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Archive for September, 2008|Monthly archive page

Northwest region calls for $10b investment

In Uncategorized on September 30, 2008 at 6:24 pm







A corner of the Danish-invested US$1 million Ecolodge tourism complex in Lao Cai Province’s famous town of Sapa. The region is hoping to attract $10 billion in investment in two years to reach its 2010 development goals. — VNA/VNS Photo Anh Tuan

HA NOI — The northwestern region needs a total investment capital of at least US$10 billion by 2010, so as to achieve the target of social and economic development set by the government, according to local authorities.


Following the scheme, the region including Lao Cai, Yen Bai, Phu Tho, Dien Bien, Lai Chau and Ha Giang provinces aims to ensure an economic growth rate of 11 per cent each year.


Despite the advantages in land space, natural resources and hydro-electric power potential, the provinces have failed to attract foreign investors due to insufficient infrastructure and a shortage of skilled labour, said Lao Cai Department of Planning and Investment director Doan Van Huong.


During the period between 1998-2007, the region attracted only 92 foreign-invested projects worth $675 million. In the first nine months of this year, only Lao Cai and Yen Bai could attract foreign investment with Lao Cai Province attracted four projects valued at $73.4 million and Yen Bai Province gained $3.2 million with one project.


Slow land clearance, cumbersome administrative procedures and higher investment costs than that of other locations were identified as the main challenges facing the northwestern provinces in attracting foreign direct investment.


Among the six provinces in the region, Lao Cai has proved the most attractive to foreign investors. By September this year, foreign investors pumped $318.6 million into 33 projects. However, only $23 million or 7.2 per cent of the sum had been disbursed.


Yen Bai Department of Planning and Investment director Nguyen Ngoc Han said that the provinces should focus on fostering industrial development rather than depending on agriculture and animal breeding. The director also emphasised the importance of foreign investors who could bring the latest technology to the provinces’ process of economic development.


Phu Tho People’s Committee Chairman Nguyen Doan Khanh spoke of the need to upgrade regional road systems and roads connecting the provinces with large economic hubs, so as to make life easier for investors.


Streamlining administrative procedures was also necessary to create a favourable investment climate, as well as to improve awareness of officials in charge of investment promotion, Khanh added.


Under a decision by the Prime Minister, the northwestern provinces will receive financial support from the Government to upgrade infrastructure facilities to encourage development and attract investment capital.


Last year, the average annual GDP growth in the region stood at 12.4 per cent. It hopes to increase this by 1.5 percentage points this year. —

Gadget sellers fear open market

In Uncategorized on September 30, 2008 at 6:24 pm







A client browses electronics at a shop on Hai Ba Trung Street. Domestic retailers of electrical appliances are concerned about the difficulties they will face after the market is opened to foreign retailers starting next year. — VNS Photo Truong Vi

HA NOI — Domestic retailers of electrical appliances are concerned about the difficulties they will face after the market is opened to foreign retailers in the next few months.


World Trade Organisation commitments allow foreign retailers to set up wholly foreign invested distribution channels and stores in Viet Nam as of January 1, 2009.


Foreign retail giants have expressed interest in the sector and mapped out plans to enter the market, according to insiders from the domestic retail sector.


Japan’s leading retailer, Best Denky, has joined with local retailer Ben Thanh Trading and Marketing Company to set up two electrical superstores in Ha Noi and Can Tho.


Other giants including South Korea’s GS Retail and Best Buy from the US are preparing to open superstore chains nationwide.


Growth in electronics consumption is expected to rise rapidly in the future, as more and more Vietnamese can afford high-end electronics. According to GS Retail, the sector reported turnover of US$3 billion last year and the growth rate in 2008-2010 will reach 30-40 per cent year-on-year.


Foreign retailers will face difficulties expanding in Viet Nam as they must get a business licence for each separate store, however, industry insiders warned that only roughly 20 per cent of domestic small-sized retailers would likely survive when the market is fully opened.


