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    Vietnam to Regulate Trade Unions and Wage Rates

    Aug. 25 – The Ministry of Labor, War Invalid and Social Affairs has been tasked to manage wage rate regulations at foreign-invested enterprises (FIEs) for unskilled and skilled workers.

    The Vietnam General Confederation of Labor (VGCL) said it will help expedite the establishment of grassroots trade-unions at FIEs. It added that only a third of operating FIEs had grassroots trade-unions despite the country’s labor code that required all companies to establish one within six months of obtaining their license.

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    ADB Calling For Single Customs Clearance For Mekong Region

    Aug. 25 – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is helping countries in the Mekong region implement a single customs clearance service to facilitate free movement of goods by 2010.

    It has already conducted workshops on the subject in the Greater Mekong Subregion countries that include Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam.

    Laos, Vietnam and Thailand are scheduled to implement the service by the year's end.Currently, each country in the region has their own customs checkpoints that requires each truck going into the country to be inspected. The regulations only serve to hamper the transport of goods across the region and does not promote free movement of trade.

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    Indian Firm to Build US$50 Million Hydropower Plant in Vietnam

    Aug. 21 – Indian power equipment company, Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) has bagged a US$50 million contract to build a 200-megawatt (MW) hydroelectric power plant in Vietnam.

    The Nam Chien Hydro Power project aims to meet the country’s growing energy demand and join its rapidly growing power sector that is expected to expand by 16 percent annually. The project will be financed through a US$45 million line of credit given by the Indian government and managed by the Export Import Bank of India.

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    Vietnam to Speed Up Development of Rural Areas

    Aug. 19 – The Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee has approved a resolution that will speed up development in its agricultural, forestry and fishery sector with target annual growths of 3 to 3.5 percent by 2010.

    The resolution hopes to increase rural incomes by 2.5 times and incorporate rural laborers to account for 30 percent of the country’s total workforce by 2020.

    The government plans to have more than 50 percent of the workforce to undergo training. It assured that despite the planned rural development, Vietnam will still maintain its capacity for rice production to ensure national food security.

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    Ho Chi Minh Real Estate Prices Rise

    Aug. 18 – During the first two weeks of August, real estate prices increased in Ho Chi Minh City.

    Apartments and land located on District 2’s main roads increased by VND1 million to VND2.5 million per square meter while prices on on Tran Nao and Luong Dinh Cua streets are now worth VND60 million to VND80 million per square meter.

    In the Van Do Building, apartments are priced at more than VND20 million per square meter while those in the H3 Building on Hoang Dieu street are being sold at VND28 million to VND30 million per square meter.

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    Vietnam Reduces Fuel Prices By Up to 5.3%

    Aug. 15 – Vietnam has reduced the price of gas by up to 5.3 percent beginning today. The new prices reflect the drop in world oil prices of more than 20 percent from July.

    "The government has ordered us to reduce prices following world price declines," a Petrolimex official told Thanh Nien News.

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    Vietnamese Migration Fuels Remittance Industry Growth

    By Chua Siew Joo

    Aug. 14 – Vietnamese workers in Asia and the Middle East are sending money home like their counterparts in the United States, Australia and Europe.

    It may be a sign that lives are getting better for these migrant workers as they are currently not only sending money back to their family but also investing in business.

    The Dong A Money Transfer Company reported receiving remittances of US$631 million in the first half of 2008 and expects the figure for the whole year to be US$1.2 billion. Sai Gon Thuong Tin Bank and Vietcombank (VCB) reported remittances of US$420 million and US$730 million respectively.

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    Vietnam Customs To Open Online Forum On Aug. 22

    Aug. 13 – For the first time, Vietnam's Department of Customs will open an online forum on August 22 from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. to take customs inquiries.

    The office located in the southern Binh Duong province and is expected to field questions from more than 2,300 local businesses. It will soon extend its services to include import-export procedures through e-customs.

    The website address is www.haiquanbinhduong.gov.vn.

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    Vietnam Halts Joint-Stock Bank Licensing

    Aug. 11- The State Bank of Vietnam announced on its website that it will no longer issue licenses for establishing joint-stock commercial banks.

    The move is in response to the government’s call to revise rules for the industry.
    In a statement the government said, “Pending the revisions, the issue of permits for establishing new joint-stock commercial banks will be stopped temporarily.”

    The government has warned that state-owned companies should stay within their core businesses rather than diversifying to industries ranging from real estate to banking.

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    HCMC Shipping Companies to Charge Extra Fees on Exports

    HO CHI MINH CITY, Aug.8 – Shipping lines based in Ho Chi Minh City will start charging additional fees on backlog freight, ranging from US$50 to US$100 per ton due to delays at ports.

    Recently, Japanese company Mitsui O.S.K Lines announced that it would charge an extra fee on exports shipped from Vietnam to the US and Canada beginning September 1.

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