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Archive for August 19th, 2008|Daily archive page

Free wheelchairs, eye surgery to poor people in Bac Ninh province

In Uncategorized on August 19, 2008 at 5:55 pm

Vietnamese students in the US who are members of VN Help, a charity organisation established by overseas Vietnamese, on August 19 presented 51 wheelchairs to disabled people and gave 200 free eye surgeries to the poor in northern Bac Ninh province.

VN Help President Do Anh Thu said her association coordinated with the Ho Chi Minh City-based Thien Tam Red Cross to conduct the charity programme, which was worth close to 20,000 USD in total.

The patients were provided with free medicine in seven days, meals, glasses and travelling expenses, she added.

This was the first time VN Help has conducted such a charity programme in Bac Ninh province. Previously, the association provided free eye surgeries for 80 poor people in the Mekong Delta province of Soc Trang .

Since it was set up in California in 1991, VN Help has implemented many charity programmes on education and healthcare in Vietnam , including 300 scholarships for poor students per year.-

Non-life insurance premiums spike in H1

In Uncategorized on August 19, 2008 at 5:16 pm

Bao Viet Insurance’s headquarters in Ha Noi. The company made up $101 million of the industry’s total premiums during the first half of the year. — VNS Photo Truong Vi

HA NOI — Non-life insurance premiums rose sharply during the first half of the year, recording a year-on-year increase of 41 per cent, according to the Ministry of Finance.

With the growth rate, the industry gained total premiums of nearly VND5.5 trillion (US$333 million), the ministry said.

Of the total, Bao Viet Insurance made up VND1.68 trillion ($101 million), up 50 per cent over the same period last year. PVI followed with VND1.1 trillion , up 6.5 per cent. Bao Minh and Pjico also contributed more than VND1 trillion and VND520 billion, an increase of 23.6 and 44 per cent, respectively.

Vietnamese insurers have continued to dominate the domestic market over their foreign counterparts. Bao Viet currently accounts for 35 per cent of the country’s total market share, and figures for Bao Minh, PVI and Pjico are 21, 18 and 10.5 per cent, respectively.

With such growth, PVI has achieved profits of more than VND100.8 billion in the first six months of the year, while Bao Viet and Bao Minh reported profits of VND60 billion and VND72.7 billion, respectively.

Viet Nam’s life and non-life insurance segments are expected to continue their high annual rates of growth.

The Viet Nam Insurance Association expected non-life insurance to achieve a growth rate of 30 per cent in 2008.

Last year, the non-life insurance sector recorded the highest growth rate in the past five years, with total revenues of nearly VND8.5 trillion ($531.25 million), reported the association.

Viet Nam currently has 23 insurers, including nine life insurance, one re-insurance, and eight brokerage companies. These firms have invested more than VND40 trillion ($2.5 billion) in the local economy. —

Paper production rolls out as pressing issue

In Uncategorized on August 19, 2008 at 5:12 pm

Paper is rolled out at the Dong Nai Paper Joint Stock Co. The nation imported 118,000 tonnes of pulp, worth $82 million, during the first seven months of this year. — VNA/VNS Photo Van Khanh

HA NOI — Viet Nam is practising an exercise in loss, importing expensive pulp and paper products while exporting wood at low prices.

In the first seven months of this year, the country imported 118,000 tonnes of pulp, worth US$82 million, up 66 per cent in volume and 86 per cent in value from the previous year.

During the same period, Viet Nam spent around $471 million importing 585,000 tonnes of various kinds of paper products, an increase of 24 per cent in quantity and 40 per cent in value.

Last year, the country also had to import 130,000 tonnes of pulp and 820,000 tonnes of paper products.

The paradox has been prolonged because most projects to process pulp and paper in the country have been postponed, while local demand continued to rise.

To satisfy local demand, the country had to import around 70 per cent of pulp and paper products, according to the Viet Nam Paper and Pulp Association.

Viet Nam had to spend even more money importing pulp and paper in face of the pricing storm on various kinds of goods in the global market.

For instance, in May 2008, the price of pulp was around US$735 per tonne, 13 per cent higher than last May.


Although many investors have poured money into paper mills, they have not invested in producing the raw materials necessary for production.

Most manufacturers were put under pressure due to a lack of capital, limited loans and out-dated machines.

Bui Xuan Khu, deputy minister of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, said in an interview with Investment Review that foreign investors have not been interested in paper, despite favourable policies introduced by the Vietnamese Government.

Delayed profits, low productivity and forest fire risks hinder investors from looking into this field.

To deal with the problem, the paper industry has tried to take aggressive measures to meet increasing domestic demand.