Major retailers such as Nguyen Kim, Pico and Cho Lon would also face strong competition and likely lose market share, they said.


Ngo Thanh Dat, marketing director of Pico Joint Stock Company, one of the country’s largest electronics retailers, said that foreign retailers strengths in financing and experience would be their greatest challenge.


Dat said foreign retailers could easily afford the best locations to open large stores, often with floor space of over 10,000sq.m. They also provide more competitive pricing as global retailers enjoy better discounts from producers.


He cited Pico as an example, saying that with turnover reaching roughly VND200 to 400 billion ($12 million – $24 million) yearly, Samsung Electronics provided a VND2 billion loan to Pico allowing them to quickly develop.


To be able to survive, Dat recommended domestic retailers work together to counter the larger foreign competitors. It is also necessary to speed up of human resources training, Dat said.


Sai Gon Nguyen Kim has plans to open stores in nine cities next year, and hopes to be present in all cities and provinces by 2015. The group has so far opened two retail centres in HCM City and Ha Noi.


Pico and Cho Lon also plan to open a chain of retail centres nationwide. —

VN coffee makers seek out Italy

In Uncategorized on September 30, 2008 at 6:23 pm

ROME — Representatives from 11 leading Vietnamese coffee producers and exporters met with Italian businesses at a workshop in Rome last Friday to discuss market demand and seek Italian distribution partners.


The seminar was hosted jointly by the Vietnamese embassy in Italy and authorities of the Lasio region.


Viet Nam has increased its market share in Italy as the taste of its coffee has better met with Italian consumers’ requirements and palates, said Vincenzo Sandalj, President of the Coffee Association of Trieste city.


Italy, the fifth largest coffee importer in the world with an nnual growth rate of 6 per cnt, holds still more opportunities for Vietnamese businesses, he said.


Viet Nam is the second-largest coffee exporter in te world, holding a 20 per cent share of the world market with an average annual export volume of 840,000 tonnes, said President of the Viet Nam Coffee Corporaion (VINACAFE) Doan Dinh Thiem at the seminar.


Viet Nam stands second, following Brazil, in exports o coffee to Italy with an verage of 66,000 tonnes per year, though Thiem stressed that there is still substantial potential for further trade between the two countries.


Italy comes after Germany, the US and Spain for the biggest volume of coffee exported from Viet Nam.


Some of the largest coffee businesses in Italy have opened representative offices and commenced joint ventures in Viet Nam. —

Japan talks trade in capital city forum

In Uncategorized on September 30, 2008 at 6:22 pm

HA NOI — Over 100 businesses from Japan and Viet Nam participated in a Viet Nam-Japan Business Forum in the capital last week, which included discussions on opportunities and challenges for trade and investment co-operation.


Japan is currently Viet Nam’s 3rd largest investor with 1,019 investment projects worth US$16.9 billion, and the top foreign investor in terms of disbursed capital, said Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung.


Viet Nam has been making increasing effort to streamline administrative procedures, upgrade infrastructure as well as develop human resources to facilitate foreign investors efforts. Almost all the Japanese investment projects have been operating fruitfully, resulting in an increasing influx of investment capital from the Japanese investors, added Dung.


Hiroyuki Yoshino, vice president of the Tokyo Chamber of Commerce and Industry (TCCI), confirmed Dung’s statement that Japan’s investment in Viet Nam is on the rise.


According to TCCI, Viet Nam has great potential for the two countries’ co-operation, and Japanese businesses hope to develop more long-term co-operation with Viet Nam.


Trade between Viet Nam and Japan could reach $16.2 billion this year, exceeding the 2010 target of $15 billion, said the Japanese customs agency.


Viet Nam’s exports will be worth $8.2 billion, an increase of 21.1 per cent over last year.


To further increase exports to Japan, Viet Nam needs to strengthen quality and distribution networks, said Viet Nam’s overseas trade office in Japan.


