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    Trade Ministry Proposes Changes to New Import Licensing System

    Sept. 23 – Vietnam's Ministry of Industry and Trade (MIT) has proposed changes to the new import licensing system that could limit the categories of imports that need to be registered and reduce trade deficit.

    The current system,which took effect on Aug. 21, has been costing importers millions of dong.

    Currently, all import license applications are processed at MIT’s Department of Documents in Hanoi.

    The new import licensing regulation requires companies to obtain licenses to import items such as automobiles, motorbikes, machines, mobile phones, fruit, coffee, tea, cooking oil, meat, sugar, cocoa, vegetables and specific products made from iron, steel and aluminum.

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    Vietnam Approves US$87 Million Bridge Connecting Mekong Provinces

    Sept. 23 – Vietnam's Transport Ministry has approved a VND1.49 trillion (US$87.6 million) bridge project that will connect the Mekong Delta provinces of Tien Giang and Long An.

    The 1,390 meter My Loi bridge will span over the Soai Rap river and will be built on the National Highway route.

    Construction is set to begin in 2009 and finish within 30 months. Once completed, it will allow ships of up to 10,000 tonnes to enter the Soai Rap river.

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    Vietnam to Allow Oil Importers to Set Prices

    Sept. 22 – The Vietnam government is now allowing oil product importers to set retail prices in an effort to move towards a market-oriented mechanism.

    It will give oil product importers the flexibility to react with complicated market changes and should create a transparent business environment.

    Vietnam is Asia’s second largest importer of petroleum products and prior to the new regulation, finance and trade ministries have been in charge of dictating the price for retail oil products in the country.

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    Safety Certification Required for Vietnam Exports to the U.S.

    Sept. 17 – Beginning November 12, Vietnamese exporters to the United States will be required to apply for safety product certifications.

    A safety certificate should be included with the product during shipment and must also be submitted to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and U.S. customs on request.

    The new rule should ensure that all exported products are safe and not harmful to consumers. This will also allow the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to implement safety standards for dangerous substances like lead and phthalates.

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    Vietnam to Build First Bio-Tech Center

    Sept. 11 – Vietnam is set to build its first applied bio-technology research center costing VND530 billion in Cam Duong Commune, Cam My District.

    The facility should be complete by 2010 and provide industry products and services by 2020.

    The 200-hectare facility will expand the country's bio-technology industry towards the diagnoses and treatment of diseases, preventive health, and environmental protection.

    It also aims to use bio-technology to upgrade techniques on breeding plants and animals.

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    Vietnam Approves First Wholly Foreign-Owned Banks

    Sept. 11 – Vietnam has approved the licenses for HSBC Holdings Plc. and Standard Chartered Plc. to enter the country's financial market.

    Prior to this, foreign banks were limited to investing in minority stakes in Vietnamese banks.The banks were approved as wholly-owned units and will be given a year to establish operations in the country.

    The Vietnam banking sector is still in its infancy with only 10 percent of 86.5 million Vietnamese opening bank accounts. Local incorporation will allow foreign banks to grow their distriution network and attract more clients.

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    Japan Aids Vietnam’s Industries

    By Chua Siew Joo

    Sept. 10 – Vietnam is expanding its support industries through aid from Japan in the areas of building business capacity, developing human resources and formulating legal framework.

    The support industries include electronics and information technology, the garment industry, leather-shoe manufacturing, car-making and mechanical manufacturing.

    During a seminar called the “Action Plan for Development of Supporting Industry of Vietnam” jointly organized by the Japan External Trade Organization and the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) held last Sept. 5, the government announced plans to boost production in major support industries.

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    Vietnam May Allow Foreign Investment in First Oil Refinery

    Sept. 9 – The Vietnam National Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam) has submitted a proposal to allow foreign companies to buy stakes in the country’s first oil refinery.

    In a press conference, PetroVietnam Chairman Dinh La Thang said that Royal Dutch Shell, India’s Essar oil, and Russian oil firms Zarubezhneft and Rosneft have expressed interest in purchasing stakes in the ongoing construction of the Dung Quat refinery located in the central province of Quang Ngai.

    "Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has agreed in principle on the sale proposal and is allowing us to proceed," said Dinh La Thang.

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    Vietnam Overseas Investment Reaches US$2.5 Billion

    Sept. 9 – The Ministry of Planning and Investment says Vietnam overseas investment is now worth a total of US$2.5 billion consisting of 317 projects concentrated within the region.

    Vietnam investment covers 123 projects with a combined capital of US$1.2 billion in Laos, US$162 million for 7 projects in Malaysia and more than US$153 million for 34 projects in Cambodia.

    The projects center mostly on industrial production and construction areas; 136 projects worth US$1.75 billion makes up 42.9 percent of total overseas projects and 69.4 percent of overseas investment capital.

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    Top Vietnamese Official Talks about EU Trade Relationship

    Sept. 3 –At a recent EuroCham event, Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai spoke of the future of the EU-Vietnam trade and the role of the European private sector in the nation’s continuing development.

    He cited the growing trade relationship between the EU and Vietnam in the past last ten years with two-way trade turnover estimated at US$12 billion for 2008. This figure makes the EU, Vietnam’s largest trade partner.

    The union is also the second biggest FDI source of Vietnam with around US$9 billion and more 750 projects which contribute much to the development of Vietnam economy. So far, its committed ODA for 2008 amounts to US$962 million.

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