Currently a State-owned business, the Paper Corporation’s Management Board has submitted to the Government an application to transform the Thanh Hoa Paper and Pulp factory into a joint stock company with 30 per cent State equity.

With a design production capacity of 100,000 tonnes of pulp and 130,000 tonnes of paper a year, Thanh Hoa factory will provide recycled paper, printing paper and writing paper to the local market.

In addition, the Paper Corporation has hastened implementing other key projects to ensure paper supply in the coming years.

The second phase of Bai Bang Paper Mill’s expansion in the northern province of Phu Tho has already completed land procedures from clearance to compensation, as well as credit contracts.

The corporation is also rushing to complete the DIP pulp production line with a capacity of 20,000 tonnes per year at the Duong River Tissue Paper company.

Next, the Quang Ngai-based paper and pulp project, with a capacity of 300,000 tonnes of pulp and 220,000 tonnes of white paper, is set to start operations soon.

Tan Mai Paper Joint Stock Company, one of the biggest paper producers, has worked to maximise its capacity while importing newsprint to satisfy local demand in September.

In a similar effort, Viet Nam Vinatech Technology Supermarket in July signed an agreement with Japanese Taise and Ohhara Group to transfer non-wooden pulp production technology.

The technology will take advantage of available materials in Viet Nam such as straw, sugar cane refuse and eucalyptus to make paper.

The production line will have a capacity ranging from 15 to 30 tonnes a day with an average price of $600 per tonne and hopefully reaching $18,000 a day.

The corporation has also asked the Government and other related agencies to remove the tariff on paper imports while developing policies to call for investment into the paper sector.

The corporation said that it planned to reach an annual paper production of 310,000 tonnes this year. —

FDI projects advance in Phu Yen

In Uncategorized on August 19, 2008 at 5:12 pm

Workers give final touches to a glass window for export at the US-invested SEMCO Co in Phu Yen’s Hoa Hiep Industrial Zone. FDI projects now provide an annual income of more than US$150 million for Phu Yen, with export value gaining more than $90 million. — VNA/VNS Photo Hong Ky

PHU YEN — Foreign direct investment (FDI) in the central province of Phu Yen has increased in both quantity and quality, according to the provincial Department of Planning and Investment.

Since the first foreign invested project implemented in the province in 1991, the number of foreign invested projects has rapidly increased, helping to industrialise the province.

According to the Department, when the province was re-established in 2000, it had 10 foreign invested projects with a total registered capital of US$54 million.

However, in the 2001-05 period, when the Law on Foreign Investment in Viet Nam was revised, FDI in the province boomed. Twenty six new projects with registered capital of $183 million were been licensed.

Since then the province has developed a reputation for attracting foreign capital, especially through major projects such as building the Vung Ro Oil Refinery Plant, backed by the UK’s Technostar Management and the Russian Telloil company with, total investment of $1.7 billion. Other large projects include the recent Hoa Tam petro-chemical industrial zone as well as another petro-chemical project by the Naphtha Cracking petro-chemical group of Singapore, with both a combined total initial investment worth $11 billion.

The province now has 25 foreign invested projects with actual total investment of more than $1.9 billion from investors from 18 countries and territories. Among these investors, Russia and the UK top the list, with total combined capital of $1.7 billion.

The foreign-invested work in Phu Yen focused in industrial projects, including 12 projects currently with total investment of $146 million, an oil and gas project with total capital of $1.7 billion and three fisheries projects worth $23.8 million.

The foreign invested projects now create an annual income of more than $150 million for the province, with export value gaining more than $90 million and creating jobs for 3,000 local labourers with average incomes of VND1 million a month.

The department said that although the foreign invested projects’ contribution to local GDP was still small, these projects had actively contributed to transforming the provincial economic mechanism to focus on the development of industry and services, and reduce a past focus on agriculture.

“When the foreign invested projects in oil and gas are put into operation, the province will become a new oil and gas centre of the country,” said an official from the department. —

ASEAN gives 40% foreign investment

In Uncategorized on August 19, 2008 at 5:11 pm

HCM CITY — ASEAN member-countries have invested nearly US$17.5 billion in Viet Nam this year, accounting for 40 per cent of the total foreign direct investment in the period.

Most ASEAN projects have been on a large scale and focused on property development.

Oil-rich Brunei has invested $4.41 billion in 14 projects, with a single project by the New City Properties Development Company accounting for $4.3 billion. The project involves construction of a complex of luxury hotels, resorts and amusement facilities in Phu Yen Province.

Brunei has jumped from 27th place to 10th out of 81 countries and territories investing in Viet Nam.

Malaysia has signed 28 new projects with a total investment of $5.07 billion.

The biggest, a university urban area in HCM City by Berjaya Leisure Corporation, involves an investment of $3.5 billion.