Viet Nam seeks to export more products to Japan including sausages, soybeans, fertilisers, electronics, household lamps, frozen vegetables and animal feed.


Viet Nam also plans to carefully study and set up distribution networks in Japan for garment, textile and coffee products. —

City takes stock of business climate

In Uncategorized on September 30, 2008 at 6:21 pm

HCM CITY — The HCM City People’s Committee has called on city agencies to improve market oversight and crack down on illegal trade practices.


Addressing a meeting on Wednesday, committee chairman Le Hoang Quan told district authorities to uncover speculation, price manipulation, and abuse of monopoly for unfair advantage and to punish the perpetrators.


He told them to help businesses boost production and trade, ensure sufficient supply of consumer goods in the market, improve market forecasts, and remove hurdles faced by the business community.


“Through year-end, district authorities and city departments have to focus on improving people’s living standards,” Quan said.


In light of high inflation, 2008 was a “most difficult” year for HCM City, he said.


“However, three quarters of the year have passed and several sectors have achieved their targets.”


According to reports tabled at the meeting, several districts have also fulfilled their whole-year targets in areas like health and education, tax collection, and hunger and poverty eradication.


Overall, the city received foreign direct investment (FDI) commitments of more than US$8 billion in the first three quarters, equalling the total amount of the previous three years.


The FDI has come into sectors promoted by the city – like science and technology, health and education.


Among the projects are a $3.5 billion international university project, the $1.2 billion Teco software park, and a $400 million hi-tech health centre. —

Cashew exports increase while challenges remain

In Uncategorized on September 30, 2008 at 6:21 pm

HA NOI — Viet Nam exported 124,000 tonnes of cashew during the first nine months of this year generating US$696 million and representing a 51.5 per cent year-on-year increase in value and 14 per cent in volume, said the Viet Nam Cashew Association (Vinacas).


Vinacas chairman Nguyen Duc Thanh estimated that the cashew industry would notch up export values of $850 million by the end of the year.


In order to reach the goal, he said, cashew enterprises are boosting imports of raw material as well as taking the initiative to seek new cashew sources in Africa.


Vinacas also petitioned the Government to provide VND50-60 billion ($3-3.6 million) to help farmers expand cashew plantations and attain world-class GAP (good agricultural practice) standards.


In 2006, Viet Nam overtook India to become the world’s leading cashew exporter, supplying 40 per cent of the total global demand.


Challenges


Local experts, however, said that the country’s cashew industry still faced challenges, including scattered and small-scale production, limited co-operation among cashew enterprises and lack of raw materials.


To fill the shortage Viet Nam has had to import unprocessed cashew since 1999, and import volumes hit 200,000 tonnes last year. It is expected to reach 250,000 tonnes this year.


Vu Thai Son, head of Vinacas’ trade promotion section, said some 30 small-and medium-sized cashew enterprises are rushing to sell cashew stocks in order to meet loan deadlines.


The current 2 per cent monthly interest rate that businesses have to pay on loans is considered high, so they would rather sell product at a low price to pay off their debts than wait for the market price to increase again, reported several cashew exporters.


The situation has become more challenging as foreign customers take advantage of cashew producers financial difficulties and try to further push down prices, Son said.


Solutions


In light of recent challenges in the cashew market, some banks have agreed to extend loan terms to the end of this year or the beginning of next year, according to Vinacas.


Vinacas has suggested that banks lower interest rates to help cashew businesses recover from hard times, and that local cashew exporters refrain from lowering their prices any further as demand for cashews is believed to surge at the end of the year.


Viet Nam now has 220 cashew processors with a total capacity of 600,000-700,000 tonnes per annum. —

Iran beat VN 4-0 in under-21 int’l tournament

In Uncategorized on September 28, 2008 at 5:16 pm

HA NOI — Viet Nam failed to make it into the final of the International Under-21 Football Tournament after a 4-0 loss to powerhouse Iran in the semi-finals yesterday.


