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    Vietnam Forecasts US$19.9 Billion Trade Deficit in 2009

    Nov. 24 – A government trade report said that Vietnam’s trade deficit is forecast to reach US$19.9 billion by 2009 as imports and exports slow.

    Currently, the country's trade deficit is expected to amount to US$19 billion.The government has been trying to cap the trade deficit by increasing exports and discouraging the import of luxury goods.

    In 2009, export growth is expected to slow to 18 percent from 2008's estimated 32 percent. On the other hand, import growth is expected to slow to 15 percent from 31.8 percent.

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    Vietnam Fostering SME Growth

    Nov. 21 – Vietnam is doing its share in encouraging the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises by providing access to capital and better production facilities.

    The government has simplified regulations for business registration and international cooperation on SME development. This should lead the SME industry to improve its competitiveness and stimulate human resources development.

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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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    Vietnam Opens Floating Port at Su Tu Vang Oilfield

    Nov. 19 – Vietnam has opened a floating port on its continental shelf, off the central province of Binh Thuan, to export crude oil from Lot 15-1 of the Su Tu Vang oilfield.

    The port has a capacity for ships of up to 150,000 DWT. The safe area between the floating port of the Su Tu Vang oilfield and other works is two nautical miles beginnning from the far edge of the works or the anchoring spot of floating means, reports the Nahn Dan News.

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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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    Vietnam’s National Assembly Approves Three New Laws

    Nov. 17 – Vietnam's National Assembly has approved three laws for new tax rates on consumption, health insurance and civil judgements.

    The decision also came with the ruling that will extend the tenure of People’s Councils and People’s Committees.

    The Special Consumption Tax Law is applicable starting April 1, 2009 excluding the new taxes on alcohol, including beer that will apply beginning January 1, 2010.

    The new law calls for a tax decrease for alcohol, including that for draught, canned and bottled beer, from 50 percent to 45 percent within 2010 and 2012. Come 2013, tax for alcohol will return to 50 percent. The law also allows tobacco products to be taxed at 65 percent.

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    Vietnam’s Fast-Food Industry Continues to Attract Foreign Investment

    Nov. 12 – Despite the global crisis, Vietnam remains a profitable investment for Western fast-food chains.

    Many Vietnamese are still willing to spend more on fast food restaurants even if it is around 2 to 4 times more expensive than the regular rice or noodle shop.

    Western fast food chains tend to introduce menu items that cater to local tastes to increase sales.

    According to market research company AC Nielsen, only 8 percent of Vietnamese eat at a foreign fast food restaurant one to three times a month. The company says that because of Vietnam’s population, comprising of 65 percent under the age of 25, it still remains a profitable destination for Western food chains.

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    Vietnam’s Car Sales Plunge by 37 Percent

    Nov. 10 – According to an industry report made by the Vietnam Automobile Manufacturers Association, car sales in Vietnam for the month of October dropped by 37 percent to 5,679 units from the same figure last year due to rising taxes and registration fees.

    For the first 10 months of the year, sales figures reported by 16 automakers operating in the country increased by 64 percent to 95,736 units from the same period last year.

    Dealers complained that demand would wind down until the end of the year after the government tripled registration fees amounting to 15 percent of the car's purchase price.

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    Cambodia and Vietnam Sign Pact for Railway Link

    Nov. 10 – Cambodia and Vietnam have agreed to a deal that would connect the railways from Phnom Penh to Vietnam at a cost of more than US$500 million.

    "China has promised to build the railroad from Phnom Penh to Vietnam as part of the project to create a link from Singapore to Kunming in China," Hor Namhong was quoted as saying by the AFP.

    In the past, there have been plans to link Southeast Asia by rail. So far, only Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand operating cross-border links.

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    Vietnamese Premier: Global Economic Turmoil will Impact Mekong Region

    Nov. 7 – Speaking at the opening of a regional summit, Vietnam's premier said that the ongoing global economic slowdown would not exclude Southeast Asia's Mekong river countries.

    The premiers of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam met in Hanoi for the fourth summit of the CLMV group. Thailand's new prime minister, Somchai Wongsawat, also attended the summit.

    Mr. Somchai said that he wanted to talk about the effects of high food prices with the country's regional neighbors, in addition to the border issues with Myanmar.

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