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Vietnam Now Premier Emerging Market Destination

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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.

Credit Rating Agency Lowers Vietnam Outlook

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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.

Vietnam to Lift Rice Export Ban by July

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May 30 – Vietnam says that its ban on rice exports may be lifted in July adding that the coming crop harvests from the north will turn out better than expected.

The country’s winter-spring crop from its 32 northern provinces has progressed well and should yield the same amount as last year. Last year, the same provinces produced 6.15 million tons of rice.

Businesses will be allowed to sign new rice export contracts after June 30.
Vietnam is the world’s second-largest rice exporter. Last March, it introduced a three-month ban on rice exports to maintain local supplies.

Vietnam To Boost Exports to Africa, Middle East

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May 16 – Vietnam aims to boost exports to the Middle East and South Asia by US$2.3 billion, according to sources.

The figure is a 33 percent increase compared to last year.

For 2007, the country earned export revenues of US$230.5 million for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and US$201.8 million for Turkey.

The country’s exports to these regions include: rice, coffee, textiles, garments, footwear, plastics, electronic appliances, seafood, tea, rubber, coal and timber.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade wants current export revenues to reach US$326 million for the UAE, US$141 million for Egypt, US$299.8 for Turkey, US$236 million for India and US$184.9 million for South Africa.

Vietnam is also thinking of importing competitive goods from these regions like petroleum and chemicals from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, textiles and garments from India, plus cotton and timber from nations in Africa.

PetroVietnam to Control Rising Fuel Costs

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May 12 – State-owned, PetroVietnam announced efforts to control rising fuel and fertilizer costs by increasing domestic natural gas production and finding cheaper import alternatives.

In a press conference, the company vowed to cut waste and concentrate in its core business, saving an estimated VND550 billion (US$34.4 million).

"PetroVietnam will still inject capital into key projects for ports, warehouses and shipping fleets, but it will cease putting capital into real estate construction projects and other less-effective projects," management board member, Phan Thi Hoa, told VNS.

He said the company would review all projects and direct capital only to highly-prioritized projects.

Vietnam Car Sales Increase By 181 Percent

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May 12 – The Vietnamese Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (VAMA)
reports that car sales for the first four months of the year increased by 181 percent led by a rise in the commercial car segment. The 16-member VAMA announced combined sales of 47,366 units for the period.

Vinamotor sold the most number of units sold at 11,230, followed by Toyota with 7,896 and and Truong Hai with 7,492. Commercial car sales rose by 313 percent with 29,745 units sold, while passenger car sales went up 105 percent with 7,791 units. For April, automobile sales jumped to 13,271 units, an increase of 183 percent.

Car dealers attribute the increase in sales with consumers shifting from motorcycles to cars and government plans to hike special consumption tax to 50-70 percent by the year's end.

U.S. Clears Vietnam from Apparel Dumping

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May 9 – The U.S. Department of Commerce has cleared Vietnam from apparel import dumping citing insufficient evidence to warrant an investigation. The agency studied 12 months of apparel import data beginning from Vietnam’s entry into the World Trade Organization in 2007.

The move is part of U.S. efforts to prevent dumping practices wherein a product sold in the importing country is less than the price of that product in the market of the exporting country.

“Our department will continue our commitment to examine imports from Vietnam to ensure that apparel is not dumped into the U.S. market, threatening American manufacturers’ competitiveness,” said Assistant Commerce Secretary David Spooner in a press release.

Vietnam Considers Lowering Taxes to Spur Foreign Investment

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May 8 – Vietnam is considering lowering corporate income taxes from 28 percent to 25 percent.

A proposed corporate tax cut would help lure more foreign investors to Vietnam without lowering government tax revenues, said several National Assembly representatives Wednesday.

Lawmakers focused on a proposed amendment to 1997’s Corporate Income Tax Law at the National Assembly on Wednesday that would cut corporate income taxes by three percent.

PM Approves Plans to Turn Hanoi Into Top City in Asia

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May 8 – Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has approved plans to develop the capital, Hanoi, into one of the top cities in Southeast Asia in 40 years. The plan foresees a capital 13 times larger than its present size that will serve as the country’s political, cultural and economic center.

Under the new plan, Hanoi Capital Region (HNCR) will include Hanoi plus the seven provinces of Ha Tay, Vinh Phuc, Hung Yen, Bac Ninh, Hai Duong, Ha Nam and Hoa Binh.

Vietnam to Purchase US$160 Million Worth of Electricity from China

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May 6 –Vietnam’s largest electricity producer, state-owned Electricity Vietnam (EVN), is planning to purchase an estimated US$160 million worth of electricity from China. The amount translates to roughly 3.5 billion kWh of electricity that will be resold by EVN for domestic consumption.

EVN will pay 4.5 U.S. cents per kWh of electricity with a reselling price of 5.6 to 11 U.S. cents.

Vietnam’s demand for electricity is forecast to increase by 17 to 18 percent this year. Sources report that in some provinces in the country, electricity consumption has jumped by as much as 40 percent.

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