we can reach $20 billion (in pledged FDI), and that would already be a high result."

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