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    Vietnam Cars Sales Up 141 Percent in First Six Months

    July 9 – Auto sales in Vietnam rose 141 percent year-on-year in the first half of 2008, industry group the Vietnam Automobile Manufacturers' Association said on Tuesday.

    The association said from January to June its members sold 68,609 vehicles, including cars, trucks and buses, compared with 28,522 in the first six months of 2007.

    Japan's Toyota topped the list with 12,510 units sold, followed by domestic companies Vinamotor with 14,594 units and Truong Hai with 11,295 Agence France-Presse reported.

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    Ground Broken on Vietnam’s Largest Foreign Direct Investment Project

    July 7 – Work has begun on what will be Vietnam's largest steel plant, part of a US$7.9 billion complex that will include a deep-sea port, Thanh Nien reported Monday.

    The complex, located in central Ha Tinh province and run by Taiwan-based Formosa Heavy Industries Corp., will be Vietnam’s largest steel production facility when it is completed, with an expected annual capacity of 7.5 million tons.

    The plant is expected to take four years to complete and cost an estimated US$7.87 billion. The project is the largest foreign direct investment Vietnam has seen and when completed, will employ around 10,000 locals.

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    Vietnam Improves IP Rights Protection

    July 4- The two-day workshop, “The Cross Cutting Issues of WTO Accession” jointly held by the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the World Bank discussed Vietnam's improving legal system on the protection of intellectual property rights.

    Since the new IP laws were introduced 2 years ago, Vietnam has built a legal corridor for its implementation based on the Law on Intellectual Property Rights.

    IP protection is considered a vital part of national policy if a country wants to foster local innovation and creativity. Companies and individuals are not likely to invest time and energy in creating original work if the product can be easily copied and sold.

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    ANZ Bank Granted Local License in Vietnam

    July 2 – Australian financial institution, ANZ Banking Group Ltd, has been granted a local bank license that allows it to compete equally with Vietnam banks and expand its branches.

    The bank is among the first foreign banks to be allowed a full incorporation. The move is part of the country’s compliance as the newest member of the World Trade Organization.

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    Vietnam Gains 6.6 % GDP Growth in Six Months

     

    June 23 – Vietnam’s gross domestic product rate is estimated at 6.6 to 6.7 percent for the first six months of the year.

    According to the Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment, Cao Viet Sinh, the rate helps ensure the government’s target annual growth rate of 7 percent.

    Preliminary figures showed that Vietnam attracted US$31.6 billion worth of foreign investment during the period compared to last year’s US$21.3 billion.

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    Vietnam Mourns Death of Reformist Leader

    June 16- The country held a public funeral Sunday to mourn the death of former Prime Minister Vo Van Kiet. He was the prime minister from 1991 to 1997 who led the nation’s economic reforms and supported normalization of ties with the United States. He was 85.

    Kiet died last Wednesday in a hospital in Singapore, where he was taken following a stroke.

    The government announced two days of mourning to honor Kiet with flags flying at half-mast.

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    In Vietnam’s Las Vegas, Foreign Passports Required

    June 12 – Vietnam will soon have its very first casino at the Ho Tram Strip resort in southern Vietnam. To be constructed at a cost of US$4.2 billion, the casino which will only be accessible to foreigners, is one of the largest investments in Vietnam's tourism infrastructure. The builders, Canadian-based Asian Coast Development, say that the casino will be part of a resort which will have two five star hotels.

    Vietnam has become the most popular destination for the hospitality industry in south east Asia, as it offers the same climate and low cost conditions as neighboring Thailand or Indonesia, but is not yet saturated. This has spurred an impressive volume of infrastructure development and construction activities to cater to the country's newfound source of income.

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    The Ups and Downs of Vietnam’s Economy

    June 11 – Things are changing so fast in Vietnam, it's hard to keep track. Last year with a GDP growth rate of 8.5 percent, the country was the place to be, money was pouring in, infrastructure was booming & the country was minting millionaires. Now however times seem to have changed drastically for Vietnam. The countrys' grappling with runaway inflation (25 percent), the highest interest rates in Asia (12 percent), a plunging currency (the dong fell 1.5 percent against the dollar in the last 6 months) and their stock markets nosedived 60 percent to become the worst performing in the world over the last month.

    To make matters worse, Moody's, which grades creditworthiness, lowered Vietnam's ratings outlook last week to negative from positive. Poor ratings signal that banks may have trouble meeting their financial obligations, undermining investors' confidence in the country. In a nutshell, the economy overheated and the government was too slow to respond, says Jonathan Pincus, chief economist for the United Nations Development Program in Vietnam in a recent Time magazine article.

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    Vietnam Now Premier Emerging Market Destination

    June 4 – Vietnam emerged as the most attractive emerging market destination for retail investment in the seventh annual Global Retail Development Index (GRDI), a study of retail investment attractiveness among 30 emerging markets conducted by management consulting firm A.T. Kearney.

    Vietnam's leap to first place in the 2008 GRDI from fourth place in 2007 was driven by strong GDP growth, changes to the country's regulatory structure favouring foreign investors and increasing consumer demand for modern retail concepts, the report said.

    The report states that while Vietnam's US$20 billion retail market pales in comparison to India or China, the absence of competition and 8 percent GDP growth, make it an attractive expansion opportunity for global retailers.

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    Credit Rating Agency Lowers Vietnam Outlook

    June 2 – Last week, international credit ratings agency Fitch lowered its Vietnam rating from stable to negative.

    Fitch Ratings, a global credit rating agency, gave Vietnam a BB-minus sovereign rating. The new rating is three levels below investment grade.

    Investment grade refers to the quality of a company's credit. A rating below that increases the chances of a company not being able to repay debt.

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