Singapore is set to invest $4.02 billion in 48 projects, including a $1.2 billion telecom joint venture in the southern hub.

Thai firms have been licensed to invest $4 billion in 16 projects. The Long Son oil refinery plant in Ba Ria-Vung Tau accounts for $3.7 billion of that amount.

Other ASEAN investors include the Philippines with 37 projects and $277 million, Indonesia with 21 projects and $178 million, Laos with nine projects and $48 million, and Cambodia with six projects and $6 million.

The bloc has, to date, 1,086 projects involving a total investment of $33.85 billion, or 25 per cent of the total foreign investment in the country.

Most ASEAN firms are involved in real estate, manufacturing, tourism, trading, food and drinks processing.

Vietnamese businesses too are stepping up investments in ASEAN countries.

Viet Nam has a cumulative investment of $1.66 billion in 190 projects in these countries.

It has 123 projects worth $1.28 billion in Laos, seven projects worth $163 million in Malaysia, 34 projects worth $153 million in Cambodia, 19 projects worth $29 million in Singapore, three projects worth $21 million in Indonesia, and four projects worth $10 million in Thailand.

Vietnamese investment in ASEAN countries is mainly in hydropower projects, trading, transportation, health care, rubber farming, timber exploitation, and services.

Japan links boost trade alliance

In Uncategorized on August 19, 2008 at 5:11 pm

HA NOI — The Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) will join hands with the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry to organise the Vietnamese Business Mission to Japan, in September.

The mission would be organised on the occasion of the 35th anniversary of the establishment of Viet Nam – Japan diplomatic relations, and would aim to deepen the Japan – Viet Nam Business Alliance, particularly between assemblers and suppliers, said JETRO.

Moreover, the visit will also demonstrate the great potentials of Vietnamese enterprises in regards to economic co-operation, particularly with Japanese businesses.

During the eight-day visit, beginning September 15, Vietnamese businesses will have opportunities to directly contact potential Japanese partners through industry meetings, tours to Japanese manufacturers and two forums in Tokyo and Osaka that will see the participation of roughly 100 Japanese enterprises.

Through such activities, Vietnamese companies will share the experiences of Japanese enterprises – both large corporations and their small – and medium-sized suppliers – in applying Japan’s unique Monozukuri philosophy.

Monozukuri is a very famous Japanese business philosophy, which dictates that things are made with absolute pride and dedication, with high quality and customer satisfaction being the primary goals. Monozukuri has proven its enormous influence with the successes of Japan’s manufacturing industries. In Viet Nam, Monozukuri has been introduced at training courses under the co-operation between the Toyota Corporation and the Ha Noi University of Technology. —

As food prices fall, sales follow suit

In Uncategorized on August 19, 2008 at 5:10 pm

HCM CITY — The price of essential foods, input materials and petrol has dropped but sales have fallen by 20-30 per cent, according to city trade officials.

Trade officials forecast that prices of other products will continue to drop in coming months, benefiting from a price drop in materials and transportation.

To increase sales, several supermarkets and companies have launched sales promotions offering 20-30 per cent discount on 300 kinds of goods, including fresh food, consumer goods and household appliances.

Big supermarkets such as Sai Gon Co-op, Maximark, Citimart and Vinatex are outlining plans to organise annual sales promotion in September. They are offering 10 per cent discounts, lucky draws and gifts with purchases.

Animal products processing company Vissan and other food processors have agreed to drop the price of canned food and processed food by 10 per cent to increase sales turnover next month.

Last week, the price of poultry meat dropped sharply by 15-20 per cent to VND35,000 a kilo. Pork, fish, and shrimp also saw a 10 per cent fall in price. A kilo of lean pork was sold at VND 55,000 a kilo.

Vegetables and fruit are also falling in price, with some dropping as much as 25-30 per cent.

Truong Van Viet, deputy director of the city’s Industry and Trade Department attributed the result to the city’s efforts to stabilise commodities’ prices in line with the Goverment’s decision to control inflation in the last months of the year.

He said the department had proposed that the city provide VND409 billion (US$25 million) to trading companies so they could stockpile food, particularly rice, sugar, meat, poultry eggs, cooking oil and processed foods.

The city has strengthened inspection of markets and supermarkets to prevent speculation and price hikes and will improve wholesale and retail sales and distribution networks so goods are offered at official prices. A litre of petrol fell by VND1,000 to VND18,000 on Thursday following a record increase of 31 per cent on July 21. Prices of input materials such as steel, fertilizers and cement dropped as well. —

Car show readies to ignite auto sales

In Uncategorized on August 19, 2008 at 5:09 pm

HA NOI — As many as 12 leading auto makers in Viet Nam will display their flagship vehicles at the Viet Nam Motor Show 2008, the country’s largest car show, which will open in Ha Noi on Thursday, organisers said last week.