Viet Nam, who won the championship last year, pulled out all the stops in their match against Iran at Hue city’s Tu Do Stadium yesterday, but proved no match for their powerful rivals.


The hosts had a good start when Nguyen Duc Thien, who scored three goals for Viet Nam in group competition, took an early shot at goal minutes into the game, but the shot was blocked by Iranian keeper Mohammad Bagher Sadeghi.


Although playing defensively, the Vietnamese side lost control of the game by the half hour mark as Iranian players dominated the game with better play.


Iranian captain Rasoul Kor out-jumped Vietnamese defenders to convert a corner kick into a goal by heading the ball into the net, beating keeper Nguyen Thanh Nam.


Viet Nam regrouped and launched more attacks, but the lone striker, Nguyen Duc Thien, could not score despite a few good chances.


After half-time, Mohammad Saleh Khalil Azad made the score 2-0, while striker Jaladin Alimohammadi scored another to put Iran firmly on their way to the finals. In the 87th minute, substitute Soroush Rafiei escaped an off-side trap to get past the Vietnamese goalie before tapping the ball home into an empty net.


Despite of endeavours of Duc Thien, Phan Thanh Hung and Nguyen Phuc Hiep, the hosts failed to find their consolation goal during injury time.


Iran will meet Thailand, who beat Singapore 3-1 in other semi-final yesterday, in the finals tomorrow.


Viet Nam will meet Singapore to battle for third-place.—

VN shoot down five more golds

In Uncategorized on September 28, 2008 at 5:16 pm

HA NOI — Viet Nam continued their good form at the 32nd Southeast Asian Shooting (SEASA) Championships when they bagged five more gold medals yesterday.


In the women’s individual 10m mixed air rifle, markswoman Dang Hong Ha, who scored 367 points to take the gold medal in the women’s individual 10m air rifle on Wednesday, scored 297 points to take home another gold.


Kham La of Laos was the runner-up with 285 points.


In the women’s team 10m mixed air rifle, Laos lifted the gold and Viet Nam came second.


In the women’s individual 25m pistol, Dao Thu Thuy took home the second gold medal yesterday when she scored 770 points. Singapore’s Fan Xiao Ping and Huang Yi Lin of Chinese Taipei scored 769.9 and 764.5 points and took silver and bronze medals, respectively.


In the women’s team 25m pistol, Viet Nam overcame Singapore and Laos to bring home the gold medal.


Vietnamese sharp shooter Le Cao Kien continued his excellent form and scored 691.7 points in the men’s individual 50m prone rifle to take gold. Viet Nam also won the gold medal for the team event.


In the last event yesterday, Chen Shih Wei of Chinese Taipei scored 153 points to snatch the gold medal in the men’s individual trap shooting. Vietnamese marksmen didn’t win any medals in this event. The silver and bronze medal went to shooters from Malaysia and Singapore, respectively.


The 32nd SEASA championships is underway at the National Shooting Range in the National Sports Training Centre in Ha Noi, co-hosted by the Sports General Department and the Viet Nam Shooting Association.


Shooters from 10 teams from regional countries and territories are competing for 44 medals


Seventeen international umpires, including two from Viet Nam, are judging the event.


Vietnamese shooters will be awarded VND25 million (US$1,500) for each gold medal, VND20 million ($1,200) for each silver and VND15 million ($900) for each bronze. —

Soc Trang has plenty of bounce

In Uncategorized on September 28, 2008 at 5:15 pm






Aiming high: Soc Trang’s forward (left) tries to throw the ball in the clash against Air Force-Air Defence at the National Basketball Championship in HCM City. — VNA/VNS Photo Quang Nhut

HA NOI — The Mekong Delta River province of Soc Trang, which is 231km southwest of HCM City, has been a main centre of basketball in Viet Nam along with HCM City and Air Force-Air Defence for decades.


Basketball has yet to develop into a professional sport like football or volleyball in Viet Nam but Soc Trang, HCM City and Air Force-Air Defence are the main training centres for national squad players.


