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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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    Hanoi to Host Regional Gas Industry Conference

    Nov. 6 – Vietnam's capital of Hanoi is scheduled to host the 10th Gas Information Exchange Conference and Exhibition (GASEX 2008) from Nov. 12 to 15.

    The gas industry event will feature the latest equipment, products and services offered by regional companies.

    The GASEX Conference and Exhibition is the only forum that focuses on the natural gas industry in the Western Pacific region. It has been held since 1990 to develop the region’s gas industry by providing a venue for discussing current business and technical challenges.

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    Vietnam’s State Bank Lowers Interest Rates

    Nov. 4 – The State Bank of Vietnam has announced that the prime interest rate in Vietnamese dong will be reduced to 12 percent while the maximum lending interest rate for credit organizations lowered to 18 percent beginning November 5.

    The move signals Vietnam's efforts to facilitate capital and ensure their liquidity.The new refinancing interest rate will be set at 13 percent from the previous 14 percent while the discount rate will be pegged at 11 percent from 12 percent.

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    Vietnamese Coffee Exports Surpass US$2 Billion

    Nov. 3 – According to the the Vietnam Coffee Association (VCA), exports of Vietnamese coffee have surpassed US$2 billion.

    Vietnam is the world's second largest exporter of coffee. The country's 520,000 hectares of coffee plantations exports to 75 countries, including Germany, the United States, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Japan, Korea, France and the UK.

    Instant coffee, roasted coffee grounds and 3 in 1 coffee mixes are sold domestically in addition to international markets in Canada, Germany, the United States, Australia and Korea.

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    Vietnam’s Ministry of Finance Proposes Raising Fuel Import Tariffs

    Nov. 3 – Vietnam's Ministry of Finance has submitted a proposal that will increase fuel import tariffs to compensate state budget losses due to falling global prices of crude oil.

    Crude oil is a staple Vietnamese export. According to VietNamNet, locally sourced crude oil output will remain at around 18 to 20 million tonnes annually.

    The import tax on gasoline should be increased to 25 percent from 15 percent, diesel to 15 percent from 10 percent, and kerosene and mazut to 25 percent from 15 percent, Minister Vu Van Ninh was quoted by Thanh Nien News as saying during a National Assembly session.

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    Vietnam Cancels Ban on Short, Flat-Chested Motorists

    Oct. 31 – Vietnam has cancelled a proposal to ban short, thin and flat-chested people from driving after it drew widespread criticism and ridicule from the public.

    According to the ban, people shorter than 1.5 meters (4.9 feet) and weighing below 40 kilograms (88 pounds) or with a chest circumference of less than 72 centimeters would be prohibited from driving and applying for new drivers' licences.

    The Vietnamese are naturally slender so the proposal led to jokes being made about the traffic police enthusiastically stopping female motorcyclists with tape measures or resorting to the use of padded bras to increase chest circumference.

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    Vietnam to Host Mekong Nation Summit

    Oct. 31 – Vietnam is set to host the third Ayeyawadi-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Summit (ACMECS) and the fourth Cambodia-Laos-Myanmar-Vietnam Summit (CLMV) from Nov. 4 to 7.

    The event is expected to attract foreign leaders and officials from relevant ministries of member countries to discuss solutions to improve cooperation agreements reached at previous summits.

    Four hundred businessmen from regional countries, plus representatives from international organizations, and investors from Japan, the Republic of Korea, the US and European Union are also expected to attend.

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    Vietnam Removes Steel Export Tax

    Oct. 30 – Vietnam's Ministry of Finance has removed the 5 percent export duty on non-alloy iron and steel products beginning November 7 to help local manufacturers get rid of their excess stock.

    According to the Vietnam Steel Association, firms have been unable to sell their stockpile of one million tons of steel billets and steel products worth an estimated US$1 billion because of lower demand.

    In September, steel demand fell by 40 percent. It was aggravated further when the central bank increased interest rates to fight inflation leading to many construction and property firms unable to get bank loans

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    Vietnamese Companies Cut Back Recruitment as Cost of Materials Rise

    Oct. 29 – The rising cost of raw materials has led small-and medium-sized enterprises to cut back on recruitment, according to the Vietnam Association of Textile and Apparel.

    Nguyen Thi Minh Tam, director of the Marketing and Communications Navigos Group, told the Vietnam News Agency that SMEs would not increase production by the end of the year, although large companies will still be in need of workers.

    Some companies have even pared down their workforce by 15 to 30 percent to cope with the rising cost of commodities.

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    Vietnamese Banks Susceptible to High-Tech Crime

    Oct. 27 – Government officials have warned that banks in Vietnam are increasingly becoming a target for crimes committed over the internet.

    Le Tan Don, vice head of Da Nang investigation police unit, spoke during a conference on banking crimes held in the central city of Da Nang, reports Thanh Nien News.

    He said that the country is likely to encounter more hi-tech crimes in the banking sector in the future which could involve breach of security systems to draw out money from automatic teller machines, hacking of personal databases, identity theft, and stealing of credit card information.

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