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    Three signs of an increasingly mobile Vietnam

    April 18 – One sure indicator of a country’s overall development is its means and modes of transport. The following three news items reveal that Vietnam is gradually growing apart from the bicycle and moped, for better or worse, but certainly for an increasingly prosperous and industrialized nation.

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    Vietnam exerts pressure on delayed power projects

    April 14 – Two delayed major utility projects set to augment the country’s chronic blackouts have been given a May 1 deadline by Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai. The Nhon Trach 1 and Ca Mau 2 gas-fueled projects remain unfinished and are three to eight months behind.

    The 450-megawatt Nhon Trach 1 and 750-megawatt Ca Mau 2 projects are expected to supply power when the dry season starts from November to June.

    According to Thanh Nien News, Hai said that should there be any more delays, the leaders of state-owned companies involved in the projects will be investigated. He added that work on other delayed power projects should also be sped up.

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    Paris eager to boost Vietnam investment and trade

    HCMC, April 14 – Paris Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCIP) leaders met with Ho Chi Minh City businesses last week to evaluate economic opportunities and express their strong desire to help the French invest in Vietnam, as well as to boost bilateral trade between France and Vietnam.

    Acknowledging that France already had a strong business presence in Vietnam, Christian Pepineau, the VP of CCIP, stated that Vietnam had some of the best long-term prospects for medium-sized French companies, offering low-priced but high quality human and natural resources, and a large market of over 80 million people.

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    Encouraging signs in a discouraged stock market

    April 10 – The Vietnam index, among the world’s worst performing, is nonetheless showing some encouraging signs for both the short and long term.

    Although it has lost approximately 40 percent of its value so far this year, as the central bank continues to tighten money supply in a bid to curb inflation, Vietnam’s stock market climbed almost two percent yesterday. The rise resulted from a regulation increasing the intraday share trading band to two percent.

    That increase should improve liquidity which dried up after the band was reduced to one percent ten days ago, from a previous five percent limit. This rise is seen as a sign of increased confidence in Vietnam’s ability to deal with the symptoms of its explosive growth.

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    World Bank bullish on Vietnam

    April 3 – Vietnam’s gross domestic product will grow for the third straight year at eight percent this year according to a recent World Bank report.

    In the report, “East Asia: Testing Times Ahead,” the World Bank described Vietnam as a “growth pole in the world economy, providing a possible counterweight to the slowing industrial economies.”

    The report predicted a growth of 7.3 percent for East Asia overall, excluding Japan which is expected to turn in a sluggish one percent.

    The World Bank forecast a 22 percent growth in Vietnam’s real export, and an 11 percent growth for fixed investment in industrial assets despite a U.S. recession that is slowing exports.

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    Hanoi to triple in size over next 12 years

    HANOI, April 2 – Hanoi will be doubled in population and tripled in size in the next 12 years, by decree of the People’s Council.

    The resolution still awaits approval in the National Assembly. If approved, Ha Tay province, Me Linh district and a sizable portion of Luong Son District will merge with the capital, an expansion that will boost its size to nearly 3,500 square kilometer, and swell its population to some six million people.

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    Ho Chi Minh City swelling with foreign capital

    April 2 – FDI worth US$1.85 billion was injected into Ho Chi Minh in 2008’s first quarter, with almost 98 percent of it going to real estate and consultancy. This represents a 78 percent gain in capital compared with the same period in 2007.

    With stocks in the doldrums and volatile gold prices, many investors saw property development as their best bet early this year. Industrial production, transport, warehouses, and telecom also remain popular projects.

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    As industry output surges, so does inflation

    Mar. 28 – Vietnam’s General Statistics Office (GSO) just reported a first quarter total industrial output of US$10.2 billion for the first quarter of 2008.

    The figure represents a 16.3 percent increase over the first quarter of 2007. Vietnam’s private sector enjoyed the greatest gains, jumping 22.5 percent to US$3.5 billion –worth of production value.

    The foreign-invested segment saw a 17 percent gain, while the State-owned sector managed 6.7 percent of growth. Processing and energy production, related industries, climbed a healthy 18 percent.

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    Ha Tinh Development Zone cleared for takeoff

    Officials from both Ha Tinh’s People’s Committee and the Vung Ang Economic Area Board met with businessmen in Ho Chi Minh City last Saturday to attract investment.

    Two breakthroughs are expected to lure heavy investment to the area: an administrative resolution that will grant certificates five days after investors apply for projects there, and the ability to receive 150,000-ton ships in its deepwater seaport.

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    Vietnam trade deficit reaches US$7.36 billion on growing equipment imports

    Mar. 26 – Vietnam’s trade deficit in the first quarter of this year reached US$7.36 billion, nearly four times higher than during the same period last year, the General Statistics Office (GSO) reported yesterday.

    The GSO attributed the deficit to the depreciation of the U.S. dollar against the Vietnamese dong, resulting in lower earnings for export contracts.