The five day event, with the theme Realising Your Dreams, is expected to attract 120,000 visitors, according to the Viet Nam Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (VAMA) and AFTA Co, organisers of the event.

“The theme of the event means that nowadays, it is easier for the Vietnamese to buy their own cars,” said VAMA’s chairman Udo Franz Loersch.

“Meanwhile, with the dynamic growth of the Vietnamese market, we want to entice foreign parts makers to invest more into Viet Nam’s supporting industries,” he added.

Loersch said he hoped the Government would generate more stable and long-term policies for VAMA to expand its production.

The event, which will display the vehicles over 12,000sq.m, will not only create more business opportunities for auto makers and spare parts suppliers, but also celebrates the latest and most advanced auto products in Viet Nam.

According to VAMA, visitors will enjoy hundreds of car models, many of which are concept cars such as the Ford B, Toyota FTHS, Isuzu multi-utility MU7 and GM Daewoo L4X.

Leading auto makers will also display their flagship cars such as Mercedes Benz with its renowned two-door sports car SLK350, and Suzuki with its Swift 1600 race car.

A seminar entitled Preparation for Car Motorisation in Viet Nam will also take place with the participation of representatives from Government organisations and relevant associations and enterprises.

According to VAMA, which represents the country’s 17 leading auto makers including the 12 firms participating in the show, 17 car makers in Viet Nam last month sold a total of 8,458 units, a 31 per cent rise over the same period last year. —

The facts on ATM-based salaries

In Uncategorized on August 19, 2008 at 5:08 pm

The facts on ATM-based salaries

by Le Hung Vong

The use of ATM cards to receive monthly salaries is not a compulsory measure for workers at export processing zones and industrial parks and retirees.

It is only being used for officials and civil servants working for Government agencies and People’s Committees from the grassroots to central levels, the deputy head of the State Bank of Viet Nam’s Payment Department, Duong Hong Phuong, has said.

But since the policy began months ago, many companies made ATM withdrawals compulsory, leading to a spate of complaints from workers.

“To use the ATM services, companies just signed contracts with the payment service providers, but they ignored agreements with workers,” said Phuong.

This also occurred with retirement pensions paid by social welfare funds.

Phuong said the complaints were understandable, and that employees and retirees had faced problems when using ATM cards to draw their monthly salaries.

Technical problems at ATM machines and lack of knowledge about their use have compounded the problem.

Phuong said companies must enter into an agreement with employees first before paying salaries electronically via banks.

Few complaints have been heard from civil servants and Government officials as they are aware of the benefits of these advanced payment services.

According to figures from the State Bank of Viet Nam, the number of ATMs in HCM City increased by 25 per cent to 1,572 in the past six months, while Ha Noi’s ATMs increased by 21 per cent to 1,145 in the same period.

The plan to pay salaries via ATMs to Government officials and civil servants is expected to be further promoted in 2009.

SMEs and farmers

Signs indicating that inflation is under better control are now being seen but the impact of such policies remain burdensome to many small-and-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Many of the companies are still struggling to get access to bank loans while farmers are seeking customers for their products.

According to senior economist Pham Chi Lan, many lychee growers in the northern province of Bac Giang are facing financial problems.

The province has 90,000ha under lychee cultivation but only a small number of lychee growers have sold their products for VND500 per kg. Many farmers have left their lychee orchards unharvested because sales from their products were even lower than the costs for picking ripe lychee.

Lan said enterprises could not get bank loans to purchase lychee and to process it for export, resulting in debt faced by growers who cannot find buyers for their ripe fruit.

Lan said many SMEs could not fulfill their export contracts because they could neither get bank loans nor accept sky-high interest rates.

The Association of Industry and Trade in Ha Noi said SME profits in 2008 were much lower than last year’s 7 per cent.

High interest rates are also a problem at commercial banks, as many clients do not want loans with such rates while others who are more able to pay, especially SMEs in the private sector, cannot get access to bank loans.

In the past two weeks, a number of commercial banks have cut the lending interest rate by a maximum 1.3 per cent annually. But only Eximbank provided loans to all clients while other banks restricted their services to their traditional clients.

Theoretically, it’s difficult for an SME to operate at a profit with the current lending interest rate of 20 to 20.5 per cent. But commercial banks were not able to make their services more competitive by lowering lending interest rates as the current deposit interest rate remains below the inflation rate.

According to economist Nguyen Quang A, the biggest problem currently facing most SMEs is how to reach bank loans and use it effectively for their businesses, rather than the level of interest rate of the loans. —