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

    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.

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    Vietnam, U.K. in Talks for Legal Assistance Treaty

    Nov. 27 – Vietnam and the U.K. are in now talks for a mutual legal assistance treaty on civil and commercial matters in Hanoi from November 25 to 27.

    The discussions will be based on a proposal submitted by the Justice Ministry of Vietnam. If the treaty is approved, it will call for a legal foundation for the improved protection the legitimate interest of agencies, organizations and citizens of both countries.

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    Vietnamese Prime Minister Rejects Korean Steel Project in Van Phong

    Nov. 19 – Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has denied the construction of a Korean steel mill by the Posco Group in Dam Mon in Van Phong bay, Khanh Hoa province.

    The Prime Minister said the Posco steel mill would clash with the development of the approved Van Phong international container port, in addition to the project not passing the strict requirements for ecological environment protection.

    According to Nahn Dan News, PM Dung said that priority should be given to the Van Phong entrepot project and environmental protection for ensuring sustainable development.

    If implemented, the Posco

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    Vietnamese Banks Continue Lowering Interest Rates

    Nov. 18 – Local banks in Vietnam are continuing efforts to lower lending interest rates for long and medium-term loans.

    In the past two months alone, the Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV) has lowered lending interest rates seven times by up to 1 percent.

    Already the maximum lending interest rate on short-term loans in Vietnam dong is down by 15 percent a year, reports Nhan Dan.

    In addition, companies engaged in the business of oil products, steel, cement, fertilizer and drugs industries, small and medium-sized enterprises are qualified for even a lower lending interest rate of 14 percent annually.

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    Russia to Help Develop Vietnam’s Civil Nuclear Program

    Nov. 7 – The Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Denisov said that Russia is willing to help develop Vietnam's nuclear energy program.

    "We know that such plans were made in Vietnam, very daring and far-reaching plans. We hope that Russia will be among those who will work with Vietnam in this hi-tech area and continue the traditions of our cooperation," Denisov was quoted as saying by the AFP.

    Last month, Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet visited the Kremlin to sign oil and gas deals with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.Gazprom is set to work with oil firm PetroVietnam for a joint exploration project of Vietnam's offshore oil reserves.

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    Vietnam to Implement Minimum Wage Hike in 2009

    Oct. 15 – Vietnam's Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs said that beginning Jan. 1, 2009, monthly minimum salaries for employees in domestic enterprises will rise between VND110,000 to VND180,000 while those for foreign-invested businesses will increase by VND120,000 to VND200,000.

    The changes are part of the agency's 2008-2012 salary, social insurance and allowance reform plan, that aims to standardize the minimum salary for all businesses by 2012.

    The salary rates were based on GDP growth and consumer price index (CPI) in the first nine months of this year, wage increases in the labor market, enterprises’ pa

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    Vietnam’s Long An Province Cancels Industrial Zone Investments

    Oct. 13 – Vietnam's province of Long An has postponed investments in some of its industrial zones due to concerns on land use.

    The province’s Natural Resources and Environment Department Director Nguyen Van Thiep told Thanh Nien News that the province will only build one 300-hectare golf course in Duc Hoa District instead of the planned 13 golf courses.

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    Vietnam Implements Regulations for Environmental Sustainability

    By Chua Siew Joo

    Oct. 8 – All industrial zones in Dong Nai province will be required to install a central wastewater treatment plant by the end of 2008 or face suspension, according to Phan Van Het, deputy director of Resources and Environment Department.

    Last September, a Taiwanese firm, Vedan Vietnam, was caught by environment inspectors from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment for dumping untreated waste water into the Thi Vai River for more than a decade.

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    Vietnam’s Foreign Investment Climate

    By Chua Siew Joo

    Sept. 28 – In the first nine months of 2008, investment by foreign businesses in Vietnam exceeded US$57.12 billion, almost a fivefold year-on-year increase, according to Vietnam's Foreign Investment Agency. Vietnam’s foreign direct investment for 2007 amounted to US$20.3 billion.

    The Foreign Investment Agency revealed that the capital for new projects amounted to US$56.2 billion; projects in industry and construction accounted for 57 percent and 55 percent of the total FDI and the overall number of projects respectively. Meanwhile, the service sector attracted FDI of US$23.7 billion for 361 projects; the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors attracted FDI of US$1.12 billion.

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    Malaysian Steel Company to Invest in US$9.8 Billion Steel Mill Venture

    Sept. 24 – Vietnam has approved the joint venture deal between Malaysia’s Lion Industries and Vietnam’s shipbuilding group, Vinashin, for a US$9.8 billion steel mill.

    The steel mill will be located in the south-central province of Ninh Thuan with an annual capacity of 14.42 million tons.

    According to a statement from Ninh Thuan’s People’s Committee, construction should begin by next year and be completed in 2025. The first phase of the project will cost about US$2.75 billion.

    The details of the deal, like how much each company would invest, still has not been released.

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