In Viet Nam, Soc Trang has the best local team, organising tournaments at different levels from district to club, and providing the national team with the best men’s and women’s players for international competitions.


Team of stars


The team, which has dominated the national championships in both men’s and women’s sides, has gifted Viet Nam with stars including Tiep Rida, Trinh Nhan Duc, Na Ri, Trieu Khanh and Minh Luyen, who helped the men’s team win the championship.


Duc, 24, who trained in the sport from the age of five before joining the national team when he was 16, has been a key player of the national squad ever since. The playmaker could have played for a Thailand team after wowing the audience at an International Friendly Tournament in China five years ago but elected to stay at home.


However, basketball in Viet Nam, which is at an amateur level and ranks sixth among countries in the Southeast Asia region, has not attracted sponsors to fund the future development of the sport.


Meanwhile, the women’s team, which was started in 2000, dethroned the mountainous northern province of Yen Bai in 2005.


The youngsters from Soc Trang then took major positions in the national women’s team, which was long dominated by Yen Bai.


Lam Thu Hang, who won ‘Miss Beach’ in the final round of the Miss Viet Nam this year used to play basketball in the women’s Soc Trang team.


Hang, who stands at 1.76m, played for the team at the national championship for years before leaving the court.


Basketball has been one of favourite sports in the province along junk and traditional boat racing.


New regime


The Viet Nam Basketball Federation made the decision to help teams strengthen their squads competing in the championship last year by recruiting foreign players, which saw seven foreign players from the Philippines, China and Mongolia competing in the jerseys of Can Tho, HCM City and Joton.


“Contracting foreign players will make the league more attractive because they will create better competition between domestic and foreign players. Vietnamese players will also learn from the skills and experiences of imported basketballers,” said the Viet Nam Basketball Federation’s (VBF) general secretary, Nguyen Quoc Quan.


“The federation has an open policy that allows all teams to recruit more top foreign players at any time during the championship. The federation intends to increase the quality of the sport in Viet Nam through this policy,” he added.


Viet Nam’s best result to date was four years ago when the women’s team took a bronze medal – the first ever – at the Southeast Asian Basketball Championship in Singapore. —

National uni heads towards int’l education standards

In Uncategorized on September 28, 2008 at 5:13 pm






Students from Ha Noi National University’s Natural Sciences School work at a biology laboratory. The college trains around 150 students of biology and biological technology graduates every year and conducts 50 research projects at the total expense of VND6 billion (US$363,000). The university now aims for international education standard. — VNA/VNS Photo Dinh Na

HA NOI — Ha Noi National University revealed a plan to develop 33 training specialities to boost education and meet international standards by 2012.


Specialities include business management, computer science, telecommunications, biology and geology, according to the university’s director Mai Trong Nhuan.


“By 2012, the university will train around 800 graduates, 345 masters and 55 PhDs of international standards, who will be able to work in different fields,” he said.


The plan, which is estimated to cost VND622 billion (US$36.6 million), will also train 400 lecturers who will have the required skills to work with foreign colleagues from international institutions of higher education.


“[The plan] is aimed at developing the university towards the model of an international-standard research university, contributing to improve the quality of Viet Nam’s higher education,” he said.


The university programme’s organisation, management, evaluation and supervision will be overhauled to strengthen the links between education, scientific research and the demands of society, he said.


“Universities of international standards must have lecturers qualified to work in other countries,” said Minister of Education and Training Nguyen Thien Nhan at a meeting with the university on Tuesday.


The employment rate of Ha Noi University students one year after graduation is only 20 per cent.


“[That] up to 80 per cent of graduates of a high-quality university do not have jobs in the first year of graduation is wasteful,” he said.


Nhan indicated the need to revise teaching methods to meet not only the university’s needs, but international standards as well.


Ha Noi National University has 12 training establishments, three research institutes and more than 2,500 teachers.—